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Hey guys, wanted to pose a question here and see what some of you guys think. I'm fishing the Nature Coast area and our sight fishing for snook is something that doesn't happen a whole lot, but has become easier recently as I'm seeing a lot more of them in sight fishing scenarios. My question is what fly do you guys use when you're sight fishing them.

The main scenario I see these fish in normally is around oyster bars cruising the bar on the shallow sides of them. Yesterday, I saw several fish laid up on mud however just sitting on the bottom. I normally would fish a baitfish pattern for them, but the redfishing in this particular area is so good that I've always got a black crab pattern tied on. I actually caught a snook yesterday on that particular crab pattern, but was wondering if there's a better solution to getting some of those snook to eat. It seems when they're cruising those oyster bars they're not exactly looking for a small crab imitation. Thoughts? Thank you!
 

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Capt Adam. I will take a crack and say that if the crab is working on both species, you might stick with it until it proves you wrong. I have caught snook on crab patterns in the Marco island area, so it isn't uncommon. Also, reds will eat small bait fish so you could fish that for snook and still catch reds. But I get your thinking. What one pattern is best for both in that scenario. I guess that my choice would be a shrimp pattern. It's easily in the top 3 choices for both species and also a good choice near oyster bars.
 

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If there is baitfish prevalent, they'll eat it. I love throwing a Mulletaire or a Hop Nugget tied by Evan Webb at High Flies. Great baitfish flies. An EP Everglades Special in a smaller size will do. You gotta remember that as the water cools, their metabolism slows so their forage is smaller. If neither of those work, I would tie on a small grass shrimp fly kind of like the one I tie for night time around the docks. It's all trial and error. Maybe sizing down your tippet.....clear floating lines.....turn your hat backwards.....whistle while you cast.....stand on one foot while you strip.....try it all!
 

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I'm no expert when it comes to catching snook on fly but I have caught them in several different scenarios, including on the beaches, dock lights, and either laid-up or cruising on flats and mangrove edges. In shallow water sight fishing, the success I have had is usually on a small simple baitfish pattern (2-4 inches) that suspends in the water column and has as much movement as possible, specifically between strips. I like to get the fly out in front of the fish and just tap it with tiny strips and let the fly move and flutter on the pause. It's not guaranteed, trust me, I get rejected most of the time with snook in clear water. But, I understand your problem cause I usually have a redfish fly (crab or shrimp imitation) tied on and it's really hit or miss getting a snook to take a swing at those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Haven’t tried throwing a baitfish fly in this area yet but I think that’s the next step. The redfish that I see in this area are generally floating so I would think the baitfish fly should be fine. Thanks for the info so far!!
 

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^^not a bad idea either. If I had two rods set up for snook, I would have a chartruese EP baitfish for the snook
 
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If I am targeting snook I like CR Boggs Mullet fly or and EP Mullet both sizes and also larger 5 to 6" similar looking. But I agree for snook sitting on the sand a shrimp style, Drifters looks good might get a strike. Those sitting I find the most challenging. Their sitting for a reason.
I've caught reds on this fly...and it would work for snook as well...

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If I am targeting snook I like CR Boggs Mullet fly or and EP Mullet both sizes and also larger 5 to 6" similar looking. But I agree for snook sitting on the sand a shrimp style, Drifters looks good might get a strike. Those sitting I find the most challenging. Their sitting for a reason.
Yeah when they are sitting they bolt for the smallest reason. Seems even if you shoot like a 70 ft cast, let the fly sit then pull it in they usually just sit there or bolt as well.
 

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I fish the Nature Coast (mostly Chaz) and my go-to fly is the Puglisi Mullet or some of the thinner, sparser patterns like the Backcountry Special. I took a 40” snook about two years ago on the Puglisi Mullet. I catch more snook than reds. Maybe my fly choice affects that ratio, but I find I get hung up a lot fishing crab patterns over and around oyster bars. I’ll fish top water poppers also when the fish are active just for the thrill of seeing And hearing the strike.
 

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The biggest difference between snook and reds to me - is how they feed... The red is moving mostly - poking around actively looking for food - the snook is much more of an ambush feeder, laying quietly then attacking with lightning speed anything that catches it's eye and comes within range (this is for fly fishing - in other circumstances they behave a lot differently -particularly the big ones..).

Most times when a snook isn't responding to your fly it's because mr. sharp eyes has already seen you or your boat... As noted above in colder waters snook - particularly the bigger ones eat very little -and one shrimp every ten days or so might be all they need...

Here's a few baitfish patterns that I've found success with over the years...
down in the brackish portions of the Everglades...

The Silhouette -one of my signature patterns on a 1/0 or 2/0 ex strong hook -these days that's an Owner Aki.. My biggest snook on fly, a 23lb fish took one in all white.... 25 years ago now, in the mouth of Lostman's River.


my version of Chico Fernandez's famous Seaducer pattern. This one is done up on a #1 hook (we do this in white, mostly, and vary the head colors to red/white, pink/white, fl. green/ white, etc.). This it the fly we toss at snook laying really shallow since this all saddle hackle pattern suspends nicely between strips and lands without a sound when that might be important..

Lastly are small maribou patterns for times when big mama is eating tiny fry or glass minnows...

my version of Norm's Crystal Schminnow - on a #4 hook -this tiny fly is also our go to for baby tarpon in the 'glades (fish less than 10 lbs). It was originally designed to fish Gulf beaches for some pretty big snook in warmer weather. Norm's shop is on Sanibel Island...


The Blacklight special on a #2 hook - the only thing we fish on days when it's really cold - and the waters are crystal clear in the 'glades. The combination of all black maribou and body with pearl flash highlights is quite visible from a distance... and works great in less than 18" of water...

Hope this helps.. with smaller flies we do without a bite tippet and just use a "Poor Boy" leader that's straight 20lb fluoro... You'll lose a few fish - but get a lot more bites...
 

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My last three backwater snook have come on flies very similar to this...shrimpy/crabby in natural colors...and I've developed a new appreciation for undyed coyote & fox as a tying material...

 
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