So my question is this, how much pursuit is appropriate when I see tails and I’m wading a flat? I used to just soak bait and they would find the shrimp or mullet, flies are tougher. So If I’m out there with a bunch of fish tailing around and I see one say 35 yards off, is the best strategy to move quick and get over to the one I can see for sure or stalk slowly and get in his general area (they usually only tail for a bit then stop)and not risk spooking that fish as well as the others?

All my still hunting life experience is with critters who don’t move around as quick as these fish do.

Stalk slowly, stealth is your best bet. No point in making a bunch of racket… If the fish are tailing, they are not going to be moving fast, and should allow you to get into casting range.

Stalk softly and carry a green stick…

They can and will spook at splashes if you move a lot of water trying to get to them. Take your time and try to cut the corner on their line of movement. If you can’t see them, slow down until they reappear. Sometimes they will be sitting in the same spot but a lot of times they will change direction when you can’t see them. The best teachers are your own mistakes. Good Luck.

“The good fisherman is surprised when he doesn’t catch fish: I am just the other way around.”
Gene Hill, Passing a Good Time.

Originally posted by Run Fox Run

…how much pursuit is appropriate when I see tails and I’m wading a flat?..

</font id=“quote”></blockquote id=“quote”>The safe answer is be ‘ninja’. Also, makes for a better story. But… I have hooked many fish by smacking them right between the eyes with cold lead eyes and steel. It’s a method I developed out of frustration from picky fish.

I’ve has a few trips where my best fishing buddy walks back to the boat 0 for 6 because, he won’t be aggressive. If you see clearly that the fish see and ignore your soft presentation then aim right for the eyes. They may hit it at the moment the fly hits the water/fish. It’s exciting as hell.

What’s the worst that can happen? :wink:

Stealth is important, but so can getting to the fish before they disappear. I have done the redfish shuffle (trying to sprint across a flat in 12-18 inches of water) to get close enough to start stalking a tailing fish…I slow down as I get closer. I have spotted and caught fish over 200 yards away by high-stepping it to get within stalking range. I don’t remember ever spooking a fish this way…most of the fish I spook are with an arrant cast, or moving the fly when the fish is on top of it. Get closer quickly, then slow down and finish the stalk would be my advice.


Originally posted by SC2079BS

…The best teachers are your own mistakes…

Quote above is it!..well, that’s how I learned!

All the other above advice is right on!..these people know what their talking about.

One thing I would add (only cuz its happened to me before and many have said the same thing)…mainly on the sun-setting tides or when the sun is at an angle that it casts long shadows…is to watch your own shadow. I’ve had fish spook on me as they went thru my shadow or my own movement put my shadow over them. Just something to be aware of when your making that “stalk” over to that tail.

And your gonna come across that fish, that is just going at it!..splashing and stirring all kinds of commotion…and just not stopping (those are exciting!!!) When I’ve come up to these fish, I could just about do anything and it wouldn’t get spooked. That’s when you pretty much gotta throw that fly right on his head…and like mentioned above…that is exciting!

Good luck to ya!!

35 yards? double haul baby, if you can’t cast into your backing you shouldn’t be on the flats.


JohnH0802 said it right. The one thing that I would add is in the approach to your cast. The worst thing that you can do to spook a tailing red is to lay a fly line over his back. One way to avoid this mistake is to make your first cast short knowing you are not going to reach the fish. If I see a tailing Red I can usually get to within 40 feet and not disturb him but if the wind is not bad I feel comfortable out to 80 feet. It is just a matter of your comfort level and conditions. I make my first cast 20- 30 feet just to put some line out on the water. Better to be too short than too long. Then I put it closer on my second cast. I have found that I do better with this two step casting approach than trying to nail it exactly on the first cast.

P Sasser
Founder, GoFishSC.com

flats, I want to see that one next time I get down…

“The good fisherman is surprised when he doesn’t catch fish: I am just the other way around.”
Gene Hill, Passing a Good Time.