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By preast
So the last couple times I've been down to the salt, I've run across some behavior new to me. I've had decent luck finding what appear to be feeding fish (slowly sliding across the bottom, not really paying much attention to me). This is up somewhat up into the marsh in and along the grass. Usually mid morning in full sun, clear and very skinny water (12-18" or less). I'm in the kayak and using a 6wt floating line with about an 8' with 15# Pline floro tippet.

I am able to get up within easy casting distance and get the cast off without spooking. When I put the fly near them, they rush it as you'd expect, but it looks like they're just hovering over it instead of picking it up. I let the fish move in and wait about a half second but not seeing that "bulge" in the surface of the water or the head turning down to suck it in. Occasionally they will and I'll hook up. But the vast majority are acting differently. I've tried waiting and slowly moving the fly but that results in them bolting. If I instead lift the rod sooner to set, they sometimes follow but don't take, or they just sit there but don't spook. Then when I cast again they bolt.

I've had "normal" luck before and still occasionally in this area so I know what it's supposed to look like. I just assumed if a redfish rushes the fly, there's a really good chance they're gonna take it. I'm thinking it's either conditions or something else besides fly pattern. So do I need to set sooner, or move the fly sooner? Kind of at a loss. I casted to about a dozen slot fish and one that was pushing the top end on Sunday. Thanks!
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By karstopo
Have you tried a different fly pattern? I once had three slot reds rush up to a VIP popper, then fail to commit and then bolt if I moved the fly too much. A couple of the fish even nosed the fly without sucking it in. Feeding fish, Clear water, similar depth, similar time of day and season to what you described. I switched over to a redfish crack pattern on the fourth fish and that turned the tables in my favor.

I’m not sure about this, but I do tend believe redfish can fail to respond positively to a fly because of either some off putting scent or lack of the right scent on the pattern. One other thing that I’ve noticed is that occasionally too much flash on a fly will lead to a decrease in commitments.

You could also change up the presentation where you toss the fly out of the detection range of the fish so the fish will not hear the fly entry and then let the fish keep feeding normally with the fish’s natural movement trending towards your fly. It amounts to making the cast in an arc well beyond the fish and then discretely dragging the fly to position just prior to the fish coming into the zone. Your fly is now resting undetected on the bottom, you give the line a little strip, fly rises off the substrate, fish reflexively attacks the fly, strip set, fish on. The whole thing hinges on not letting the redfish detect the fly entering the water on the cast. There won’t be a fish rushing over to investigate what made the splash.

I actually prefer this type of presentation as being more natural to the fish than letting the fish know the fly has entered the water. So for the fish, it hears no splash that might put up some caution or warning signals. In my experience, redfish have the ability to be curious and also cautious at the same time.
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By karstopo
One more thing if you employ the discrete fly entry, discrete drag fly into position presentation is that you will likely want a longer than 8’ leader. I typically run with 10-12’ leaders. The longer leader just gives a little more margin of safety on the discrete positioning of the fly. Ideally, the cast is made beyond and well out in front of the fish. The fish might not move exactly like what you predicted so a longer leader can aid in keeping the fly line from potentially spooking the fish should the fish not do everything as you predicted on its movement.
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By GoDoe
It's not you. It's the fish. If they want to eat your fly you pretty much can't screw it up. If they don't want to eat your fly you pretty much can't make them.

I will never understand their behavior when they charge a fly then get spooked and run. I mean, come on, you wasted the energy go run over to it so eat the dang thing.
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By preast
Thanks guys. GoDoe, that's exactly what I was thinking but it's too consistent (and super frustrating) for me not to try to figure out what I can do differently. Karstopo I think you might be onto something with them finding the fly rather than being alerted to it. They're probably really alert in these conditions, and I can definitely say the instances I have this problem, they have seen or heard it hit the water. This may be a bad habit I've developed since the window of opportunity is short to get a fly to them, and I may have resorted to plopping it so they know it's there. I need to revert back to the other way and see how that goes.

For flies, I actually start out with a redfish crack, and have caught quite a few fish on it. I'll use that or a gold spoon fly just to see what the interest is. Of all the flies I've ever tried, the gold spoon seems to get wheeled around on, pounced or rushed more than any others. I guess it's when they're in a flashy mood. But yeah, I'll also throw a shrimp gurgler, a cactus charlie type, clousers, and slider types. The RC seems to be the easiest and most productive overall (and easy to tie) pattern.

So you don't think I'm waiting too long and they might be taking it and spitting it? I still think it's odd that they rush it just to park over it and not do anything.
By bones72
I have no experience on the coast but this sounds very similar to what I have experienced with trout in really clear water especially flatter water with little current. The fish have much more time to scrutinize the fly. The rush up from their ambush spots and then hover watching the fly. If you move it or anything they bolt as you have described. My suggestion would be to switch up flies. Maybe not necessarily pattern but color or in the situations I have encountered size most often down sizing though on occasion it has been to go bigger. On the 11 Mile Canyon stretch of the South Platte I went to #18 Thorax BWO when the naturals looked more like a #22. Then again on the Dream Stream section of the same river during the trico spinner fall the naturals were between a #18 and #20 I had to go with a #24. Color seemed to be more of a thing on the lakes I have fished but in all cases it I was fishing slow clear water. Also when water is that kinda clear and skinny like your describing a fly that is dressed a little lighter might do well. I have tied a shrimp style seaducer up if I get a chance at these situations.
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By karstopo
preast wrote:
So you don't think I'm waiting too long and they might be taking it and spitting it? I still think it's odd that they rush it just to park over it and not do anything.

Even when I’m sight fishing, I don’t see every eat. Waves, lighting, glare, mud puffs, lots of stuff can prevent a clear picture of what’s going on. I try to really mark exactly where the fly is so if a redfish makes an apparent move to it after I give the fly a little “here is your tasty morsel” strip, I’ll pause a heartbeat or two and strip harder for the set. Seems to work out more often than not.

I’ve definitely rushed the set before the fish really had the fly. In my experience, seeing the eat and almost simultaneously strip setting the hook might be too fast, at least some of the time. I can’t remember having a fish pick up a fly off the bottom after sitting stationary for more than a couple of seconds. One time, I had a shrimp fly dangling right next to my staked out and immobile kayak while I fiddled with some gear. Next thing I noticed is my line and leader moving off on its own. I set the hook on what turned out to be a sub slot redfish that had evidently picked up the shrimp fly directly below the kayak in 15” of water and proceeded to swim away with it. Water was not exactly clear, though.

So to sum it up, in my experience, if I believe the fish has seen the fly and made its move, I’m going to attempt to set the hook without a long delay. The issue will be resolved one way or another, an uninterested or spooked fish or a fish on the line.
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By preast
Thanks for the followup. I think the first thing I need to do is to go back to presenting the fly where they run across it vs it getting there attention on the drop. It seems to be the only difference in what I'm doing from before. Hopefully I'll get back down soon after duck season ends to try again.

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