HI Tide Fly Fishing Blog

Fly Fishing In Oahu Hawaii


Christmas Island Milkfish

This past year I had the opportunity to fish Christmas Island twice. Once in the end of April and July. The first trip was with Christmas Island Outfitters booked through Fly Water Travel, the second trip to The Villages Lodge. Both lodges are great with very good guides and staff at the lodge.

One of my biggest goals was to catch Milkfish on the fly. I started researching the internet trying to get as much information as possible on these fish. I did find some good info, I also messaged Alphonse Fishing Co. guide Jako Lucas and he gave me some good info, there is not to much info out there on how to catch them on fly. One of the biggest things to have is a lot of patience, Milkfish don’t chase their food like most of the fish we chase on fly, a is long cast is also very helpful. Once hooked hang on for a long battle. The initial run is long and fast with occasional jumps, than the fish acts like a tuna under the boat making you work for every inch of line.

Tackle used for milks are generally 9wt rods with floating fly line and 3 meters of backing. I like to use 10′ leaders in 2 sections 8′ of 40lb mono to help keep the fly from sinking to fast and deep, than 2′ of 20lb flouro tippet. The flies used are Wayne Haselau’s Milk Magic Fly.

The guides will take you out generally in the early morning looking for Milkfish feeding on the surface outside of the lagoon. Once located you will need to make long cast out in front of the traveling school. Keep contact with your barely moving it. Remember to be patient! If you have any questions about Christmas island Milkfish or just want to talk Milkfish and if you would like to purchase flies please contact me at jessecheape@gmail.com or 1-808-364-7213

Milkfish fishing, Milkfish flies, Milkfish fly, CXI, Seychelles, fly fishing bonefish, GT, Giant trevally

Chanos Chanos By Capt. Jack Productions

CXI, Kiribati, Christmas Island Milkfish flyfishing, bonefish, GT, trevally, triggerfish

Wayne Haselau’s Milk Magic Fly Video



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Christmas Island Milkfish

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Milkfish flies

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Hawaii Bonefish and Tides


Dr. Aaron Adams of Bonefish Tarpon Trust wrote some great information on Tides and Bonefish. Very useful information to know for all flats fishing situations in Hawaii, Christmas Island or any where in the world.

Bonefish and Tides

At any given time, only 10% of the fishable water harbors bonefish. So figuring out how to eliminate the fishless 90% from your search area is half the battle. Understanding how bonefish use tides to their advantage will go a long way toward finding the productive 10%.

Tide Basics

A full description of tides is beyond the scope of this article, but it is important to know a few basics. First, tides can be broken into spring tides and neap tides. Spring tides are when the difference between high and low tides is the greatest, and when the highest high and lowest low tides occur. Spring tides are associated with the full and new moons. Neap tides occur with the quarter moons, and are when there is the least difference between high and low tides. There tends to be less water moving during neap tides, and some areas that are flooded during spring tides stay dry, or barely get covered, during neap tides. Within the monthly tidal cycle, every two weeks a flat will experience spring tides, and on the alternating weeks will experience neap tides.

Because of interactions between land masses and the angle of the moon and sun, tidal range differs among locations. But even if the tidal range is small, bonefish are strongly keyed in to the tides. Water depth in portions of the Caribbean, for example, may change only a few inches during a neap tide, but Hawaii bonefish will react to these tides in a similar fashion to bonefish in locations with a 2 foot tidal range.

Second, barometric pressure can affect the tides, and cause tidal levels to be different than predicted by the tide charts. During periods of low pressure, there is less pressure from the atmosphere pressing down on the water, so overall water levels may be higher. Low barometric pressure is often associated with either a warm or cold front, so a region may experience a weather change in association with a change in barometric pressure. When barometric pressure is high, water levels are suppressed, so tides may not be as high as predicted.

Third, wind can also have a dramatic effect on tides. Strong, onshore winds, for example, can make high tides higher than predicted and in extreme conditions can even prevent low tides from occurring – in effect creating a ghost tide. Offshore winds will have the opposite effect –both high and low tides will be lower than predicted. And when wind and tide are moving in the same direction, the currents can be especially strong. Often, the stronger currents from combined tide and wind attract bonefish to the edges of flats where the current dislodges prey.

Strong winds often don’t prevent a tide from occurring, but instead delay the onset of the ebb or flood. A strong onshore wind may lengthen the duration of high slack tide, but eventually the force of the ebbing tide is too much and the water level drops quickly in the short amount of time remaining in the ebb. But if the wind is very strong from one direction for many days or weeks, the average water level may become higher (with an onshore wind) or lower (offshore wind) than normal, with high and low tide fluctuating around this average water level. For this to happen, however, there usually has to be some type of large land mass to allow the water to pile up or drain.

So, where do you look for bonefish during strong offshore winds that empty the flats? Focus your efforts on the edges of flats, deeper holes and troughs between flats, deeper grass beds and sand basins. Even the deeper water on the back sides of fringing coral reefs may provide good shots at feeding bonefish during these conditions.

