Florida Panhandle USA

Destination Information
 

The Florida Panhandle offers some incredible opportunities for saltwater fly fishing. It’s hard to find areas that do not offer great fly fishing potential. Florida’s Emerald Coast is home to Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island. The Emerald Coast offers 24 miles of pristine white-sand beaches stretching along the Gulf of Mexico. This sand, made up of pure Appalachian quartz, remains remarkably cool even in the heat of summer, and gives the waters their trademark emerald-green color by reflecting sunlight back up through the surf. This area is known as an unbelievable fishing vacation destination for a variety of inshore and offshore fish. Areas: Panama City Apalachicola Jacksonville Oak Hill Hernando County Destin Fort Walton Beach Okaloosa Island Pensacola While the panhandle does not offer quite the variety of species & large numbers of fish found in Southern Florida, there are few things that are very special about fishing the panhandle. Redfish is one, when the weather cools and the flats of Southeast Florida & the Keys slow down the redfish begin to heat up in the northern part of the state. The cooler weather also brings for a few shorts weeks the “redneck bonefish” to the local beaches. Albacore schools comb the crytal clear water along the beaches for minnows and baitfish very close to shore and make for some truly amazing fishing.

Species & Tactics

Redfish

Unlike most other species that fly angler's target, Redfish are really not that well known. If you talk to an angler that targets Redfish regularly and with success, they might say it's the best species to fly fish for. That debate will rage on for ages, it's preference really, but Redfish definitely have a lot going for them and are certainly gaining popularity among salt water fly fisherman. Redfish are also known as a channel or spot-tail bass, Red drum, or just plain "Reds."
So what makes Reds so special?
First and foremost, they are a strong fighting fish that have a broad distribution from the panhandle states to northern Mexico and as far north in the Atlantic as Massachusetts. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars flying to the Caribbean or Central America to catch them.

MORE ON Redfish >

Mahi Mahi

Mahi-Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) (aka Dorado, Dolphin, Lampuga, Lampuki, Lapuki, Maveriko) If you're interested in catching super-strong, beautiful, not-too-choosy, leaping fish, here ya go. These are the saltwater equivalents of bluegills, except they jump, and they get big. Like as big as your aging retriever. The common English name "dolphin" causes much confusion and lots of hand-wringing. Let's be clear: this fish is not related to the marine mammal also known as dolphin (family Delphinidae).

MORE ON Mahi Mahi >

False Albacore

Looking to test your 12-weight rod? Want to check out the acoustics of your new reel? Head to Jupiter for false albacore. False Albacore are more accurately called little tunny (latin name: Euthynnus alletteratus). They are often referred to as bonito, but albies are not the same fish as the true Atlantic or Pacific bonito.

MORE ON False Albacore >

Tuna

General Information If not already fishing for tuna on the fly, we'll just ask....Why not? This is a serious Saltwater fly fisherman's target. It's big, hits your fly at 40 mph (75 kph) and is found in just about every fishing destination you could possibly think of. Tuna are incredibly beautiful and powerful predators that come is many many different flavors too: Bluefin, Blackfin, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Longtail, Dogtooth

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Sailfish

This is the fastest fish in the ocean!
Individual Sailfish have been clocked at speeds over 70 mph which is the highest speed reliably reported in any water creature. Sailfish are two species of billfish, the Atlantic Sailfish and the Pacific Sailfish and live in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world.

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Marlin

There is no fight like the fight of a Marlin. This is the prized fish of most saltwater anglers all over the world. They span almost all of the waters of the globe and can be caught by a variety of methods at various times of year in many diverse places. Marlin fishing is considered by some game fishermen to be the pinnacle of offshore game fish, due to their power, size and the relative rareness. It is an expensive hobby, requiring considerable money to pursue on a regular basis, single day of Marlin fishing can cost over $1000. They are possibly the most well-known fish in the entire world which probably accounts for millions of dollars in commerce spent hunting them. The novel by Ernest Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea" chronicles the struggle of a Marlin fisherman who after 85 days of failure, ventures out to sea to change his luck and catch a Marlin. Hemmingway frequently fished for Marlin, quite successfully with his family. The Marlin is the largest of the billfish and comes in many variations: Pacific Black Marlin Pacific Blue Marlin Atlantic Blue Marlin White Marlin Striped Marlin

