If you’re fly fishing on Siesta Key, then you should find this article helpful. Captain Brian Boehm is a fly fishing guide (and light tackle) that regularly runs fly fishing charters around Siesta Key. This article about fly fishing on Siesta Key contains a list of the main species you will encounter, where to find fish, and what flies to use.

Additionally, this article includes a Siesta Key fly fishing calendar which clarifies what time of year you should be targeting certain species. Captain Brian goes over the best fly rods, fly line, and flies for fly anglers to use around Siesta Key. He includes links to other great articles on the best flies to use in the area and other helpful resources.

An angler fly fishing

Fly fishing from a shallow water skiff

Fly Fishing on Siesta Key

The waters around Siesta Key provide endless fly fishing opportunities. There are plenty of opportunities to fly fish by foot, paddleboard, or skiff. Siesta Key is surrounded by water that can keep any fly angler busy throughout the year. Siesta Key, is a beautiful place and it’s packed with variety for anglers that fly fish.

Siesta Key has miles of sandy shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico – ideal waters for sight fishing. On the east side of Siesta Key there are expansive shallow flats, mangrove coves, and sand bars to fly fish. Snook, redfish, tarpon, and others are ideal species to pursue with a fly rod.

Fly anglers appreciate the diverse fishery around Siesta Key. Being a traditional fly fishing guide, I predominately run trips in shallow water out of a poling skiff and pursue mainly sportfish. While there are other species that can be targeted while fly fishing on Siesta Key, the following list will be focused on inshore gamefish.

Gamefish List

Snook

Snook are a premiere saltwater gamefish and they are an excellent species to target when fly fishing. They will be in different areas around Siesta throughout the year. We’ll go over seasonal fish movements later in the article.

Snook caught by angler

A sight fished snook on fly

Redfish

Redfish are shallow water brutes and a lot of fun to catch on a fly rod. They can be found from the beaches to all the way up into brackish creeks around Siesta Key. Their preferred location will vary seasonally. Redfish are excellent fish to target with a fly rod.

Tarpon

Tarpon can be found around Siesta Key in all but the coldest months of the year. Tarpon may be the ultimate gamefish to target with a fly rod. Siesta Key gets a good run of adult fish, but also has a healthy juvenile tarpon population. Fly anglers will have many options for targeting tarpon with a fly rod. Some easier than others

Seatrout

a speckled sea trout

Seatrout with Siesta in the back drop

Seatrout of all sizes live year-round in the Siesta Key area. Fly fishing for large seatrout in shallow water is an awesome experience. Seagrass in deeper water is an excellent place to target seatrout with a fly rod. These fish normally aren’t as big as the seatrout you’ll see in shallow water, but there are more of them. They offer great action for fly anglers who want to bend the rod.

Tripletail

Tripletail can be targeted with a fly rod both in the Gulf and inshore around Siesta Key. Tripletails are hard fighting prehistoric fish. They are a perfect fish to target while fly fishing on Siesta Key. In the Gulf, they are seasonally found around crab trap floats.

Jack Crevalle

Jack Crevalle love the waters around Siesta Key. Anglers fly fishing for jacks think very highly of fish over the five pound mark. You will have your hands full with a jack approaching ten pounds. Jacks are schooling fish, so catching multiple fish from one school is very possible.

There are additional species that you can catch if you’re fly fishing on Siesta Key, but the aforementioned fish are the fish that offer the best experience and are the most accessible. They are the fish that we target on fly fishing charters.

To talk with Capt. Brian about a fishing charter text/call 941-400-6218 or click here

Jack Crevalle held by angler

Big jacks are a ton of fun

Fly Fishing Options on Siesta Key

There are different types of fly fishing that occur around Siesta, some more advanced than others. It’s worth noting some of the many options you will have to choose from. There can be some big differences between these fly fishing options. Some may require a heavier rod, a different fly line, and most obviously, different flies. Below is a list of some of the many fly fishing options available and some of the equipment that will help you get the job done.

