Fish Species

Snook on the fly Centropomus undecimalis

SNOOK! The snook is a very desirable target on the fly for many reasons; the abundance of energy & fight despite the subtle strike (well sometimes anyway) but and much to our dismay, they apparently are incredibly tasty as well. We can say that we have never killed a snook, and never will. We encourage you to catch and release as this species is in trouble in Florida and the Gulf states.
There was a very cold season which included a freeze of 2009 which killed and chased off most of the species there. Bonefish, permit and tarpon disappeared but we think they just went south because they did gradually come back. The snook there are still not quite back and not where they used to be. The number and size of the snook in southern Florida and the Gulf of Mexico is still significantly decreased. The commercial and recreational harvest of common snook was prohibited throughout Texas and Florida (USA) until August 2013.


Common snook have a slender body and a distinct lateral line. They can grow to over 45 inches (~120 cm) in total length. This is the largest of any of the other species in this family. The typical caught snook is about 2-6 lbs (~1-3 kg) but they can grow to about 45-50 lbs (20-22kg) Imagine that on your 7 weight, actually don’t….you’ll just get upset. Common snook on the Atlantic coast of Florida commonly grow to larger sizes than common snook on the gulf coast of Florida. The largest observed size of females on the Atlantic and gulf coasts are 43.5 inches and 40.6 inches (~110 & 103 cm) respectively. The all tackle record for a common snook caught on hook and line is a 53 pounder in Parismina Ranch, Costa Rica. The common snook has a sloping forehead with a large mouth and a protruding lower jaw, its almost duck-like. Coloration of the common snook is neutral color tan to gold/yellow. The pelvic fins are bright gold/yellow as well. The most distinctive feature of the Snook is the unmistakable black lateral line.
Juvenile common snook are generally found in the the protection of riverine and estuary environments. there is shallow water and an overhanging vegetative shoreline and plenty of places to hide in the mangrove roots and sea grass. Juvenile common snook can survive in waters with lower oxygen levels than adults basically because their demands are much lower. Adult common snook inhabit many environments including mangrove forests, beaches, river mouths, nearshore reefs, salt marshes and sea grass meadows. The Snook is the master of the ambush, they usually feed in moving water and wait for something to swim by and then lay their should to waste. Snook as mentioned can be affected by temperature. They do not like extremes of weather. They prefer to feed at night when in the warmer months and on the sunny side of flats in the cooler months. The lower lethal limit of water temperature is 48.2°-57.2° F (9°-14° C) for juveniles and 42.8°-53.6° F (6°-12° C) for adults.
Snook are aggressive hunters using canals and rivers as their hunting grounds. They eat. Snook use the moving water to lay and wait while the food is brought to them. Its a very economical and efficient way to feed. As they grow larger and mature, they eat baitfish, shrimp, crabs and what ever the tides bring. Their diet is very similar to Redfish. They are not particularly finicky when it comes to eating and they will hit anything that crosses their path.
Common snook on the Atlantic coast of Florida commonly grow to larger sizes than common snook on the gulf coast of Florida. The largest observed sizes for females on the Atlantic and gulf coasts are 43.5 inches and 40.6 inches (110.5 and 103.2 cm) respectively. The world record for a common snook caught on hook and line is a 53-pound 10-ounce (24.28 kg) in Parismina Ranch, Costa Rica.
Common snook are the most widely distributed species within the Centropomus genus and have been reported as far north as New York (USA) and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. That being said, We don’t recommend fishing for them north of Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida, you won’t catch one. Common snook are abundant along the Atlantic coast of Florida from Cape Canaveral south through the Florida Keys, Yucatan Peninsula and down the Caribbean side of Central America to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On the West Coast of Florida snook can be caught north to Clearwater/Tampa on the gulf coast. Common snook can be caught, not that infrequently along the coast of Texas to Galveston. Again, Snook are more abundant in Central America and more tropical waters, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama have great Snook fishing, please don’t waste your time fishing for snook in the North, it just wont happen. The Pacific side of Central America has snook as well, but these are not the “common snook”, they are Blackfin snook. We mention them in our destinations pages but remember that there are many different species of snook. They’re not all common!
How to Fish for Snook
You should be ok using an 8 weight or a 9 weight rod with either a floating or intermediate line. You won’t have to cast far but you will need to be precise as many times you will be throwing side arm to get your fly along the bank of the coast under the overhanging mangroves. Fishing for snook is sometimes just blind casting at a good looking spot unless you’re lucky enough to see them in a shallow flat near a mangrove island or moving between hunting grounds. The fly is not as important with snook as it is with tarpon bonefish and permit. Your fly should have some weight so in can get to the middle column of the water of even lower. Flyboss has had much success with yellow, white and pink electric chicken type streamers and gummy minnows as well. All you need is some flash, a brighter color and a 2-1/0 hook. The strike of a snook is not subtle most of the time and you really need to set the hook quickly. If you don’t the snook will spit your fly quickly when he notices the deer hair. Most times your reel will start screaming and the hit will be monstrous. That is more the norm than the exception. The fight undoubtedly, won’t let you down. Check out our Library of HD Fly tying videos Use the World Map & Destinations specific Fishing Calendars to help plan your trip

bunny toad
yucatan charlie (variant for snook)

Good Snook/Bad Snook? James H. Snook is NOT giving Snook a bad name….. James H. Snook in 1929. Born: James Howard Snook 17 September 1879, West Lebanon, Ohio, United States, North America Died:28 February 1930 (aged 50), Columbus, Ohio, United States, North America Cause of death Electrocution by Electric Chair James Howard Snook was an Ohio athlete and veterinarian convicted and executed for murder. Snook was a member of the U.S. Olympic Pistol Team, which won a Gold Medal at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. Later, Snook was the head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at The Ohio State University. He invented the snook hook, a surgical instrument which is still used in spaying animals. Snook was convicted of murdering Theora Hix, a 29-year-old medical student with whom he had had a three-year sexual affair. Snook claimed at his Columbus,Ohio, trial that he had killed Hix because she was threatening to kill Snook’s wife and family, and that he feared she would shoot him. The trial was considered shocking for the sexual activities discussed, including fellatio. The jury took 28 minutes to deliberate before finding Snook guilty, after which he was sentenced to death by electrocution. Snook was executed on 28 February 1930 at the Ohio Penitentiary, by means of the electric chair. His tombstone, omits his last name, reading only “James Howard”.

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