Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish
Q. Can you give me some information on the type of flies I would need for the Pine Island area of Florida? I tie my own flies and have never fished in the area and am trying to get information on the materials that I would take down for my trip. I want to fish for snook, trout, redfish and anything else that might be exciting on a fly rod.
A. This is the standard answer to this type of question: For casting potholes and edges for trout, good flies are tan/white, chartreuse/white, and olive/white clousers. For tailing reds try crab patterns, like the bastard crab, shrimp patterns, merkwan (aka kwan - merkin with no legs, craft fur tail), or the Gartside gurgler. For reds and snook in the bushes, or sight fishing, the mangrove muddler is productive, I suggest carrying three colors (brown, olive, white). Deceivers, Gartside gurgler, and bendbacks in white, olive/white, tan/white are also productive.
But that’s not really the best answer. The best answer is about the prey that the gamefish are eating in each of the habitats listed above. The clousers, for example, can imitate the many species of baitfish that swim in the middle and upper water column, and even some of the bottom-dwelling prey fish. It depends on where and how the fly is fished – a chartreuse/white clouser stripped through the middle or upper water column will present a good imitation of baitfish. A tan/white clouser bounced along the bottom of a pothole is a good imitation of bottom-dwelling fish like gobies.
The muddlers along the mangroves are good imitations of the many species of killifishes that live in these habitats. In general, it’s best to select fly color to match the habitat – backwater mangrove creeks = brown or olive, sand flats next to mangrove shorelines = white. Rather than go on and on, let me end this one by stating that this is what the Fisherman’s Coast Approach is all about – understanding the habitats, the prey in the habitats, and how gamefish use the habitats, so that fly design and selection has a purpose. You can read a lot more about this in my books.
The Fisherman's Coast approach focuses on how coastal gamefish interact with their habitats and prey. The more you know about the gamefish you pursue with a fly rod, the more often you'll be in the right place at the right time with the right fly making the right presentation. It's about catching more fish.
Our sister site Tribal Bonefish is all about conservation through responsible fishing. Tribal Bonefish shows you how to become a better steward of our coasts to protect our fisheries today, and ensure future generations get a chance to experience these fisheries.