My name is Erick Dent and I know how to catch beach redfish. I’m hoping to give a somewhat digestible breakdown of tips, tricks, and shortcuts to having success targeting redfish from the beach. I’ll mostly be referring to the northern gulf coast of Florida just because that’s where I’ve taken the most time to sharpen my craft and where I had the privilege of growing up.
I’ll be walking y’all through the 5 steps to redfish success. But don’t tell anyone. I’ll find you.
Step 1: Identify a good beach to stalk
Where I grew up in the panhandle of Florida it can be easy to find a beach to stalk but there’s a big difference between one with and without fish. Obviously. These beach redfish are often times bulls that have graduated out of intercostal waterways in search of bigger prey or to migrate.
That being said, they are usually fairly old, and very smart, so when picking a beach try to find one with the least amount of foot and boat traffic. They usually want to cruise the sandy trough right at the water’s edge in search of turned-up bait. A shallow hunting red can be easily spooked by just one person out for a stroll down the beach so the more deserted, the better.
Step 2: Know the Right Conditions
This is a visual game here folks. Low surf, low wind, high sun, and clear water. I religiously check the weather forecast for a sun/wind and surf report for waves/tide.
Step 3: Have the Correct Gear
Nothing too specific here but there are some blanket pieces of gear that can grease the wheels a bit in any beach fishing situation.
Let’s start with the obvious, rods and reels. I personally never need anything bigger than my glass 8 even on these 40+ inch fish. Granted, I have a fair amount of backing packed on my reel but the shallow water along the beach evens the playing field quite a bit. I usually hit the beach with a glass 7wt for smaller reds or the occasional pompano and a glass 8 for everything else. I think an 8 and a 9 would be fine too just as long as you have two setups so you can be ready for most things you see cruising the beach.
For fly lines: I would suggest the Airflo Superflo Ridge 2.0 Flats Universal Taper. I’ve found it loads quickly for those fast shots at cruising beach redfish and is a great do-it-all line for me. If you live somewhere where the wind is more of a factor, I would probably go with the Airflo Superflo Ridge 2.0 Flats Power Taper for a little more oomph.
Bags: Anything waterproof. Yeti, Patagonia, Orvis, and Fishpond all have a few airtight bags. Anything that can withstand a chest-high wave smack or an unexpected rainstorm and keep all your cheese puffs nice and dry on your back.
Clothing: Light white blues and tan clothes to match the sand and sky. Remember, these fish can see you as well as you can see them so you need to blend in.
Sunglasses: With a hat on blocking the sun, the sand reflecting the light below is the second brightest thing you’ve ever seen. In this beachy situation, you need glasses that wrap the shit out of your face and let no light in on the sides. I’d recommend Costa Reefton Pros or Smith Barras for example. Unless anyone can find a polarized welding mask.
Transportation: A fully electric fat tire bike to cover 25 miles of beach efficiently and because I don’t have a wife or kids so I can afford toys right now. Clocks ticking tho. Walking works too. The soft sand is inviting at first but takes its toll after covering any substantial stretch of beach. Builds character.
Step 4: Game time
Once you’ve got most of the important boxes checked (Rods, water, conditions) you gotta start familiarizing yourself with the whole process. Don’t expect to go out and catch anything your first time. On half of my trips, I catch nothing. Just the name of the game. You’re at a disadvantage even in the best conditions.
These fish are old. They know more about fishing than you do. The water is clear enough for them to see what kind of knots you’re using. IT’S TOUGH. In my opinion at least. I might not be as good at fly fishing as I thought. Who knows.
Step 5 (Bonus): The Secrets
You’re probably scanning this article for the best flies to use or the best spots to fish. You thought I’d just give that up??? Ya, right nerd. Get out there. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Yes, I’m comparing my redfish knowledge to an ancient Roman civilization.
With learning what works, you also learn what doesn’t work which is arguably just as important. So I encourage you to try and fail or try and get lucky. Either way, you become a better angler and master of your universe.
Good luck, have fun and take care of my bronze scaly friends.
Photos and words from Erick Dent, a content creator and redfish beach enthusiast based in Florida. Give him a follow at @erickdent.
Be sure to check out Airflo’s full line of Saltwater Lines HERE.