The Beach

The beach offers fly anglers a variety of species to target. Around here, snook are the prize of the beach. Beach snook fishing is a bit of a local pastime for fly anglers in the area. It’s some of the best sight fishing a fly angler will find anywhere. The summer is prime time for beach snook. If you find that the beaches are a little crowded, then consider going south to Casey Key (via turtle beach) or north to Lido Key or Longboat Key.

Fly Rod Weight – 7-8 weights

Fly line – A floating or clear sink tip line (1-1.5 IPS) will do the job

Best Fly – Schminnow

Dock Lights

Hundreds of snook on a dock light

Jumbo snook takeover a dock light

Dock light fishing is sight fishing at night where snook, reds, and tarpon gather around underwater lights. Siesta Key has some of the best dock light fishing around. We’ve caught some monster snook on dock light fly fishing charters around Siesta. Siesta is an area that attracts big snook.

Sight fishing snook on dock lights with a fly rod is incredible fun. During certain times of the year, dock lights are the best place to catch tarpon on the fly as well. To read more about targeting snook on dock lights with a fly rod click here.

Fly Rod Weight – 8-9 weights (10-11 weights when larger tarpon are around)

Fly line – A floating or clear sink tip line (1-1.5 IPS)

Best Fly – JT clouser (link to this fly pattern near end of article)

The Shallow Flats

The shallow flats around the back side of Siesta Key are beautiful. Fishing the flats with a fly rod is an experience that every fly angler should have. The main species we target on the flats are snook, redfish, juvenile tarpon, and seatrout. The shallow flats can be fished from a skiff, a paddleboard/kayak, or can be waded.

Fly Rod Weight – 7-9 weights (9 is preferable for larger juvenile tarpon)

Fly line – Both a floating and a clear sink tip line (1-1.5 IPS). If you can only choose one, then go with the floating line.

Best Fly – EP baitfish pattern

The Back Country

Angler fights a snook

Fighting a snook in the back country

It’s a bit of a hike to get to the back country from Siesta Key, but it’s included in this list because it can be an incredible fly fishing experience. An area about 45 minutes south of Siesta Key is one of the best back country areas on the west coast of Florida.

It’s a mangrove island jungle separated by creeks, coves, and shallow flats. Snook, redfish, tarpon, and seatrout are all present in the back country. Pinning a fly in a tarpon’s cheek in the back country is one of the purest experiences a fly angler can have.

Fly Rod Weight – 7-9 weights (9 is preferable for larger juvenile tarpon)

Fly line – Floating and a clear sink tip line (1-1.5 IPS).

Best Fly – Backcountry Special

Tarpon in the Gulf

Just off the beaches of Siesta Key, is world class tarpon fishing during certain parts of the year. The tarpon migration in the summer can be legendary around Siesta Key. We get a good push of adult tarpon from May-July .

The shallow water around Gulf sandbars is one of the coolest places a fly angler can hook a tarpon. It’s 100% sightfishing for fish in the 100 pound class. Feeding a tarpon a tiny fly in crystal clear Gulf water is an unforgettable experience.

Fly Rod Weight – 11-12 weight

Fly line – Floating and a clear sink tip line. Using a clear floating line is beneficial. I’ll cover that later in this post.

Best Fly – Tarpon Toad

The Deep Grass

angler holds a seatrout

A healthy seatrout from the deep grass

The deep grass is a place that offers action. Whether you’re fishing with conventional tackle or a fly rod, if you go to the deep grass, you go there for action. If you’re the type of fly angler that is less into sight fishing and more into action, then the deep grass is where you want to be. The key with fishing the deep grass is locating fish. Once you find a fish, make sure to mark the area because there are likely many more fish in the same spot.

Fly Rod Weight – 7-8 weight

Fly line – Full intermediate

Best Fly – Clouser Deep Minnow

For all Quiet Waters fishing charter options click here

Places to Fly Fish on Siesta Key

Siesta Key is not a small island, so it’s nice to have a few areas to focus on. Below is a list of places around Siesta Key that are worth exploring with a fly rod. Many of these areas you can access by foot or paddle board. Others you will need a boat. Either way, it’s good to know which areas seem to always attract fish.

angler holds a snook

A nice snook caught on fly

Big Pass

Big Pass in one of the few passes in our area that does not have a bridge spanning over it. It’s located on the north end of Siesta and divides Lido Key from Siesta Key. There is never a shortage of tidal movement in Big Pass. Fly anglers will be pleased at the snook, redfish, tarpon, and the occasional permit that can be caught there. Big Pass can be accessed by foot at the end of N Shell Rd.

