The Redfish Bug

The Redfish Bug

March 20, 2017

Gulf Coast Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for redfish is a challenging yet rewarding experience. Tides, weather, clouds, water clarity, air pressure, moon cycle, wind direction, sometimes it seems as if all these factors play into if you will catch a redfish on the fly or not. A majority of the time it seems as if these conditions are all conspiring against you. So you got your boat, possibly a guide, your 8wt rod and reel and you're all set to hit the water. The big question is what to tie on.

 Todays fly tying industry is filled with every type, color and size of material you could want. Shrimp eyes, crab legs, shell backs, shrimp tails, crab bodies, mylars, UV resins, liquid latex, it is all there for you to spend an hour and create the most realistic crab or shrimp fly you can come up with. But the question is, is it actually worth it?

Realistic Crab Fly Pattern


A trend can be seen where simplicity and efficiency in fly tying may just be key. In the trout fly "scene" there has been a huge surge towards simplifying nymph patterns. The Frenchie is a prime example of taking a pheasant tail and stripping it down to its most rudimentary form yet still allowing for max effectiveness on the water.

Pheasant Tail NymphFrenchie Nymph

This same trend can be seen in the saltwater fly tying "scene" as well. This is where the term redfish bug comes from. Redfish bugs are neither shrimp, or crab patterns. They rarely have eyes on them, possibly some simple rubber legs. The goal for a redfish bug is to fill a profile a mix between both a shrimp and a crab, so maybe a Skrimp or maybe a Scrab. More importantly is how it swims, anybody out on the flats worth their salt will tell you a bug that swims mid water column with an up and down jigging motion and a tail that dances behind is money.

Redfish Bug

So get your weight right, I've found a medium black lead eye is just about perfect for a Sz1 hook. Remember the more materials you use the more the fly is going to want to float, a medium body thickness is key. If you're using materials like EP Foxy Brushes, or Ep Tarantula Brushes, use only quarter to half of a brush any more and the body will be too thick and will tend to float more.

Its a bug leave the eyes and legs and shells at home. Limit your materials to three or four. A short zonker strip for a tail, some flash, marabou, and an EP brush will represent more things a redfish eats than most other fly combos. Don't tell the fish what it is eating, allow that fish's imagination to make your redfish bug into what ever it is hungry for. What can be imagined is always going to be better than reality.

Redfish Bug Fly

As always key color combos for redfish, are black and purple, two tone olive, two tone tan, and tan/ gold. So mix and match try going simple with your patterns fill a box faster and get out on the flats and see what you can do.

Realistic Crab Fly PatternEasy Crab Fly Pattern


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