Believe it or not, fly fishing is a popular way to fish for snook, tarpon and redfish in the Everglades coastal regions around the Ten Thousand Islands. When most people think of fly fishing, they think of mountain streams in North Carolina or the Rockies. However, this method – as opposed to the more common spinner reels – is just as suitable for near- and inshore fishing around Marco Island, Everglades City and Chokoloskee.
An increasing number of charters around the Everglades and Florida in general are offering guided fly fishing trips.
Many anglers in Florida though are still not familiar with fly fishing, including all of the parts that go into a good rig. In order to help you understand all of the components of a fly fishing rig, we’ve put together this quick guide.
Continue reading for a quick breakdown of the 5 basic parts of a fly fishing rig used on Everglades charters.
1.) Fly reel – This important component sits at the bottom of the rod and holds your line – it serves essentially the same function as a spinner reel. The size of the reel is determined by the line size. A 4-weight line for example will take up less space than an 8- or 10-weight. The most inexpensive fly reels are simply stamped-metal, while more durable reels are manufactured through die cast or machining. The majority of fly reels will either have a toothed gear or disc system for the drag.
2.) Fly rod – Typically longer than your conventional fishing rods, the fly rod flexes during casting or fighting a fish. Shorter rods range from 6-8 feet while longer ones can be 10 feet or longer. Fly rods are classified by the line weight they’re designed to carry. For redfish and tarpon fishing in the Everglades, a 10-12 rod weight is recommended. Fly rods are manufactured from a variety of materials, including graphite, nano-silica resin, boron, fiberglass and even bamboo. They also come in either one- or multiple-pieces and can have one of several types of grip styles based on how it will be used.
3.) Fly Line – The fly line feeds around your reel and through your rod’s guide holes and has your “fly” or bait at the end. Fly lines are also weighted, which allow you to cast the feather-lite fly a considerable distance without attaching a leader or lead weight. Which “weight” line you choose depends on the line weight of your rod and the size of your reel. Besides its weight, fly line comes in three different types: floating, sinking and sink-tip (i.e. where most of the line floats except the tip). Floating line is preferable for shallow waters while sinking is better for deep water.
4.) Backing and Leaders – Beyond your rod, reel and line, backing and leaders serve important functions for your Everglades and Gulf fly fishing experience. The backing serves a couple of purposes – one, it helps you hold a big fish, and two, it takes up otherwise dead space on your reel. This helps you draw the fish to the boat better since you’re pulling in more line with each turn of your reel. Some fishermen have used monofilament line for backing only to find that it stretches too much and seizes up on the spool. This is why most fly fishing charters in the Everglades will use a dacron or some other advanced backing.
Leaders sit on the other end of the rig and transfer energy from the fly line to your fly. They are available in a wide variety of weights and have either a tapered or seamless end. Leaders have traditionally been made from monofilament material, but in recent years, fluorocarbon has become the preferred material since it is completely invisible to fish.
5.) Flies – Last but not least, we can’t forget the bait itself, or “fly.” This of course is what the snook, redfish or trout will latch onto provided they are not spooked. Flies are also interesting because they come in so many different colors, materials and designs. Flies are generally broken down by how you will be using them – if you’re fishing saltwater around Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades, you will use a different fly than you would in a mountain stream.
Once you get used to the different casting style, fly fishing can be a fulfilling way to fish for snook, redfish and tarpon. It allows you to get closer to the fish while providing a robust fight, especially if you snag a tarpon.
Of course, this article doesn’t get into other aspects of fly fishing like proper presentation or how to tie a fly to your rig. Your guide will help with these details and coach you on spotting fish and properly casting the fly among other things.
If you’re looking for a different fishing experience as well as the opportunity to get an up close and personal sight of manatees, dolphin and other wildlife, we invite you consider fishing charters in the Everglades, Pine Island and Ten Thousand Islands region who practice “catch and release”. To schedule a trip, find out what fish are currently biting, or ask any questions, please contact Glades Fly Fishing by calling (239) 206-0177 or emailing CaptPaulNocifora@gladesflyfishing.com today!