Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.


Saltwater Fly Fishing For Inshore Game Fish:
Part Seventeen: Old Linesides

By Capt. Douglas Sinclair

Congratulation Doug - You Made It!

Snook

Snook are a premier, game fish, faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall mangrove roots in a single bound. Well, maybe not faster than a bullet, but Snook can certainly jump and then pull like anchors into the mangroves.

Snook (Centropomus Undecimalis) are known also as 'Robalo' or 'Old Linesides.' If ever a state has a fishing mystique, it would be that inspired by the common snook in Florida. Snook fishermen are addicted to the allure and pursue snook with missionary zeal, whether by drifting live bait on the outgoing tide near a bridge abutment, jetty or trying to deceive your them by casting a favorite fly into the shallows of the overhanging mangroves.

In the world of game-fish, the snook is always a gentleman and a prize that ignites an adrenaline rush with a starting explosion at the surface. His aerobatic display announces a hook-up. Snook are the premier fly fishing anglers dream, and Snook are found on both shores of the Americas with concentrations in Florida, Texas, and Southern California.

Running from 5 to 50 pounds, they prefer the warm temperate waters of the Atlantic and Pacific coastal areas with water temperatures of 70-86 F. Snook have sharp secondary gill plates, necessitating 50# or 40# wire shock leaders. Do not try to lift a Snook from the water by reaching your fingers under these plates as is done with freshwater and striped bass.

All Snook are known for their strength and palatability. Along with Dorado (Mai Mai) and Redfish (Red Drum or Channel Bass) they are a gourmet white-meat staple of many nations. Small-time commercials usually take them with gillnets.

Snook, like a number of species, need fresh water. In Florida, the Snook population is being curbed by the diversion of fresh water before it reaches the Everglades or Mangrove estuaries along the coastal waterways. The Snook is a great game-fish, worthy of good management, a phrase that has a hollow ring. Snook love to ambush baitfish from tall saltwater grasses at water's edge. The perfect habitat is one where there is fast flowing water either at creek drop offs, mangrove roots, or around dock pilings. Outgoing tides provide the best situations for snook because they will attack baitfish being pulled out by the tide. Be aware of water levels so you don't get trapped on a falling tide.

Local attractions

Taking Snook on a fly is a real challenge, it's not that they won't hit. They will, but they're difficult to control and break tippets in mangrove roots and other underwater obstructions. There is nothing that equals the quick water pushing, smashing attack on a fly by a snook. Snook will come at high speed out of the mangroves or a grass line and pounce on it. The same flies that take stripers will interest Snook, from bushy deer-hair sliders to sinking versions.

Smaller snook, found along the canals and fingers of the Everglades, will take appropriate sized flies tied on #1/0 to 2/0 O'Shaughnessy hooks. For most saltwater fly-fishing, this style is the ideal hook. It's an old bend, going back to the early 1800s when Robert O'Shaughnessy of Limerick, Ireland, first produced it.

Colors should match natural baitfish-- small mullet, cigar minnows, silversides-- or local shrimp. The best flies will push a lot of water, hair bug patterns is yellow, white, green, silver, and brown, all with a touch of red. My all time favorite snook fly (Beach Bunny shown below, left) also works well on Sea Trout, Baby Poon and Strippers.

Fly design by Keith Beach, Tail 
Hunters, Ormond Beach, FL Another really great fly is the Tomoka Mullet ( shown below, right) tied by Ken Bay, a personal friend, fly-tying mentor and author of Salt Water Flies [1972].

Obviously, this fly has been used a few times, and has caught a lot of snook. When you return home from your fishing trip, wash your flies in mild soapy fresh water. Fly design by Ken Bay, Holly Hill, FL This will rejuvenate and preserve the fly, and it will last until the next snook decides to devour it. Most fish caught on fly don't devour hooks. If you use barbless hooks you'll find the hook is easier to remove, making catch and release a breeze.

A fly rod is the perfect tool for working a mangrove line, because you can make repeated delivery to the strike zone very quick and accurately. One retrieve and 40-foot cast puts you right back to the spot where you saw the movement. If you keep the boat at the right angle and distance every cast can put the fly in the same location next to mangrove roots or grass line. The trick to hookups of snook, like tarpon, is to clear the loose line immediately after the hit comes and the hook is set. Since the fly is set softly the snook is free to strut his stuff. The long fly rod allows you to work the fish and dodge the roots or obstructions.

Ideal times for snook fishing are out going tides, late afternoon or very early mornings. Fly-fishing for snook is, in my opinion, better than Tarpon fishing and parallels the action of jacks, my other favorite game fish. Take an ultra hair bug and work the edges with short, snappy strips. Allow the fly to push some water.

Until next time ~ Doug

About Doug:
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters. Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental. Catch him on the web at www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500. Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.


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