Point of Rocks

Point of Rocks is a subsurface rock formation at the south end of Crescent Beach. It’s home to a variety of species of fish throughout the year. This is a good place to find snook and seatrout off of the beach. It also holds sheepshead, snapper and other structure loving species.

Siesta Key Canals

angler holds tarpon

A juvenile tarpon from canal dock lights

There are miles of canals cut through Siesta Key. Canals are a great place for fly anglers to get out of the wind and target snook and redfish. Some canals in Siesta open into little coves with mangrove islands, oyster bars, and more. Fly fishing in canals is primarily done from a skiff. Canals tend to have some of the best dock lights around Siesta Key. In the winter, snook seek refuge in the warm water of canals.

Midnight Pass, Vamo, & More

On the back side of Siesta Key is the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). There are great shallow water flats, mangrove coves, and expansive bars to fish. On the south end of Siesta, there used to be another pass called Midnight Pass. It was pinched close during a storm in the late 90’s and was never reopened again. The result was Siesta Key and Casey Key becoming connected near Turtle Beach

There are some incredible areas to fish on the ICW side of Siesta where Midnight Pass used to flow. Most of these areas will need to be accessed by boat or paddleboard. The best place to launch is the boat ramp across from Turtle Beach. This area holds snook, reds, juvenile tarpon, and seatrout through much of the year.

To talk with Capt. Brian about a fishing charter text/call 941-400-6218 or click here

Siesta Key Fly Fishing Calendar

Winter

Dock light snook can become very large

Big snook on a cold night

The cold fronts and lower tides of winter are all factors that impact fly fishing on Siesta Key. On cold mornings, fly anglers may be better off getting a later start and letting the water warm up a bit. There is a real shortage of baitfish during the winter. Fly fishing with smaller flies that mimic glass minnows and shrimp is a wise choice during winter.

Negative low tides in winter send snook, redfish, and seatrout to the deepest holes on the flats. If you know where these holes are and you fish them correctly, you can catch multiple fish from one spot. At times, it can seem like fish in a barrel.

Many snook will seek refuge in the dark bottomed canals of Siesta Key. The water there is warmer and staying warm is a priority for snook in the winter. The docks with the deepest holes usually hold the most snook and reds. The winter time is also a great time to use tiny flies on dock lights at night for snook and reds.

Redfish will be very active during the colder months on the flats behind Siesta Key. Wading while you fly fish can be an excellent approach for redfish. The shallow and clear water can make redfish nervous during winter months. Wading is a quiet way to approach redfish without spooking them. Try to keep the sun over your shoulder when wading.

Spring

In spring, the baitfish return and water temperatures rise. Finding snook on the flats becomes much easier. In late spring, our first tarpon begin showing up off of the beach. Fly fishing for tarpon off the beach is not an easy game, but it is an incredible experience when everything comes together.

angler holds tarpon

A nice spring night tarpon

Snook begin heading towards Big Pass in late spring as well. Snook will be spawning in the pass during big tides. That’s also about the time that snook begin to consistently show up along the beach. It’s incredible how effective a little white shminnow fly can be on beach snook.

Redfish love spring and roam the flats with gusto. By the end of winter, redfish show signs that they are tired of being over-targeted in shallow water. The flush of higher tides, warmer water, and schools of baitfish seem to make them forget about being nervous. Redfish can be very aggressive in the spring. The JT clouser and the floating minnow fly are two of my favorite flies to use during spring around Siesta Key.

Summer

a woman holds a permit caught on the flats

Her third permit on the shallow flats

Summer time around Siesta Key is prime time for tarpon and snook on the fly. Focusing your attention on the beaches, Big Pass, and the Gulf is a wise choice in summer. During the early stages of summer, the tarpon migration is in full swing. Late spring and early summer is a great time to find the occasional permit. Most will be under three pounds, but a permit on the fly is awesome no matter what the size.

