I really enjoy the global getaway. Each year I try to choose a new destination and save my hard-earned for a new experience and new discovery. My latest experience was a trip to Aitutaki targeting bonefish and trevally. The bonefish in particular played nicely, however the giant trevally (GT’s) absolutely destroyed me and my fly lines – I loved it!
Give the Dog a Bone
I’ve fished for bones before, namely in Hawaii on a couple of occasions, so I knew what to expect. Leading up to my mission, I was taunted by stories of some of the biggest bones in the world – far bigger that I had caught before. I made contact with the guides from Bonefish E2’s Way. Itu Davey, Rua, Tia, Shaka, and Ben all are unbelievable fish spotters. It is phenomenal how far away these guys can see bonefish! We fished the flats around the main part of town quite a bit as there had reportedly been numerous bonefish coming onto the flat of late, searching for food. Guide Rua knew exactly where they would be.
There’s a lot to cover, as there was a lot of bones caught! I was lucky to secure some real thumpers though, which tear across the flats at amazing speed – even the small ones. You could imagine how blown away I was then, to encounter a 12lb specimen. So fit and so fat. The speed was incredible and giving my new Harfin reel a work-out. I was impressed with the performance of this reel, which handled the fish and conditions perfectly.
Not 30 minutes after landing the 12lb bonefish, I hooked something even bigger. It turned out to be a 15lb rocket! There were a few corals around the edges of the flats maybe 50 meters away from where the fish was hooked and due to this, you have to fight them hard. I was using 20lb rio fluorocarbon tippet and had the drag on my Harfin wound up a fair way, plus I also palmed the reel when needed. It was all or nothing basically, because if they made it to the coral you were going to lose the fish anyway so my philosophy was to try and stop them before they got there. It seemed to work 90% of the time. Well for bonefish anyway, GT’s are a completely different story!
15lb Bonefish – Almost straightened the Dai Riki 930 hook!
12lb model, The Harfin reel handles them with ease!!
For the bonefish I used an 8wt rod with a Harfin LR100 reel spooled up with about 275m of Hatch Premium backing and a Rio Tropical floating/intermediate tip. The intermediate tip is essential for fishing in Aitutaki, as there can be strong currents running through the lagoon and you need to get your fly down quickly. It also helps prevent your line dragging with the current (floating lines tend to get blown with the wind which drags the fly along the bottom too fast) so yeah, to emphasise – if you are heading over there make sure you take an intermediate line with you.
I only tied one fly pattern for the bonefish – a Crazy Charlie tied with tan EP fibers, pink/orange diamond braid body, about 6 or 8 strands of crystal flash for the tail and some hot orange rubber legs. I also tied some crystal flash in with the EP fiber wing. The only variation I made was the eyes; I used three different kinds, a hot orange in a 4mm and 4.8mm for deeper water, a chartreuse colour and a darker red colour. The fly I had most success on had the hot orange eyes. If (when) I go back I will tie some with hot orange bead chain eyes because on the really shallow flats the big bonefish would spook when the fly landed even with the smaller 4mm eyes. Hooks used were Gamakatsu sl12s #2, TMC 800s #4 and Dai Riki 930 saltwater hooks #6 (these are what helped secure the bigger bonefish).
Hot Orange was a stand out!
Offshore fishing was something that interested me. I arranged to have a morning out in Itu’s big boat chasing anything that swam near us. There are a couple of FAD’s (fish attracting devices) just a few hundred meters outside of the reef which surrounds Aitutaki. We headed to the first one and spotted a few rainbow fish and then soon after, some mahi mahi come along. They weren’t interested in anything we were throwing at this stage so we took off and headed to the second FAD. Not much was happening here either unfortunately. I did notice a couple of small fish below the FAD so I took my bonefish rod and made a few casts. I soon hooked up to a flying fish, only small but I had plenty of fun hooking these things and seeing them fly out of the water! Itu said it was a first for him as they had never caught any on the fly rod before.
Flying fish on the Crazy Charlie
We headed back to the first fad after having some fun with half-a-dozen or so flying fish, the mahi mahi showed up again and after a bit of trial and error finally managed to hook one. However it was on 20lb fluorocarbon tippet! After 40 minutes of an absolutely epic battle I finally landed it, they are a stunning fish.
The setup I was using for the mahi mahi was a 12wt rod with an Abel 11-12n reel, which subsequently didn’t last for the full 40 minutes, the drag plate bearing disintegrated after about 30 minutes which made the last 10 minutes pretty tough.
The Golden Maverick
GT’s are a nice fish you know….unfortunately I didn’t catch any! I Hooked maybe 10-15 GT’s and as they were all larger than average fish every single one broke my fly lines or busted the leaders. All I wanted was a slightly smaller model! I used an Airflo GT line initially but it was not strong enough to hold the gangsters away from the coral – it broke pretty easily, after persisting with it for about 6 or 7 more GT, the switch was made to Rio Leviathan floating line. This held up pretty well and you could put a lot more pressure on them than with the Airflo line. However this too succumbed to the power off the GT! I switched to the Rio Leviathan intermediate line and this was a pretty strong line however I never had the chance to cast to any more GT’s with it. I did managed to land some nice bluefin trevally with it though, which are a stunning fish.
If you are planning on targeting GT’s in Aitutaki, I would recommend getting a fly line that is 70lb +. The Rio leviathans are 70+ and held up a lot better than the Airflo GT line which has a core of 50lbs. With leaders, I started out using 60lb fluoro, but soon learned this was a massive mistake. It was shredded within seconds of my first hookup. I changed to the strongest leader material I had which was 100lb Rio fluoro – this was also pretty easily shredded. Itu gave me some of his 180lb leader material and this was obviously a lot more robust, but even if the GT dives into and around the coral you can put pressure on him with out the leader breaking and you do have a chance to get him out of the coral. My set up for GT’s was a 12wt rod a Fin Nor 4.5 big game fly reel (not ideal – it was my back up after my Abel was destroyed by the mahi mahi). I’d recommend the Rio Leviathan floating line, however i’m not sure that they are still making these. Just get the strongest floating line you can find!!
