On the Flats Presentation is King

On the Flats Presentation is King: Yesterday morning, it was proven to me once again – on the flats presentation is king, fly pattern is queen. No matter how big the “killer” reputation of your fly; no matter how much faith you have in it; no matter how well it was tied; unless you present it properly it is likely to fail. To be effective on the flats, the fly must land softly, and be right on the money. And even then the fly has to move in a way that sparks the fish to eat.

Dawn on the Flats

Following a bright warm day, Gulf water temperatures rose slightly. So when my friend Dave suggested a dawn raid for “tailing” reds I jumped at the chance. We had an early morning -.30 ebbing tide, and dead calm winds. Perfect conditions. In the photo above you see the sandbar coming up in the foreground. Between the bar and the shore are extensive¬† flats with turtle grass. With luck, that’s where our “tailers” would be.

Dave waded north and I went south. The action lasted roughly 40 minutes. But in that brief window of time, we both caught a red. My first shot at a “tailer” didn’t go well. Unknown to me, there was a red lying hidden beneath the surface between me and my target. As the fly line fell to the water the unseen red spooked, causing my “tailer” to zoom off too. Damn. Minutes later, however, I got another opportunity. Three “tailing” reds were clustered together, about 150 feet away. Wading carefully into range, I delivered a cast, but as the fly was about to land, the trio moved slightly to my right. They never saw the fly. My next attempt was more of the same frustration – the fish moved right again. On third cast I decided to drop the fly just ahead of the them. Bingo, they slid over and found the fly right off. Wham. That presentation worked!

Dave caught this red outside the bar

Later that day, Dave caught a red outside the bar on rising water. See it above. Nicely spotted red, it sported the blue rimmed tail so common in the colder months. (earlier post on this subject) This coloration is, best I know, caused by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in the food chain. Also note the light, chrome like, sides on this red. It indicates it has been recently living over sand bottoms, rather than in the darker water of the backcountry.

The Blue Tail so common in Winter







This entry was posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Tailing Redfish. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On the Flats Presentation is King

  1. Ted Rzepski says:

    Great photos and story.

    Earlier photos of Reds show only one black spot on tail. Current pic shows a red with 5 black spots. Is there a reason?

    • Ed Mitchell says:

      How many spots can a red have? Good question. Back in January 17th of this year, I did a post on this interesting subject. Most have one or two spots, but on occasion you’ll see a red with several. Why? I imagine its just a genetic quirk, an abnormality of sorts. In fact, rumor has it that reds have been caught with 50 or more!
      Season’s Greeting,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.