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Sight Fishing Basics

Sight Fishing Basics

Also known as “hunting on the water”, sight fishing can be one of the most frustrating yet rewarding ways to catch a fish.  So many different variables go into making you successful that I could probably write a 10,000-word essay, but I’ll touch on a few basic ideas I feel should be helpful.

First, when sight fishing you need to be able to see your targets which means proper eye wear.  If you’re not using polarized lenses, you might as well be blind casting most days.  Shop around, find a pair that covers the corners of your eyes as well as down to cheek. Any light cutting behind glasses affects your vision so get the most coverage you can.   Costa Del Mar, Salt Life Optics, Smith, Oakley, RCI…. The list could go on forever which each brand having their own strengths and weaknesses.  It comes down to fit and price for most anglers.

Sight fished this big girl in 9 inches of water using the same concepts from this post


Often anglers move too fast and find themselves blowing our reds left and right.  They get frustrated, start blind casting and the hunt is over.  When sight fishing is the name of the game, I sometimes take my trolling motor off my Maverick to force me to push pole and slow down.  Relax, slow down, take your time and look for your targets.  A wake, a flash of gold, a tip of tail sticking out, or even a mud cloud could the big red flag showing you where they are.


Stealth is so important it’s not funny.  A slamming hatch, dropped tackle box, rocking the boat… all can send your fish zipping to another zip code.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been easing up to a fish and screwed it up by making noise. My favorite of all time is dropping my phone from poling platform onto deck while trying to take a picture and when it bangs deck *poof*… fish is G-O-N-E.  And then I get to fish my phone out of water….

Lastly, go lighter on your leaders.   Normally I run 20# fluorocarbon for 95% of my inshore fishing.  2.5% of time I use 40-60# for tarpon.  The other 2.5% is when I’m sight fishing redfish in skinny water.  They seem to be able to see the line better and sometimes they’ll shy away from the heavier stuff.  This is especially true in winter when the water is gin clear.  I’ll typically drop down to 12-15#, but when its super clear I will go to 10#.  Remember with lighter leaders you must play the fish a little bit, not horsing a green fish to the boat. 

Hope this was useful information and if you have any questions feel free to contact me!  Winter is coming and I’m booking charters where we will target redfish sight fishing, come let me show you how good it can be here in North Florida!