Fly Fishing in the Florida Keys | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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Fly Fishing in the Florida Keys

Have you ever thought about the enchanting world of fly fishing in the Florida Keys? This unique chain of islands, stretching from the southern tip of Florida down into the Gulf of Mexico, is a paradise for anglers and travelers alike. Not only does it offer world-class fly fishing opportunities, but it also immerses visitors in a vibrant blend of natural beauty, distinctive cuisine, and rich cultural experiences. Visiting and experiencing some of the 800 keys of Florida can be a life-changing experience.

Fly Fishing with Dinsmore Fishing Charters

When it comes to fly fishing in the Keys, one name stands out: Dinsmore Fishing Charters. Owned and operated by the renowned Captain David Dinsmore, this guide service is your gateway to the most fruitful fishing spots in the area. David's expert knowledge of the local waters and marine life ensures an unforgettable experience, whether you're a seasoned angler or trying fly fishing for the first time. 

With your Fly Fishing Insider Loyalty Club membership, you’ll receive a 10% discount. Reverence. Tell Dinsmore Fishing Charters how you heard about them and reference code “FFIPodcast” 

From Luxurious to Laid-Back Accommodations

After a day of fishing, relax and rejuvenate at one of the Keys' finest hotels. The Pelican Cove Resort, Amara Cay Resort, Casa Morada, and the Postcard Inn each offer a unique slice of paradise. Whether you're looking for luxurious amenities, a romantic getaway, or a family-friendly environment, these accommodations cater to all preferences, ensuring your stay in the Keys is as comfortable as it is memorable. 

A Taste of the Keys

The Florida Keys are not just a feast for the eyes but also for the palate. The local cuisine is a delectable mix of fresh seafood and unique flavors, reflecting the area's rich cultural heritage. From waterfront restaurants serving the catch of the day to cozy cafes offering traditional Key lime pie, the culinary scene here is as diverse as it is delicious. The vibrant influences of Spanish and Cuban culture can be seen and experienced just about anywhere you go. The infusion of island living and laid-back life is infectious. 

A Diverse Array of Fish Species

The Keys are a haven for a variety of fish species, making it an angler's paradise. One of the largest reef systems in the world the Keys stretch from Byscane to Dry Tortugas. The Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier in the Continental United States. You'll find everything from the elusive bonefish and powerful tarpon to the vibrant permit and snapper. Resident powerful snook and hardy redfish are also available to target. Each species offers a unique challenge, ensuring that every fishing trip is a new adventure. Depending on the areas you focus on and the temperature the area of fish available can change. The good news is that there is always something to get your line tight with.

The Perfect Climate for Year-Round Fishing

One of the best things about the fly fishing in the Florida Keys is its year-round fishing season. The subtropical climate ensures warm weather most of the year, with occasional cool breezes providing a pleasant respite. This means you can plan your fly fishing trip any time, with each season offering its own unique fishing experiences. During the cooler months, you will likely be targeting snook and redfish.  Occasionally, when the weather cooperates and gets you a warmer day or two the bonefish, permit, and tarpon will come out to play. 

Culture and Activities

The Keys are not just about fishing; they're about experiencing a way of life. Explore the rich history and culture of the islands by visiting local museums, art galleries, and historical sites. Enjoy water sports like snorkeling and diving, or simply relax on the picturesque beaches. The vibrant nightlife, with live music and bustling bars, is the perfect way to end your day.
Follow in the footsteps of Hemmingway and ask about the proliferation of Mitten cats and how they came about.  Dive into long Cuban and Spanish cultural events and or architecture. Whether you are fly fishing in the Florida Keys or eating pie and enjoying the views, it always seems to be more relaxed and laid-back as you are surrounded by beauty that takes time to soak in. 

Conservation Efforts and Sustainable Practices

As you indulge in the natural beauty of the Keys, it's essential to acknowledge the ongoing conservation efforts. Sustainable fishing practices, respect for local marine life, and supporting eco-friendly businesses contribute to preserving this paradise for future generations. For example, the bull shark has benefited greatly as scientists have found this to be the top location for studying in the world.

