We’ve entered November and the first cold front of the year just moved in. One of the questions we hear most often, and one that some struggle with is: “What kind of fly should I use to catch [insert species here]?
It’s a valid question, because if you have researched fishing in Southwest Florida and the Everglades on the Internet, or have been to a fly shop, the possibilities are seemingly endless. To the beginning fly angler it's almost overwhelming trying to understand what flies to purchase or begin to tie. We hope, in this, we do well to simplify things for you.
Presentation > Pattern?
Let’s start with some advice we often give folks who visit us in the fly shop: The fly you are throwing does not matter anywhere near as much as it’s presentation. CONFIDENCE AND PRESENTATION TRUMP ALL! In short this means, if you are targeting redfish in shallow water, throw a fly that will get to their strike zone, and not hit the water with a splash. Conversely, if you are blind casting a mangrove shoreline on a higher tide, pick a fly that sinks and will fall in front of the fish faster, allowing your fly to spend more time in the target zone. If that fly is a bit more flashy, to help grab their attention, all the better.
Maybe, we’ll take add another layer to this: Throw a popper! Especially, when you find the water temperature on one extreme end of the spectrum or the other. As the water level is high and the fish feel lethargic, the popper does well to create the sounds and movement the fish tend to think is food.
To Tie Or Not To Tie
Fly fishing is as complicated as you make it. We try to keep things simple by having two categories of flies in the fly box
when fishing from land or boat. First, an unweighted fly which should land softly near to the fish you can see easily spot. Second, we carry a weighted fly, which descends lower in the water column to fish you cannot see. Think about it like this: Use the former on flats and docks where the water is low and the fish are visible and the latter along deeper passes when the water is not clear, or in mangroves where the water is tannic and too high for sight fishing.
Next we cover colors and again we’ll try to keep it simple. Use light colors when the water is clear, and darker colors when the water is stained. Many times we find ourselves throwing a white baitfish pattern tied on hooks from size 4 hooks up to 2/0 depending on what we’re targeting. Tom’s Lightbulb would be a great example of this
which has gained popularity over time. For those tannic waters where we’re typically throwing a darker color, we will usually lean towards a Black Tom’s Tantrum
. The materials create great movement, acting as a silhouette in the stained water.
All-in-all, have fun, stay safe, and please practice catch and release.
- The Mangrove Team