Itu holding up one of the smaller bluefin trevally, caught on a crease fly.
Flies used for GT and bluefin trevally were white and red crease flies tied on a 6/0 Gamakatsu SL11-3H, and the best streamer was a black brush fly on a 8/0 Gamakatsu sl12s. I used EP brush and Steve Farrah flash blend for the tail, I used Loon UV clear to stick the eyes on, it seemed to be reasonably durable doing it that way. I loved fishing with the crease flies, they can acquire a fishes attention from quite a distance. At one stage, I cast the fly into the path of some cruising bluefin trevally. However, the line that was on the deck of the boat tangled and formed a knot and I left the crease fly bobbing on the surface as I tried frantically to get the knot out. Then the fish spotted the crease fly and slurped it off the surface like a brown trout taking a mayfly – it was pretty epic! Unfortunately, by the time I managed to remove the knot the fish had also managed to remove the fly from its mouth.
6/0 Crease Fly
Bluefin Trevally were a major highlight of my trip to Aitutaki
On the last few days of my trip Itu and I mainly targeted giant trevally, however they were not playing very nicely at all which has prompted me to arrange another trip. I will seek my vengeance next February!!!
We did manage to hook into a few more decent sized bonefish though, which was a pretty good consolation.
20 thoughts on “Aitutaki”
Great adventure and fantastic fish!! It is currently around -22°C in Montreal with the wind chill factor!! This post was a real balm for me this morning!
Glad Paul was able to offer you some warmth Bruno!
Fantastic write up and pics. Congrats on the monster bonefish. That is really something! My micro Vic trout are a fun but ultimately poor substitute!
Cheers Dan, Glad you enjoyed it.
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Yeah, this is a great article. Very informative on a technical level with just the right dose of experience thrown in.. Awesome photos.. Great fish..
Dear Paul great report and fantastic fish ! I’ll be there next August. Do you know if Itu is renting 12wt rods ?
Have look to this new film of Aitutaki, and many thanks for your answer and greetings from Switzerland, Fabio
Hi Fabio, I dont think you could rent a 12wt when I was on the island.. if you contact itu he may be able to help you out.. he has a 14wt he always carries on the boat.. I used tfo ticrx 12wts which retail in the USA for about 275 dollars.. it’s a pretty cheap but nice fast action rod.. redington also make a couple of nice 12wt rods depending on what action you want.. you will need a good reel with lots of backing..
What a phenomenal post! I blogged about Itu after we shared emails about fly design for bonefish patterns in 2013. Now you have set the bar so high, it is only a matter of time before I fly to the other side of the world (from London) to catch and release my own 15lb bonefish. Bravo! I have moved my metiefly blog to a new url… Please come and visit me at http://flyfishingwithme.com
Best regards – Mark
Thanks Mark.. you will definitely have fun in aitutaki.. you can check out some video of the trip here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D53ndiD5sEQ
Thank you for this excelente review
I’m planning a visit to Aitutaki next year for bonefishing, but my vaccation will be in May. So, I have read and check the historical stats that shows a rainny season from November to Abril; a less rainny in May and October and a dry season in July, August and September. This is important for a good bonefishing trip, where sun light is crucial to spot the fish.
In which month you travelled and how about the weather (rainny days)?
Hi Luiz, My trip was in November.. May should also be fine for bonefish.. if you have a guide it wont matter if it is sunny or overcast they can see the fish no matter what.. even with gusty winds.. I had a few overcast and rainy days .. I fished by myself on these days and I still caught bonefish..
Hey what colour sunnies did you use? Any recs?
Hi, I used copper/amber lenses they worked really well in the salt water.. the guides either wear a copper/amber or a yellow lens.. I use Tonic glasses.. there are a few new designs these days, you can shoot them an email and ask what is best for saltwater flats fishing, im pretty sure most people will recommend copper/amber though.
Did you use the welded loops on the Rio and Airflow lines for GTs?
Hi, I made my own loops.. I cut the line on an angle, folded it back to create a loop and with a bobbin and Kevlar thread I whipped it together .. I’ll put up a couple of pics to show what it looked like when it was completed.
How do you attach the diamoned braid to the hook .I’m new to flytying.
just sent you a message mate..
Great write up, great photos and great fish! I’m off in May to fish Aitutaki, including a few days guiding with Itu. I think I’ll save the GT fishing until nearer the end of the trip… need to preserve my gear until then!
Just wondering, as I haven’t fished for Bones before…did you use a floating line much… I tend to use tropical intermediates when I’m up North in Aust. Also.. What was the average depth when you were wading for the Bones?… or maybe more importantly, what size or weight eyes were you using? I’ll make sure I have some beadchain eyes for the really shallow/spooky stuff.
G’day Neil, medium and small pearl eyes (lead eyes, painted) worked really well last trip.. previously hot orange 4mm and 4.8mm have worked well.. Last trip I tried bead-chain eyes but they don’t hold the bottom very well, there are some pretty strong currents. I wouldn’t recommend a floating line, you need to get down fairly quickly and with the wind a floating line gets dragged on the surface which pulls the fly up off the bottom. I used the rio tropical general purpose intermediate tip.. average depth when I fished by myself was about shin deep to thigh deep at the most.. I like to wade about knee deep cause its easier to spot fish.. any deeper than that and I struggle.. itu and rua can spot them at any depth on the flats.. unbelievable fish spotters!!