Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dupre Spoon Flies For Tailing Redfish

It’s Mid-October and we've got a lot of redfish prowling the Pine Island flats.  Unfortunately, because of the dark water, they're really difficult to spot unless they're tailing at low tide.  When you're lucky enough to find them doing this, getting them to eat a fly isn't always a sure thing.  That problem begins with the fact that a tailing redfish has already found a morsel of food on the bottom and is actively trying to get at it, usually a small crab digging itself under the turtle grass.  That's where the red's attention is focused and it's hard to pull them away from an easy meal.  The best way to do that with a fly rod is to show them something even easier to eat. 

Most flies are designed to land softly on the surface and quietly slip through the water.  This isn’t the best way to get the attention of a redfish with its face buried in the mud, which is why I love throwing spoon flies at them.  Spoon flies have been around since the 1980's and evolved into several unique configurations.  The first ones were made from ordinary tinfoil and a few anglers even used Lee Press-On Nails with great success, but it's the Mylar and epoxy patterns created by Gainesville's Capt. Jim Dupre that are my favorites for their pure simplicity.  These flies work no differently than the classic gold spoons that conventional anglers have used to catch all sorts of fish for more than a century.  They wobble and flash and generally make a great imitation of a crippled shiner, something irresistible to just about any predator in the ocean. 

It's that wobble that's especially effective on tailing redfish which normally ignore most other patterns.  With their eyes, nose and mouth buried in the mud, reds can still sense movement in the water though their lateral line, the powerful sensory organ that runs from the middle of their head and back to their tails.  The vibration of the Dupre Spoon as it flutters by is very effective at tricking them into thinking a crippled baitfish right overhead.  That will quickly pull their mouths out of the mud and straight after the fly.

The Dupre Spoon is relatively easy to cast on a light fly rod like a 7-weight.  They’re a lot more aerodynamic than other spoon flies but when the wind kicks up you'll want to use an 8 or 9-weight to give them some extra punch.  You'll also want to land these flies right on top of most tailing redfish.  I actually aim for their heads, or at least where I think their heads might be in the dark water.  Yes, this will occasionally spook the fish but most of the time it creates a reaction strike, especially when you're throwing into a school of tailing reds.  In most schooling situations, competition overcomes caution and the first fish to see the fly usually eats it. 

One very important thing about almost all spoon flies is that they're easily made weedless.  A simple piece of wire tied at the eye of the hook and extending to the point will slide off most of the grass you'll pull it through on the flats.  Every angler knows that a hungry red will still turn away from any lure that's dragging even a bit of vegetation behind it.  A small, weedless spoon fly will maintain its action even in the thickest low tide grass. 

The only drawbacks to the spoon fly is that they're not very easy to tie or inexpensive to purchase.  The Dupre Spoon that I like so much retails for around $7 in most shops and online.  That's a pretty steep markup for a few cents worth of materials, but in my book it's more than worth it.  Getting all of that Mylar and epoxy just right isn't easy and the flies themselves are almost as indestructible as their spin fishing counterparts made of actual metal.  Pick up a few Dupre Spoons if you don't have them in your box already.  When the reds are tailing in the thickest grass off Matlacha and Pine Island, there's no fly better to throw.