Fly fishing for bonefish in Key West

Florida Keys Fly Fishing For Bonefish


Fly fishing for bonefish has a long history in the Florida Keys. At one time slugger Ted Williams hunted the flats around Islamorada in search of double digit bonefish. Relatives of those same bonefish swim those same flats today. The Florida Keys are home to most of the bonefish on fly world records. Our bonefish in the Keys are big, and the double digit ones don’t come easy.


The average bonefish in the Lower Keys is 4-6lbs and eat big flies. You can leave the crazy Charlie’s at home with your 6 weight. We typically use size 2 or bigger hooks and 8 or 9 weight fly rods. Our bonefish are spread over ocean and backcountry flats of sand and turtle grass. Back in 2010 the bonefish in the Florida keys took a big hit during an extended cold snap. I am happy to report the population has recovered and we are experiencing the best bonefishing since the 1980’s. This is particularly true in the Big Pine Key to Marathon area.



The best time to target bonefish on fly in the Keys is usually March – November. We fish the backcountry in the spring and fall mostly and the ocean flats in the summer. During the Summer the tailing action can be great on outgoing tides. Let me know if you are interested in doing a wading or evening trip for tailing bonefish in the Florida Keys.

Tackle For Fly Fishing For Bonefish in The Keys


A decent 8 or 9 weight rod and reel with plenty of backing should suffice. Our bonefish in the Keys are strong so a smooth drag is essential. If you are a fly tyer see our flies for the Florida Keys page to tie your own. Remember most of our flies for keys bonefish are on size 2 or size 1 hooks. Big Fish eat big flies!

For information on bonefish conservation in the Florida keys visit


Visit this page for information on bonefishing in Key West

fly fishing for bonefish near Key West
Fly fishing for bonefish on the flats of the Lower Keys
fly fishing for bonefish in the Florida Key with Capt. Brandon Henley
fly rods for bonefish in the Florida Keys

Tips For Fly Fishing For Bonefish In The Keys


1. Practice your accuracy and speed. Bonefish move around a lot and usually pretty quickly. You will need to lead them with the fly unlike permit. The cast will be around 40 feet, but they need to get in front of the bonefish in a hurry.


2. Learn to double haul. This will help you more than any other technique while fly fishing in the Florida Keys. A good double haul will improve not only speed and distance but will skyrocket your success rate on the flats.


3. Practice casting into the wind. It can get windy on the flats and you need to be able to deal with it. When tails are popping up all around you, be able to make that cast!


4. Invest in good quality polarized sunglasses. Bonefish are the hardest to see, and good optics go a long way. Costa Del Mar, Smith optics and Maui Jim all make fine products.