I periodically get to chase redfish, and although I almost always tie flies before a trip, I always make the mistake of figuring that my bigger Bahamas-type bonefish patterns will work (too small and dull-colored), or that my New England crab-imitating striper flies (too big, too heavy) will do the job. And I end up borrowing flies from my guide or fishing buddy. No more. Redfish are pickier than most fly fishers think, and the next time I go after these guys I am going to make sure my flies have the right profile, sink rate, and color for redfish. Top on my list will be Bissettt’s Cajun Crustacean.
Capt. Lucas Bissett is one of the best redfish guides in Louisiana. Unlike a lot of guides you might find in this region during the prime season, he’s a born-and-raised Cajun who fishes these waters year-round and has spent a lifetime in the waters of southern Louisiana and now owns Low Tide Charters, an Orvis-endorsed guide service. Lucas is young, bright, and perceptive and brings his exhaustive knowledge to his fly-tying philosophy:
I think I have a better chance of matching all of the bait redfish eat in one fly. Redfish eat first and ask questions later. This fly has a crab body, but the longer tail of a shrimp or baitfish. And because a redfish looks down his nose at what he’s going to eat, I designed this fly so that it sinks at a 45-degree angle to give the fish a good profile. If the fly sank on a level keel the fish would only see its front or back. As a guide, I want something I can see in the water, and it helps a lot if my client can see it as well. These colors show up really well and the fish seem to like them just fine.
You can tell by the materials he chose that Lucas spent a lot of time and experimentation designing the fly.
Arctic fox is one of the most durable, universal materials and it has great action. It pulses underwater and is a little lighter and easier to cast than other materials. The EP Fibers I chose for the body give it some neutral buoyancy, so you can fish over grass (with the bead-chain-eye version) or in deeper places.
When I went out to get some pictures last summer for a testimonial when I submitted the fly to Orvis, we caught 21 fish on a single fly. The only reason we lost the fly is that my buddy hooked a redfish over 20 pounds, and he was using an old reel and his drag froze. But the durability of the fly really paid off.
Now there’s good news and bad news about Lucas’ fly, depending on whether you tie your own flies or not. The bad news is that some shipments of new Orvis flies got held up in customs, so we won’t have any in stock for about a month. The good news (if you are a fly tier) is that we’ve included the pattern description so you can tie your own. And if you don’t tie your own and have a redfish trip coming up, I’d advise you to buy a 6-pack for a buddy that does tie flies.
Bissett’s Deep Crustacean
Hook: Mustad Signature Series Z-steel 34007, size 1/0.
Thread: Chartreuse, 3/0.
Eyes: Gold Prepainted Fly Eyes, medium.
Tail: Arctic Fox Tail Purple, Purple Hot Tipped Crazy Legs, Purple Ice Dub Minnow Back, Purple Polar Chenille.
Body: EP Fibres Purple and Yellow, alternating bands.
Head: Chartreuse Thread.
Note: This is for the bright version of the fly for deeper waters. For shallower waters and over weed beds, use a size 2 hook and substitute bead chain eyes for the weighted Fly Eyes shown in the pattern above. Also, Lucas finds that sometimes, especially in summer, a more neutral color works better so he also ties the fly in a tan/olive combination, mixing tan and olive in the tail and with alternating bands of tan and olive EP fiber.