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Saltwater Fly Fishing in South Florida: Tarpon, Snook, and Speckled Sea Trout, Oh My!


This summer everyone is eager to get outside and have a good time. Although there are countless things to do in South Florida, fly fishing is a popular pastime. The region is known for fish like speckled sea trout, snook and tarpon.

Catching one of these with their size, agility and vigor automatically earn you bragging rights and an adrenaline rush. We cover some info you’ll want to know about the kinds of destinations in South Florida and the different saltwater fly patterns to try, and of course, the most popular species of fish to go after.  

Knowing the Right Places 

Where you choose to fish makes a big difference, whether you plan on casting your saltwater flies from the shore, while wading in the water or floating on a small boat. The most successful anglers know exactly where to find snook, tarpon and other saltwater fish. South Florida has plenty of hotspots to suit your fishing style, from Naples to the Everglades.   

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Ultimately, selecting the most promising destination will come down to fish type, season and water temperatures. For instance, adult tarpon are prevalent in larger bodies of water in the spring and summer. However, juvenile tarpon are notorious for frequenting rivers, creeks and mangrove tunnels. They’re also attracted to dock lights, so casting your saltwater flies near a well-lit dock at night could increase your chances of catching a big one.   

Selecting the Right Saltwater Fly Patterns 

Every angler knows that if you want any chance at catching a fish, you need the right lure. You want to ensure you load up with plenty of saltwater fly patterns in your tackle box to account for various environments and even just what the fish are feeding on a given day. You can try fly lures that imitate common prey like shrimp, or “attractors” that entice with eye-grabbing colors and/or reflective materials.   

If you’re fly fishing in the spring, you can’t go wrong with vibrant saltwater flies like the orange, pink, or chartreuse shrimp. However in the summer to late fall, you’re better off with subtle, natural colors; the rootbeer or gray beach bugger is a proven winner. And one saltwater fly you should always have in your tackle is the Clouser Minnow in multiple sizes. It’s a fan favorite for just about any type of saltwater fish.    

Popular Saltwater Fish in South Florida 

What types of fish can you find in South Florida? Anglers will be pleased with their numerous options. Tarpon, speckled sea trout and snook are the most popular saltwater fish to target in the region.   

  • Tarpon – Tarpon are very prevalent in South Florida. Anglers enjoy going after these massive and energetic fish. If you’re fortunate to set your hook on one, get ready to put up a fight. Referred to as the “Silver King”, tarpon can jump about ten feet out of the water. Known for having bony mouths, you’ll want to use saltwater flies with very sturdy, larger hooks (1/0 – 4/0).
  • Speckled Sea Trout – South Florida is known for gator trout which can get up to 15 pounds. Although these saltwater fish can be found in various destinations, they tend to prefer shallow grassy flats as the sandy depressions and potholes provide a safe space to hide. They’re considered loner fish as they don’t travel in groups like their smaller counterparts. However, a plus for anglers is that speckled trout are easily lured by most saltwater flies.
  • Snook – Snook is likely one of the smartest and most aggressive fish in South Florida. You can spot snook under bridges, just off the beach, in saltwater flats, and along rivers. When a snook bites your hook, don’t claim victory just yet. This intelligent species is notorious for swimming into mangroves or snapping the saltwater fly line by dragging it under the rugged roots.

From the temps to water conditions, it’s a great time of year in South Florida for popular saltwater fish like snook, speckled sea trout and tarpon. Whether you fish from shore in Naples, take a boat to the legendary saltwater flats in the Everglades or go out to wade the surf in Sarasota, you’re surrounded by some of the best fly fishing in the world. So if you prepare ahead you’re almost sure to find success.