Planning Your Trip

When planning your trip to go fly fishing in the Florida Keys, consider the season, the type of fish you're interested in, and the experiences you wish to have beyond fishing. Booking with Dinsmore Fishing Charters ensures a tailored experience, while the suggested accommodations offer comfort and convenience.

Rods and Lines

  1. Bonefish Rod -  A 7 or 8-weight fast action rod with a floating line is ideal for bonefish. Small shrimp patterns, Gotchas, and things like that work very well.  A 7 - 10 foot fluorocarbon tippet is perfect for targeting bones.
  2. Permit/Snook/Redfish Rod - a 9 to 11 weight rod.  I prefer a 9-weight rod personally.  I am a smaller guy so having a rod that I can really flex and shoot line with gives me confidence. The key is to practice with that rod before you leave. Practice, practice, practice. I look at permit fishing as a control game. I can control how fast I can get the fly out and into the water. Accuracy comes next but it is harder because of wind and other conditions. What I can’t control is how far away they are, did I see them, would they eat. At least, my control is very limited. In other words, practice, practice, practice. Get your shots off with two backcasts at most, change directions, pick up and recast, and learn to cast in the wind. All of those practices will make a difference. For example, would you go onto a golf course without hitting a few practice balls?  Not likely, especially if you plan on performing. Don’t do that to your $5,000 fly fishing trip and expect tremendous results. It’s a no-brainer. 
  3. Predator Rod - My predator rod is set up for the big boys or other fish.  For example, I can have it set up with a bite leader for tarpon or snook, or I change it out and put a cable leader on it and target barracuda or lemon shark.  It’s my next rod up for opportunity in my opinion because I’m usually on a permit hunt or DIY bonefishing.


  1. Pliers - have a good set of pliers that have a quality cutter on them. You need this for building bite leaders, cutting tippets, and retrieving flies from crushers. 
  2. Nippers - Nippers are great for tippet but when you get into heavier lines it can be frustrating so have pliers
  3. Stripping Basket - A stripping basket is nice to have but not a necessity. On windy days it can be quite nice. It can also keep your line off the water and allow you to throw a little further with your casts. A collapsable stripping basket is ideal for traveling and allows you to pack it a bit tighter.


  • Shrimp - Mid size to larger shrimp patterns do well in Florida. In particular redfish love them
  • Gotcha - this is my favorite pattern to use for bonefish and it works well for Permit or Redfish in a pinch.  
  • EP Flies - Black and purple EP flies work great for tarpon and snook. However, have a good mix of colors
  • Crab Flies - White crabs are great all-around fly patterns. I like the Flexo crab patterns. Lighter colors are nice but a green here or there may work. I like how they sink fast but still have a little natural float to them.  I weight them because I want them down quickly.

***When stripping these flies mimic how the real ones move. Crabs are slow floaters and stop for camouflage, shrimp shoot short and quickly then hide and baitfish swim away from predators.



  • Bonefish - 10lb - 16lb will do. I’m a lighter tippet guy personally.
  • Permit/Redfish - 16 - 20lb. I prefer a 16lb 18-24 inch tippet allowing me to turn over my fly.
  • Tarpon - 20lb leader to a 40 - 75 lb bite leader.  I’m usually in a 40-50lb bite leader for middle-aged tarpon in the weight range of 30-75 lbs. Anytime I’m targeting fish where I know I’ll be fighting fish that 75 lbs plus in size, I go heavier to 75 lb plus bite leader strength.  Put on a piece that is 4-5 inches wider than what you expect the width of your target fish’s mouth. Bite leaders go on best with a Slim Beauty knot, which is also a common knot for tying tippet sizes or line sizes of different diameters. 
  • Snook - 20lb leader to a 30lb bite leader should get you through anything. 

