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Rusty Fly Charters

  • Marathon, Florida 33050
  • Vendor Type: Charters / Boats
  • Fishing Type: Saltwater
  • Fishing Style: Fly Fishing, Spin / Bait Casting
  • Amenities: top quality tackle and bottled water and ice
  • Targets: Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Snook
  • Phone: (877) 423-6403
  • Website: www.rustyflycharters.com


My name is Captain Derek Rust.  I was born in the small town of Whitman, Massachusetts located on the south shore of the state.  I grew up there fishing the local ponds for bass, and the near coastal waters for ahrenandscottstripers, bluefish, and false albies.  Fishing was always a passion of mine, and it started at a very early age. My mother and my uncle were responsible for getting me into the sport of fishing.  They always made time to bring me out fishing when I was young, and I will never forget that.

In my early 20’s, I moved from Massachusetts to Lake Tahoe,California to pursue another passion of mine, skiing. After a short time, skiing fell quickly to second place in the pecking order after I fell in love with fly fishing. The challenge fly fishing is what draws me to it.  It is always humbling, but can be extremely rewarding when everything lines up right.  Once I started fly fishing, it became a quest to catch everything that swims on a fly, and, I spend all of my free time and money doing it.  This quest has taken me to some pretty amazing places around the planet in search of new challenges.  This is what ultimately drove me to move to the Keys full time. The challenge of sight fishing here became addicting, and I was completely consumed by it.

I have been visiting the middle Keys since I graduated high school.  I always loved the island lifestyle, and knew that I wanted to end up here one day, and, somehow it worked out.  I now live in Marathon, FL, right in the middle of the Keys full time. I guide here in the Keys year round, and colebigredI specialize in fly fishing and light tackle shallow water sight fishing.  Sight fishing is highly exciting, and, can be addicting.  The thrill of hearing your own heart beat while a monster permit tails in front of you is something you will never forget.  Fishing is my life.  I love to share my passion down here with everyone, and I am fortunate to get to do it on a daily basis.

Now a days, It’s hard to imagine myself anywhere else…

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The Fish

Bonefish: Fishing for bonefish in the Keys was my first ever flats fishing experience.  I instantly fell in love with all of it.  The hunt, stalking the fish, the peacefulness of the flats, and getting to see nature up close and personal.  It was overwhelmingly addicting for me, and I have held it dear to my heart ever since.  Just being in the places bonefish live is an experience in itself.  Getting to catch one is a whole different level.

Bonefish are pound for pound one of the strongest fish you will find in our waters.  They make long, high speed runs, and usually will do this multiple times in a single fight.  The are an extremely weary adversary that will test your skills, and your tackle!  Bonefish are a great target species for fly anglers, as well as an angler with a light tackle spinning outfit.  Either way, sight casting to a feeding bonefish is incredibly exciting, and every sports fisherman needs to experience at one point in the fishing career.

Bonefish are tricky to see on the flats, so a trained eye is helpful.  They are perfectly camouflaged to their environment, so spotting them to make an accurate cast takes a little bit of time, especially in unfavorable conditions.   I promise to do my best to put you on good opportunities to catch this elusive flats fish.  Patience is a must for this kind of fishing.  It is not easy, and you have to work hard for your opportunities.

Recommended Tackle and info:

Fly anglers- 7-9 weights are all fine for bonefishing.  Make sure to have floating line, and plenty of backing on the reel.

Spin anglers- I recommend 7-8′ medium action rods rigged with 10# braid to allow you to make the longest casts you can.


The best time to fish bonefish is the late spring through the fall.  They can be found year round, but it is all weather pending.

Tarpon: Tarpon fishing in the Florida Keys is some of the most exciting inshore fishing on the planet.  Watching a tarpon blast a fly or a live mullet is incredible.  They have nothing but bad intentions on the strike.  These fish grow to sizes in excess of 200 pounds and can be 8′ long.  The tarpon is an incredibly agile fish with tremendous leaping ability.  The jumps are what it’s all about.

