How to Catch Roosterfish from Shore

I’d like to preface this article by saying I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to catching roosterfish. After all I grew up fishing on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where the nearest roosterfish is about 2,000 miles away. My success with catching roosterfish from shore has simply been a combination of fishing amazing locations in Costa Rica, some good luck, great timing and hundreds upon hundreds of casts.

It all started in 2015 when my wife, Lauren, booked us a month at a random AirBnB jungle cabina on the beach along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. At the time we had no idea that this cabina was located directly in front of prime territory for jack Crevalle, cubera Snapper and the most prized fish of all – the roosterfish.

What occurred during that trip was so memorable that we’d go on to book a total of nine weeks over the course of two years at that cabina – with another 5 weeks planned for the winter of 2019.

Catching giant roosterfish from shore has been the apex of my surfcasting career, and I’m excited to share with you how I like to target these amazing fish.

Best Locations for Roosterfish

For me, roosterfish fishing has been similar to fishing for giant bluefin tuna, in the sense that it can take great patience and many hours to get a bite. Where I surf cast in Costa Rica the roosterfish roam miles of shoreline, following schools of baitfish such as Sardines and Mullet. My best success with roosterfish has occurred when Sardines and Mullet were plentiful in the surf.


During my first stay along the west coast of Costa Rica in 2015, mullet appeared in the surf every day for about a week straight after the full moon.

It was during that one week that I caught three giant roosterfish with the largest being in the 70-80 pound range. The other three weeks I caught plenty of jacks and mackerel, but there were no roosterfish, and very few mullet.

In December of 2017, I learned a shortcut to roosterfish success. Targeting inlets and rocky points became more reliable than trying to hunt down roosters along the open beach. Sardines, mullet and other baitfish would congregate at inlets and around the rocks. Armed with this new knowledge, this coming January when I return to Costa Rica, you can bet I will be investing the majority of my fishing time around inlets and rocky points.

Best Lures And Baits For Roosterfish

Throughout my time spent fishing in Costa Rica, I have met several local fishermen who primarily use live sardines and mullet when targeting roosterfish.

I would have to admit that live bait seems to be the most effective.

However all my success with roosterfish has been with topwater artificial swimming lures and poppers. Oddly enough, where I fish in Costa Rica I have not encountered situations where roosterfish follow the lure without biting (which is apparently common in many spots). Conveniently the roosters have readily attacked artificial lures right in the surf.


The two lures I like best for roosterfish are the 6.5 inch slow sinking transparent Canal Magic Swimmer, and the 2 ounce ghost white Tactical Angler Bomb Popper. The retrieve for both of these lures is very simple.

For the Magic Swimmer all you need to do is cast the swimmer out and reel it straight back in at a moderate to quick speed. For the Bomb Popper, simply cast it out and retrieve at a medium speed, while pumping the rod, which will throw a lot of white water into the air. Roosters will absolutely hammer both of these lures when retrieved in this manner.

The Best Rods, Reels and Tackle For Catching Roosterfish From Shore

I am somewhat limited with rod selection because I have to bring all my gear on flights, boats and taxis. Therefore my best rod for roosterfish has been the 8’6″ Tsunami Travel rod which breaks down into three pieces for easy travel.

When paired with a Van Staal VR175 spinning reel, this rod/reel combination can easily handle any roosterfish I have come across so far. The VR175 has a fully sealed drag, which is important because I often have to dive beneath waves and fully submerge the reel in saltwater and sand.


The VR series of reels from Van Staal will work flawlessly even when submitted to these harsh angling conditions.

I have also caught roosterfish using the Van Staal 150 class reels. When fishing a 150 class Van Staal I pair the reel with either a 7’ 3-piece Offshore Angler Ocean Master or St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore 7’6” 3-piece travel rod. The smaller setups can absolutely handle big roosterfish, plus the lighter setups make catching smaller species like sierra mackerel and jack crevalle more fun. In addition the smaller setup can be fished from a boat.

For line, I will use 30 pound moss green Power Pro braid when fishing sandy beaches, and 50 pound moss green Power Pro braid when fishing around rocks. For leader I will use 30 pound Seaguar blue label fluorocarbon when fishing sandy beaches, and 50 pound Seaguar blue label when fishing around rocks.

I connect the leader to the braid using a slim beauty knot, and I will use a 175 pound Tactical Angler clip to make switching lures quick and easy.

In Conclusion

Roosterfish are incredibly beautiful, strong and elusive creatures. Catching one is not easy and will most likely require a lot of time and patience. However the hunt is definitely worth it.


Once hooked roosterfish will go on drag sizzling runs, and often launch themselves straight clear out of the water.

I tell people that the fight of a rooster is like combining the powerful tail beats of a giant striped bass, with the scorching runs of a bluefin tuna, and on occasion, the acrobatics of a tarpon.

When landing a roosterfish be extremely cautious because these fish are all muscle and it can be very easy for them to beat their tail or shake their head, resulting in a hook in your hand. Use pliers and try to keep the fish wet and in the water for a quick and successful release.

Best of luck if you decide to give catching roosterfish from shore a try. Roosters are not an easy fish to find and fool, however the time and energy is absolutely worth it.


