Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish
In this article, Capt Jim shares his best 7 fishing lures for redfish. Redfish, or red drum, are a very popular inshore game fish from Texas to the mid Atlantic. There are many different redfish fishing lures on the market. Shopping for them can be intimidating. However, there are really only a handful of baits that anglers will need in their tackle boxes to catch redfish.
The best 7 redfish lures are:
- Gold Johnson Silver Minnow spoon,
- Bass Assassin Sea Shad
- Rapala X-Rap
- Redfish Magic spinnerbait
- Gulp baits
- Rapala Skitterwalk
- DOA Deadly Combo.
These seven artificial lures will catch redfish in any fishing situation that an angler will encounter. This selection of lures will cover the entire water column and most are effective in quite shallow water where redfish are often found.
Most anglers opt for spinning tackle when casting artificial lures for redfish. Spinning tackle is versatile, affordable, and effective. Lighter lures are much easier to cast with spinning tackle as well. The same inshore saltwater tackle that is used for speckled trout and other species will be fine for redfish, too. A 7 foot medium action rod matched with a 2500-3000 series reel and spooled up with 10 to 15 pound monofilament line or 20 pound braided line is a great all round combo.
However, conventional casting tackle certainly has its place when fishing for redfish as well. This is particularly true in the upper Gulf Coast where the largest redfish in the country are caught. These bull reds will put even stout conventional tackle to the test. Also, in most instances, anglers are casting fairly heavy lures in search of these larger fish. A medium action conventional outfit spooled up with 20 pound line works very well.
Most saltwater anglers already own a suitable rod and reel combination. However, for those that don’t, the links below will allow anglers to shop. Capt. Jim likes the Conflict spinning combination in the Lew’s conventional outfit.
Anglers can shop at Amazon for a Daiwa Black Gold reel and St Croix Triumph 7′ MF rod spinning combo in this link
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Redfish habitat and lure selection
Redfish are often found in a wide variety of habitats. Many anglers picture fishing for them in very shallow water. This type of fishing in skinny water is both challenging and rewarding. Redfish are also found under docks and around structure. Inlets and passes will also hold redfish at certain times of the year. Reds can even be found schooling in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
Many of the redfish lures are tailored to catch them in shallow water. These are designed with a single hook that rides up, reducing snags. Other lures, particularly jigs, will fool redfish in deeper water. It is important when choosing a lure to pick one that suits the water in which anglers will be pursuing redfish. Depth, cover, structure, and current are just a few of the factors that will affect lure choice.
1) Gold Johnson Silver Minnow
It would be hard to argue against the venerable gold Johnson Silver Minnow spoon as the top redfish artificial lure of all time. To this day, gold weedless spoons produce many redfish. They are terrific search baits. Spoons can be cast a long distance. This allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.
Like many productive saltwater fishing lures, the Johnson Silver Minnow spoon started out as a largemouth bass lure. While it does come in silver and other finishes, gold is the more productive color for redfish. The spoon is relatively weedless as it rides hook up and also has a weed guard. Spoons have an enticing wiggle and put out a lot a flash and vibration. They can be fished in water as shallow as a foot deep effectively.
Check out these redfish fishing tips!
The technique when fishing with weedless spoons is fairly simple. Anglers make a long cast and reel the spoon back in using a slow, steady retrieve. It is extremely effective when used over large expansive shallow grass flats. The Johnson Silver Minnow can also be used along oyster bars and shorelines. The 1/2 ounce size is most popular. This is a very easy lure for anglers of all experience levels to use. It casts well and fish respond well to a steady retrieve, making it easy for novice anglers to use.
Weedless spoons really shine on large shallow grass flats. The spoon will wobble enticingly, emitting both flash and vibration. Redfish will often be found in potholes (areas of open sand on the flat) and will ambush the spoon. It is a terrific search bait that will find a school of redfish on a shallow flat better than most other lures.
2) Bass Assassin Sea Shad
Second on the list of Capt. Jim’s best seven fishing lures for redfish is the 4 inch Bass Assassin Sea Shad soft plastic swim bait. These types of lures have been around for a long time. They are still very effective for catching a wide variety of fish species, and redfish are no exception.
These soft plastic swim baits are simple, economical, and very effective. The bait is 4 inches long and has a shad style tail which produces a lot a vibration and a natural swimming action. Bass Assassin offers a myriad of color options for anglers to choose from. Lighter colors work well in clear water while darker colors perform best in stained water. Hot pink and chartreuse work best when the water is muddy.
Anglers have several choices when it comes to rigging these baits. Most often, a jig head is used. The jig head provides both weight and hook. The lure rides with the hook up, making it relatively weedless. However, the jig head will pick up grass. Special shallow water jig heads have a tapered head which helps reduce this. Anglers can also rig this bait on a weighted swim bait hook.
One of the keys to this baits effectiveness is its versatility. The bait can be rigged on a very light jig head and fished in extremely shallow water. Anglers will swim it over the grass then allow it to sink down into potholes. It can also be bounced down the edges of oyster bars. When used with a heavier jig head, this lure can be used when redfish are found in deeper water such as and inlets and passes.
These are extremely versatile lures that can be used to mimic a wide variety or forage. This can be done with color and shape of the tail. Lighter colors will best mimic bait fish and work well in clear water. Dark and natural colors such as rootbeer and new Penny are best in stained or dark water and where crustaceans are the primary forage.
3) Rapala X-Rap
Number three on the list of best redfish lures that Capt. Jim likes is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. This is a shallow diving jerk bait that is very effective on redfish as well as other species. The bait floats at rest that dives down several feet upon retrieve. The best retrieve is usually an erratic one with a pause in between. The bait has a lot of flash and vibration.
