Written By: Capt. Cleve Hancock, Brown Dog Sportfishing
Redfish are one of my favorite species to catch on fly, but their uniquely unpredictable behavior can sometimes frustrate newer anglers who aren’t yet accustomed to their quirks. So here are 3 quick and relatively easy tips for anyone looking to improve their odds of catching one:
1. Stay Alert
Redfish are like bad in-laws: they love to show up unannounced when you least expect them. Any time you are on the bow, you should be ready to make a cast at a moment’s notice. That means staying prepared both mentally and physically–keep your eyes scanning for fish, or any sign of fish, and don’t get distracted by idle chatter or that bird flying overhead. Also make sure to periodically check that your slack line is orderly and unobstructed, and that your fly is unfouled. I like to hold my fly gently in my hand as I wait to cast.
2. Focus on your Short Game
Because of their tendency to show up at seemingly random times, many of the shots you’ll end up taking at redfish are within 40 feet, so don’t get bogged down trying to prepare for a long saltwater “hero cast.” Instead, practice making short casts until you can accurately deliver a fly up to 40 feet while using minimal false casts. The closer the fish, the less time we have to get the fly to it, making casting speed and precision far more important than distance. In fact, one of the most common casting errors I see is when anglers try to over-power their last forward cast, shocking their loop and actually reducing both distance and accuracy.
3. Stay Positive
The Lowcountry is one big obstacle course–full of oyster bars, grass beds, and myriad other hazards–making for some notoriously small landing zones for your flies. Add a stiff breeze to the mix, and your fly won’t always end up where you want it. Remember to stay positive and shake off the bad casts; embracing the challenge and enjoying the process. There will be more shots to come, and the worst thing you can do is let a few mistakes start eating at you and negatively affect the day ahead. If you sense those feelings creeping in, sit down, have a snack, and appreciate the beauty of the marsh for a while, then get back up on the deck and try again.
Capt. Cleve Hancock is owner and operator of Brown Dog Sportfishing in Charleston, South Carolina.