In Florida you’ll find many species of fish – redfish, snook, seatrout, tarpon, snapper, moonfish, jacks – it’s a long list. When you’re traveling, you often don’t have room to bring a ton of tackle. I hope the list below reflects an exercise in minimalism for Florida inshore saltwater flies.
Regardless of where you intend to fly fish or what you intend to fish for, the saltwater fish you’ll be encountering eat three things for the most part- smaller fish, shrimp, and crabs. The flies carried should reflect this. Additionally, some attractor-style flies like spoonflies and poppers should be carried, too. Use what you’re familiar and comfortable with. This list is only a guide, a starting point.
Try to fit all the terminal tackle into a small pack like the Simms Freestone Hip Pack. In the pocket of the pack put the following items:
- a couple of finger guards;
- a Dr. Slick hook file;
- a stick of sunscreen for the lips.
Inside the pack put the following:
- fluorocarbon leader wheels in 12-, 15-, 20-, and 30-pound test;
- a package of Knot 2 Kinky leader wire. You never know when this might be needed;
- a dehooker;
- a Gerber Multitool or equivalent;
- a small bag with a half dozen small white shrimp flies for nighttime dock fishing. If you get a chance you will be ready;
- a one quart ziplock bag containing a couple dozen synthetic minnow fly patterns, similar to Puglisi style flies, in sizes from #4 to #2/0, many with weedguards, some tied as bendbacks. Each of the flies should be in an individual poly bag to prevent tangles.
I find streamers tied with synthetics are easier to cast. They don’t get heavy when used, since they don’t absorb water. And, bugs don’t eat them! But if you prefer natural materials, by all means use them instead.
In my pack I carry a small Plano box jammed with flies, including-
- 3 spoonflies. I don’t like using these because I don’t make them, but sometimes they can save the day;
- a half dozen Merkin-style (or other) crabs, size #4, with weedguards;
- several Clouser Minnows in various colors and sizes (#4-1), some with weedguards;
- several black bunny leeches, #2, with weedguards;
- several of my take on the Borski-style Sliders, size #4 and 2, in various colors and weights, with weedguards;
- a few Trout Bites or other style bendback, size #4 and 2;
- a few Rattle Rousers, size #4, great for dirty water; and
- a selection of poppers and gurglers. Baby tarpon love small gurglers! If you have space, a few fry minnow patterns will be great for freshwater fishing and baby tarpon.
With this kit, or something equivalent, you could fish inshore saltwater anywhere north of Key West and would be prepared for most of what you would encounter.
Please understand that none of these flies are magic. I tie all my own flies, spoonflies excepted. I am a huge fan of five-minute flies. If you have fancier, sexier, whatever-er flies you prefer, by all means use them! The fish won’t be saying to themselves, “I wanted a gurgler today, I’m not touching that Crease Fly!”
Presentation will almost always trump pattern. Never forget that. See my article on fly presentation.
I usually toss my flies with a 9-foot six-weight equipped with a weight forward line. So, I prefer smaller, lighter flies that cast more easily.
We have discussed Florida Saltwater Flies- Packing for a Trip to Florida. In your Florida fishing fantasy, what different stuff would you bring?
all photos copyright John Kumiski 2022. All rights reserved.
John Kumiski lives in Florida. He’s been writing about the outdoors for almost 40 years. See more of his work at www.spottedtail.com and www.johnkumiski.com.
Photo Captions Florida Flies
All photos copyright John Kumiski 2022. All rights reserved.