Fly Fishing Primer with Cajun Fishing Adventures

Blog // Fly Fishing // The Experience // January 31, 2014

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No matter your fly fishing history and experience, this primer will assist you in being prepared to take full advantage of your future fly fishing experience in southeast Louisiana with Cajun Fishing Adventures.

This will guide you through a full description and understanding of what to expect, what to bring as well as what we offer.

Getting Ready for Your Trip


Good casting is the most essential of all the skills necessary to fly fish saltwater. You will need to be able to cast quickly and accurately out to a maximum of 50 feet. Most targets will be in the 10-30 foot range.

To increase your chances of success, you must be able to quickly present the fly to the fish. A fish will eat a properly presented fly most of the time; but a poorly presented fly will either spook the fish or will be refused almost every single time. Your best chance to hook up is to make a quick, accurate cast the first time.

Practicing Before Your Trip

The Cajun Fishing Adventures fly guides can help you with your casting however, any instruction takes away from your fishing time. There are several good instructional videos available from your local fly shop which will be very helpful Also, a couple of lessons from a good instructor before your trip will be well worth the money and will go a long way towards shortening the learning curve. And by all means, learn the “double haul”. This technique is a requirement for making accurate casts in the wind commonly experienced around our marshes.

Practice (in the wind) before your trip and your enjoyment will be increased. Sacrifice some distance for accuracy. Most of the fish caught on fly are hooked within 10-30 feet of the boat.

Also, practice casting with as few false casts as possible. Contrary to popular belief, repeated false casts do not increase the distance of your casts. The coastal winds you will find are a detriment to good fly casting. With proper technique, 3 or 4 false casts are all you need.

Also practice roll-casting to various targets of various lengths. If you can place your fly in a garbage can lid at distances from 10-30 feet, eight out of ten times, you can be successful in the southeast Louisiana marshes.

On the Water

What to Expect

In this immense delta, due to variable wind directions & tide levels, the fish may not stay in the same areas every day. Fish tend to move and find comfort zones as well as follow their food sources. Stay patient and be alert, so that you can take advantage of every opportunity. Your guide will be working hard to find fish and keep you on fish.

The biggest surprise that most fly anglers get when fishing the marshes is how fast everything happens. The boat is moving, the fish is moving, the wind is blowing – in the few seconds from when the guide sees the fish to the time he gives you distance and direction, the fish’s position may change by six or eight feet relative to the boat. The window of opportunity is open only for a short period of time. This is where practice will pay off.

Casting to Fish

When your guide spots a fish, he will point out the fish using the clock and distance method. Visualize the boat as a clock face with 12 o’clock straight off the bow, 6 o’clock dead astern, 9 o’clock directly to the left and 3 o’clock directly to the right. Thereby, a fish at 20 feet and just to the left of the bow of the boat would be called out as “11 o’clock, 20 feet”. This gives you a direction and distance towards which to cast.

Here is where the quick, accurate casting is needed. The strike zone for the fish is seldom larger than 12 to 36 inches. You must be on target to catch that fish. Here is the sequence of presenting the fly to a fish:

▪                Your guide points out the fish.

▪                From the ready position, roll cast to get the fly airborne

▪                One full false cast to shoot a little line and increase the line speed

▪                The go for target

That’s all –and it happens quickly!

Fighting Fish

Redfish & Black Drum are not speed burners like bonefish nor are they jumpers like tarpon, but they are tenacious. Once they feel the hook they will make a few runs initially. DO NOT MAKE A “HIGH” TROUT HOOKSET. It’s best to make a solid strip-set with the fly line, holding the bent rod against the direction the fish is initially running. Keep CONSTANT pressure on the fish during the fight and let the reel’s drag do the work. Try to work the fish back towards the boat by keeping rod pressure and reeling down on the fish. Do not get impatient, the fish is hooked up and you do not want to change that.

Once the fish is close to the boat it is time to take the fight to him. The quickest way to defeat a fish is to move its head. Keeping constant, opposite pressure on the fish will fatigue him. When the fish is confronted with the boat it might make a sudden lunge; let him go – there is a lot of tension on the leader at this point and the fish can break off. Fight him back to the boat as before. When the fish is ready, your guide will boat it.

Fish Behavior

Fly fishing southeast Louisiana marshes centers around redfish, but black drum, flounder and spotted seatrout also provide challenges too. Each fish exhibits different types of behavior.

Redfish & Black Drum

You and your guide will typically be looking for Redfish & Black Drum. You will typically encounter them in one of these four ways.

