• Fly Fishing For Tailing Redfish: 5 Mistakes You'll Make This Summer
  • Gordon Churchill
  • casting fly rodfly fishingfly fishing tipsredfishsaltwaterstreamer fishingSummer

Fly Fishing For Tailing Redfish: 5 Mistakes You'll Make This Summer

Gordon Churchill redfish fly fishing 

It's getting to be tailing redfish season.

The tides will be getting right to cast to fish looking for crunchy snacks in the spartina flats.

You want to catch one, don't you?

Well guess what? You're going to screw it up and it's going to make you go nuts.

Here are 5 things you're going to mess up on and some ways to be prepared in advance so you won't chuck your rod in the water out of frustration.

1. Cast to the tail.

Gordon Churchill fly fishing redfish 

The tail is the part you see, so that's the part that dudes end up casting to.

Just a quick heads up – they eat with the other end. If you cast at the part you see, I'll bet the house you won't get a bite.

Take a look at the fish; it's most likely between 24 and 30 inches long. Figure out which direction it's swimming and lock your eyes on a spot about 2 feet ahead of where its head is pointing.

Put your fly there.

2. Line the fish.

redfish fly fishing flats

If your fly line goes over the back of a redfish that was previously feeding happily, you can pretty much count on him taking off like a torpedo.

The fly is way out there on the end of your leader.

Why would you try to catch the fish with the middle part of your fly line anyway?

3. Hit the fish right between the eyes.

Remember I said to lock your eyes 2 feet in front of the fish's face?

Yeah, that doesn't mean drop the fly ON his face. If you put that fly right there, he'll blow out before the fly even hits the water. 

It's pretty amazing actually. They see it coming right at them and... Poof!


Remember, any fish feeding in extremely shallow water is super sensitive to anything swimming above its head. This comes from a youth spent dodging herons, egrets, ospreys, and various other birds of prey.

4. Make a bad cast and rip the line right back up to cast again.

fly line goes tight redfish

You might miss out on this.

Really? You had to do that?

The fish don't like that either.

If your cast doesn't land exactly where you want it to, be patient. See what the fish does first. The way they meander around when feeding on spartina flats, your fish could end up swimming directly at your fly if you leave it alone for a second.

Plus, as long as it didn't land right on it's face or tail, that fish heard that fly hit the water. A redfish loves a nice "plop" sound. Quite often he'll swim around and try to find the source of the sound.

How to catch redfish on the fly with no visibility: The 3 fundamentals.

If after a few seconds the fish isn't moving in the right direction, then slowwwwwwwly start your pick up and get your line in the air without making much noise.

If you do it right, you'll get your second chance.

5. Worry too much about your fly.

Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet redfish fly pattern

Redfish love my Critter Fly tied with a Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet.

Guides and experienced anglers doing this kind of fishing have more flies than Return of the Jedi had Ewoks.

Almost anything will work.

Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail fly

The new Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail is a delicious-looking touch and weights your fly.

Something with a crabby or shrimpy profile will usually work. Make sure it's weedless. I've been tying a lot of my flies for tailers on the same hooks bass fishing guys use for plastic worms.

Put a tail of some kind of fuzzy fur on it, wrap a body of some kind of chenille or other wrap. Add a couple rubber legs.

I find that orange is a trigger color but other anglers use all black or purple or... well, whatever works for them.

Mostly, don't screw it up.

Gordon Churchill redfish fly fishing

Somebody poling that skiff worked their butt off to get you into position to make that cast, and it's not all that easy.

They brought you to a spot they know is good through a large amount of trial and error and weeding out spots that stink.

So you know, no pressure or anything.

Gordon Churchill fly fishing redfish

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About Captain Gordon Churchill:

Gordon Churchill fly fishing guideGordon is a former full-time fly fishing guide who has been chasing false albacore on the North Carolina coast since 1997. Check out his blog of fishing reports, rants, and raves here.

  • Gordon Churchill
  • casting fly rodfly fishingfly fishing tipsredfishsaltwaterstreamer fishingSummer

Comments on this post (7)

  • Mar 07, 2022

    I couldn’t agree more with your article! Keep up the good work.

    — 3et Sportsbook

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Ha Ha!! Guilty as charged on all five counts! That’s the thing that keeps it interesting; trying to do it better the next time. Remember this is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Don’t beat yourself up over it… the fish will do a good job of it without your help. Tight loops!

    — David

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Sign me up! Thanks!

    — Norm Shively

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Redfish fishing has become a way of life! We absolutely love going fly fishing for reds. Polling the flats looking for tailing reds is something I live for! Great Article!
    If your in the neighborhood for an addition read check this out.

    — Jason

  • Dec 03, 2020
    Great article enjoyed it a lot

    — Frank Valentino

  • Dec 03, 2020


    — Steve

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Great article….Keep them coming!

    — Bill

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