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Ready to fight then filet the aggressive redfish? Before you do that, you need to know the best redfish lures and baits to sink your hook into. So head out to your favorite fishing spot along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts! Catching these red drums is easy for both beginners and advanced anglers with the help of the Academy experts.
Redfish actually refers to a few different fish species. Red drum, channel bass, spot tail bass, and puppy drum are just a few popular species. They’re usually a saltwater species. However, redfish actually can survive in pure freshwater — they just can’t spawn there.
Fish them for fun or food! Whichever your intention, here’s how to identify them:
Identify them by their distinct coppery bronze coloring.
You’ll find at least one dark spot at the base of their tail.
When you catch them, you’ll notice they have lighter bellies, large scales, and strong teeth.
Redfish are opportunistic predators with a hearty appetite. That’s good news for anglers! These fish aren’t picky and will typically eat anything suitable they come across.
Young redfish begin feeding on zooplankton, small shrimp, marine worms (cinder, spaghetti, etc.), and even some small crabs. However, they start eating small fish species (silversides, minnows, mullet, etc.) when they reach about 8 inches in length.
Juvenile and adult redfish larger than 12 inches long mostly eat small crabs, small fish species, and mature shrimp.
They are bottomfeeders that rely on their sense of smell and sight to find their next meal along the seafloor. But that doesn’t mean they’re opposed to swimming higher in the water column to suck in what they find!
To be a good redfish angler, you need to know what the best bait for redfish are. You’ll gain a better understanding of their feeding patterns and learn which artificial lures redfish go nuts for!
|Best Redfish Baits & Lures Guide|
|Name||Time Most Active||Spring/Fall Water Depth||Summer/Winter Water Depth||Best Lure To Mimic Bait|
|Shrimp||Mainly night||Deep||Deep||Popping cork|
|Mullet||Dawn||Shallow||Shallow||Topwater walking lure|
|Crab||Night||Shallow||Shallow||Soft plastics or cut crab|
|Squid||Night||Shallow to medium||Shallow to medium||Jigs or spoons|
Whatever live bait you choose to use or buy, you’ll have to meet them toward the bottom of the water column. That means you need to learn the right techniques to attract them to your hook without spooking them away. Thankfully, you have plenty of bait options to choose from:
Shrimp are one of the best baits for redfish since they’re bottom dwellers, too! But they’re trickier to use than you’d think. Keep them healthy and alive for as long as possible for the best results.
Mullets work great as a redfish bait when it is fresh and cut into smaller pieces.
Sink a 7/0 hook with a cut mullet piece on it and bring redfish your way.
Live crabs (especially bull reds) are a fantastic option to catch larger redfish!
You can also cut it into smaller pieces with the shell off.
Squids are a reliable bait for redfish — whether cut or whole.
You can use squid alone or as a trailer with lures like a spoon or jig to target redfish.
Pinfish also attract redfish to your hook — dead or alive! If dead, cut the head and tail off and use small hooks.
Just make sure the fish is always fresh.
Although harder to find in bait shops and to keep alive than other options, pogies are a great choice, too. It’s best to freeline the bait or send it to deeper water on a fish finder.
Using artificial lures for redfish may pose more challenges than results for true beginners. At least at first! Anytime you’re choosing an artificial lure in the store, consider the water conditions and clarity.
Why We Chose It: This suspending jerk bait features a built-in reflective foil insert for a realistic look. Inside, it has sonic rattling chambers for vibration and noise that helps bring redfish near.
How to Use This: Keep your line slack, then use a series of hard jerks followed by pauses. But be ready! Most strikes come on the pause.
2 treble hooks help secure your catch
Suitable for saltwater fishing applications
Weighs 0.375 ounces
2.625 inches long
Why We Chose It: This lipless crankbait has a realistic design that helps you reel in fish in both freshwater and saltwater. The vibration and wobble created on the retrieve help attract fish.
How to Use This: Using crankbaits is perfect for spot-tailing redfish. Try to reel the crankbait right in front of them, and then simply pause. Strikes will usually come on the pause!
2 treble hooks
Weighs 0.75 ounces
Why We Chose It: These soft plastic shrimp baits have a realistic design that looks like a redfish’s favorite food plus an action that attracts flounder, trout, and redfish.
