Florida flats fishing revolves around three coveted species: tarpon, bonefish, and permit. While these fish are pursued in many countries, the Florida Keys region is recognized globally as one of the world’s most spectacular angling destinations. This is due both to the fishery’s diversity and its ability to produce trophy-sized fish. Depending on time of year and fishing conditions, anglers may target one of the mentioned species, but all three can be found in the keys year-round.

In many ways, fishing the flats is more like stalking than anything else. The fishing is done from the elevated deck of a flats skiff, allowing the caster to spot fish from a distance. Because this type of fishing is often done in very shallow water, a stealthy approach is critical, and guides use push poles from an elevated platform to maneuver anglers into position. Very little blind casting is done from a flats skiff. Locating fish is everything, and once a fish has been spotted, it is the captain’s job to place the angler in a position from which he can present a fly effectively. This is a challenging task since the fish, tide, and wind may all be traveling in different directions. Nevertheless, having a well-trained guide chase down a string of rolling tarpon and spin you into position for a perfect cast is one of the most exciting moments in all of angling.

If you’ve never fished on the flats, we cannot overemphasize the necessity for a top quality pair of polarized sunglasses. This fishing is exceptionally visual, and success is oftentimes dependent on one’s ability to see fish from a distance. Your guide will, of course, help you to recognize the telltale signs of a fish and help train your eyes to search for the subtle clues that indicate your quarry is near. Whether you are looking for the tip of a tail, a shadow on the sand, or simply some nervous water, you will learn a whole new language—the language of the flats.

Around the world, Natural Retreats is committed to providing a quality product, and all NR guides use the very best equipment. Zach Peyton captains a 17′ Maverick Mirage HPX paired with a 90 horse Yamaha. His onboard gear includes Thomas & Thomas and GLoomis rods, Abel and Galvin reels, and Rio lines. Anglers wishing to use their own gear are welcome to but are strongly advised to follow Zach’s guidelines and use equipment suitable for the targeted species. Keep in mind that many of the knots used in freshwater fishing are inadequate for saltwater use, and all anglers should check their backing connection to make sure it will stand up to the fast powerful runs of flats species. We recommend 7-8 weight rods for bonefishing, 9-10 weight rods for permit fishing, and 10-12 weight rods for tarpon. Guests interested in gearing up prior to their trip can contact Brandy at the Outfitters. She will have all Zach’s most recent recommendations and can make sure you are properly prepared for your days on the water.

The Florida Keys is home to a thriving ecosystem, and in addition to the three “glamour species”, many other fish inhabit these waters. Anglers wishing to pursue other species can easily target barracuda, sharks, cobia, redfish, snook, snapper, and grouper. These waters are alive, and the possibilities are endless. While fly fishing is often the focus for anglers visiting the keys, trips can easily be arranged for guests who would like to target any of the mentioned species using conventional tackle. Please be sure to fully discuss your interests and preferences with our concierge team at the time of booking so that Natural Retreats can be sure to plan a trip that will exceed expectations.