In contrast, when a strong onshore wind or approaching strong low pressure creates higher than expected tides, bonefish may extend their time feeding on the flats. This is because the extra water gives bonefish a wider selection of locations and, potentially, a longer time to forage. Adjust your search strategy by venturing farther up onto the flat.

How Hawaiian Bonefish Use Tides

Bonefish are experts at using the tides to their advantage, which allows them to maximize their benefits in the tradeoff between feeding and avoiding predators. I guess you’d expect this from bonefish – they’ve been perfecting this for millions of years. Like many predators, bonefish try to get away with as little travel as possible in their search for a meal. There is no reason for them to expend energy swimming long distances if there is no need. This is why when bonefish retreat from a flat during low tide, they often do not stray far.

At low tide, or the earliest stages of flood tide, you can often find a bonefish or two feeding slowly along a shallow edge of a flat. But these fish can be tough to catch because they are often skittish in the skinny water. And these early fish are often not feeding aggressively because the tide has not yet begun to move. In contrast, after the tide has been flooding for a while, you’re likely to find more and larger fish on the flat. These fish should be more comfortable in the deeper water, and with the tide moving more strongly, they should be feeding more aggressively.

Bonefish will often follow traditional routes onto and off the flats. Many of these access routes are nothing more than small troughs that cross a flat. (These access routes are different than the deeper, more obvious channels adjacent to flats that often hold bonefish at low tide.) My favorite bonefish avenues are the troughs that are only a few inches deeper than the surrounding flat, and lead from deeper edges to the flat’s interior. Often, these access channels are hard to discern when the flat is covered in water, so if I am able, I’ll visit a flat on a late dropping tide, and make a note of where the fingers of water are draining the mostly-dry flat. These troughs are also the first to fill on the rising tide, and are usually where bonefish make their first appearance. And with experience on a flat, you’ll be able to figure out which of these troughs are the traditional (most used) access routes. Of course it’s not always that simple – the routes might vary depending on the tide height and the strength of the current, such as the differences you might find between spring and neap tides, or on windy vs calm days.

Spring Tides

When spring high tides flood the shallows, Oahu bonefish are quick to take advantage of the higher water to forage in areas they normally can’t access. The access to shallow habitats coupled with the limited time they can remain there can result in bonefish grouping along the edges of flats in anticipation of the incoming tide. Early in the rising tide and late in the outgoing tide, find the bonefish travel avenues and you should have brief but intense periods of casting to cruising fish.

As the tide rises, move up onto the shallow sand and grass flats, shorelines, shallow mangrove flats, and the shallow ridges of sand flats that are only accessible to bonefish during these spring high tides. These habitats hold a lot of prey, and bonefish know this, so these can be productive places to fish during spring high tides.

I think that much of the bonefish feeding during spring tides is concentrated from the mid-rising through early falling tide. Bonefish often feed so actively near high tide that they may actually rest, or feed leisurely, as they move off the flat and wait for the another feeding opportunity during the next incoming tide.

During low tide, bonefish often rest in flat-side channels waiting for the next flooding tide. From their perspective, why expend energy unnecessarily? In the hour or so on either side of the low tide, stalk the edges of flats, searching for bonefish laid up, or cruising slowly in slightly deeper water. I’ve even landed some bonefish blind casting into these channels that are just a bit too deep to sight fish.

Neap Tides

During neap tides, the skinny water where you found tailing fish at high tide just the week before might not be deep enough to hold fish. The shallow mangrove flats that attracted so many fish into their shadows may still hold water, but are probably empty of bonefish. Even areas that seem to have enough water may lack bonefish, because they are too far to travel from deep water for bonefish comfort during neap tides. This means you need to change where you search for bonefish.

Hawaii Bonefish will still move from the edges of flats onto a flat as the tide rises, but won’t venture as far onto the flat, and there will be fewer large groups of fish along the edges of the flat. And perhaps because bonefish aren’t traveling so far to get to those shallows accessible only during spring tides, they are more likely to feed throughout the tidal cycle during neap tides. Edges of flats are good places to search for cruising bonefish during weak neap tides. And bonefish may be actively feeding in deeper areas, such as over grass beds, along channel edges, and in depressions and troughs between flats, providing fishing opportunities throughout the tidal cycle.

Final Thoughts

Coupled with the extreme tides are the full and new moons. During full moon spring tides, bonefish sometimes venture into the shallows at night to feed. Conventional wisdom is that when bonefish feed at night they feed less aggressively during the day. One way to combat this potential problem is to fish at dawn and dusk, when night-time feeding bonefish may be ending or beginning their feeding.

