Today we delve into fly fishing Central Florida with the expert guidance of Frank, a seasoned angler with decades of experience. He’ll share invaluable insights into fishing strategies, equipment, and techniques. From targeting redfish and snook with varying rod weights to the intricacies of sight fishing with specialized lines, he got it covered.

He also highlights the importance of conservation in preserving the Indian River Lagoon system. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, Frank’s wealth of experience and passion for fly fishing will inspire and inform your next fishing adventure.

Show Notes with Frank Catino on Fly Fishing Central Florida. Hit play below! 👇🏻

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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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Episode Chapters with Frank Catino on Fly Fishing Central Florida

1:47 – Frank recounts his early days in the mid-1970s when fly fishing was rare in his area. He was mentored by Gary Schroeder, who introduced him to the sport. Frank ran a tackle store where he built custom rods.

He collaborated with a machine shop to create a tarpon reel, which he successfully pitched to Orvis, leading to significant orders and cementing his place in the fly fishing industry.

5:38 – We talk about the Catino reel he used to build for Orvis until about 1984, at which point the market saw an influx of imported reels, making it difficult for him to compete due to his lack of machinist skills, unlike his competitors who were professional machinists.

7:53 – He assists Cortland in various capacities, particularly in Florida. He works with sales representatives and collaborates on developing fly lines and braids, leveraging his expertise in saltwater fishing.

8:24 – We delve into the fishing opportunities in central Florida. Frank highlights the diverse fishing options available in the lagoon system, emphasizing the popularity of sight fishing for redfish in Mosquito Lagoon. He lists other common species such as tarpon and snook, noting the variety available to anglers.

14:44 – Frank explains that the optimal fishing times vary depending on the season and temperature. Overall, he concludes that the best time for an all-day fishing experience in central Florida is from October through April due to cooler temperatures and more active fish.

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17:18 – Mid-May they start seeing more tarpon, particularly larger ones. He mentions that there are smaller tarpons, weighing five to 20 pounds, present year-round in the backwater marshes where they grow by feeding on mosquito larvae. Hence the Mosquito Lagoon.

19:46 – We discuss the natural beauty and wildlife of the Mosquito Lagoon and the Canaveral National Seashore. Frank explains that the cape extends far into the ocean, and from his house, which is a few miles south, one can see the lagoon and the ocean. The region is popular for bird watching and is groomed for duck hunting.


22:11 – Frank highlights that while December and January are good months to visit their area, people must be cautious about hurricane season, which peaks from mid-August to the end of October, with September being the most active month.

24:32 – We dig into fishing strategies and equipment for targeting different fish species in various conditions. Around January, Frank typically sets rods for redfish and sometimes snook, using a variety of rod weights, primarily 6 to 8wt, because they are lighter and more comfortable for most anglers.

He elaborates that in places like Mosquito Lagoon, his primary target would be redfish, but this could change depending on the location within the lagoon system. For example, further south, he might switch to targeting snook with heavier tackle.

27:18 – For targeting Snook, an 8wt rod is appropriate, along with 7 and 9wt rods, depending on the size of the fly being cast. He explains that 7wt rods are ideal for fishing smaller snook along mangrove shorelines, while 8 and 9wt rods are better for casting larger baitfish patterns, especially when targeting large snook.

34:42 – Frank explains the techniques involved in sight fishing for snook, such as using long leaders and clear lines while pulling around clear, shallow mangrove shorelines. He emphasizes the importance of longer casts and minimal boat imprint on the water to avoid spooking the large, wary fish.

37:16 – For snook, Frank suggests baitfish patterns, particularly those resembling mullet, a common baitfish in their area. We also discuss the effectiveness of flies such as Enrico Puglisi’s bait fish imitations and Lefty’s Deceiver.

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39:02 – He talks about his collaboration with Guide Book and shares that he has fished with Ben, targeting redfish in the Banana River, which offers a variety of fish species.

44:57 – Frank explains his approach to casting, emphasizing the importance of allowing the fly to settle for a moment before stripping it, mimicking the behavior of bait fish. He believes that snook, like freshwater bass, are curious and respond to the sound and movement of the fly.

47:60 – He mentions that the tarpon line they refer to is a floating line, with options that include a colored floating line, a clear floating line, and an intermediate Tropic Plus line that is crystal clear. For snook fishing, Frank personally recommends using either the clear floating or clear intermediate lines.

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50:12 – Frank mentions some gear to prepare for an upcoming fishing trip in Central Florida. He emphasizes the importance of being familiar with the fishing tackle and ensuring it is in good condition.

53:45 – We talk about the types of reels and retrieval methods. Frank explains that in the past, the majority of anglers retrieved their lines with their right hand, which was influenced by the dominance of right-hand retrieve reels in the market, particularly from English manufacturers.

55:49 – We discuss his preferred saltwater fishing reels. Frank mentions using Tibor and Nautilus reels, highlighting a new reel called Old Mariner by Paul Conover, whose grandfather built the famous Fin-Nor Wedding Cake reel. This prompts us to delve into the history of Fin-Nor reels.

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58:57 – We get into the conservation segment. Frank suggests Dr. Aaron Adams from Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, who is known for his significant work on bonefishing. He also mentions Dr. Duane De Freese, the head of the Association of National Estuary Programs (ANEP) for their region, who is actively involved in efforts to clean up the Indian River Lagoon system from past algae blooms.

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1:02:42 – Frank highlights the area’s accessibility and variety it offers for both beginners and experts. He also explains that the lagoon has sections that can still be enjoyable and productive even when certain areas are affected by weather conditions.

1:05:01 – We talk about their airboat services. Frank’s airboat, equipped with a powerful aluminum block Corvette engine, can reach speeds around 60 mph, although he prefers to go just fast enough to avoid getting stuck. It can navigate very shallow waters and even some hard-packed surfaces but struggles with mud.

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Related Podcast Episodes

594 | Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit Habitat Conservation with Mark Rehbein of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust


WFS 408 – Fly Fishing Florida with Bruce Chard – Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, Grand Slam

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

fly fishing central florida

Conclusion with Frank Catino on Fly Fishing Central Florida

Frank’s devotion to fly fishing is so much more than just catching fish. It’s about bonding with nature, learning the complexities of various species, and playing a role in preserving essential habitats. Whether you’re fishing the tranquil waters of the Mosquito Lagoon or delving into the fascinating history and innovation of fishing gear, there’s always something new and exciting to discover in the world of fly fishing.