Key West Fly Fishing
Flats Fishing Trips
Guided Saltwater Flats Fishing with Fly Rods and Light Tackle
All fishing charters include complimentary use of Sage and Loomis Rods, Tibor and Shimano Reels, Sci. Angler & RIO fly lines, Seaguar Flourocarbon leaders & tippets, hand tied flies and lures and all terminal tackle, an iced down cooler with bottled water and your fishing licenses.
Pound for Pound, Tarpon provide anglers with some of the most thrilling battles on the long rod or light tackle. Their sheer strength, running and jumping abilities, and power will test even the most experienced angler. The world record tarpon (16 pound test) on fly rod (188 pounds) took over 8 hours to land! By contrast, the 80 pounder that Capt. Dexter is holding in the photo with this lovely tarpon angler took only 25 minutes to catch and release.
Tarpon runs begin in February and continue through the middle of July. Baby tarpon of salmon size to 30 and 40 pounders are resident to the channels and mangrove creeks year ’round. That means you can get shots at them whenever the conditions are right. When the migration of adult silver kings starts in the winter and early spring, there are tarpon in the 40 to 200 pound class through the middle of July!
Tarpon sport fishing is the ultimate for most fly rodders and light tackle enthusiasts. Our main tools are 10, 11, or 12 weight SAGE OR LOOMIS fly rods rigged with TIBOR OR ABEL reels, with intermediate or floating lines, depending on the depth of the water. We also use SAGE and LOOMIS spinning rods with SHIMANO reels that can handle 250 yards or more of 20 pound test for light tackle.
Permit are found on the flats on both sides of the Keys, Atlantic and Gulf! If you want numerous great shots at these pranksters, try visiting in the Winter-Spring, early Summer or Fall (Feb., March, April, May, June; Sept., Oct, early Nov.). Permit will show every month of the year, with water temperatures in the 70-88 degree range. Like all flats fish, Permit do not like severe changes in water temp. Our Permit run from 10 to 40 pounds and are the ultimate casting challenge!
Permit will test your fly rod skills and patience. They will take a fly when it is presented properly and accurately, if they are in the mood! Permit take live crabs like they are candy. Hookups with 20 pound or heavier Permit provide the angler with a twenty minute or longer fight. Using a 9 or 10 wt. fly rod or a spinning rod with 10 or 12 pound test, and keeping the slack out of your line when you cast and retrieve is the key to improving your hookup ratio with the Great Pompano. Catching and releasing “Mr. Rubber Lips” is a joy to all!
Bonefish are currently making a resurgence in the Florida Keys, Key West and the Marquesas. You will have opportunities for catching bonefish on the Atlantic and Gulf flats. We have made a point to refine fly and lure patterns and fish flats with little pressure, which results in more shots at happy fish and therefore more hookups. We will stalk the bones on the white sand and on the grass flats, sometimes wading to get better shots. The best months are from March through early November.
Bonefish of the Keys are known for their explosive first runs, ripping off hundreds of yards of backing or line in a matter of seconds. On an 8 wt fly rod or a 10-12 pound test light tackle spinning rod, the bonefish will take you by surprise on the initial hook-set, testing your angling skills right out of the blocks! If the angler sets the hook too hard or lifts the rod too soon, the fish’s power will break him off right away or the fly or lure will pull out of the bone’s mouth too soon. The proper technique is to wait for the bone to come tight with the line before lifting the rod gradually, then let the fish run with the line cleared to the reel and the drag screaming. It is one of the best angling adrenalin rushes you’ll ever have!
Barracuda, Cobia, Sharks
Barracuda, Cobia, Sharks can be found year ’round but are especially present during the winter months (December, January, February, early March). Some exciting flats angling action are tied to these species. Barracuda are the “Rodney Dangerfield of the flats”, undeservedly so. Not only do they get little respect from anglers, but they also are overlooked for their fighting power, jumping ability, and lightning fast runs. Once you get hooked on big ‘cudas in the winter months, it is hard to pursue any other species. Like small tarpon with teeth, they will test your tackle and angling abilities. Cobia in particular are great eating and is one of the three flats species (Florida Pompano and Mutton Snapper the others) that we will take for the table. Cobia arrive in the winter months and migrate through the flats until the end of March or early April. They cruise around in packs, often following sting rays. Cobia are often confused with sharks by their color and shape. Hookups on these 20 to 40 pound “lings” are rare, but we are always on the lookout for their presence. We use 10-20 pound light tackle rods and reels as well as 8-9 wt. (10 or 11 wt. for cobia and shark) fly rods for these fish.