X-Raps are available in several sizes and multiple colors. In the waters of Sarasota were Capt. Jim fishes, the #8 X-Rap is often the best choice. It realistically mimics the smaller forage such as finger mullet, glass minnows, and sardines that are available. Olive is a great all round color with white being his second choice. Gold works great in rivers and tannin stained waters.
As in all fishing applications, anglers should match the size and color of the bait to the locally available forage. If redfish are feeding on larger pogies, pin fish, mullet, and grunts, stepping up to the #10 X-Rap is probably a good decision. Again, lighter colors in clear water and darker colors in dark water is a good rule of thumb.
Rapala X-Raps and other jerkbaits work great around oyster bars. This is due to the fact that they dive down a couple feet, low enough to elicit a strike without hanging up. They are work well in the instances where redfish are seen feeding on the surface or schooled up in large numbers.
4) Redfish Magic Spinnerbait
The Strike King Redfish Magic spinner bait is number four on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Once again, this is basically a converted largemouth bass fishing lure. Spinner baits are really a combination of two very effective baits; a jig and a spinner. The lure has a wire frame with a jig and grub combination at the bottom and a flashing spinner blade at the top.
Like the spoon, this is an excellent search bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water. The best approach is usually to cast it out, allow it to sink a second or two, then reel it back in using a slow, steady retrieve. This bait puts out a ton of vibration and is an excellent choice when the water is murky. It is also an excellent lure for novice anglers to use as it has a lot of built in action.
This bait really shines in conditions of limited visibility regarding water clarity. The Redfish Magic spinner bait puts out a lot a vibration and flash. This will help fish locate the bait when visibility is poor. The swim bait tail can be easily replaced when anglers want to make a change in color. Gold is the preferred blade finish. It is not the best option when fish are fussy such as in clear water with a bright sky.
5) Gulp! Baits
The Gulp! line of baits made by Berkeley work extremely well for anglers fishing for redfish. Soft plastic baits have been scented for many years. However, these are a whole step above that. The lure is actually manufactured from scented material. On days when the bite is tough, this added advantage of the scent can make a huge difference.
The two Gulp! baits that Capt. Jim likes to use are the 3 inch Gulp! Shrimp in the 5 inch Gulp! Jerk Shad. Both will fool redfish as well as just about every other saltwater species. The Gulp! Shrimp works best on a jig head and water depth from 2 feet and deeper. The jig head is matched to the depth and current. White with a chartreuse tail and new penny are his favorite colors.
The Gulp! 5 inch Jerk Shad is a tremendous bait in shallow water. It can be rigged with a very light jig head. However, it really shines when rigged up weedless on a light swim bait hook. These are specially designed hooks that have a weight near the bend of the hook. This allows for the lure to be presented and a horizontal manner. This rig can be worked through the shallowest of grass effectively without hanging up.
These baits really bridge the gap between artificial lures and live bait. Gulp! Baits are not only scented, the lure is actually made from the scented material. There is no doubt that redfish will take it just like a live shrimp, even as it lies right on the bottom. A slow erratic retrieve with the lure occasionally bouncing the bottom is best.
6) Rapala Skitter walk
The Rapala Skitterwalk is six on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Redfish have an inferior mouth. This means that the nose of the fish protrudes forward with the mouth being behind and underneath. However this does not prohibit redfish from taking a top water plug!
Since redfish are often times found in very shallow water, topwater baits are often a logical choice to use. These baits will ride over top of submerge grass and not get hung up. They will also call fish up to the surface. The Skitterwalk is a “walk the dog bait”. This means that it does not have a lot of built in action, the angler must provide it.
The lure is cast out and allowed to set motionless for several moments. With the rod tip held low near the surface of the water, the bait is retrieved back in while the rod tip is twitched. When the proper rhythm is found, the lure will dance seductively from left to right on the surface. It is important to wait until the weight of the fishes fell before setting the hook. Otherwise, most fish will be missed and the plug will come flying back to the boat.
Anglers fishing with the Skitter walk or any other topwater plug will have to realize that the hook up ratio will be lower than with other lures. Part of this is the nature of topwater fishing, along with the shape of the mouth on a redfish. At times, the red will knock the lure clean out of the water and still not get hooked! Patience will pay off with hooked fish.
7) D.O.A. Deadly Combo
Last, but certainly not least, on the list of top redfish lures is the DOA deadly combo. This is really a system that consists of a noisy cork, a short leader, and then and artificial shrimp. This is a very productive bait, particularly in stained or muddy water. It is also a great choice for novice anglers as it is fairly easy to use.
The idea of the bait is fairly simple. The noisy float is twitched sharply, causing it to pop and rattle. This simulates feeding fish. This will attract game fish in the area to the sound of the cork. Once there, they will see the shrimp dangling underneath and devour it. It really does work quite well! It really is just and artificial lore version of the venerable popping cork and live shrimp combination, which has been catching fish for many decades.
This is a great lure choice for children. The more they jerk and clack and make noise, often times the better it works. The bite is also visual as when a fish takes the court just disappears. For these reasons, this makes the DOA deadly combo a good lure for both kids and novice anglers. It will catch plenty of speckled trout as well.
If the bite is tough, anglers can fish a Gulp! Shrimp under the cork. Obviously, a live shrimp can be used and works extremely well for redfish as well as speckled trout. It really is great fun to see the cork disappear then set the hook on a nice redfish!
In conclusion, this article on the best 7 fishing lures for redfish will help simplify the lures and techniques for catching reds!