The Redfish may not be as explosive and visual as the Tarpon or as elusive as a Bonefish, but the Redfish is extremely fun to catch and is a regular target species for East Coast, and Gulf fly fishers.
Arguably one of the most popular saltwater fish to catch on a fly rod within the United States.
The Redfish are such a great species to target because they can be found in the shallow mudflats, sea-grass beds, mangroves, and sand flats, feeding with vigor. They will generally chase down any fly that looks like a crab, mollusk, or baitfish.
Redfish, commonly known as the red drum or channel bass, is a game fish found from Massachusetts to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida to northern Mexico.
The redfish diet consists of crabs, wounded baitfish, and shrimp. Targeting Redfish can be done with straightforward fly patterns when sight fishing for them. Redfish generally feed in shallow water, such as grass flats, but feed in the deeper water column like a mosquito lagoon.
What’s even better is that Redfish can be successfully targeted year-round and not just in the winter months as previously expected. Fall and winter fly fishing is still the optimal time to target them, however.
Redfish are also very forgiving when casting at them and usually eat a second or third time. This is great for a guide who has an inexperienced caster or newbie. If the fly lands on tailing fish, the connection rate is pretty certain, but Redfish will also follow and eat if the pattern and retrieve are correct.
The thrill of fly fishing Redfish is sight fishing and seeing that eat. They will bulldog you around a bit, and then you can get them to the boat and move on to the next fish.
Choosing Redfish patterns
Many Redfish flies out there work well in their specific environments. Fortunately, chasing Redfish on the fly is relatively easy as they tend to feed on anything that swims past aggressively. They will get eaten whether topwater flies, crab patterns, or shrimp flies. That said, it still pays to do your research on the area if it’s a new fishery.
The most important thing to remember is to use your surroundings to help decide on the fly selection. Look at the water; is it clear or murky water? This will influence your color variations. Look around the boat and see if you can see any crabs or mullet baitfish.
Seeing what’s around the boat and the environment will greatly increase your success.
Fall and winter redfish will eat differently from summer redfish, so it helps to have a few different patterns to use and test.
The Best Redfish Flies Are:
With many redfish patterns available, many anglers have a few flies fished best on sinking lines, and a few flies fished best with floating lines in skinny water.
The time of year will also influence the pattern, where more natural colors will be used in clear water, and brighter colors will be used in stained water.
The crafty shrimp is probably one of Redfish’s most popular shrimp patterns. Its simple design and neutral craft fur tail and body can be used in any condition or season.
Fished with a slow but erratic motion, Redfish can’t leave this fly alone, so it’s worth having a few different colors and weights. In addition to its color design, the fact that the pattern rides hook point up is also a great attribute.
If tying your flies, use bead chain eyes for lightweight flies and lead eyes for a heavier big fly.
As the name suggests, this fly gets things going. The Kinky muddler is one of those redfish flies that is very productive in the warmer months.
The mudflats fill up with mullet fingerlings during the summer months, and the Redfish take full advantage of this. Fly anglers can have a great day on the water targeting reds with the kinky muddler.
The craft fur head gives bulk which moves into the zonker strip or deer hair tail. This is what gives the all-important tail movement. It’s good to have these flies in a few different sizes so the angler can match the mullet size.
Captain Jack Brown’s electric chicken is probably one of the most well-known redfish flies. Arguably the most popular color is the Pink/ Chartreuse blend which seems to work! Its versatility is what makes this pattern a firm favorite.
The Electric chicken can be used in any season, water clarity, or depth; if the fish are around, the chance is great to connect when casting the chicken.
Have them stocked in a few weights as well.
Kung Fu Crab
A fast sink rate combined with loads of movement is what you look for in a crab pattern. The Kung fu crab pattern is one of the best around.
Designed to fish in the high flood plains at tailing Redfish, this crab pattern is necessary for all serious redfish anglers. Even better is that it is an excellent pattern for baby tarpon and bonefish alike.
The open claws that display of the crab’s body show the crab’s defensive posture, which makes the pattern ever more enticing.
Not the most straightforward pattern to tie, with the hook point riding up and an additional weed guard, the kung fu crab is a big fish attractor.
What flies do redfish eat?
Redfish are opportunistic feeders and will eat a wide variety of foods, including small fish, shrimp, crabs, worms, clams, squid, and even flies.
What do redfish eat the most?
The most common food sources for redfish are shrimp, crabs, and small fish. Other food items include worms, clams, squid, and small crustaceans.
What is the best fly for redfish?
The best fly for redfish depends on the location and season. Popular flies include Clouser Minnows, Deceivers, Gotchas, and Gurglers.
What is a redfish favorite bait?
Redfish are opportunistic feeders and will hit a wide variety of baits. Popular baits include shrimp, crabs, worms, clams, squid, and small fish.
Whether you are a seasoned redfish angler or heading out on your first guided trip. Your fly selection is of utmost importance.
Yes, Redfish are pretty forgiving, but if you are out on the water and need that one pattern and you don’t have it, well, that’s on you.
The above patterns are super simple to tie, and if you don’t tie your own, then a quick trip to your local fishing shop will get you sorted.
Fish the flies with confidence, and you will have a great day out on the flats.