Fly fishing for bonefish in Key West, FL

Key West Fly Fishing For Bonefish


Fly fishing for bonefish is a blast in Key West and the Marquesas. In fact we have great bonefishing throughout the Lower Keys most of the year. The bonefish population is surging at the moment and I’m seeing bones in places where I haven’t seen them in years. This is great news for those seeking to fill out a grand slam when fly fishing in Key West. Bonefish in the Keys are a challenge and an excellent option for those new to saltwater fly fishing. The skills you will learn will help you when targeting permit.


Lower Keys bonefish average 4 – 6 lbs and some go double digits. In the Marquesas Keys they average 2 – 4 lbs, but still outweigh most bones in Belize. When fly fishing for bonefish in Key West we tend to use bigger flies than in the Bahamas or Mexico. You can leave the size 6 Christmas Island specials at home with your 6 weight. Generally we are using size 2 flies for bonefish that are keys specific. Most folks use an 8 weight rod, but on windy days a 9 weight will come in handy. We target bonefish on both oceanside and gulf edge flats in the Keys depending on the seasons. Some of our biggest bonefish are caught in the fall over turtle grass. This can make them difficult to see so good eyewear is a must.


The bonefish in the Keys in many ways behave differently than in most places. They are most likely encountered cruising around instead of tailing. They do tail in Key West and the Lower Keys usually around dawn or dusk. Fishing tailing bonefish in inches of water is very exciting not to mention super cool. If you have wading boots bring them with you because opportunities arise where I might want you to get out on foot. Fly fishing for bonefish here continues to get better and our average fish size makes it an essential part of any Key West fly fishing trip. Generally if water temperatures are above 72 degrees they can be found.


The best time to fly fish for bonefish in Key West is from March through November. Stable weather and good water temperatures make for happy bonefish. During the Summer months tailing bonefish can be found on most days. Be sure to mention if you would like to target tailing bonefish while on your fly fishing trip to Key West.

Fly Fishing For Bonefish Tackle Suggestions


It’s hard to go wrong with a good 8 weight fly rod for Florida Keys bonefish. A 9 weight will do just fine as well. For reels I suggest a quality reel with a smooth drag. Bonefish in Key West make lightning fast long runs so a good reel is critical. You can always use my gear if you like.

For information on bonefish conservation in the Florida keys visit

Learn about fly fishing for bonefish in Big Pine Key

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

Tips For Fly Fishing For Bonefish In The Keys

1. Not to sound like a broken record, but practice makes perfect. Bonefish move quickly and you need to get the fly to them in a hurry. Casting distances vary from 30 – 60 feet in most situations, but accuracy goes a long way ehen fly fishing for bonefish.


2. Polish up your double haul. This will help you increase line speed for a quick delivery, and help combat windy conditions. A good double haul can be your best friend on the flats of Key West.


3. Practice casting into the wind as often as you can. It’s windy in the tropics more often than not. The sooner you learn to cast in the wind the better off you will be. So when bonefish are tailing all around us, you will be ready to make it happen!


4. Invest in quality eyewear. Good polarized lenses in amber or copper seem to work best on the flats. Bonefish can be difficult to see, so good shades are paramount. Costa Del Mar, Smith optics and Maui Jim, and many others make good glasses. If you are on a budget I suggest guideline eyewear.


5. Learn to scan the flats looking through the water. Notice any subtle changes in the bottom, they very well might be fish. Time on the water will help you spot bonefish faster than anything.