Tips for taking pompano on fly.
Chances are that the word pompano is popping up in newspaper fishing reports, on message boards, and in the dock talk in your area this month. This is normally peak season for this delicious scrapper in the southernmost half of the state, and they are a terrific fly fish. Pompano put up a great battle, much like their bigger cousins, permit. But unlike permit, pomps actually eat (make that clobber) a fly more often than not.
Of course you must find them first. Your best bet is to fish shallow grassflats and shell bars of Gulf coastal bays from Tampa to roughly the Ten thousand Islands, and over flats and around the perimeter of spoil islands along the Intracoastal Waterway from Sebastian Inlet south to Hobe Sound.
Fly fishers are handicapped somewhat compared to jiggers when the tidal current is at its peak in places like inlets. Better to target waters where weaker current allows a sinking line and fly can reach and hold bottom more easily. When fishing the Indian River Lagoon, I do best in 3 to 6 feet. Occasionally you’ll hook a pompano close to the surface while fishing with a floating line, but a medium- or fast-rate sinking line is superior.
I fish both an 8- and 9-weight rod, though I’ll fish a 7 weight on calmer days with the lightest flies. My 8 weight is rigged with a clear intermediate sinking line (sink rate of 1.5 to 2 inches per second) to fish in water less than 4 feet deep. I prefer the intermediate sinking line when fishing over the tops of shallow bars and submerged spoil islands. My 9 weight has a sinking line (sink rate of 3 to 6 inches per second) for deeper work along the bar dropoffs or grassflats in four feet or more water. (I fish a Scientific Anglers Uniform Sink IV with good results, but most flyline manufacturers have similar offerings.)
With sinking lines, a short leader will keep your fly at the level of your line tip. A simple 3- to 5-foot piece of monofilament or fluorocarbon in the 12- to 20-pound-test range will do, though a trace of 30-pound is advised for those ubiquitous, rough-lipped ladyfish that seem to shadow pompano schools.
When stripping the fly, keep your rodtip at or just under the surface to eliminate slack; be ready to strip strike, though most pomps will hook themselves. Be ready to clear loose line—a big one will certainly get into your backing. – FS
First Published Florida Sportsman Feb. 2010
The Clouser Minnow has reportedly taken over a hundred species of fish, and you can add pompano to that list. A chartreuse-and-white or hot pink-and-white Clouser will work, but tie the wing short (just long enough to extend a bit past the hook bend) because pomps are notorious short-strikers.
I have experimented with flies over the last few seasons, and my go-to fly is one of my design, which I call the Pompano Plus (featured in past FS articles). It’s a rather simple “jig fly” with a short Super Hair and Krystal Flash tail and Cactus Chenille body, tied on a No. 1 or 2 hook. Depending on water depth, I tie in either large bead chain or dumbbell lead eyes. It looks and sinks like a jig, and I tie it in bright color combos (pink/white, pink/yellow, orange/white, yellow/chartreuse and others).
The important thing is to fish this and other flies like a jig, with erratic strips and pauses that allow it to sink. Bounce it over sand and shell bottom where shallow enough. The fly takes seatrout, snook, lookdowns and other species, too. -M.C.
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