Since I’ve been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time kayaking the mangroves in the Sanibel/Pine Island area of Florida I have found that the leader and Tippet set up is not as technical as some may think. 

When I first started roaming the eerie heavily foliage of the mangroves I purchased all the best Leaders that the suppliers had to offer. I used all different lengths and strengths. Bought the best that money could buy. I came to the conclusion that I was wasting to much money and I wasn’t really in control of my own fly fishing destiny. I was told that you needed heavy strong tippet’s so as you could pull the fish out of the tangled brush that these fish will wind themselves in. Made sense for a bit. However the more I fished, the more I began to understand that I needed to back off and use shorter leaders and lighter tippet’s.

Why? About 6 years ago I hooked a Snook the size of a freight train. I had 30lb test on and as this fish dragged me back and forth in and out of the mangroves I couldn’t break the line fast enough. There are no breaks on a kayak. About a long minute later I was able to break free. My face was cut, my hands were badgered and I lost one of my favourite fly boxes. I’m decided that it was time to stop being a hero.

These mangroves have sharp thorns and very hard vines. Lots of snakes, spiders and who knows what else live in them. My set up now is as follows. About 3′ of 30lb, 3′ of 20lb and about a foot of 1X tippet. All of this fluorocarbon. Total length about 7 feet. Plus easy to break off if you hook onto a monster. The mangroves are not like fishing for Steelhead in one of our Ontario rivers, or even Smallmouth bass in some heavily wooded river. 

Forget the hero photo. If it’s to big, let it go!