Learn More Secrets about Redfish Lures, Baits & Tackle – TruWild Life


Here are the most common questions anglers have when starting to fish the coastal marsh for redfish:

  • What is the best fishing rod for redfish?
  • What pound of fishing line to use for redfish?
  • What's the best bait for redfish?
  • Where to fish for redfish?
  • When to fish for redfish?

Let's answer these questions by starting with the fishing tackle. After all, if you do not have the right gear, you are at an immediate disadvantage.

Find The Best Fishing Rod for Redfish

The best fishing rod for redfish is a fast-action, medium to medium-heavy rod that is at least 6 feet 10 inches long. If you have a choice, a longer rod is even better. Why? Long rods produce longer casts allowing you to be farther away from the redfish and less likely to spook them. They are skittish! If you decide on a medium power fishing rod like the inexpensive Piscifun Serpent spinning rod, pair it with a 2000 series saltwater-rated reel. If you use a medium-heavy rod, bump the reel to a 3000 series. The Piscifun Captain spinning reel is a good choice in either size because it features a robust carbon fiber drag system that maxes out at an astounding 44 pounds of drag.

Use a good saltwater-rated reel in either size 2000 or 3000
​​Use a good saltwater-rated reel in either size 2000 or 3000

Avoid medium-light power rods since they extend the fight and will exhaust the fish. Since most states have a slot and bag limit, you are likely to release fish; let them live to fight another day. A medium or medium-heavy power rod gives you the backbone to work the red to the boat "quickly." If you fished primarily for bass in the past, you would be stunned at the typical fifteen-minute or longer fight to get the nice 25-inch redfish to the net!
Baitcaster rods and reels work well for redfish if you prefer them to a spinning setup. The same guidance applies. Use a medium or medium-heavy Piscifun Torrent casting rod paired with the Piscifun Alloy M saltwater capable baitcasting reel. Once you have the rod and reel, the next issue is what pound fishing line to use for redfish.

What Pound of Fishing Line to Use for Redfish?

A typical setup uses either a 15 lb or 20 lb braided fishing line. You may need to increase the pound test based on where you are fishing. If the bottom includes a rough structure likely to rub or cut the fishing line, go up in thickness/pound test. Please pay attention to the line during the outing, removing the terminal section when it gets cut. Adding a stronger, short monofilament or fluorocarbon twelve to eighteen-inch leader is mandatory to protect the main line. Change the leader as soon as you see an abrasion. If fishing over a smooth bottom on a sand flat, a 15 lb test is plenty. The line's color does not matter since you are using a leader. Besides, as the line sinks, it fades to a darker shade. You may want to use a bright color like white, pink, or yellow to see where your line is concerning oyster beds.

It is best to have a reel with a good carbon fiber drag system to protect the line from breaking. If using the Piscifun Captain, you do not need to leverage its 44-pound maximum strength. Instead, set it (or any reel) to 50% of the line strength to use the rod's drag and power to work the fish without risking breaking the line. In addition, if your line has frayed a bit, it is less likely to snap when the fish can run.

Select the Hook And Lures for Redfish.

The only hook type you should use is a circle hook. As mentioned above, redfish are subject to limits and slot sizes, resulting in the need to release fish. Circle hooks usually penetrate the corner of the mouth, are easy to remove, and reduce fish mortality. Never use a "J" hook or a Kahle hook since both tend to "gut hook" the fish. No need to "Bill Dance" a circle hook to set it! A redfish strike is abrupt and violent and removes line slack – setting the hook simultaneously. Just raise the rod and start the battle!

For unknown reasons, hook sizes are not standardized except for the small hooks used for fly fishing. Match the hook size for redfish to the need for natural presentation and the bait size. The most common hook size for shrimp and baitfish is a #1 or 1/0. Larger bait, larger hook – as long as the hook is not overwhelmingly evident versus the size of the bait. At the top end, when fishing with large baitfish for huge "bull" reds, bump up to a 3/0 or 4/0 hook. When using bait, any bottom rig will work. However, most redfish anglers pair a Carolina Rig with the circle hook. You can use live or dead bait under a popping cork as well. The advantage of the cork is you can set the depth to allow it to float over oyster beds. What is the best bait to use for redfish? Use what they are eating! Here in North Carolina, the Reds love mullet and fiddler crabs. Rig them using either a size 1/0 or 1 hook.

If you do not like using natural bait, the answer to "What is the best artificial bait for redfish?" can generate strong arguments! I remember one expert angler encouraging me to treat my artificial lures with ProCure scent. He assured me any smell would work as long as it was a blue crab! While you do not need to follow his lead, adding fragrance is always a good idea, although some guides do not recommend putting scent on hard baits.

Top choices of the best artificial bait for redfish include:

1.Five-inch Gulp Jerk Shad rigged on a 3/0 hook with a small amount of weight on the shank.
2.Gulp shrimp or grubs on a jighead.
3.Weedless spoons for working in the sparse grass.
4.The MR17 MirrOlure if the water is deep enough.

Nothing beats the Rapala Saltwater Skitter Walk, MirrOlure Top Dog, or a Zara Spook if going after the topwater bite. Other experts live by DOA or Yozuri shrimp under a popping cork. If you want to "triangulate" between artificial and live bait, put a small piece of FishBites or FishGum on the Carolina Rig. All leads to the obvious conclusion - there are many effective ways to catch redfish, and your decision on what lures to use for redfish will end up being what you are comfortable and competent using.

Pick the Right Place to Fish for Redfish.

In terms of where to fish for redfish, do a low tide recon to understand the flats. Low tide reveals every nook and cranny. Locate the channels leading from the Intracoastal Waterway and get to the chokepoint ahead of the tide, even if you must slog through some mud. Once the bite dies at the chokepoint, follow the reds and move to the marsh line, targeting creek outlets, points, and small coves. Bounce from spot to spot along the grass line to stay ahead of the Reds. Pay attention to the birds and bait. Birds hunt the same bait as redfish. Where bait moves, redfish wait in ambush. Look for active feeding. When redfish bust into a school of bait, there is an explosion of action as the bait flees – many pop out of the water in their desperate bid to escape.
Use technology to your advantage! Check out different pictures of the area using the historical view on Google Earth – especially the ones taken at low tide. Those show the structure invisible at high tide. The channels are always dark, and the oyster beds usually appear as bright ellipses ringed with a thin border. The redfish will follow the channels as the tide rises.

satellite view for places to fish redfish
With the right satellite view, the channels are obvious.

Pay Attention to The Best Time to Fish for Redfish.

The best time to fish for redfish is not based on the time of day. Instead, the tide rules! No need to get out at the crack of dawn! The bite is on when the tide is moving. I like fishing the two hours before or after low tide. Others claim the same window around high tide is best. But the consistent guidance is that the tide must be moving. When moving, the tide moves bait to where the redfish will lie in ambush. Likewise, you can position yourself to ambush the ambushers! A good spot is near gaps in oyster beds or where channels converge.

migration paths of redfish
On a rising tide, position yourself to exploit the likely migration paths.

Most important! After catching a red drum, note the tide level and the location! Drop a waypoint. The reds will return to that spot at that tide level plus or minus 30 minutes.


Steve Moore

Steve Moore

Steve was a regular columnist for Southern Trout Magazine, where he wrote the "New Fly Guy" column to provide fly anglers with tips, techniques, and other advice between 2012 and 2019. He also wrote the "Kayak Hacks" column for Southern Kayak Fishing magazine from 2015 to 2018. 


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July 05, 2023 — Steve Moore
Tags: Fishing Tips


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