The beaches will have snook crawling down the shorelines even on the hottest days. You can get out early and cast to structure, or you can wait until the sun gets up and sight fish these awesome gamefish. The majority of snook you will see on the beach will be less than 25 inches, but you will find larger snook as well. It’s not uncommon to see a snook over 40 inches idling down the shoreline.

Dock light fishing can become downright ridiculous by late summer. With water temperatures becoming uncomfortably warm for some fish, they prefer to feed at night. Late summer is normally when we find our biggest snook and redfish on dock lights. It’s also a great time to target tarpon on dock lights with a fly rod. Most of the tarpon will be juveniles, but we always find a few adults as well.

Big pass is a great place to fly fish during the heat of the summer. The cool Gulf water is regularly flushing through which keeps the fish much happier. Redfish and snook are both great bets in late summer in the pass or on flats that are very close to Big Pass.

Fall

Fall brings a relief from the summer heat and water temperatures begin to cool around Siesta Key. Fly anglers will still find snook on the beach in early fall, though their numbers will decrease as fall progresses. Crab pots will begin to hold tripletail in the Gulf which is another great species to target when fly fishing around Siesta. A shrimp fly is generally a wise choice when targeting tripletail.

There will still be juvenile tarpon around at least until early November on Siesta Key. The best way to target these fish with a fly is either early in the morning or at night on dock lights. Rolling tarpon will show you where you should be fishing in the morning.  The southern region of the back side of Siesta is a good place to look.

releasing a redfish

a healthy fall red

Dock light fishing will continue to produce large snook, healthy redfish, and juvenile tarpon. The tarpon will begin to thin out after the second or third cold front moves through the area. As fall drags on and water temperatures cool, we’ll begin to see less and less snook around the pass. Instead they will head towards the more consistently warm water of canals and brackish creeks.

In the early stages of fall, fly anglers can still use larger EP baitfish patterns, but as temperatures cool and bait becomes scarce, then it’s time to size down. Go with fly patterns that resemble glass minnows and small shrimp. At night on dock lights, it becomes fairly common to use flies in the size 6-8 range at the end of fall.

For all Quiet Waters fishing charter options click here

Odds & Ends

shallow water bird

The Quiet Waters Skiff

Best Fly Rod

Orvis makes a couple of great fly rods for fly fishing around Siesta Key. The Recon and the Helios 3 are both great rods that offer a nice combination of power and touch. The recon may be the best value for its performance. Scott fly rods, especially the older meridians or the newer sectors are incredible rods.

Best Fly Reel

Depending on what you’re targeting, you may not need to spend too much money on a fly fishing reel. The Lamson speedster is a light narrow spooled reel with a large arbor. It’s a durable reel that I can’t say enough good things about. Serious anglers who will be fly fishing for large tarpon should consider the Nautilus CCF-X2 Silver King.

Best Fly Line

I really like Monic fly lines. They offer completely clear floating lines as well as clear tipped lines. Once you use a clear fly line, you will not want to fish without one. I have transitioned all of my reels to monic except my sink tip line which is a Rio product.  If you want to spend more money for a bigger name, then try Rio or Airflo. The Rio flats pro series shoots through guides like a bullet, but it’s a bit heavy and can spook fish if you’re not careful.

Best Flies

I have mentioned a few really great fly patterns to use throughout this article. I have another article specifically dedicated to the best flies to use in our area. You will find a number of great fly patterns there, as well as some clarification on fly patterns that you might not be familiar with.

Best Fly Fishing Resources

If you made it to the end of this article, then you are likely the type of person that doesn’t mind doing a little bit of reading to educate yourself. There are some fantastic books out there that will transform you into a well-rounded fly angler. I reviewed the best fly fishing books for Florida. You should find the book list beyond helpful. Finally, if you’re planning on boating around Siesta Key, then you may find THIS helpful.

We’ll see you on the water soon,

Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing
941-400-6218
Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Sarasota, FL