The redfish, often referred to as spotted tail bass, puppy drum, channel bass or red drum are a prized inshore fish that is sought after for their tenacious pursuit of artificial and bulldog style fight. The scientific name in the United States is Sciaenops Ocellatus. Regardless of what you call them, they make for a heck of a fight, whether you are targeting them with artificial, live bait or an irresistible fly presentation. In this article, we are going to discuss the best redfish tackle, live bait, fishing line, tides, and artificial lures. Pretty much everything that you need to know to catch this species. Let’s not waste any more time, be sure to soak up this content and have a look at the “how to catch redfish videos” that will be included as a bonus.
What is the Best Redfish Tackle?
We all know that tackle is important but for this particular subject, I think it’s important not to get too tied up with what one might think is the “best” rod or reel. Remember, this is relative to one’s beliefs and are subject to each person’s own opinion. What is more important is to focus on a good quality rod and reel that have a few necessary attributes to get the job done but will also withstand the elements and abuse over many years to come.
Recommended Redfish Reel
The reel choice is going to typically be a 3000 to 4000 size spinning reel, especially for open water fishing. The brand really boils down to preference, we personally really like the Shimano Stradic and Penn reels. The Stradics make for a great finesse reel, light, durable and perfect for pitching artificial throughout the day, limiting fatigue. The Penn reels are oftentimes much heavier, especially the Battles and Slammer series but they are also perfect for live baiting on a heavier rod. Saltwater is extremely corrosive as most of us know, you don’t have to buy a $500 reel but it’s good to try and find a decent reel in the $120 to $200 range that is preferably sealed. Remember to rinse your equipment down after each use to prolong the life of the reels and to maintain smoothness and integrity. Redfish are known for long initial runs and a good smooth drag is important to prevent any breaks offs.
Recommended Redfish Rod
There are many factors that determine what the ideal rod to use for redfish. Are you live baiting, throwing a lure, how large is your bait? These are some questions that you may want to ask yourself because it ultimately can really make a difference. However, there are some general rod classes that work extremely well for redfish and inshore applications in general. Therefore, you can never really go wrong with a seven-foot medium-fast rod for artificial, time and time again I find that this is my personal go-to action and length when slinging lures around the bay and rivers. The next best for me is a seven-foot six-inch medium heavy rod that can be used for larger lures and live baiting. The longer rod really helps with casting further and the sensitivity and action are unparalleled. I currently favor my St. Croix Legend Xtreme or Premiere rod, but I have many different brands that do the job very well.
Like lures, there are dozens of fishing lines to choose from and I know it can be somewhat overwhelming when walking into a big retail shop such as Bass Pro when you are new to the sport of Fishing. Heck, I get overwhelmed looking for certain things sometimes and I have over two decades of fishing experience. I have to say that the new super braids are the way to go in my opinion. Braids offer strength, further cast, the smaller diameter allowing you to pack much more line on a spool. I have used countless braided lines over the years and there is just a hand full that I truly like. The top two contenders are the 832 Suffix braid and the Power Pro. I like to spool my 3000 to 4000 size reels with 10-15lb pound test line. Doing so really allows for longer casting abilities like you wouldn’t believe, the sensitivity is unreal and it’s just stronger, period. I know, some of you old-timers are having a hard time switching from mono-filament and that is understandable. Just remember, these are recommendations and not requirements. If the wheel isn’t broke, don’t fix it but if it could help you catch more fish, make longer cast…wouldn’t you want to try it? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Live Bait for Redfish
Contrary to popular belief, redfish aren’t extremely picky eaters, but they do oftentimes have a preference. The idea is to match the hatch with what is abundant in the area but there are a few choices that seem to be irresistible. The most popular and abundantly available at bait shops is the juicy shrimp. It’s rare a hungry redfish will turn down a lively shrimp presented under a popping cork or free lined. Next in line would be the scaled sardine or greenback, chum the area with a handful of frisky greenbacks and cast a nose hooked whitebait in the bunch for a little drag screaming fun. Lastly, a fresh blue crab, if you can get them, will hardly be passed up if presented properly. Just to recap, the top live baits for redfish include:
- Scaled sardines or thread-fins
- Blue crabs
- Finger mullet
Dead or Cut Bait for Redfish
Some people believe that cut bait is not a great option for redfish, but I found that not to be accurate at all. Redfish can be lazy, especially in the warmer months when the water gets extremely hot and the oxygen levels diminish a bit. Using cut bait does however invite unwelcomed species such as hard head and gaff-topsail catfish. The key is to use fresh cut bait when I say fresh, I mean catch the bait and throw it on ice. This tip matters and I have tested it numerous times. The best cut baits, in my opinion, are cut threadfins, especially the belly pieces with the entrails hanging out for extra scent. The ladyfish is an abundant species that is also oily and makes for a great cut bait option. Cut blue crab and finger mullet can’t be overlooked, you will have to deal with catfish and other baitfish such as pinfish, etc… but the outcome outweighs the trouble and irritation. Just to recap, our top picks for the best cut bait for redfish include:
- Cut threadfins
- Cut ladyfish
- Cut blue crab
- Cut finger mullet
Notable cut bait mentions:
- Cut pinfish
- Cut pigfish
- Fresh dead shrimp (Much rather use them alive, however)
Artificial Lures for Redfish
Many of us like to throw artificial, maybe it’s for the added challenge, the faster pace or distaste for live baiting? There are many effective artificial lures that can really increase your bite and hookup ratio. When you think about how redfish scavenge the ocean floor, it becomes very obvious what the ideal baits might be. The best baits in our opinion include a small jig head such as a 1/8-ounce Mission Fishin jig head and a Gulp in New Penny color. Redfish can’t resist the smell of gulp and the color works all around the peninsula. For low light conditions, you really can’t go wrong with a topwater lure, not to mention the explosive and exciting strikes that will get the blood flowing like you wouldn’t believe.
