The Angler’s Mark | Practice for Fly Fishing Redfish In The Grass #AmeliaIsland #FishingCharter #FishingGuide #FishingReport #Fishing

This post was originally published on this linked web site as a

Fishing Report from The Angler's Mark.  

Capt. Lawrence Piper is an Amelia Island, Florida back country fishing guide and is a Certified Fly Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International. He can be reached at 904-557-1027 or

I get a number of anglers who visit Amelia Island who want to try their hand at casting for tailing Redfish in the grass. Most of the time you don’t need a really long cast, maybe 30’-40’ is all you need. But it can be really frustrating when you see that tail at the 35’ mark and not be able to make the cast!  And if you’re not accurate, your chances of success go way down.  Here’s some tips and things you should practice before you get to Amelia Island.

Practice 1: Learn to get your fly line up in the air! You’re on the bow of the boat or you’ve waded out into the spartina grass and you see a tailing fish and you’ve got to get the line up in the air and make the cast. Learn how to make a “Quick Cast”. I like Joan Wulff’s method:  Strip enough line out to reach the fish. Most of it is piled at your feet but leave about 15’-20’ hanging from the tip of the rod. Grasp the bend of the hook in your left (line) hand.  With your rod hand also pinning the line against the rod, make a roll cast towards the fish and let the cast pull the hook from your hand. As it is rolling out, move your now empty line hand to the line, grasp the line, and make a good back cast. Now you’re ready to make the forward cast and shoot the line and fly to the tailing fish. You want to practice this so that you can make the cast with no additional false casting. Roll it out, make the back cast,  make the forward cast and shoot the line to the fish.

Practice 2: Pick up and Lay Down. This is easy!  It’s just a basic cast, but practice it anyway. When you see a tailing Redfish and make an excellent cast, the fish may not see the fly and move on, or it may turn and feed an opposite direction. Just “pick up and lay down” out in front of the tailing fish. Try not to make a loud pick up – make it nice and smooth and try to minimize any false casting. Pick it up. Lay it down.

Practice 3:Improve your accuracy. The Redfish may only be 30’ from the boat but if you can’t get the fly in front of it you have almost zero chance of catching it. Obviously if you land the fly behind the fish you’re not going to catch it. If you lay the line over the back of the fish there’s a good chance it’s going to spook. You need to be able to make your cast and put the fly out in front of the fish, ideally 3’-6’ ahead of it WITHOUT much false casting – ideally none. The fish can feel/see that fly line being cast overhead and it will just go under, disappear and be gone. You would think that making a 30’ cast out in front of fish would be simple, right? I’ve seen all kinds of great casters fall apart when that big Red is out there tailing. Practice you’re accuracy.

Practice 4:  Get more distance with Double Haul I hesitate to mention this but I’m assuming that you’ve got a good cast already and you’re getting good loops. If not, practice you cast until you’re getting good loops BEFORE you move on to the Double Haul. I get a lot of Trout anglers who have some pretty good casts but try as they might, they can only hit 30’-35”.  I always check to see if they are double hauling, and most are not. Get an instructor in your area to give you a lesson on the Double Haul. Practice it. Read articles on it. Watch some videos.  For those that do use a haul, one of the most common mistakes I see is that the caster hauls down….but leaves their haul (line) hand down by their side and doesn’t let the unrolling line pull that line hand up to the reel. Slack is then induced during the ensuing stroke…there is less load in the rod…the cast is not as efficient…and good distance is not achieved.  Again, you don’t always have to make a long cast, but it sure is frustrating for you when the fish is at 40’ and we can only cast 35’!

Some other Tips:


Be patient, let the fish come to you! If you see a fish way off, be patient. Sometimes you can watch the fish and see that it is heading your way…or you can tell which way it’s heading and you can head it off without going right at it.

Wade Slowly! If you do wade towards a fish, wade slowly!  They have an uncanny way of knowing that something is up and if they feel you coming, many times they will sink and disappear.

Minimize False Casting Hey, it looks good on TV!  But as mentioned before, that fly line casts a shadow and if you false cast two, three, four times over the fish it may sense something is up and again, sink, and disappear.
Cast in front of the fish We can’t always have the perfect scenario but ideally your fly would mimic a fleeing bait. If you are out in front of the fish and your fly is stripped towards the fish – it may spook. Try to be in position to cast your fly in front of the fish and strip away from the fish, as if it were fleeing.
Where proper shoes they can be high-end wading boots or cheap canvas tennis shoes but they’re going to get wet and muddy. They need to be snug on your feet without being sucked off in mud.

6.7 to 7.3 High tides are what I look for when expecting tailing Reds. It’s a “rule of thumb” and not always right, but check your tide charts and plan on being on the water and beginning to look 2 hours before the predicted high tide.

Carry some spare leader and flies when you set out to wade from your boat. You may be 100 yards away from your tackle box and break off a fly and don’t want to have to trudge all the way back to the boat. I always throw a couple of flies and spool of leader material in my pocket and I have my pliers/cutters on my hip.

Use a strip set when the fish takes the fly, use a “strip set” rather than lifting the rod tip to set the hook. Strip set, get the hookup, then lift the fly rod.

Strip slowAfter you’ve made that excellent cast, the fish is nose down feeding, just slightly “bump” the fly. You don’t want to strip it out of range. They’ll usually take it with a vengeance!