Writing “Best Of” lists can be dangerous—because what makes one fly fishing destination better than another? Or, who’s place is it to say fly fishing for tailing bonefish is better than chasing after the gangster of the flats—the voracious Giant Trevally?
Pioneering anglers like Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Del Brown, and many others, fished because saltwater flats fly fishing serves up the essential two elements of our sport—it is challenging enough that most rewards are earned, yet fun enough that even when the catch eludes us, the landscapes, lodges, guides, and fellow anglers—all parts of the whole—come together and burn a desire in us to do it all again.
Listed by species, here are the planet’s Best Flats Fly Fishing Trips
The Best Giant Trevally Fly Fishing Trips
A bucket list fish for many and a passion for several, the fight in these fish is reflective of the commitment to catch one—considerable travel to far-off destinations and investing in quality gear. Giant Trevally can be found in the Cook Islands, Christmas Island, Australia, Seychelles, and St. Brandon’s. Fishing for GTs is not for the faint-hearted angler. These powerful fish will test every piece of gear as well as the angler. A Giant Trevally is a fierce, big, aggressive and incredibly powerful fish and ardently earned their reputation as the “gangsters of the flats.”
The Best Bonefish Fly Fishing Trips
Most bonefish that are caught are seen first, making bonefish an exceptional saltwater gamefish. Plus, they are damn fast. As if a right-of-passage, catching a bonefish on a fly is a quintessential part of any saltwater fly angler’s journey. But it shouldn’t stop there, because large bonefish—those over five pounds—are strong, fast, and an accomplishment. Bonefish, also called “Ghosts of the Flats” can be targeted throughout the world in tropical climates with mangrove and flats systems from the Bahamas, Cuba, and Belize in the Caribbean, Christmas Island and the Cook Islands in the Pacific to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
The Best Permit Fly Fishing Trips
As if one species of permit wasn’t challenge enough, there are actually two types of permit to pursue. Permit is one of the most valued, sought after and elusive saltwater fish that can be targeted with a fly rod. Sight fishing for these wary fish presents a rewarding challenge. While catching a permit on a fly does not come easy, there are a variety of productive locations to target them including, Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Bahamas, Australia, St. Brandon’s, and Seychelles.
The Best Tarpon Fly Fishing Trips
Tarpon, like its Latin name—Megalopolis Atlanticus—possess near mythic status with may anglers. And for good reason, because it doesn’t get much better than fly fishing for tarpon. Tarpon is a strong and acrobatic fish often jumping several times throughout the fight. There are a variety of ways to fish for tarpon, from targeting smaller fish in the mangroves and backwater, to chasing the large migratory fish in more open water. With many destinations for year-round populations of tarpon, these fish can be found from the Bahamas and Cuba to Mexico down through Belize and into Honduras. Jungle tarpon can also be targeted in Costa Rica.
The Best Redfish Fly Fishing Trips
Despite a destination close to home to chase these unique fish, fly fishing for redfish is often over-looked by many. But, it shouldn’t be! Among many things, Louisiana is known for great food, great music…and being the redfish capital of the world! The Louisiana marsh offers outstanding opportunities for the shallow-water fly angler with countless shallow bays, ponds, canals, and expansive mud flats. These areas can be fished almost year-round and hold an amazingly large and healthy population of redfish.
The Best Roosterfish Fly Fishing Trips
A species found only in the Pacific Ocean, the roosterfish is a voracious predator serving up some exciting sight-fishing opportunities. Not your typical flats fly fishing experience, as these fish are often targeted while walking or cruising the beaches of Baja Mexico. Anglers will spot a single or school of these fish, then run into the crashing surf to get within casting range. If the fish are not found along the shoreline, anglers use small boats to target these one-of-a-kind looking fish. Found in Mexico and Costa Rica, these fish are climbing angler’s wish lists…and climbing fast.
Honorable Mention: The Best Marlin and Sailfish Fly Fishing Trips
Even though these are not flats species, they do offer exciting sight-fishing opportunities. Bluewater fly fishing presents a one of a kind experience to target trophy-sized fish offshore on the fly. Sailfish, with their iconic dorsal fin and incredible strength, are an outstanding gamefish to pursue. Marlin, with their speed and determination, were made for a fight. These two species inhabit various areas in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Most fly anglers target these saltwater brutes in Costa Rica and Guatemala. Sailfish and marlin present unique challenges for the experienced angler looking for something outside the typical realm of fly fishing.
Calling something “the best” should be used with caution. Ask a dozen anglers what makes a trip the best fly fishing trip, and there will be a dozen correct answers. The common currents running through each anglers idealized trip are destinations with worthy gamefish, hard-working and knowledge guides, lodges with a variety of amenities, and possess just enough adventure and intrigue to tell the right story at the right time with the right drink in hand.