Our go-to topwater baits include the Zara Spook and the Rapala Skitter walk, use a walk the dog motion with random pauses for the ultimate display of aggression. The swim jig, tie on a ¼ ounce Hell Razer jig with a down south swimmer and hang on. The vibration and subtle sounds drive the fish crazy. You can also cover a ton of ground in a short period of time. Target potholes and grassy areas for the best success. The gold spoon, we can’t leave out the notorious gold spoon that has a reputation for wrecking redfish. It’s effective for many reasons, it can cast a mile, you can skip the lure in hard to reach places and most of the spoons are weedless allowing you to fish very grassy areas that might be challenging with a typical jig rig. The gold spoon portrays an injured fish or shrimp and really lights up the water with crazy flash and vibrations. We have been doing very well lately with the Aqua Dream spoon, have a look at this article and videos for additional information on how to effectively work a gold spoon for redfish. To recap, here are our top recommended lures for redfish:
- 1/8 Ounce Mission Fishin Jig head and New Penny Gulp
- ¼ Ounce Hell Razer jig head and Down south plastic
- Zara spook and Rapala Skitter walk topwater
- The weed-less gold spoon
Best Times to fish for Redfish
So, when is the best time to fish for redfish? You know the old saying, the best time to fish is when you can. I absolutely believe this to be true but there really are optimal times to fish, not just for redfish but all species of fish. So how do you find the magical hour? I recommended downloading a good fishing/tide app. The one I personally use is called Nauti tides, it cost about $10 for the year but it really does include all the pertinent information that you need to plan your next fishing outing. Some of the key things that I personally look for include, High tide period, major and minor feed times and wind directions. Depending on how you plan to fish, using this information can allow you to hit a redfish on the head during the feed period and be very successful. I really like it when I find a high tide, that correlates with sunset during the major feed. Have you ever had a trip that was just off the charts amazing? Ever wonder why? My bet would be that you fish during that magical period in which the fish were feeding like crazy. Moons also play an important role, for example, I find that I do really well night fishing during a full moon but the daytime fishing isn’t so hot. Why? Well, they feed all night so there is no need to feed during the day. Lucky for you, redfish are opportunistic feeders, and will oftentimes eat even when they aren’t hungry. If it’s presented well and is an easy meal, expect to hook up.
Don’t overthink red fishing, they are an easy fish to find, there is no better teacher than experience. Regardless of how much content you read or videos you watch, you will have your best success by getting out there and fishing. I highly recommend you make a little logbook on your phone, record the weather, tides, conditions, and time of the year. You’d be surprised by how predictable redfish and fish can be in general. The tides are the same every two weeks or so, if you had success two weeks earlier, there is a good chance that you will do well if you go out and fish that same tide or conditions. Information is your friend and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by doing so. Don’t be shy, let us know down in the comment section, what is your favorite methods, tackle and times to catch redfish? What I love about fishing is that you never stop learning, there is no one right way to do things and it’s okay to try new techniques and methods. This is one of the reasons I created my YouTube channel, before the apparel and other social media platforms I focused on teaching. I love teaching people the knowledge that I have obtained over the years. If you want to see more, don’t hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter and our YouTube page here.
Do you have topics that you would like to see articles written on? If so, don’t be shy, comment below and tell us and I will add it to my list of videos or articles to make for your viewing and reading pleasure. Until next time, I will see you on the water.