Redfish Fly Patterns
So you want to go after some redfish huh?
Well I will skip over all the bullshit poetic mamajama about tails glistening in the reeds, the silent sound of your loops when chucking a fly within inches of a red fishes face, and get down to the nitty gritty of pulling a redfish on board. In general I will be discussing tactics for fly fishing for redfish along the South Carolina intercoastal waterway. I am very lucky to have a job which has allowed me the pleasure of seeing almost every inch of South Carolina’s coast and allowing me to occasionally get a few flies wet along the way.
Let’s talk about what flies you should use when fly fishing for redfish. Again I will repeat the fact that my experience and fly selection is geared towards fly fishing the coast of South Carolina. However we have had many customers use our saltwater flies throughout the Louisiana and Texas coastline with great success. So the question is what do redfish eat, the answer is pretty much everything. The main three are, shrimp, crabs and baitfish.
Shrimp Flies for Redfish
There are a handful of shrimp species located along the SC Coast including grass shrimp, tiger shrimp, and mantis shrimp. All three of which red fish will readily eat. When selecting a fly for redfish you must think about where the fish will be looking. If you encounter tailing redfish, they are head first in the mud digging up what ever crustaceans they can find so your best bet is to go with a fast sinking fly that’s going to get to the bottom quick. If they are just cruising along or schooled up go with a moderately weighted fly, or a fly with no weight that will sit neutrally in the water column and directly in the line of site of the fish. You can also choose to target redfish on top water flies such as gurglers which is a unique and somewhat challenging feat to accomplish. The best colors to use first and foremost are ones that directly mimic the shrimp in the water, secondly redfish seem to really trigger on orange, copper, or rust colors, and if all else fails tie on something in black and purple.
The fly above is our redfish destroyer pattern, with a medium weight this fly swims mid water current and is a great fly to try when then fish just don't want to bite.
This is our classic tan redfish fly this is a definite go to when targeting redfish. This fly is internally weighted and has a moderate sinking rate great for schooled up reds.
This is our non-weighted scaredy shrimp. This fly has a unique action in the water as it starts out almost as a top water fly then sinks slightly to stay in the top ¼ of the water column. This is a great fly for schooled up reds, or groups of reds actively on the hunt.
This fly has the pop and the wiggle to entice some hungry redfish. This fly mimics a little shrimp skating away at the top of the water. This fly is great when there are a group of reds actively hunting, as some will be tailing and digging up crustaceans while others are trolling nearby picking off what ever comes by.
Who brought the crabs?!?!
There are two main types of Crabs found in the tidal marshes of SC there are small brown crabs or the square back marsh crab and blue crabs. There are tons of crab pattern variations out there and everyone has their favorite. Crab patterns are best used up in the reeds on flood tides, where you will see most crab activity. Not only will redfish dig them up but as they troll through the reeds they can knock crabs down into the water, so don't worry about stealthy casting as many times reds will head towards splash noises.
This is our version of a blue crab fly this one is more realistic than other crab patterns. If you're going after redfish a half dozen of these is suggested!
This is another great fly pattern for redfish. The fly is tied on a sz1 hook with a weed guard and medium weight. Any where you look when fly fishing for red fish you will see small emerald crabs and that is exactly what redfish eat and what this fly imitates.
Baitfish Flies For Redfish
The main type of bait fish that you will see on the coast is the finger mullet these guys tend to school up in the shallows and it is very common to see the water explode and boil as predatory fish pick off a few. There are two baitfish patterns that I highly endorse and prove to be highly effective and productive patterns when going after reds. Good color combos to use are grey and white as that resembles the finger mullet the most, golden or olive work well also as those colors resemble mud minnows which can be found up in the tidal marshes, and if all else fails go for something flashy like fire tiger or electric chicken.
The gray over white EP Bait fish is exactly what you will need when trying to catch redfish with a bait fish fly pattern. Unweighted this fly will site 2-3 inches under the surface of the water perfect for feeding redfish look up or their next meal. This fly is blended with a UV flash material that gives a life like look to this fly when in the water.
The Half and Half Clouser is another great baitfish fly to have in your box. Available in multiple colors you can go realistic with either olive and white (shown above) or gray and white. Or go for something more flashy like chartreuse or pink over white. These flies are weighted to swim hook point up with is ideal when fishing around hang ups or oyster beds.
The top water bite isn't just for shrimp gurglers, meet the ultra pearl minnow gurgler. As redfish are digging around they will stir up not only shrimp but baitfish as well. These flies will skirt across the surface with flashy darts that is most irresistible to a redfish. Just be patient on your strip sets as you do not want to pull the fly out of their mouth just as they're taking the fly.
Well these are just a handful of suggestions that we have when fly fishing for redfish. You can be sure that all the flies we suggested are flies that you would find in our own boxes. Check out our full saltwater inventory as most of it is geared towards going after redfish. If you see a pattern that we don’t have on the site just drop us a line and we will be happy to tie it up for you.
Good luck and happy Fishing!