Best Redfish Fishing Tackle – a Buyers Guide!

redfish tackle

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will feature the best redfish fishing tackle and lures. The proper name is “red drum, but they are known as redfish, reds, puppy drum, and channel bass. Redfish are an extremely popular inshore saltwater species. They are found all along the Gulf Coast up to the mid Atlantic states. Redfish average 5 pounds but grow close to 10 pounds!

Redfish have an “inferior” mouth. That means that the nose extends out over the mouth. This gives anglers an insight into the manner in which they feed. Reds mostly use their hard nose to root around in the bottom. However, they are not scavengers, though they are opportunistic. Crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans are their primary forage.

Redfish do most certainly feed on live bait fish as well! Depending on the location, these include mullet, pinfish, grunts, sardines, herring, mud minnows, pogies, and any juvenile game fish. Fresh fish are used effectively as cut bait in many instances, especially for anglers surf fishing.

Best redfish rods and reels

The vast majority of anglers that fish for redfish are targeting fish in the 3 to 10 pound range. Therefore, medium spinning and light conventional outfits work best. However, those fishing for large reds in inlets and around bridges will require stout conventional gear. Surf anglers use the same outfits that do well for larger bluefish and striped bass.

Spinning rods and reels for redfish

Medium spinning rods with a fast action and a 3000 or 4000 series reel work very well for anglers fishing for redfish. “Fast action” means that the rod is stout at the butt and middle section, but tapers to a limber tip. This allows for casting of light lures and baits, but enough muscle to handle a decent fish.

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Spinning rods are used a lot by anglers who fish with lighter lures and live baits. This rig works great for those casting ¼ ounce jigs and spoons as well as free lining live shrimp and bait fish. Also, many areas have reds that are mostly 30” and under. These outfits are fine for those fish, especially in open water.

Light conventional rods and reels for redfish

Light conventional, or bait casting, outfits are well suited to anglers chasing redfish as well. They are especially popular in the Gulf Coast states where larger fish are more often caught. Also, these rigs work well for anglers casting larger lures and live baits. These conventional outfits are also great as casting heavier popping cork rigs, which are extremely popular in that region.

Heavy conventional redfish tackle

Heavy conventional outfits are used by anglers chasing the largest redfish. This often occurs in inlets and passes whee strong current is an additional factor. The same applies to fishing near bridges and docks, stout tackle is required to land a big, strong fish in these conditions. Heavy conventional gear is best for this application.

Surf fishing tackle for reds

Anglers catch redfish in the surf as well. This is particularly true in the Atlantic from Georgia to Maryland. The Outer Banks is a famous surf fishing destination. Reds vary greatly in size, from 18” puppy drum to 50 pound monsters. Anglers need to match the surf fishing tackle to the size of the fish being pursued.

Fishing line options for redfish anglers

Anglers fishing for redfish have two basic choices when it comes to fishing line, braided line and monofilament line. Most anglers now use braided line. It costs more, but lasts longer, have zero stretch, great sensitivity, and is thinner in diameter so it casts further. Knots are a bit trickier. Some anglers still prefer the stretch and feel of monofilament. There is not a wrong choice, it is just a matter of individual preference.


Anglers will need leader material as well when fishing for redfish. Flourocarbon leader is the best choice in most applications. 30 lb leader is good for inshore fishing. Anglers can bump up the strength as the fish get larger or the water gets less clear.

Best artificial lures for redfish

Anglers fish for redfish with both live bait and artificial lures. The main advantage with lures is the ability to cover water in search of fish. This is especially true when they are scattered out on large, expansive flats. Here is a selection of proven artificial lures for reds.

Gold Johnson Silver Minnow

It would be hard to argue that the gold Johnson Silver minnow spoon is not 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.

The Johnson Silver minnow spoon started out as a largemouth bass lure, as did many saltwater baits. While it does come in silver and other finishes, gold is the more productive color for redfish. The Silver Minnow 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.

Read 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 overlarge 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.

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 reading these baits. Most often, a jig head is used. The jig head provides both weight and hook. The lure rides with the hookup, making it relatively weedless. However, the jig had 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 fish and extremely shallow water. Anglers will swim it over the grass than 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.

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 08 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.

Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait 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.

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 had 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.

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, top water 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.

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.

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 lure 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 lower for both kids and novice anglers. It will catch plenty of speckled trout as well.

In conclusion, this article on the best redfish fishing tackle will help anglers purchase the equipment that will help them succeed!

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