Guide to Fly Fishing for Redfish

Fly fishing redfish is a perfect way to get into fly fishing.

You can find redfish along the Eastern Side of the US and down into Mexico.

Top fly-fishing areas for redfish include Florida and Louisiana.

Redfish are hunters and they love to feed on shrimp, small fish, and crabs.

You find them in shallow water, usually in 1-3 feet of water.

The draw for fly fishermen to redfish is that they grow pretty large, they are plentiful, and they yank hard on the line when you set the hook.


What Weight Fly Rod Is Best for Redfish?

A good redfish fly rod will be in the 8-9 weight range and around nine feet in length.

Set up the rod with a saltwater reel and you are pretty much good to go. Learn more about the different types of grips.

Line choice can get confusing because redfish are saltwater fish but they are often found in estuaries and in warm, shallow water.

The line you spool on your reel should meet those criteria. A nice weight-forward floating line is what you need to start.

Add a longer leader in the 8-16 foot range with a 30-40 pound tippet that fades to 15-20 pound test.

How to Choose a Fly Rod for Redfish?

Redfish can be big – adults can weigh 55 pounds.

You need a fly rod that will handle big fish and the setup that will allow you to battle and successfully land them.

Start with an 8-9 weight fly rod that is 8-10 feet long (nine feet being ideal.)

Big fish means fast action with a medium or medium-heavy power rating.

In fly rods, a 9 weight is ideal.

When choosing a reel for your fly rod any reel that is rated for saltwater will do just fine.

These are powerful enough to handle the strength of the redfish and hold enough line so the beasts can run and tire.

How to Fly Fish for Redfish?

Redfish and fly-fishing is mostly a sight-fishing sport.

Reds are found in the shallow waters, around weeds, in backflow bayou, mangroves, and places where you would think you would not find big fish.

Redfish love the shallows because they hunt non-stop for shrimp, crab, and smaller baitfish.

You sight fish them with ease because most have part of their body sticking out of the water.

Usually, you see the top half of their tail cutting a wake through the water.

Sometimes they dig for crabs and you will see the top half of their body out of the water, head down, and a muddy patch bleeding into the clear water.

Sometimes you see the top half of their body out of the water as they crawl along in water that is less than a foot deep.

Fishing Terms for The Type of Redfish You See:

Tailers – You see them cruising through the water with the tip of their tail sticking out of the water.

Snakes – You see the top half of the fish out of the water in very shallow spots.

Diggers – You see the back half of the fish upright and out of the water with their head down and muddy water.

Crawlers – You see these reds in water less than six inches deep and most of the fish is exposed. They are hunting small fish, shrimp, and crabs.

Floaters – like to sun themselves and you may see them floating on the surface or just beneath the surface of the water in deeper sections anywhere from the open ocean to shallow water in the three-foot range.

Digesting the Redfish Mood

How you approach fly fishing for redfish depends on how they are behaving. Are they tailers, snakes, diggers, or ???

The tailers are the best option. They are on the hunt and if you drop a fly in front of them they are usually going to take it.

Diggers are the worst as they are not looking at the surface, their head is burried in the mud and they are not taking notice of flies.

Snakes can be challenging as they can see you.

They may take a fly that you drop in front of them but in general they are not in the best of moods.

A big fish in shallow water has many opportunities for things to go wrong.

The tailers are generally in the best moods and just cruising around looking for food. Floaters are fat and lazy and they may opt to take a fly or just let it float by them.

best flies that work tend to be larger flies that resemble shrimp and small baitfish.

The actual type of fly is not as important as the fact that it look like food.

Redfish are not that discerning when it comes to food. Shrimp are highly prized.

How (and What) to Choose for Tackle?

A 20-30pound saltwater braid is perfect, though you can go with a 100 percent fluorcarbon setup.

The leader needs to be long – eight plus feet and can be as along as twenty feet if you can manage that.

you are using a heavy tippet leader with a 30-40 butt and a taper that fades to the 15-20 pound range.

How and What to Choose Redfish Flies

Redfish are odd. Unlike trout or bass they don’t really care about the style of fly or pattern.

What they care about is that the fly looks like food.

Choose flies that are in the shrimp pattern, eel pattern, or minnow pattern. Fluffy streams may be a good bet.

If you want to stock up on flies go for the Jack Brown fly.

It is a redfish magnet and the same pattern comes in many colors.

The color change helps when you fish in different types of water – clear, siltry, shaded, stained, etc.

How to Choose A Fly Reel for Redfish

In terms of reel choice for fly-fishing redfish, you don’t have to worry much. Any saltwater-rated fly reel will do fine.

If you are setting up a fly rod for saltwater fly fishing, choose a reel that will give you the most versatility in targeting different types of fish.

A good reel will handle fish under 60 pounds, which allows you to target sea bass, redfish, bonefish, smaller copia, and snook – all of which you will find in the shallower waters and inshore flats.

How to Choose Line

You have two real options for line choice. You can set up the line in a standard format – backing, braid, leader, or you can opt for 100% fluorcarbon line.

We’ve left out mono for redfish because it is a softer line that can nick easily in shallow water and weed beds.

If you opt for the backing, braid, and leader option, aim for a 20-30 pound braid that is floating.

A standard backing for saltwater is all you need.

The leader needs to be fluorcarbon with a butt strength in the 30-40 pound range and a tippet that fades to 15-20 pound test.

Best Locations for Fly Fishing for Redfish in The States

You can find redfish all along the eastern seaboard of the US, but the best places to fish for them is where the water is warmest.

Florida is an amazing place to target redfish. The shallows and saltwater swamps offer the perfect water setup for redfish.

More importantly, is the fact that the shallow waters in Florida are natural nurseries for shrimp and crab – two creatures that redfish love to eat.

Louisiana is also an amazing place to fish for redfish because it offers many options for fishing backwaters and estuaries where you will find shrimp, crabs, and smaller schools of baitfish.

Coastal areas with cover is an ideal area – look for mangrove swamps, weedy beds in estuaries, and shallow channels where these big fish can crawl along hunting for food.

Texas and Alabama are also excellent states to fly fish for redfish, They have coastal regions similar to both Florida and Louisiana and all the warm gulf water redfish love.

While redfish love shallow weedy areas, they are also at home in the inshore waters where shallow channels allow them to hunt for fish and other food options.

Florida has many places where the shallows are an ideal place to find redfish. If there was just one spot to fish for redfish, it would be Florida.