Top 5 Florida Fly Fishing Spots for 2024

Jan 11, 2024 | 5 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you consider yourself a fly fisherman, the Sunshine State has a lot to offer. Whether it’s sight fishing on flats, mangrove swamps and estuaries, or offshore casting for big game, these waters have you covered! Today, we’re going to explore the top 5 Florida fly fishing spots.

a Florida fly fisherman casting toward the camera

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, Florida seems to be perfectly suited for fishing.

The Gulf Stream is a warm-water current that moves temperate tropical water along the coast to the northern waters. Think of it as a river in the ocean, a little over 60 miles wild and 1000 feet deep, running at 5 and a half miles per hour at the surface. It is also basically a super-highway for pelagic sea-life, such as Bluefin Tuna, Billfish, Wahoo, Mako sharks and other sought-after big game fish. It’s eddies flow along the Florida shores creating outstanding flats fishing for species such as Pompano, Permit, Snook, Bonefish, and the legendary Tarpon.

On the Gulf side, the bays and mangrove swamps are teeming with Speckled Trout and Redfish. Another unique environment is the Everglades, one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, providing some once-in-a-lifetime fishing opportunities.

The entire state of Florida has great saltwater fly fishing, but a few areas stand out. Here are the Top 5 Florida fly fishing destinations for saltwater anglers.

1. Naples

An aerial view of Naples, one of the best fly fishing spots in Florida

Conveniently nestled on Florida’s south-western coast, Naples is a fly fisherman’s dream. The proximity of angling hotspots like the Everglades, Ten Thousand Islands, and Big Cypress National Preserve make it a perfect starting point for fishing on the fly. In addition, the town boasts over 10 miles of some of the best beaches in North America.

You’ll have an all-star line up of inshore critters to enjoy in these waters.  These include Snook, Redfish, Pompano, Permit, various species of Snapper, Spanish Mackerel, Spotted Seatrout, Flounder, Amberjacks, Barracuda, and Tarpon. As far as offshore species go, you can expect Grouper, Cobia, Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, and pelagic Sharks like the Mako.

2. Islamorada

a bird on a dock at Islamorada

Islamorada is a village encompassing 6 islands along the Florida Keys. These include Lower Matecumbe Key, Windley Key, Plantation Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, and Tea Table Key. Thanks to its location within the Florida Straits, Islamorada gets the full benefits of both the Florida Current and the Gulf Stream.

This place has the reputation of being the “Sport Fishing Capital of the World”, and with good reason. Few places on Earth allow you to fly fish for Marlin and Sailfish in the morning, then spend the afternoon stalking the flats for Snook, Redfish and Tarpon. One of the best flats fishing spots is along the beach in Long Key State Park. Other good places are the Highway Flat, Anne’s Beach and Sea Oats.

3. Boca Grande

An aerial view of Boca Grande, FL

Boca Grande is located on Gasparilla Island, in southwest Florida, along the Gulf Coast. Its name means “Big Mouth” in Spanish, and undoubtedly comes from the Boca Grande Pass, a large waterway at the southern tip of the island. It’s about 1 and a half hours by car south of Tampa, Florida, along either the Highway 41 or I-75.

The waters of Boca Grande are rich with gamefish of all sorts, however there’s one particular fish that puts this place on the global map, and that’s Tarpon. Annually, more Tarpon are caught around Boca Grande than anywhere else in the world.

The Boca Grande Pass is fed by the Peace River, and the Myakka River, and is up to 80 feet deep, making it the deepest natural pass in the Straits. Strong currents at the mouth of the Pass make it a natural highway for both baitfish and gamefish. No one knows for sure why these waters are so attractive to Tarpon specifically, but the fact is not up for debate. If you want to fly fish for tarpon, Boca Grande is the place to go!

For beach fishing, one of the best spots is off of 17th Street. You’ll have to walk between some houses to get to the beach, but state law requires homeowners to allow access to the water. Just don’t trespass.

Once you get to the beach, there’s a sandbar a few yards out. You can wade out to the sandbar to fly cast for Pompano, or catch Snook within 6 ft of the beach. You don’t even have to cast out, just roll-cast your fly parallel to the beach and hang on. Using fly patterns like the Gotcha and Crazy Charlie will almost guarantee you some fish here.

4. Palm Beach

Palm trees and ocean in Palm Beach, FL

Palm Beach is a barrier island in Palm Beach County, about 50 minutes by car from Fort Lauderdale, along the Florida Turnpike. The town lies on the Atlantic side of the state, where the intercoastal waters provide abundant populations of inshore and offshore fish.

These include critters like Snook, Jacks, Snappers, Groupers, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel. Further out, you can expect to wrestle deep-sea species such as Sailfish and even Swordfish.

In addition, Palm Beach is home to large numbers of sea turtles, porpoises, manatees, and more shorebirds than you ever knew existed. This place truly proves the notion that fly fishing is not just about catching fish, but also enjoying the ecosystem you are fishing in.

One thing that makes Palm Beach stand out is that it contains all 4 of the major fly fishing environments saltwater fly anglers crave. You can switch between backwater/estuary, near beach, reef, flats, and offshore fishing – and all within a 5-mile radius! Common catches include Albacore, Mackerel, Yellowtails, Pompano, Tuna and Billfish. Not too bad for a single location, right?

