If you've spent much time on the flats or in the marshes of Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana, or Texas... the chances are that you've seen that cool little bronze and blue triangle sticking out of the water and waving at you. That's a redfish "tailing". They do this because redfish are primarily bottom feeders - looking for crabs and shrimp. They will literally stand on their heads to get what they are after. If you've ever struggled without to get these guy's attention so you can catch them while they are tailing, this article is for you.
Like any redfish you're attempting to get a cast on, the ideal approach is from upwind and with the sun at your back. This does two things for you. Having the wind at your back will enable you to make long casts and having the sun at your back make it harder for the redfish to see you.
Whether you do or do not have the opportunity to approach tailing reds from either of those directions (wind and sun) always approach with stealth. Wading, poling, and quietly paddling your kayak are all effective ways to get as close to these fish as you need to be to get a good cast on them.
Though tailing redfish are preoccupied with feeding and often not as spooky as "milling" or "cruising" fish, you still should make every effort not to spook them. Avoid making loud splashes with your paddle, slamming rods against the side of your kayak, or dropping things on the floor of your kayak.
As far as live bait goes, it's hard to beat a live or dead shrimp rigged on a jig head for tailing redfish. Remember that they have their nose down and are concentrating on bottom feeding. When they are tailing, the use of a jig head can be very effective because you need to get that bait down to their level of feeding -- on the bottom.
When it comes to lure fishing for tailing redfish, it's hard to beat tube baits such as Berkley Power Tubes, Zoom tubes and tubes from Exude. You can rig these either on a jig head or with a weightless worm style hook with a bullet weight placed on the line above the bullet weight.
Other effective baits are soft plastics rigged on jig heads and gold spoons (slowed down when the boat reaches the fish and then dropped "right on their head").
This is one of the most important aspects of effectively catching redfish when they're tailing. When a redfish has his nose down, like he does when he's tailing, your presentation must bring your bait very very close to the fish in order to grab the attention of the fish. The best way to do this is to try to discern which direction the fish is facing (left, right, at you, away from you) and throw your bait a couple of yards beyond the fish but on a close enough line to be able to bring the bait within a foot of the head of the fish. After you cast, you don't need to really "work" your bait. You need to just reel it up close to the fish and drop it right next to the tailing red's head. If the fish doesn't take the bait on, or shortly after, you drop it next to it's head, then you need to begin working the bait. Once the bait gets 5 yards from the fish, reel up and repeat the process.
Tailing fish are focused on the bottom and focused on what they are feeding on. They won't be very aware of baits that are coming by them even at distances as close as 3-5 feet. They have their attention firmly focused downward. So to consistently and effectively get these fish to take your offering, you need to follow the above steps and make sure you're getting your bait in their line of sight and smell.