Kiawah River Field Guide: How to Fly Fish

Known for its changing tides and thriving marsh estuaries, Kiawah River’s flourishing waterways are an angler’s paradise. Unlike other fishing destinations, the Lowcountry’s warmer temperatures and breathtaking panorama of endless marsh grass and tidal rivers offer year-round opportunities to experience the premier fishing destination. 

One of our region’s most prized fish is the red drum, also known as redfish. Known best for the “tailing” effect made when their tail breaks the waterline, redfish are easy to identify thanks to their distinctive spotted tails. The fish can be found chasing crabs through the Spartina grass, shallow marsh flats and estuaries during high tide. 


Before setting out with your rod and waders, check out Kiawah River’s Field Guide for five easy steps on casting with a fly rod: 

1. Hold your rod like a handshake (not too tight) 

2. Place your thumb on top of the grip 

3. Release several yards of line 

4. Slowly lift the rod and begin moving your arm in a 2:00 (back) to 10:00 motion (forward) 

5. Move the rod back and forth several times while holding the line 

6. Point the rod toward your target and release 

In addition to perfecting your casting form, it’s important to have the right gear and accessories. Waders or wading boots will keep you dry and warm while standing in the water, and fly boxes will ensure that your flies and other fishing tools stay organized during your excursion. 

Fly fishing accessories, like flies and weights, are used to attract different species of fish. Designed to resemble insects by resting on top of the water, fly fishing lures are hand-crafted using animal hairs, feathers and thread. The weight of the line controls how much the fly will sink when it hits the water and how far your cast will go. Light-weighted flies look like small insects resting on top of the water while heavier flies sink below the water’s surface, resembling larger prey. For redfish, its best to use muted brown, red or green flies with lead dumbbell eyes, allowing the fly to sink in the water and resemble shrimp or small crabs. 

For those looking for a little more hands-on direction, Captain John Irwin leads fly fishing lessons and seminars at Kiawah River for all skill levels, from beginners to experts looking to brush up on their techniques. With over 20 years of guiding experience, Captain John offers professional expertise across all of Kiawah River’s waterways and beyond.  

Whatever your angler preference, the Lowcountry’s sought-after fishing holes provide the perfect opportunity to sit back, cast away and enjoy your time in one of nature’s most beautiful settings.  Kiawah River’s private waterways are exclusively reserved for homeowners for catch and release fishing only. To fish at Kiawah River, contact Captain John Irwin who leads these private excursions.