Sanibel Prep List:

Sanibel seems tame and why shouldn’t it. It’s a well-known tourist destination, and from January first through Easter, it’s a madhouse and then something wonderful happens. Except for a few foreign tourists everyone goes home and for the most part its white sandy beaches belong to the fly fisherman. If you never turned around and looked over your shoulder you swear you were somewhere in the tropics chasing bonefish – then a school of twenty or so snook swims by in front of you. The following list is by no means ever finished. In truth, one fisherman’s prep list rarely looks like another’s prep list. Use this list as a good starting point and then customize your own prep list. There is a big difference between a recommended list and everything you actually want to use.


Clothing: To be honest I fish in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and a baseball cap and yes, for the most part, I fish I my bare feet, but I spent the majority of my life in the tropics, and I rarely burn. Of course, this is not what I recommend for my clients. I recommend the following

Long Pants and long sleeve shirts: There are so many hi-tech clothing companies out there it’s tough to decide which one is best for you. I have seen fishing shirts and long pants that run north of $170. Personally, I think that’s carrying things a little too far. I still like the $30 Columbia long sleeve-fishing shirt. They do need to be lightweight and quick drying though.

Wading boots or shoes: There are so many to choose from these days, but you do need something to protect feet if you are not used to wading in bare feet. Plus Sanibel has a lot of stingrays in the summertime, and you wouldn’t want to stick yourself in the foot with the barb of a big ray. To make things pricklier, Sanibel’s beaches are famous for their seashells and it can be quite painful walking on them all day in your bare feet.

Sunscreen, a hat and a buff or a bandana: Sunscreen is a must. I prefer the sports spray myself. Remember, the second you start to feel a little crisp, laver on more sunscreen. The two reasons I like the sports spay are one, because it’s not sticky and two, it’s just easy to use. Find a good hat, one that has a dark under-brim. It helps in spotting the snook. A buff or a bandana can be helpful. Personally, I find them a little confining and hard to breathe through, but they will keep the sun off your neck.

Lip Balm: If your lips are sensitive or they dry out easily, be sure to bring the appropriate lip balm.

Bug Spray: I always bring bug spray everywhere. I mean everywhere – the higher the level of DEET the better. It’s not the mosquitos that bug me, it’s the no-see-ums that drive me bonkers.

Polarized Sunglasses: This is a must have – normally if we’re leaving the country I would tell to bring two pairs of sunglasses. Without them, you will never see the snook. If you wear prescription glasses, buy a good pair of prescription sunglasses. When it comes to the care of your eyes, this is one place you should never spare the expense. My favorite sunglasses are the Costa 580 green mirror for the beach or flats and the Costa 580 blue mirror for deep water. If you need help, please let me know and I will more than happy to help in any way I can.

Saltwater Pliers: Snook have very abrasive mouths, and even for the most part you can lip a small fish and pull the hook, but a larger fish is best left in the water when you attempt to remove the hook. Then you can use a pair of good stainless steel pliers to pull the fly. Then revive the fish and send him or her on their way. By the way, usually the larger fish are females, and we need to do everything possible to make sure they swim away unharmed.

Stripping Basket: Most Northeastern fly fishermen are familiar with a striping bast especially the striper fisherman. You rarely see them on the beaches along the Gulf-coast but when the wind picks up, or the tide is running strong there worth their weight in gold. Plus it gives you a great place to lay your rod when you are changing a fly.


Rods: On the beach, I tend to use anywhere from a seven weight to a nine weight rod with a fast tip. I prefer high-end saltwater rods like Sage, Scott, or Winston. There are multitudes of rods on the market now that fit the build. It has more to do with the wind and the size of the fly than it does with the size of the fish.

Reels: Here again there are many good reels on the market nowadays that will do the job. I prefer Tibors because there are built primarily for the salt water and I have never had one fail. They are essentially bulletproof, and the drag is exceptional. Regardless what reel you have, it needs to have a smooth drag and hold a minimum of two hundred yards of backing. There are some very large snook on Sanibel’s beaches.

Lines: I use Rio lines. Scientific Anglers make great lines, too. There are several lines that will do the job. If I am using a floating line, I prefer a bonefish tapper or a redfish tapper. They both have shot heads and make it easy to throw a short line. Remember that the majority of the snook on the beach will be very close to shore. In fact, you will probably never be standing in the water. I also like to have an intermediate sink tip. It’s not really necessary because the water you are fishing in is rarely deeper the several feet.

Leaders: I use an eight to ten-foot fluorocarbon leader with a minimum of a thirty-pound tippet. There are times when the water can be extremely clear, and I might drop down to a twenty-pound tippet. I prefer to build my leaders because I like to have a minimum of a fifty-pound butt section. It’s almost impossible to find that combo in an unknotted tapered leader.

Loons UV Knot Sense: I have to admit I have become addicted to Loons UV Knot Sense. Do you really need it – probably not? The thing is, knots tied using fluorocarbon leader material can slip or come untied easier than leader material made using monofilament.


Flies: It’s better to buy your flies at Norm’s Fly Shop on Sanibel, or you can watch the following videos for those of you who like to tie your own flies.



If you do want to bring flies, you should pack an assortment of Clouser’s tied on saltwater hooks, Lefty’s Deceivers and maybe a few half and half’s. The EP mullet imitations work well sometimes.


Packing: Don’t overthink this – you can buy or replace just about anything in a few minutes on Sanibel. Within ten minutes of the condo, you have a fly shop, a pharmacy, a large grocery store and an excellent liquor store. Also, don’t over pack, when it comes to clothes, each condo has a washer and dryer.


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