During warm times of year, when water in the shallows warms above the bonefish comfort level, tidal currents carry cooler water from adjacent deeper areas onto the flats with the rising tide. As the tide rises, the cooler water flows first along the edge, and if the incoming tide is strong enough, the cooler water will also flood the flat. Under these conditions, bonefish will initially remain along the edge of the flat, moving onto the flat only with the cool water of the rising tide. In other words, it may take a little longer for bonefish to move onto the flat during warm weather. In contrast, during cold seasons, sunny days may warm the water in the shallows, or water flooding onto a flat may absorb the warmth of the sun-baked bottom, bringing bonefish into the shallows as the water temperature rises.

Tags: Hawaii Bonefish fly fishing guides DIY


Hawaii Bonefish Flies

Often we get asked on what flies do Hawaiian Bonefish eat!? The Bonefish here in Hawaii can sometimes be tough to fool into eating a fly. On this page I have selected some flies that I often use here in Hawaii that are easily purchased on-line through EP Flies and SS Flies or tied on your own. Presentation with Hawaiian Bonefish is also very important, knowing where to place the fly and when to strip and not too and how fast. More Hawaii Bonefish flies can be found at Hawaii’s only fly shop Nervous Water Hawaii.


The Spawning shrimp from EP flies in size 4 tied with heavier dumbbell eyes in more deeper rocky flats where the fish are cruising and getting there attention.

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EP Spawning Shrimp


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EP Spawning Shrimp Coyote











Permit Crab from SS flies is also another great pattern for Hawaii Bonefish.

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SS Flies Permit Crab

EP Micro crab is a great fly for those skinny water tailing Bonefish. Having a few tan, dark brown and olive flies are always good to have. I’m not a fan of weed guards especially for spooky fish in skinny water so I usually clip them off.

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EP Micro Crab

SS Flies Rag Head crab

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SS Flies Rag Head crab

SS Flies Mantis. I like to have them tied with medium gold eyes but having some bead chain eyes are also great for those skinny water tailer.

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SS Flies Mantis Fly



Saltwater Fly Casting

As a Hawaii Bonefish guide I want everyone of my clients to be successful on the flats even when they’re not fishing with me. For many anglers I get its they’re first time wading for tailing bonefish or standing on the bow of my flats boat and I fully understand that. For many it can make them very nervous. I want first time saltwater fly fisherman to be prepared when the day comes when they have the opportunity to fish for these crazy fish we call Bonefish.

First of all accuracy is important, getting that fly in the zone without spooking it. When a bonefish is tailing in skinny water you need to be able to place that fly in a small box so it will see it. you will also want to work on landing that fly nice and soft. Next is dealing with wind. All saltwater fly fishing destinations can have heavy winds, I don’t care if its in the Keys, Bahamas or Christmas Island. You need to be able to double hall and punch that fly out there and no I’m saying being able to cast 60′ into a 20 knot wind most bonefish shots here are 40′ and a lot of times closer. Being a quick caster is also a key element to being successful. It’s rare for a bonefish to sit in one place and give an angler all the time in the world to make a shot. A perfect presentation might only last 20 seconds, feeding Bonefish are constantly moving. You’ll want to be able to get out 40′ of line in 2-3 false cast the faster the better.

Once you get that Hawaii Bonefish to eat that perfectly presented fly you don’t want to do that famous Trout set, you may get lucky and fish may stick but most times that hook won’t set and the fish will shake his head and swim away. You want to do a strip set and no not the kind of strip set we do on Giant Trevally. A nice long strip, it will feel like your stuck on the bottom you will feel the fish pulling back in a second and thats when you let em go and be prepared to see your backing. This is just a few pointers to help you be successful on your Bonefish trip. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail jessecheape@gmail.com or give me a call I will help you in any way I can!

Heres a few videos to watch.

Coach Duff Double Hall Drill

Double Hall Drill

Saltwater Fly Casting





Summer Time When The Livings Easy

The fishing here in Hawaii this Summer has been great. The Bonefish have been on the flats giving anglers many shots. The weather has also been treating us right with very little rain and cloudy days have been to a minimum.


Hawaii Bonefish

James from Australia with a beautiful Hawaiian Bonefish.

Hawaiian Bonefish


Orvis rep Tom Evenson with a nice Hawaiian Bonefish.

Cranka Crab


Ryan from Australia nails a nice one with the Cranka Crab with his spinning rod.

Capt. Jesse Cheape

I get to sneak a cast in every now and then.



Tags: Hawaii Bonefish Guides Fly Fishing Hawaiian Oahu




Hawaii Bonefish Winter and Spring

Winter is slowly coming to end here in the islands. The days are growing longer and the weather is getting warmer. The winter fishing had its great days with many summer like winter days with plenty of fish and also some cold rainy days with not so many fish that’s fishing. We still like to think of Hawaii as year Bonefish fishing destination. As spring starts to roll around the Bonefish are starting to show in bigger numbers, we also can forget about the Peacock bass getting ready to spawn. My favorite time to sight fish big Peacock bass. Looking forward to see what Spring and Summer 2015 has to offer us. See you all on the water!!!!!