Turkey in the Straw
Great fly-rod redfishing in northeast Florida can be found in the creeks and bays off the Intracoastal Waterway just north and south of the St. Johns River. With hundreds of creeks, bays and tidal washes that abound in the area, this region is a vast labyrinth of dark-stained tidewater.
Northeast Florida anglers seldom see cruising redfish beneath the surface. Usually a wake is seen, or a small part of the fish is spotted breaking the water's surface. Caudal and dorsal fins poking above the surface usually give away the fish's presence. Calm conditions are best for spotting redfish in dark water, but sometimes during strong autumn noreasters great flats action can be had.
Ponte Vedra Beach skiff guide Larry Miniard (904-285-7003) has a pet redfish fly he uses in this area called the Turkey in the Straw, which he and fishing pal Brent London devised. It's tied in a size 2 hook, with a dark Furry Foam diamond-shaped body and lead eyes tied on the shank top, just forward of the hook bend. A small orange grizzly feather is tied in at the head to look like a fiddler-crab claw, with a single stiff mono weed guard positioned from the head toward the hook point. A couple of small rubber legs are tied fore and aft of the Furry Foam body, which is then coated with a quick-drying two-part epoxy. The fly is finished by tying in three dark but iridescent wild-turkey breast feathers that splay outward from the head over the hook point and bend, which makes it look very crab-like.
Miniard fishes primarily for tailing redfish in tough, tangled spartina grass along the northeast Florida coast. Reds there are primarily crab eaters, especially little oyster crabs and fiddler crabs, and the Turkey in the Straw is dead ringer for a little crab. Miniard adds that when a red takes the fly and crushes down on it with its mouth, it feels the hard Furry Foam body coated with epoxy. This makes the fly feel exactly like a crab in the fish's mouth, he says, so a redfish rarely rejects the fly before an angler can set the hook.