Fly fishing in the Indian River Lagoon System, which include the Banana River, the
Indian River, and the Mosquito Lagoon, is excellent year round. This is the closest and
best saltwater fly fishing near Orlando. Species such as redfish, seatrout, tarpon,
snook, jack crevalle, ladyfish, and black drum can be caught in our waters with a fly
rod. Sight fishing for redfish is the most popular.Your Mosquito Lagoon fly fishing guide
will pole you across the shallow grass flats searching for cruising or tailing reds. The
fish may be in singles, pairs, or in schools of 10-500 fish. When a fish is spotted, you
make your cast and watch for a reaction as you strip the fly in front of it. You see the
bite, set the hook, and are ready to clear the line as the fish races away. An exciting
scene when it all comes together. In the page below, I hope to offer you some tips and
techniques to improve you catching that I have learned over the years.
Many different sizes of rods can be used when fishing the Mosquito Lagoon from 4wt
to 10wt, depending on your casting ability, wind speed, and the size of fish you are
pursuing. A seven or eight weight outfit is a good place to start if you are only going to
use one rod. They can handle any redfish you may encounter and cast reasonably well
in a modest breeze. On calm days, I like to use my 5wt.
Your reel should have a smooth drag and hold at least 200 yards of backing. Reels
designed for freshwater use will quickly corrode in the saltwater environment unless
you are extremely thorough when cleaning them.
When sight fishing the flats, I always use a weight forward floating line. Most of the
time, we are fishing water that is two feet deep or less. A sinking or intermediate line
will only serve to hinder your ability to make a quick second or third cast, should your
first shot not draw a strike. There are many saltwater tapers to choose from. Find one
that works best for you.
Attached to the end of my fly line, I put a 9-10 foot leader composed of fluorocarbon
which ends in a 15-20 lb bite tippet. If the wind is up, you may be able to get away with
using a shorter leader. On calm days, 10 feet is sometimes not enough leader to avoid
spooking the fish. Use the longest leader you can cast effectively and you will spook
less fish. You leader system does not need to be fancy or complicated. On a 7wt rod, I
use 5 feet of 40lb tied to a 3ft section of 20lb to a 1-2 foot piece of 15lb with double uni
knots. I tie a perfection loop knot in the end of the leader and attach that with a loop to
loop connection to the whipped loop in my fly line.
In general, redfish are not that picky about what they eat. Their main diet consists of
crabs, shrimp, sand worms, and various finfish such as mullet, pinfish, pigfish,
needlefish, mud and mosquito minnows. Any flies that mimic them will draw strikes.
Size and composition is often much more important than color. When fly fishing
extremely shallow water, a fly with lead eyes will often spook the fish as it plops down
on the surface. For these situations, I often use unweighted bendback style flies which
land softly and ride hook up to avoid catching grass. If you are fishing deeper water,
you will want to choose a weighted fly that will get down to the bottom quickly. Redfish
are primarily bottom feeders. When shrimp and crabs see a redfish they flee towards
the bottom to escape into the grass or mud. Weighted flies will dive towards the
bottom when you stop your retrieve. In the winter months our redfish are eating more
crabs and shrimp than finfish. Small flies are often the key to successful winter fly
fishing. For examples and photos of some of my favorite patterns, see my page on
redfish flies for the Mosquito Lagoon.
Baitfish fly patterns such as those resembling a pinfish can be very effective during the
warmer months. These flies normally ride hook down, however, and are prone to
getting fouled by grass if they are not equipped with a weed guard.
Topwater sliders and poppers can also be used to catch both redfish and trout. I prefer
a deer hair slider in very shallow water which is silent but will push some water. As I get
into deeper water I will go to a popper. Although these flies are not as fun to cast as a
small bendback, they can elicit some voracious strikes. Because redfish have mouths
which are designed to feed down, they will often have to make several attempts to
catch your top water offering. Remember to strip strike and do not lift your fly rod until
you feel the fish come tight.
Casting ability is usually the most important factor when fly fishing for redfish in the
Mosquito Lagoon. On most days, the better you can cast, the more fish you will catch.
Although our fish are plentiful and readily take a fly, they are heavily pressured and
seldom allow you more than one or two shots before they get out of range. You should
be able to cast a minimum of 50 feet with 2-3 strokes. Longer is better. The more
distance you can keep between you and the fish, the less chance you have of spooking
him. Usually, speed and accuracy are more important than distance. (See video
YouTube at Saltwater Quick Cast) A fly fisherman who can cast 40 feet accurately with
only one or two false casts, will probably have more success than the one who can cast
80 feet but with little control over where the fly lands. On some days, however, we may
encounter numerous large schools of redfish in very shallow water. Making casts over
50 feet may be required to reach these fish before they are aware of our presence.
Taking time to practice your fly casting before you get on the water will be time
well spent! Practice casting in various conditions as you cannot always depend on
the winds being calm. Learn to double haul and to shoot line with minimal false casts.
Not only will the fish see your line in the air, they will feel the boat rocking and your rod
waving about. Also be prepared to cast in various directions quickly. A fish may
appear to your right side and you may have to take a shot before your guide can turn
the boat. Being able to cast backhand or over the opposite shoulder will give you more
opportunities to catch fish. If you are not familiar with the double haul or distance
casting, take a lesson from a certified casting instructor in your area. Improper
practice leads to bad habits which hinder your improvement.
Our redfish will eat most any fly, but will not go out of their way to do so. The range in
which they will see and attack a fly can often be very small. There is a fine line between
placing your fly too close to the fish and scaring them, or putting it too far away from
them to notice. This distance may change from day to day and fish to fish. When they
are feeding aggressively, you may be able to put it within several inches of them and
get a strike. Other days, just the sound of your fly line touching the water will cause
them to change directions. Reds seldom swim in one direction for very long. If you cast
too far in front of them in hopes they will swim up to your fly, they will inevitably change
directions before they get to it. If they are cruising, I cast ahead and just beyond the
fish so it crosses their path as they are approaching.
Tailing redfish are a whole different scenario. A saltwater fly fisherman dreams of
seeing a large tail with a black spot sticking out of the water waving them over. One
thing we know about a tailing redfish is that they are definitely feeding. The problem
they present, however, is they often have their head and eyes buried in the grass and
are focusing all their attention on the prey they are after. When casting to tailing fish, I
like to let the fly land about a foot away and strip it right up to their nose. I will let my fly
lie still until the moment the fish brings his head up out of the grass and the tail starts to
go down. At that point, give your fly the smallest twitch and that will usually draw an
instant strike. You may also choose to use a fly with a small rattle. It way produce just
enough noise to get the fish to bring his head up and see your offering.
If you are new to saltwater fly fishing, you will find it is quite different than fishing the
average trout stream. Opportunities can be quick and short lived and you must be
ready to cast in a moment's notice. While some days are calm, there are many times
when the wind is blowing. Being able to cast tight loops will allow anglers to fish on
most days. Large open loops will go nowhere even in a 5-10 knot wind. It is not
uncommon to see over 500 redfish per day. Having the chance to make dozens of
shots at them is routine provided there is enough sun to spot the fish. Our fish eat flies
well but will not see or care about things that are 5-10 feet away, in most cases.
Practice making quick accurate casts from 25-45 feet and you will be rewarded with
|Mosquito Lagoon Fly Fishing Trips
Orlando Fly Fishing Guide
Central Florida Fly Fishing Charters
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
|This Mosquito Lagoon drum was fooled
with a shrimp pattern fly
|Fly Fishing Near Orlando Florida with Capt. Chris Myers
Your Orlando Fishing Guide