The Golden Nugget is easy to tie and highly effective on the water! Using the Fish-Skull Baitfish Head to help with swimming action, profile, and depth, this versatile streamer fly pattern can be fished for most freshwater and saltwater applications.
You can find Robin Phillips on Instagram: @robin.phillips.flies
This fly will move Barracuda in Belize, Pike in Canada, and sizing it up or down it will catch musky, smallmouth, and trout in your local fishery as well.
Fish-Skull Body Tubing creates the elongated body of a Needlefish, and a Big Game Articulated Shank adds extra swimming action to attract your target species. Super fun tie!
Fly fishing in saltwater flats usually conjures up images of tarpon, bonefish, snook and permit; the "big four" so to speak in this realm of mangroves, grasses and sand. Then there are redfish and black drum. These two species are much more widespread and available, making them a viable target from Texas to the Carolinas. Again, these two fish are very popular among fly anglers and considered high on the list of angling achievements.
However, there is yet another species of the drum family that I consider even higher on the list than redfish and black: the spotted seatrout (cynoscion nebulosus). The spotted seatrout is perhaps one of the first fish that novice saltwater fly anglers target. The smaller versions of these fish are voracious feeders, attacking anything that gets near them, making them perfect for novice anglers.
Spotted seatrout are readily found from Maryland to Texas, in large groups, and it is not unusual once a single small trout is caught, to catch a dozen or more in the same area. Perhaps this is why many people forget about seatrout and don’t give them the respect they deserve, especially the large ones we call gator seatrout.
With world famous fishing destinations like the lagoon systems on the east coast, the Everglades to the south, and the crystal clear grass flats of the Nature Coast to the west, there is certainly no shortage of epic environments in which these fish can be targeted.
Learning a fish species like this from scratch was a challenge but also allowed me to learn from my mistakes. Hopefully sharing what I learned the hard way will help you the next time you target redfish on the fly.
Best fished on either floating or intermediate lines targeting redfish, bonefish, snook, permit, and the occasional tarpon, the Shrimp & Cray Tail Faux Shrimp leans more toward medium water as it gets deep fast thanks to the Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail. When sight fishing, lead the fish and once the fish turns, make short strips until you come tight.
While they do not frequent as wide of a variety of habitats as striped bass do, they have their own eccentricities that make them unique. As an angler, playing upon these eccentricities is part of the strategy and fun.
Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve picked up on a few things that I’d love to pass on to you.
Throughout the South you can target redfish year-round. Each season is different, so you need to switch up your tactics to stay successful.
When most fly anglers think of summer redfish, they envision flood tides and copper tails waving in the green Spartina grass. Me too. Tailing reds are a definite favorite of mine.
Unfortunately, the reality is that you only get a handful of tailing tides that fall during daylight hours each month.
Low tides, on the other hand, are available on a daily basis and can provide for some great fly fishing opportunities.
I landed 2 spectacular fish on flies; the first, a 9.4-pound calico bass on 12-pound tippet, then less than an hour later, I sight casted to and landed a 36-pound white sea bass on 20-pound tippet, both official IGFA fly fishing world records.
A record-breaking morning I'll never forget.
Here's the story of the calico bass I caught on that crazy once-in-a-lifetime morning on my go-to articulated sculpin fly, tied with a small brown Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet.