If you’re new to inshore fishing, you might be wondering what the best rig is to take with you on your flats fishing journey. We can semi-quote CA Richardson here “If you can bass fish..” you can fish inshore. And the equipment approach is near the same. From me, “Light and Fast” is the golden rule. But what does all that mean?

To be clear, when you get into flats fishing as your new life goal (it’s gonna happen), you will wind up with a few setups in regards to weight – little to big fish rigs. But, if I was going to walk out of my house, to any inshore fishery, with one set-up? This is it:

The Rod

A 6 foot 6 inch to 7 foot 6 inch medium light rod, fast action, with high-quality guides. And frankly, I am usually 7 foot something. We are looking for fast accurate casts, finesse, and feel in these rods. The length and action of these composite rods can whip out even the lightest of lures with ease while allowing us to feel even the tiniest of strikes.

The Reel

3000 saltwater series – this will work. Mine usually just have somewhere between 12-20lbs of drag, but that’s fine given my overall setup. And while not recommended, I have caught huge tarpon and even sharks on these rigs. That said, it isn’t a walk in the park, and for species recovery, I wouldn’t be purposely targeting huge fish on a light setup. What I am saying is, if it happens when I don’t plan for it, I can finesse the setup and make things happen.

The Line

People hate me here, so let me preface – I like to cast far.. real far. In this, my setup always uses 10lb braid. I know, I know – but with the right drag and work (and decades of experience), this recovers 99% of inshore species without issue. All that said, (again, I am at 10lb – the end), 10-25lb braid, and usually 12lb up, is the most common.

The Leader

Let’s start with Fluorocarbon – the end. Use Fluoro. For me, it is either 12 or 15lb (see a common theme here yet? I fish light). However, if you are in snook territory, 20lb is the absolute minimum – and that will take some luck alongside. Still, if I had one set up to rule them all, in any inshore fishery – this leader setup is the standard – for me.

Conclusion

You should understand this is not Captain Nate speaking, he has his own tactics and knowledge dedicated to the fisheries in Sarasota, Bradenton, and AMI. I travel and fish – Flamingo in the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, Tampa Bay, and up into the Gulf along the panhandle – this is what I pack. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, but I would recommend a middle ground. Here is my actual current travel setup:

  • Rod: St. Croix Inshore Mojo 7’6″ med-light
  • Reel: Shimano Saragosa 3000F
  • Line: Spiderwire Invisi-Braid 10lb
  • Leader: Seaguar 15lb Blue Label Fluoro

And I use a double uni for braid to leader and loop knots at the lure – to add.

Shoot while we’re at it, my lures are simple as well:

  • Top: Spook JR in Bone color
  • Middle: Mirrodine 14MR in natural colors
  • Bottom: Paddletails (bone/natural) with scent pockets, on a belly weighted hook (weedless setup), and some shrimp Pro-Cure.