Louisiana Fly Fishing

Flyfishing for Redfish in Louisiana is a Fly Fishing Dream
Does Louisiana come to mind when most people think of flyfishing for Redfish? Destinations of Florida and Texas have received much notoriety, but I’ll let you in on a well kept secret. Louisiana Fly Fishing has taken the fly fishing world by force. Louisiana has long been known for it’s outstanding salt water fishing. Each year many thousands of anglers, with conventional tackle head south to Louisiana for world class deep sea fishing. And even more fishermen come to Cajun Land to experience the thrill of catching Redfish, Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, Flounder, White Trout, Jack Crevalle, Blue Fish, Mackerel, and other such species in the remote and pristine marsh that south Louisiana has long been famous for. But of all the varied specie that transverse the shallow oyster laden waters, none is more prized or sought after that the Redfish.
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Flyfishing for Redfish in Louisiana is World Class Sight Fishing
The silt carried south by the mighty Mississippi River is the secret ingredient to the recipe that makes Louisiana fly fishing a phenomena! It’s kind of like Cyan pepper in a Cajun gumbo. The absolute vastness and consequential seclusion of the south Louisiana wetlands are the end product of top soil run-off from northern states that the Mississippi River skillfully delivered to the hunting and fishing grounds of the local Indians and the Cajun inhabitants. It is the secluded habitat of this marsh wetlands that provides home and shelter for these highly prized creatures; the Redfish. Redfish are often seen foraging in water so shallow that their bellies are shimmying along the soft mud bottoms while their backs are exposed to the air. An observant viewer might notice the eyes of the Redfish at water level when they “crawl” through this shallowest of water. Once one experiences the thrills of hunting for Redfish, they often prefer to fish no other way. As I recall my experiences in the Louisiana marsh, I realize that people who practice this sport, are much better described as hunters than fishermen. Cast are only made after these gorgeous Redfish are sighted. The thrill of watching a coppery, bronzed back Redfish take a fly is not soon forgotten. Getting a Redfish to eat a dead or live bait is OK, I guess. But seducing and tricking a wary Redfish to eat a hook covered with feathers is the ultimate. There’s just no way to adequately describe sight fishing for Redfish in Louisiana on the fly.

Flys for Louisiana Reds
A big producer for reds and specks: the “Click-Clack” fly has slowly evolved over the years. It started as a simple fly with barbell eyes and a “J” hook in the late 90’s. Boucoup reds and specks later circa 2001 it is still a simple fly, but now sports a deadly circle hook. The barbell eyes have been replaced with two brass beads that make noise to attract the attention of a sleepy red.

An added bonus is that the circle hook is practically snagless and weedless. Reds feeding back in the marsh grass are not safe anymore. This fly goes in after them and comes back out easily for the next cast. The marabou tail offers no wind resistance when wet, so the wind can’t get a grip on it and deflect it from its mission. The two beads provide just enough weight to get it down quickly in front of a speeding red, yet the fly is light enough to cast easily with a 6 wt.

The recipe:

  • Hook: Mustad Circle Streamer, C71S SS, size 2
  • Beads: Orvis Caddis Beads, 3/16″
  • Tail: Marabou
  • Body: Grande Estaz, 3 1/2 wraps for a full body.
  • Thread: Size G, black

Flatten the barb, slide two caddis beads up to the eye being sure that the rear bead has the open end of the tapered hole facing the rear of the fly.

Start the thread near the bend and tie in a clump of marabou at the bend. Then tie in the Grande Estaz and wrap forward. Use 3 1/2 wraps of estaz, leaving enough room for the beads to have at least one bead diameter between the front and rear bead. Whip finish a head that will fit snugly inside the tapered hole of the rear bead.

Coat the head with Hard as Nails and force the rear bead over the head and let dry. This holds the rear bead in place and protects the thread from sharp teeth. The front bead should have enough room to slide back and forth between the hook eye and the rear bead.

How it works: The fly will sink nose down, forcing the front bead against the eye of the hook. A sharp strip will snap the fly forward and the rear bead will collide with the front bead making a “clack” sound.

On slack line, the fly will sink nose down and the front bead will slide to the eye, making a “click” sound. Repeat strip and slack, and you have “click-clack” sounds working to lure the fish to the fly. This is especially helpful in turbid water or in times of poor light. Heck, it works great in the sunshine and clear water.

The fish will do the rest. Do not set the hook. Just take up tension and the circle hook will do its deadly work by sliding into the corner of the fish’s jaw. This is a great catch and release hook. The circle hook almost always lodges in the corner of the jaw and does minimal damage to the fish.

My favorite colors for reds are: Purple body and chartreuse tail with bright brass beads. Second favorite is black body with yellow tail and black beads.

My favorite color for specks on a bright day is chartreuse body and white tail with bright brass beads.

The “New” Gray Hackle, 2001
This is a simple fly that works very well. Redfish chase this fly like they think its a real minnow. A black drum also ate the fly after chasing it for about ten feet.

The fly is tied on a 3/0 Eagle Claw light circle hook. This hook lodges in the corner of the jaw, and doesn’t fall out.

The tail is made of four grizzly hackle feathers with some pearl flashabou tied in for a little sparkle. The body is wrapped with some white crystal chenille, then palmer the remains of the tail feathers forward to form the body. This fly has a little black hackle tied forward just behind the eye of the hook.

The circle hook is almost completely weedless. It does not snag when cast into the wire grass. This is a necessary quality when the reds are feeding in the grass at high tide. The hook seems to give the fly enough weight to sink fairly quickly, but not heavy enough to drive it into the mud in a shallow pond.

The X-Flies

This fly is one of my more productive flies. The lead eyes are tied well forward to enable the fly to sink quickly to get down into a fast swimming red’s strike zone. The weed guard is necessary when the fish are close to the oyster grass. If the cast is a little long and the fly goes into the grass, the fly almost always comes back out again so that it can continue to do its job. No lost time snagged in the grass.

  • Hook: 34007, size 2, barb flattened.
  • Body: White crystal chenille.
  • Wing: Copper crystal flash over chartreuse nylon, the type used for salt water jigs. This stuff is sold in big chunks along Hwy 1 somewhere above Grand Isle. I can’t remember where. This is a tough fly.
  • Weed guard: 30 pound mono tied post style.
  • Eyes: Medium size lead or brass.

Note: Keep the wing a little short; no longer than two thirds of a hook length. This makes it hard for a lazy fish to short strike the fly.

The X-Fly Light
This is the low calorie version of the X-Fly. Useful when the fish are in very shallow water and are a little jumpy.

The Spoon Fly
This is one of my favorite colors. I also like a purple & gold spoon fly

Balsa Popper
This is a simple popper carved from balsa wood. It has a 30 pound mono weed guard, and white marabou for a tail with just a touch of chartreuse. I like marabou on a popper because it is not stiff and will not hold the popper away from a red that is trying to eat it from behind.

This is a size 2 hook, 34007, and is best used in deeper water, at least 18 inches deep. This thing makes reds very nervous in shallow water.

Information from Capt. Paul e-mail LSUrents@aol.com

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