Fly fishing for snook should be on every anglers bucket list. They tolerate water in almost any salinity and can be found throughout Florida, Central America and many other saltwater destinations. Snook are known as a popular game fish due to they’re aggressive eats, and their ability to grow quite large very fast. At times, snook will readily take a fly but can be as picky as a permit, it is important to understand how fly fishing tactics differ from area to area.
Snook Tactics in Brackish/Freshwater
Freshwater and canal snook are generally smaller due to the lack of food in the system. They also tend to be pickier and eat smaller flies. Size 6 flies in black or black/purple, as well as gurglers, work well. Fish in skinny water tend to be a little more spooky, so lead them by a few feet, get their attention, and gradually speed up your retrieve. A long leader can make all the difference.
Snook Tactics in the Surf
Beach snook are the most difficult fish to catch, but by far the most rewarding, the smaller fish (20”-28”) make their way out to the beach along with the big girls (30”+) to spawn in the summer. Though at times beach snook take flies with reckless abandon, they are known to be extremely picky and often require the angler to bump down to 12lb tippet. Fishing flies that imitate glass minnows or any small whitefly will be your best shot.
Snook tactics in the Mangroves
Fly fishing for snook in the mangroves is the most technical when it comes to presenting the fly. When casting under the mangroves, get low, pick your spot, and let it fly. If you aren’t getting hung up, you aren’t throwing tight enough or getting deep enough. Gear wise, an 8 weight rod and 20lb tippet will have you covered. On the bright side, if you see a laid up snook in the mangroves, they are usually ready to crush a variety of flies from gurglers to big mullet imitations. So keep your eyes peeled for those aggressive laid up fish.
Snook tactics in the Dock Lights
My personal favorite way to catch snook is out of dock lights. It is very productive. The fish are generally feeding on small pilchards or shrimp. The dock light fish will eat a variety of flies, the most important thing is to match the profile of the bait. A slim size 2 fly to imitate pilchards or a size 2-size 6 gurglers to imitate shrimp works well. You can also bump your tippet up to 20lb to avoid break-offs. When you’re pulling the fish out of the dock, but keep your leader around 10 feet or so to keep as much fly line out of the light as possible. If you want to get adventurous, break out a 6 weight and try to wrestle a fish out of a light.
Remember to Break Their Spirit
No matter where you’re fishing for snook, their power and tenacity is unreal. At almost every size, if a snook wants to go somewhere, you’re going to have a hard time stopping it. So, what I mean by breaking their spirits is drop the hammer, put heat on them, do whatever you have to do in order to keep that fish out of the dock or the mangroves. This is hand to hand combat, you’re going to break off fish, that’s just part of the game. They will bury you deep in mangroves. They’ll also jump, make runs back to cover and dive deep. They don’t give up and they seem too unpredictable. Capitalize on your chance to grab their face when you can, and take your time reviving them when it’s time to send them home.
Jake Wood is a Flylords content creator and was a local to Florida but has now relocated to Austin, Texas. He is always finding a new species to pursue on his fly rod. Check out his awesome content @jakewood14 on Instagram!