Backing, Tipping & Tailing – A redfish tails in shallow water as it tips its’ head down to root and feed along the bottom. This is the classic redfish behavior when a single, pod or school is actively feeding. The fish’s attention is focused downward and a fly must be presented close to the fish or it will go unnoticed. Also, you’ll need to let the fly sink a little to get it in front of the fish. Only a few fish in the school may be tailing so look closely for other fish

Mudding – This is what you see when redfish tail in slightly deeper water. Their tails do not break the surface but the mud cloud raised by their grubbing is visible. From a distance, you may notice “nervous water” before you can see muddy water. Again, the presentation is the same as for tailing fish.

Cruising – A cruising fish is very common in our marshes and easily spotted by its’ v-wake water signature. Cruising fish may not be actively feeding but will often strike a well-placed fly. If his tail fin is “lit up” with a bright blue hue, he will normally eat. When a cruising fish is sighted your guide will give clock and distance as well as tell you what the fish is doing. As an example, “11 o’clock, 20 feet, swimming right to left” means a fish on the left side of the bow, 20 feet away, swimming away, or towards the back of the boat.

Laid-Up Fish – At times, fish become neutral & non-active and may appear to be disinterested in feeding. Occasionally, multiple presentations will draw the fish’s attention, excite it and induce a strike on the fourth or fifth cast.

Spotted SeaTrout

Late summer through late fall, quality spotted seatrout can be found on or around the oyster reefs. When sight casting for them, they are most often found either laid up or cruising.

Floating or neutral buoyant flies that can be retrieved over the oysters, without getting “hung-up” have the best success rates. Baitfish patterns excel in this scenario.

Playing Trout

Trout are head shakers when hooked. Expect them to come to the surface and shake their head trying to throw the hook. They are faster than redfish, so be ready to pick up slack line if the fish turns toward the boat. Near the boat, big trout almost always make a sudden lightening quick run. Be ready to give line so that the tippet does not break or the hook does not pull free.



We recommend a nine foot, 8, 9 & 10 weights, medium to fast action saltwater fly rod. The rod guides and reel seat of a freshwater rod will not stand up to the corrosiveness of saltwater.

Reels and Lines

Choose a saltwater reel capable of holding 250 yards of 20# Dacron backing and a floating fly line matched to your rod size. A direct drive reel with a smooth, reliable drag will handle all of the fish you will encounter in southeast Louisiana marshes.

Choose a weight forward floating fly line in the appropriate size. We recommend the Scientific Angler Redfish or Rio Bonefish QuickShooter


Leaders should be in lengths of 9 feet of hard monofilament or fluorcarbon with tippet sizes from 15 to 20 pounds.


Most people planning a fly fishing trip to somewhere other than local waters will normally stop by their favorite, local fly shop and say “hey, I’m headed to southeast Louisiana for Redfish, what do you have that I need?” 9 out of 10 times, this leads to customers buying flies that they’ll never use here. Too many times, the hardware is not large and strong enough for our fish here. One can use size 4 & 6 hook flies for slot Redfish in Florida and be just fine. Here, you have the potential of catching a 7-pound or a 37 pound Redfish in the same fishing area. That said, tarpon hooks like a MUSTAD C68SNP-DT, C70SD or 34007 in size 1, 1/0 & 2/0 are what we are tying our flies with.

Our flies need to cover the shallow water column depths from the surface down to 2-3 feet. Also, many of our flies are tied specifically to push water when stripped. Our fish feel it and react very positively to it.

Also, since we always deal with tide, there’s nearly always current flow. We tie flies that have an enhanced action when water current is applied to it. Rabbit, craft fur among other materials work very well here. With the exception of a baitfish fly, all other flies should ride “hook-up” as to avoid getting snagged by any bottom structure.

As far as various patterns, shrimp, crab, various creature patterns along with baitfish tied in various colors, weighted differently will allow you to change and adapt to how to properly present it to the fish you are currently targeting. Other good seasonal fly patterns are streamers, deceivers, poppers & gurglers.

Your guide will have an assortment of flies and can provide recent information on current fish catching patterns that should narrow your options. If you would like us to tie an assortment of seasonal specific flies for your trip, notify us well in advance and they’ll be in your room upon arrival. Submit your request/pricing inquiries by email. Feel free to email me with any further questions at

If you wish to bring or tie your own, your fly box should include the following flies, as well as my personal tying notes. 



