Dale "Bulldog" Freschi here!
Last week, I spoke about the coveted tropical “Grand Slam” which involved catching a Bonefish, Permit and Tarpon and in Cuba they also have a “Super Grand Slam” which is these 3 species along with a fourth, the Snook.
Snook are found in many tropical locations and typically like to hang out in backwater channels where they can hide and ambush their prey. They feed mainly on bait fish that wander too close to their lair, which is often well back into the mangroves.
Snook are powerful fish with very hard “Tarpon like” mouths, and in Cuba we preferred to use 9 weight rods and custom leaders. The heavier rods were useful in trying to hold the fish from running back into the mangroves once they were hooked.
The custom leaders were also similar to Tarpon leaders with their ability to absorb shock with a tippet section of thicker 40 pound test line to withstand the abrasion of their mouths. In addition, we always included a section of line in the leader with a breaking strength of 20 pounds to prevent disasters when larger fish were able to bolt deep into the mangroves and tangle themselves.
Snook are not only fun to catch because of their excellent fighting ability with strong runs and spectacular leaps but also for the challenges presented in casting for them.
In most cases when the fish are spotted they are lying inside the roots of the mangroves, and a cast must be accurately judged to land right at the very base of these bushes in order to provoke a fish to zip out of their hiding place and eat it.
This feat can be further complicated by having to cast large flies in the tireless wind of the tropics. Snook will take numerous patterns that imitate the baitfish in the area but nothing is better that seeing a big Snook explode on a “popper” fly.
Tip: We tied our Snook flies with weed guards on them, which helped prevent the flies from hanging up in the mangroves on errant casts. It was not foolproof as sometimes we still got snagged, but it certainly did save us lots of time and equipment resulting from “snap offs” or digging our flies out of the mangroves and spooking the fish.
Fly fishing for Snook is exciting and challenging, and regardless of whether you actually hook one, a couple of things are certain, you will become a better caster and you will need to tie more flies.
We would love to hear from you about your own Snook fishing experience (comment below) and are you finding this to be helpful for when you head out fishing? We want to hear from you!