During the fall and winter, there is not a better saltwater game fish to target with a fly rod than redfish. Plentiful throughout the Gulf States, the redfish provides a great fly fishing opportunity for anglers of all skill levels who want to sight fish in shallow clear water.
I’ve always considered the redfish to be the perfect saltwater game fish. It offers the angler a perfect venue to hone his or her sight-fishing skills. Why? Because or two important factors: accessibility and plentiful fishing opportunity. From a logistical standpoint, most anglers can book a flight for great redfish destinations from most major cities in the U.S. Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and the panhandle of Florida are prime winter redfish spots. Each of these locations has experienced fly fishing guides who are knowledgeable and professional. Access to the marsh flats, where the redfish live in the winter, is quite easy and the number of redfish you see in a day can be mind blowing!
Three factors for successful sight fishing to Redfish:
1.) Can you see the fish?
Visibility is the most important factor when sight fishing in shallow water. It’s great when you have a bluebird day and you’re seeing the fish from 100 yards away. However, Mother Nature usually has her own ideas on conditions. So, being able to identify fish even in tough lighting is important. Look for odd shapes in the water, V shaped wakes or even a subtle dimple that breaks the water’s surface. These are all signs of redfish feeding in an area.
TIP: Use yellow polarized lenses. These will provide better contrast under tough lighting conditions.
2.) Can I make a short cast?
Many redfish are hooked 20 feet or less from the boat. Believe me, the short cast is the toughest cast to make when sight fishing to redfish. Why? Because we are so focused on perfecting the 60-foot cast and neglect the importance of dropping a cast less than 20 feet from the boat. The 60-foot cast is important, but it rarely comes into play when sight fishing to redfish. Work on your short cast as well.
TIP: Work on a flip cast. Only cast the head of your fly line at targets on your left and right sides at 10 to 20 feet max.
3.) Where should I place the fly?
Redfish can see very well. I’ve seen them chase a fly from 20 feet way. However, I find placing a fly a couple feet in front of their noses works best. Once you’ve made the cast, let the fly settle to the bottom. As the redfish moves toward the fly, begin to move the fly with short strips. Once the redfish sees the fly, it will swim over and inhale it. At this point all you have to do is keep the rod tip on the water and strip strike to set the hook.
TIP: On an open lawn, place small Frisbees at 5, 10, 20 and 30 feet from your casting position. Work on placing the fly in the center of each Frisbee without a false cast.