  • Hook – MUSTAD C68SNP-DT sizes 1 &1/0
  • Tail – Farrar’s Flash Blend
  • Body – Grand Estaz
  • Head – Strung Hackle – palmered
  • Eyes – small and xsmall (lead eyes) / large & xlarge (bead chain)

Personally, I use flash blend in several colors for the tail (anchovy, light purple, olive, grey, natural, pink and chartreuse). On the body, I typically use an Estaz Grande material. I’ll contrast colors from the tail color used (black, purple, root beer, olive, orange, pink). I’ll palmer a feather of strung hackle on the head of the Estaz. On the weighted eyes, tie them underneath, so the fly rides “hook-up.”



  • Hook – MUSTAD 34007 1/0
  • Tail – Bucktail stacked, 2-3 colors
  • Body – Mylar tubing with standard glass rattle chamber
  • Eyes – small and xsmall (lead eyes)

I’ll utilize lead tape or a tungsten shrimp body rigged toward the rear of the shank of the hook, so it sinks in a slow, flutter pattern OR lead eyes to cover more of the water column in a jigging pattern. The eyes are tied under the hook, so that the fly rides “hook-up.” Colors are wide-ranging, but the photo example is by far the most productive. Make it flashy.



  • Hook – MUSTAD C68SNP-DT, size 1/0
  • Tail – Magnum or Texas cut rabbit zonkers
  • Body – see below
  • Eyes – see below

On the weighted eyes, I tie an assortment of medium, large & x-large bead-chain eyes, x-small & small lead eyes. The eyes are tied under the hook, so that the fly rides “hook-up.” My colors contrast between tail and body like the no-name shrimp. I’ll use a few different materials for the body, like crosscut rabbit, Estaz Grande, Krystal Hackle, or various EP brush. After the rabbit tail, I’ll tightly palmer in some marabou to make an active transition from tail to the body of the fly.



  • MUSTAD 34007-SS, size 1 & 1/0
  • TAIL – Coyote tail hair
  • LEGS – Tan/black barred rubber legs
  • FLASH – Black/Gold Flashabou
  • Large Shrimp Eyes
  • BODY – EP UV Foxy Brush in Coyote
  • Large to X-Large Bead Chain Eyes
  • Tan or Gold Flat Waxed Nylon Thread

Prep the hook shank with thread, parallel to hook point. Tie-on coyote tail to hook so that tail extends 1 inch beyond hook. Tie-in 2 strands of Tan/Black barred rubber legs, then 2 strands of Black/Gold Flashabou on each side. Tie-on 1 Shrimp eye on each side. Tie-in EP UV Foxy Brush and fold back. Tie-on Bead-Chain eyes 1/8 inch behind hook eye. Palmer the EP Foxy Brush forward up to Bead-Chain eyes, wrap thread a few turns, cut palmer chenille, then make the final thread wrap for the head, whip finish and cement. Tie-in a mono weed guard (if needed).


 photo 1

  • Hook – MUSTAD 34007-SS, size 1/0
  • Egg Sack – Orange rabbit or craft fur (pulsates when sitting still in the water)
  • Tail – Steve Farrar’s Flash Blend / Tan or Grey
  • Body – Grand Eztaz in Root Beer
  • Eyes – small and xsmall (lead eyes)
  • Flash Accent – Orange/pearl or Rainbow (if desired)
  • Legs – Natural barred medium rubber legs (if desired)
  • Thread – Natural, black or orange



  • Hook – MUSTAD 34007-SS, size 1/0
  • Crab Eyes – tied toward the back of the hook.
  • Weighting – back-weight with shank weight, lead tape, etc.
  • Egg Sack – Orange rabbit or craft fur (pulsates when sitting still in the water)
  • Claws – EP 3D Fiber (to match one of the colors of the EP Crustaceus Brush
  • Body – EP Crustaceus Hairy Leg Brush in Blue Crab & Everglades (fiddler crab)
  • Eyes – small and xsmall (lead eyes) if you don’t back-weight the crab.
  • Thread – Chartruese or Lt. Blue



  • Hook – MUSTAD 34007-SS, size 1/0
  • Lower Tail – Steve Farrar’s Flash Blend in Rainbow
  • Upper Tail – EP Fiber in Black
  • Upper Body – EP Fiber in Black (also performs as pseudo weed guard)
  • Lower Body – Grand Estaz in Root Beer
  • Eyes – small and xsmall (lead eyes) xlarge gold bead chain eyes
  • Thread – Black



  • Hook – MUSTAD C68SNP-DT, size 1 & 1/0
  • Upper body – EP 3D Fiber – Menhaden
  • Tail – Craft fur – Tan or gold
  • Lower body – EP 3D Fiber – White
  • Gils – EP Sparkle Brush – Red (not shown in photo)
  • Eyes – Silver, Golden or Red eyes
  • Thread – Olive, tan or white