If you are looking for a variety of species to catch on the fly, you can’t do any better than Palm Beach.

5. Destin

A road sign signalling the turning to Destin, one of Florida's top fly fishing spots

Attracting thousands of anglers year after year, Destin is well deserving of its “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” monicker.

There are numerous beaches and a jetty, visited by a plethora of fish species, such as Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, Redfish, Channel Bass, Bluefish and Flounder. You can hook all of these on a fly rod right from the shore. There are also great opportunities for offshore angling for Marlin, Sailfish and Tuna.

Great places to fly fish include Navarre Beach, and near the old Coast Guard base (Inlet Beach). What makes this spot special is a deep water cut just 20 yards off the beach, with a reef in about 20 feet of water. The current runs a little fast through here, and it brings in all kinds of fish near the shore. Be very careful with your cast, though, as it the beach also a popular diving spot.

Your turn. What are some of the best Florida fly fishing spots near you? What was your best catch in these waters? Let us know in the comments below.


Joel C. Brothers has been a musician, entertainer and prolific writer for over 4 decades. He is also an avid fisherman, and has fished all over the world. Joel has authored several fishing books and is a regular contributor to over a dozen fishing publications and websites. His knowledge of fishing is unsurpassed. Joel lives in the beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia, in the Cohutta Wilderness, amid miles and miles of pristine trout streams, and outstanding lakes.

Comments (14)

Elizabeth Beller

Jun 13, 2021

Looking to get my husband a fly fishing rod and reel for the south east floria area, mostly in Palm Beach County, any suggestions on what to get him started with?

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    Katie

    Jun 14, 2021

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Great question! When it comes to saltwater fly fishing in the Palm Beach County area, most anglers start off inshore or surf fishing on the beach. For this, they recommend an 8 or 9 wt rod. These rods are capable of withstanding the wind and the elements, no matter when or where you choose to fish. The 9 wt will give your husband an advantage if there are especially strong winds or if he hooks into a big fish. The reel should be loaded with a full intermediate line, which can cut through the waters easily. Pair this with a 6–9′ leader weighing between 16–20 pounds.

    If you’re planning on getting him some flies, too, then you can opt for a selection that look like the bait fish usually found in this area. Some good choices are the Hamilton “Eat Me” fly, as well as any fly that has a brown and white color pattern. Smaller flies work best in summer, so it’s great to have a mix of options.

    Finally, if you’re in the Palm Beach County area, you can also ask your local bait and tackle shop for their favorite recommendations or best sellers. They’ll be able to give you a little bit of local knowledge, especially if your husband decides he wants to fly fish for some of the areas bigger species.

    We hope this information helps. Come back and let us know what your husband thinks of his new set up!

    Tight lines,

    Katie

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Keny Glasscock

Jun 3, 2020

I will be traveling along the gulf coast in the not so distant future. What’s the best weight rod to get into Gulf flyfishing? I’ve been in Utah 30 years fishing the streams and rivers of the west and it’s time to head back south.

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    Sean

    Jun 4, 2020

    Hi Keny,

    Thanks for reading.

    Flyfishing in the Gulf can put you on a lot of different species, which is why it’s best to go with the most versatile option. An 8 weight rod should serve you well, because it can handle a whole range of species, while still keeping things fun and enjoyable.

    Hope this helps.

    Tight lines!

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Fly Addict

May 23, 2020

Nothing like starting off my day reading and learning about something cool. Your blog post accentuated my breakfast perfectly! Thank you 🙂

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    Albert

    May 25, 2020

    Hi Fly Addict,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    Tight lines!

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Rodrigo

Sep 4, 2019

Nice blog. Any place in northern Florida for trout fly fishing?

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    Sean

    Sep 5, 2019

    Hi Rodrigo,

    Thanks for reading the blog, I’m glad you like it.

    One northern Florida fishery I would definitely recommend is Apalachicola.

    From the bay to the Apalachicola River, there’s plenty of Trout to fish for here.

    I hope you find this helpful.

    Tight lines!

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Robert Thomson

Jan 1, 2019

I plan to be in Punta Gorda next week and would like to do some beach fly fishing. Other than boca grande, are there any other good beaches or state parks to fly fish in the nearby areas?

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    Sean

    Jan 8, 2019

    Hello Robert,

    Thank you for reading the blog.

    There are a number of locations to choose from. There aren’t many beaches in Punta Gorda, but there are numerous parks you might want to try. For example, you can check out Darst Park, Harbour Heights Park, Riverside Park or Bissett Park.

    I hope you’ll have a great time!

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Marcelo

Aug 1, 2016

Hi there
Can you recommend any place in the North Miami Beach Area/Hollywood?
I have gone to Haulover lagoon but no luck.

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    Cat

    Aug 1, 2016

    Hi Marcelo,

    Most of our best fly fishing guides in the Miami area are based in Key Biscayne and Virginia Key. We think it’s worth taking a trip slightly south to make the most of the amazing fly fishing these areas have to offer! Take a look here and see what suits you best.

    Tight lines!

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Melvin

Aug 4, 2015

This is amazing, I definitely go to these places someday to satisfy my hobby. Thank you so much for sharing experience!

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miami

Sep 10, 2014

Great Content :).. Miami in Florida is best place for fishing…

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