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10 Top Flies for Florida Saltwater

Drew Chicone, a Southwest Florida fly tyer and author of recently released Feather Brain, put together a list of 10 Top Flies for Florida Saltwater. The list is special to the Florida Sportsman Fly Fishing page. 

If you're new to saltwater fly fishing, determining what flies you need for a destination trip can be a daunting task. Although there are numerous variables to consider, a few basic principles can simplify the selection process and reduce the size and number of fly boxes you have to lug around.  Whenever possible mimicking the indigenous prey items is best, but if you're exploring uncharted territory or fishing a location for the first time your box needs to contain an arrangement of utility patterns that have proven effective in a number of conditions or can be easily modified on the water.

When loading up your fly box for Florida's saltwater species, you want to make sure you have four general categories covered: clear-water baitfish patterns, off-color baitfish patterns, crab, and shrimp patterns. "Matching the minnow" or prey items size and location in the water column is paramount to catching fish, so incorporating flies with varying sink rates and buoyancies is essential. In general when fishing in stained or off color water, darker flies have a tendency to be more productive. Shades of black, brown and purple produce better silhouettes in lower visibility water. If you're tying your own flies, working in a few strands of gold or copper colored flash is an excellent addition.  In clear water situations, the forage tends to be void of color, so translucent or lighter colors like white, gray or chartreuse are more effective. I like to tie a few blank canvas patterns in my box. No matter where I fish, I always pack one or two all white (Blank Canvas) baitfish, shrimp, and crab patterns that can be easily altered with permanent markers, depending on what I see on the water.   3 or 4 markers don't take up much in you bag, but they just might be just what you need to save an unproductive day.

Here are 10 of my go-to patterns with a proven track record in a variety of different conditions:


About Drew Chicone and Feather Brain:

Feather Brain is a great roadmap for tying better-looking and better-performing saltwater flies.  Step-by-step tying instructions and explanations walk you through how to select materials as well as apply them. Insights from nine top saltwater fly tiers, including Bob Clouser, Joe Mahler, Jonny King, Jon Cave, Bob Popovics, and Chris Helm, will give you a unique perspective as to what factors led them to design their legendary patterns, and why they choose the materials they did and techniques to apply them. Whether you're looking for information on designing your own patterns, tying with saltwater materials, or fixing typical problems, Feather Brain will improve the craft of any serious or beginning fly tier.

Chicone has lived and breathed the sport since he was tall enough to sit at the vise and his fly creations are both well known and in high demand among Florida guides. Drew's has been a FFF Certified Casting Instructor, and commercial fly tier for many years. His patterns are sold in numerous fly shops and have appeared in several publications and online articles.

He is a member of the Dyna-King Pro Tyer Team, Clear Cure Goo Pro Tyer Team, an Ambassador for Nucanoe, as well as a Royalty Tyer for the Orvis Company.

Drew is the past Vice President of Sanibel Fly Fishers, as well as a member of the Tarpon and Bonefish Trust, and plays an active role in the preservation of local fisheries by donating his time to Mote Marine's Snook and Tarpon research programs. He enjoys instructing in person and on camera and has made several instructional videos. He is known for his willingness to help fly tiers young and old improve their skills at the vise. Drew is an entertaining and knowledgeable presenter, with an animated sense of humor and a high-energy personality that draws in the audience.

For more info on Drew or his latest works, please visit his website and blog at For product reviews, tip, tricks and more, feel free to subscribe to the Monthly Newsletter The Salty Fly Tying Chronicle or join Salty Fly Tying on Facebook.

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