Redfish on the fly

Brian Hofstetter shows off a lowcountry redfish that fell for his crab pattern.

Catching tailing redfish with the long rod

Redfish invade the grass flats throughout South Carolina’s lowcountry, and stalking them on foot with fly rod in hand is one of the most exciting ways to catch them. Many anglers wait for the full moon, but it’s possible to catch them this way all month long.

Brian Hofstetter of Charleston said this is his favorite way of catching redfish. He does it mostly in the evenings due to his schedule, but said mornings can be great too. Each day is different because it all depends on the tide.

“It’s a great way to spend an evening when the tide cycle is right for it. You need the tide to flood into the grass, and it has to be an area that has the right bottom. You want it to be a fairly hard bottom which is best for crabs to crawl along, and it’s better for wading too,” he said.

Armed with an 8-weight rod, Hofstetter ties on a fly in a relatively small crab pattern to match the area’s fiddler crabs, which redfish feast on during high tide.

Look for the tails

“The really high tides – some people call them king tides – can be great because it pushes water into areas that aren’t normally under water. So on the full moon and new moon, it can be very productive. But you can catch them this way on any moon phase. The most important thing is you just have to be available to fish during high tide, which obviously changes each day,” he said.

Other than having the right rod and fly pattern, he said it’s all a matter of keeping quiet and low, then waiting to see a redfish before making a cast.

“This is all about sight fishing. If you can’t see the fish, you’re just blind casting the whole time. I’ve definitely caught them that way before, but it takes a lot more time because you’re casting to areas that may not have any fish at all. So you want the tide up to where they are picking crabs off the bottom in water that’s shallow enough for their tails to stick up above the surface,” he said. “Then you just make a cast, allow your crab to sink, then start working it back.”

Hofstetter said September can be one of the better months to sight fish for reds.

“It’s still very much summer weather, so it’s still good for wading. I like to wear long fishing pants mainly to keep bugs off, but you don’t need waders. And the water coming in is usually cooling down slightly this time of year — maybe not enough for us to really notice, but the fish do, and that helps the bite,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2762 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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