It stretches the imagination that a feather-adorned fish hook dropped in front of a redfish looks like an irresistible morsel.

Nonetheless, fly fishermen consistently fool redfish into striking. Some beautifully tied flies roughly resemble specific critters swimming in the shallows, but most are merely rough recreations of shapes. It’s what the angler does to the fly that elicits the strike.  

“The biggest mistake new fly casters make in salt water is not moving the fly,” said guide Doug Gertis. “Fast or slow may depend on the conditions, but the fly has to move to prompt a strike.” 

Guide Owen Plair’s favorite “strip” or retrieve involves steady, 6-inch strips, making the fly look like a shrimp popping along slowly, while keeping the fly in the strike zone.

”Think about what the fish are eating and how fast that bait may be moving and make your fly match that movement,”  he said.

 When confronted with a school of spot-tail bass chasing shrimp or other bait, he uses long, fast strips. Most guides move the fly quickly with actively feeding fish that are competing for the easiest meal.  So, with fly fishing, which is best?  It also depends.