The Tampa Bay Times

While drifting the flats for other species, mangrove snapper are often encountered this time of year as they school in preparation for spawning later. When using a typical 8 or 9-weight fly rod with size 1 or 1/0 baitfish imitating flies searching for trout, reds, and larger fish, a snapper will occasionally be hooked. Probing deeper areas in grassy flats, rock piles and docks are often key locations. If one is found, many more are there. Use your anchoring system and change to a setup that will greatly increase your chances for success while adding to the fun. A 4 or 5-weight fly rod equipped with a clear sink tip line and a 9 ft leader tapered to 8-pound test fluorocarbon is needed especially if water is clear. Select a small weighted size 8 fly that imitates a crab, minnow, or shrimp. In order to fish close to the bottom where they are located, use a countdown method. After the cast, count until the line goes slack indicating the fly is on the bottom. On your next cast, begin the retrieve sooner. Keeping the fly close to the bottom, or structure will give you constant action. Takes can be very subtle so set the hook when feeling any hesitation. This can be a great experience for new fly fishers and children. The light fly tackle will give these strong small fish a chance to really pull, and their bait stealing reputation will be foiled by constant hookups with the smaller flies. 

Fly fisherman and casting instructor Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at and (727) 504-8649.

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