Tailing Redfish – Fall Fly Fishing With Guide Matt Crowe

It is a fall day and the summer heat has fallen to cooler, more bearable temperatures and the Redfish are chewing. This is one of the best times of the year to stalk tailing Redfish on the flats, combining hunting and fishing into one sport. Many think the Redfish are off the flats and moving into winter feeding patterns, however they are still feeding heavily on anything they can to beef up before winter. Come winter, the baitfish become scarce and the crabs head to the deep.

There are still plenty of food sources like fiddler crabs, blue crabs, shrimp, and finger mullet on the flats in the fall available for them to eat. If you want to get out on the flats in the fall to fly fish for these hardy fish, there are a few things you must consider. What kind of gear you need, what to look for, and finally, how to deliver the perfect cast and fly pattern to get them to eat!

Tailing Redfish In The Fall: Bring The Right Gear

There are a lot of opinions on the gear you should use when you seek tailing Redfish on the flats, but the truth is, it’s just not that complicated.

You do not need the latest and greatest or the top of the line equipment to target these fish with a fly rod.

Technology has come so far, to the point where even the less expensive, entry-level rods and reels are great at what they do. I repeat you do not need to spend a fortune to get the necessary tools for the job. I recommend an 8 or 9 weight fly rod with an accompanying reel. I personally prefer Temple Fork Outfitters as they make great rods and reels at all different price levels.

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As I said, I personally prefer Temple Fork Outfitters, but Orvis is another great brand for fly fishing gear!

In terms of the business end of the rod and reel, I recommend a tapered leader that’s roughly 10 foot long. Again, this is not a must, anywhere from 8 to 10 foot of tapered leader will do. Your best bet is to have some fly patterns in a box that are appealing to you, things like crab flies, shrimp flies, and even some baitfish flies. The most important thing about fly selection is to pick one you are confident with, this will come with time as you discover your favorite colors and materials.

Don’t Break The Bank

Now, this next piece of “gear” is optional in my opinion, but a boat is certainly a nice thing to have and provides you with a lot of opportunities. That being said, if you are willing to look hard enough, you can find flats accessible by land and sometimes these can be terrific flats. Now, if you do have a boat, or you are looking to get one, you do not need one of the flats boats that are tens of thousands of dollars. They may be nice, but a jon boat or kayak will do just fine.

You can either pole along the flats or tie on some old tennis shoes and walk. I have spent countless fishing trips on the flats in an old pair of shoes tied on real tight and still had success.

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The key is, you must be stealthy in every way, whether you are walking or polling.

My first pole for my little skiff was cut out of my grandpa’s backyard. It was a long, strong and flexible piece of bamboo that held up fine for a while until I was ready to invest in the sport. The point is, you do not need to break the bank to fly fish for tailing Redfish.

What To Look For When Targeting Tailing Redfish

It is incredibly important to understand what you are looking for prior to heading out onto the flats. When you are looking for a flat, you should keep an eye out for small feeder creeks or low spots where fish may be able to swim up onto the flat. These are considered to be access points. Look for creeks with a lot of marshland, you want to find a spot with little grass. The grass that is spread relatively thin and is not too tall allows you to see the fish and travel without much restriction.

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I prefer a flat that is a mixture of sand and mud so that I can walk on it quietly, without sinking to my thighs in mud.

That is another reason to move slowly and take your time, so you can avoid getting stuck or having to make a lot of noise moving as that may spook the fish. If you don’t have time to go scout new flats, hop on the ANGLR app and search for some, this is a great way to find new spots. Use technology to your advantage because now we can view an entire area, mark waypoints and all our fishing spots from a device in our hands… it’s just up to us to find the right spots.

Now that you have geared up properly and found your spot, you must know what you are looking for on the flat. Redfish make distinct movements in the water that you will learn over time. Small disturbances are something you will need to train your eyes to ignore. You will either see a big bronze tail sticking out of the water or a U-shaped wake cruising the flats. The V-shaped wakes are small baitfish that need to be ignored. It is important to keep in mind, once you have spotted the fish, study which direction it is going position yourself to cast quietly. Be careful when getting into position because some fish are spooked easily.

Making The Perfect Cast For Tailing Redfish

When you finally get in the right spot, you are going to have to make a cast which can be quite daunting in the moment. You need to make the cast out in front of the fish by several feet and gently lay the fly where you think the fish is headed.

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I believe it is best to cast in front of and beyond the fish so that you can bring the fly back through its path.

I normally move the fly very slowly and often let it sit. When I think the fish may see it, I will twitch it a little to give it some life. This normally provides a bite from the fish, but if it doesn’t, I would change flies and try either a different pattern or color and give it another go. It is important to note that sometimes the fish just won’t eat. Be sure to keep your eyes out for more as typically when you see one, there will be more nearby.

Now you know what gear you need, what to look for, and how to get in on the action. Use the tools you have to your advantage, go to your local fly shop and talk with other fishermen to learn even more about the Redfish in your area. The more time you spend on the water, the more you will learn and in turn, the more fish you will catch.

I recommend taking note of where you went and what the conditions were as well. Keep track of what flies you used so that you can reference that when planning other fishing trips to help maximize your level of success. Lastly, if you have any questions for me or if I wasn’t clear on something please feel free to reach out.

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