Cable Leader

Predator Fish

  • Wahoo/Lemon Shark - 20 - 30lb leader to a cable bite leader of the same weight. The length of the leader is 4-5 inches wider than the expected width of the mouth. That keeps those sharp teach off the fluorocarbon. Cable leaders go on best with a Slim Beauty knot, which is also a common knot for tying tippet sizes or line sizes of different diameters. 

Clothing and Gear for Fly Fishing in Florida Keys

  • Hooded long-sleeve shirts  - Keep the sun off you 
  • Neck Gator - again, keeps the sun off you, soak it in water to cool down, etc.
  • Shorts - Wade in them or be comfortable on the boat. However, be cognizant of your thighs and calves when it comes to sun.
  • Lightweight Quick Drying Pants - I prefer light pants because it keeps me out of the sun. It also keeps my legs from getting scratched on coral, mangrove, etc.
  • Rain Jacket - Storms come out of nowhere and a rain jacket can be a lifesaver.  Going from 100 to cold wet wind can chill you off way too fast and you may not be right by the lodge.
  • Longer Socks - I like longer socks for wading in shorts if I don’t want to get cut up. It makes wading shoes more comfortable and because I take them off in a boat, my feet are still covered from the sun but I have the dexterity to know if my line is underfoot. 
  • Wading Shoes or Boots - Don’t wade in bare feet. The locals do it but their feet are often callused and used to it. If you get a coral cut prepare for infection and potentially losing a foot.
  • Polarized Sunglasses - A good pair of polarized glasses can make your trip. Blue lenses work best for me.  Green is good as well.  Any pair that you wear also tilt your head to the side and it will change the refraction of light. Your visibility will change. This is an old trick that will help!
  • Waterproof Backpack - I like a waterproof backpack. I put a small number of flies for the day in a fly small fly box that will go in my pocket.  Then the extra boxes go in my backpack.  I also put a DSLR in my backpack and want it to be safe.
  • Rod Holder - a rod holder is great for wading the flats. You can set it up for an extra rod, like when you want to carry a bonefish rod but have a permit rod ready. Otherwise, having a 3rd hand is nice for photos, releasing fish, walking the beach, and having a beer.
  • First Aid - small first aid packs go a long way. Cutting your feet, hooking yourself, etc.  This doesn't sound like much but if you have an accident and can address it pretty quickly it can dramatically decrease the likelihood of escalation.
  • Rescue and Travel Insurance - Ask anyone and the go-to is Global Rescue.  It's inexpensive, can cover all or a portion of your costs, and is an enormous peace-of-mind tool.  Spending time, weeks in advance, natural disasters, etc. all leave open doors for unexpected change. Or perhaps you break an ankle jumping out of a panga.  Getting insurance is something you don't regret, even if you use it.

Know Your Knots

  • Rapala Knot - This is your number one knot to connect all your flies. Get proficient at it so you can put a fly on quickly, in the dark, under a rock, on top of a roof, and under pressure. Dr. Suess is your mentor!
  • Slim Beauty - Have to connect two lines of different sizes or materials? Then this is the knot. Again, know it well. 
  • Clinch Knot - This is my fast go-to knot if I need to change flies or can’t remember something.  It’s so easy and can be easily tied on quickly with hemostats or pliers 
  • Yukatan Knot - Another great knot for connecting braided line to mono.  This one is fantastic for when you want to put the fly rod down and huck a spinning rod at some distant cuda, wahoo, or something for the fun of it. 

The fly fishing in the Florida Keys offers a experience like no other, set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture. Whether you're casting a line with Dinsmore Fishing Charters or exploring the islands' many other delights, your trip to the Keys is sure to be an unforgettable adventure. So pack your bags, grab your fishing gear, and get ready to discover the magic of the fly fishing in the Florida Keys.

With your Fly Fishing Insider Loyalty Club membership, you’ll receive a 10% discount. Reverence. Tell Dinsmore Fishing Charters how you heard about them and reference code “FFIPodcast”

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 Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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