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Spinner Shark (& other shark species)

One of the best kept secrets in all of salt water fly fishing is the Spinner Shark migration in late winter through early spring in. It happens in a place where you least expect it...West Palm & Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Really, we aren't kidding. This is spring break for sharks. They migrate to the beaches off of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach chasing fish (snook, blues and false albacore & other tuna species) that are breeding & feeding in the surf or just beyond the surf. You can sight fish for a 100+ lb. powerhouse in just 8 feet of water. Flyfishbonehead had so much fun that we went out twice in 2012, hooked 9 and landed 5 on our first trip and landed 5 of 6 on the second. Considering the fight and how hard it is to subdue this beast that was pretty darn good.

MORE ON Spinner Shark (& other shark species) >
What To Bring
 

Redfish

Redfish can be caught on a 6-8 weight but most use a 9 weight because the extra lifting power and a 9 is better for wind. As long as wind is not an issue 6, 7 or 8 weight is certainly ok. Use a floating line with at least 200 yards of backing on your reel. Leaders should be 9-15 feet with at least a 15 lb tippet. (we use 15-20 lb in most situations) The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance

Popular Flies:
Red’s Critter and other crabs, the Big Ugly, Spoons work too

redfish flies - flyfishbonehead fly tying videos

False Albacore

Albies require a 12 wieght despite being under 25 lbs (11 kg) most of the time. False Albacore will test your gear everytime. They are non-stop and once hook won’t quit even after they are already on the boat. In the Panhandle during the winter months, you can chase Albies in the shallows along the beaches watching them almost beach themselves chasing minnows. We use floating line on the beach, same as if you are fishing the flats. Tippet needs to be on the lighter side in the 12-20 lb range as these species have excellent vision especially in the clear water on the beaches. At least 200-300 yards of backing is recommended. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance

Popular Flies:
minnows, minnows and more minnows.

Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-Mahi are powerful fish that will pull the backing from you reel, jump and do whatever they need to do to get off your line. In the Florida Panhandle you are fishing in the Gulf of Mexico which means these fish are smaller than the Pacific Mahi. We still recommend a 10-12 weight rod. Use a floating line with at least 20 lb tippet material, fluorocarbon is preferred but not required. At least 200-300 yards of backing is recommended. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance

Popular Flies:
Mahi will eat there own young, what dont they eat? See all the fly tying videos & recipes

Tuna

Tuna require a 12 wieght despite being under 25 lbs (11 kg) most of the time. False Albacore & Tuna will test your gear everytime. They are non-stop and once hook won’t quit even after they are already on the boat. We use an intermediate sinking line or a full sinking line depending on conditions. Tippet needs to be on the lighter side in the 15-20 lb range as these species have excellent vision especially in clear water. At least 300 yards of backing is also recommended. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance

Popular Flies:
Tuna & Albacore like small minnow and baitfish. Larger tuna like EP Flex Calmari
Billfish
Sailfish & Marlin Offshore fishing for billfish usually involves a 12 -15 weight. Here you will have a chance at blue & white Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi-mahi & Tuna. We prefer a 14 weight and there are some which even have a butt suitable for gimbel use. Again because we are all about control of the fish and landing the fish quickly which decreases mortality and injury after release. The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Popular Flies:
EP Flex Calamari, the Sea Habit, Eat Me, Poppers

tuna flies - flyfishbonehead fly tying videos

Shark & Barracuda

Barracuda & Shark usually require a 12 weight. A 12 weight for the lifting power and usually gives the angler more control when trying to land the fish because they fight! Wind is never an issue when casting a 12 weight either. Use a floating line or what we prefer is the intermediate sink line with at least 200 yards of backing on your reel. Leaders should be 9 feet with a metal tippet material. (we use 30 lb metal tippet) The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which means different things to different people. To us, it means simply a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance

Popular Flies:
Poppers, the Great Pumpkin, Needlefish

flyfishbonehead is fly fishing in saltwater.  We make Tail Fly fishing Magazine & saltwater fly tying videos too.

Preferred Guides
Lodges
tail fly fishing magazine
tail fly fishing magazine