The big schools of migratory tarpon pass through the Keys in the spring time.  During the migration, trains of tarpon swim along our coastlines on their long journey to spawn.  They are found in huge numbers that time of year, but are also available into the summer months.  They can be caught with a variety of tackle and baits, but I personally feel the tarpon is the most perfectly designed fish in the ocean for a fly rod.  The nature of how they eat on the surface makes them one of my favorite fly targeted species down here. Teasing a big poon into eating a few feathers, and the thrill of seeing the monster tarpon explode out of the water attached to an 11 wt is undescribable!

Tarpon fishing is also available on heavier spinning tackle where they are targeted with live bait and with artificials.   Whether sight casting to trains of migrating tarpon on fly, or drifting a live bait for them, the eat is something to be seen by everyone.  They make for some of the most memorable fishing experiences you can have. Prime big tarpon season is April-June during the peak of the migration. Every year is different though.  We find them a lot earlier if the weather is nice.   Juvenile tarpon are pretty much available year round, weather pending of course.  They range from 5-50#’s, and can be highly aggressive eaters.

Recommended Tackle and Info

Fly Anglers- For baby tarpon, I recommend using 7-9 wts.  And for adult tarpon, I recommend using 10-12 wts.  You need a to rig your rod with floating line and plenty of backing.  Tarpon will test your tackle to the fullest of their abilities. Bad knots and jenky gear can and will fail.  Make sure all of your stuff is working properly and your knots are solid.  Make sure to have a local fly shop check out your rigging.

Spin Anglers-  Baby tarpon I recommend using 10-12# medium action spinning rods rigged with 10-15# braid.  For adult tarpon, I will typically use 20-30# sinning rod outfits.  I like a medium heavy 20# class rod for sight casting rigeed with 20-30# braid. And a 30# class spinning rod rigged with 30-50# braid for live bait fishing

Permit: Fishing for permit in the Florida Keys is hands down my favorite thing to do.  Permit are an extremely worthy opponent.  They are always on point,and, they don’t make mistakes that often.  These fish have the ability to mentally break you down, and will haunt your every thought.  They make most anglers tremble just in their presence, and, can make you look foolish when trying to present a fly or a crab to them.  They have an uncanny ability to sense danger and to just seem to know something is wrong.  More so than any other fish I have ever targeted.   Keep in in mind, a permit is very hard to see for the untrained eye and almost like Houdini on the flats.  One second they are there, then they vanish out of nowhere.  Permit can and will refuse perfectly presented flies and bait, a lot.  So, if you mentally can’t handle that, maybe  another species would fit you better.

Catching a permit on fly is a real accomplishment, and is sought after by many people.  Not many anglers achieve this goal, and nobody does it 100% of the time on every opportunity.  They are said to be the hardest fish in the ocean to catch on a fly, and from my experience, this is very true.  A lot of things need to come together to catch a permit on fly.  The weather, the visibility, your timing, and simply having the right fish swim up to you are just a few of the factors.  They are the ultimate shallow water sport fish and you typically need to put in some time to catch one.  Realistically, an angler who wishes to target permit on fly, should book multiple days to give them a legit shot at catching one.  And of course, you must realize that there is a good chance that it is not going to happen.  That is the game.  It’s not for everyone and I understand that.  But, if you get a chance to make a fly presentation to  a permit, you will never forget it.  Patience is a must for this kind of fishing.  It is not easy, and you have to work hard for your opportunities.

Spin fishing for permit is highly effective and can be deadly. The fish can be targeted from longer distances,and, in the right situation are very eager to eat a live crab or shrimp.  This obviously still requires a great cast and a perfect presentation. They will refuse live baits too when it’s not right, but, when everything goes right, you will be in for a long ride.  The pulling power of a permit is hard to match inshore.  They make long runs and fight hard until the very last minute.  Catching a permit is a thrill of a lifetime, and there is nothing more I like to see than someone catching and releasing their first permit.  I promise to work as hard as I can to make it happen for you.

Recommended Tackle Info

Fly Angler- I recommend 9-10 wt fly rods rigged with weight forward floating lines and plenty of backing.

Spin Anglers- I recommend 7-8′ medium and medium fast, 10-15 lb rods rigged with 10-15# braid.


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