When you’re fishing in clear, shallow water, the fish will be a little easier to find. I tend to stick to flies in natural colors like tan and white. In dirty water conditions, I’ll throw darker colors such as brown, black and purple. When it’s shallow and clear your polarized glasses will do the trick and redfish will stand out with their bright copper colors. In murky water, you’ll almost need to look through the water and not so much at the surface, kind of like you’re trying to see everything on the bottom rather than a glimpse of color on the surface, or a tail.
My personal preference would be 30lb butt, to a 20lb mid-section with 16lb tippet. I personally like mono because of the stretch. Typically, I never have had an issue with redfish being leader shy, which is why I don’t like using fluorocarbon.
When preparing for short 20’ and less shots, I tend to have a bigger length of fly line hanging out the end of the rod while keeping the fly in my hand. Once locked on a fish, simply start by positioning your rod on the opposite side of the fish and lay it down just as you would whether it be a front cast or back cast. Bay Flats Lodge owner, Chris Martin, adds, “Accuracy is so important when making short shots at redfish. Sometimes you get multiple shots, other times you are not so fortunate. Many of our shots are very close. Always keep your rod tip low, almost in the water, this keeps all slack out of the line while making short strips, or what we like to call ticks or bumps. Keep the rod tip pointed at the fish, and not to your side”.
Stripping a Fly
Once you’re casting your fly and you go to lay it down, think of throwing a ball and pointing at your target when you finish. Keeping that rod tip low and in line with the fish will help your stripping and line management in the water. For short strips, try moving your hand from just the wrist. For medium length strips, involve your arm with the hanh. And for long distance strips, think of it more like the front haul on a long distance cast. At the end of the day, reading a fish’s body language generally tells you what you’ll need to be doing. It often takes a couple fish to get a good read on them and to figure out what you need to be doing. The best advice I can give you so you’re able to start stripping as soon as that fly hits the water is right when that fly hits, bring both your hands together like you’re going to clap, and that will help you be able to find that fly line in order to be ready for some strips.
Placing the fly on a fish
Where you place your fly has a lot to do with water clarity, water depth, how fast the fish are moving, and how spooky the fish are. In cold water conditions the fish can often be somewhat lethargic, so in wintertime I like to lead the fish and then let the fish come to my fly in a slow and steady manner. During summertime, however, the fish will sometimes be moving quickly and from left to right, so hitting them on the nose can be crucial, because too many casts can spook them. Redfish tailing in the grass is another scenario where you will probably need to put it on them rather than lead them.
What to Bring on Your Guided Fly Trip
Generally, most guided fly fishing trips should include and provide almost everything you’ll need. However, I would say that if you bring one thing, and one thing only, it should be a quality pair of polarized sunglasses. I would also strongly suggest you include a buff and ample sunscreen to keep the sun off of you on those hot summer days. If you’ll be targeting redfish, then you’ll also like having a 7-8wt (with floating line) rod and reel. Oh yeah, you’ll also need your saltwater fishing license. And don’t forget, NO BANANAS are allowed on the boat!
Questions to ask your Guide
When you get some 1-on-1 time with a guide, it can always be beneficial to pick their brain about tips and techniques. You can fish with ten different redfish guides, and you’ll get 10 different answers and responses from every one of them regarding the same question, but soak up as much advice as you can and then apply what you’ve learned next time you’re out on the water.