How to Use This: Use this lure with a jig or rigged Texas/Carolina style. Hop it through grass flats, swim it just above the vegetation, or simply drag it slowly across the bottom.
Made specifically for use with inshore fishing
Multiple colors available
Includes 6 lures
Why We Chose It: This spinner combo features a lifelike sea shad soft bait rigged on a 1/4-ounce red jig head spinner to create a natural action that attracts trout and redfish. These perform best in murky water.
How to Use This: Let the water temperature guide how fast or slow you reel this in. When the water is cold, use a slower retrieve. When it’s warm, reel it in faster. Bump it off structure like piers, rocks, and oyster beds for better attraction.
Size 4/0 single hook
4 inches long
Rigged on 1/4-ounce red jig head spinner
Why We Chose It: This lure has a sleek, lifelike design that casts far. The Silver Minnow Lure can be trolled, jigged, or twitched at the bottom to attract fish.
How to Use This: Fish spoons vertically or horizontally. Simply let it drop to the bottom and pull it straight up. Let it fall to fish vertically. To fish horizontally, let it drop, troll it behind a boat or hop it along the bottom.
Design won't get caught up or twist the fishing line
For use in saltwater fishing applications
Why We Chose It: This swim bait has a small finger mullet design with a jointed body and 3-D eyes for a realistic appearance. It also has a slow sinking action and a VMC Saltwater size 4 treble hook.
How to Use This: Swim baits work best when in constant movement. Like spinning baits, let the water temperature guide your presentation: present slowly in cold water and fast in warm water. Add twitches and pauses for more erratic action.
Slow sinking action
VMC Saltwater size 4 treble hook
Weighs 1/4 ounce
3.5 inches long
Why We Chose It: This twitchbait lure features a wide body profile that produces a holographic flash and a natural baitfish pattern that mimics a real baitfish to attract redfish from far away.
How to Use This: Keep your line slack while using a series of hard jerks followed by pauses. Be ready, though! Most strikes come on the pause.
Realistic design and movements help attract fish
2x MirrOred hooks trigger strikes and snag catches
Suitable for saltwater fishing applications
Why We Chose It: The Super Spook topwater lure features a heavy-duty design that withstands tough fish. It has great side-to-side action and color patterns that are designed to attract plenty of redfish.
How to Use This: Topwater lures work best when fished much like a jerkbait or twitchbait. Keep your line slack, and give your rod a series of hard jerks. Work on your rhythm to keep the lure moving side to side.
Saltwater-grade treble hooks
Great for taking on large redfish, gator trout, and stripers
5 inches long; Weighs 7/8 ounce
Why We Chose It: This bucket of shrimp baits is a combination of live and artificial baits. They resemble real shrimp and have a realistic scent that attracts saltwater fish. They come floating in Gulp!® attractant and can be recharged after use.
How to Use This: These are fantastic when paired with a jig head and hopped along the bottom. When fishing in weeds or grass, try to target holes in the vegetation and work your lure through there. Lunkers like to hide nearby and strike when you enter the hole in the vegetation.
Baits can be recharged by putting them back into the attractant after use
Suitable for saltwater fishing applications
The season absolutely dictates which baits (and even lures) you’ll use on a redfish angling trip. Water temperatures vary in each season. With this change, you’ll see the obvious effects it has on the red drum’s behavior and location. Use the chart below to determine the best baits for redfish to use in each season:
|Seasonal Redfish or Red Drum Bait Guide|
|Season||Where To Find Redfish||Best Bait To Use||Seasonal Patterns|
|Spring||Coastal rivers and creeks near cover||Live or cut mullets and pogies||Move south to warmer waters|
|Summer||Bays, rivers, and creeks||Live shrimp or crabs, pogies||Staying in warm waters|
|Fall||Inshore, flats, creek inlets||Live or dead crabs, shrimp||Spawning time; they’re usually stationary|
|Winter||Mudflats, inshore, structures||Small crab, shrimp, mullet||In deep water, only coming shallower in warmer parts of the day|
You’ll find plenty of redfish along the southern Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Fish them in nearshore or inshore waters in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas with fantastic success in late summer and throughout fall.
Redfish frequent areas with cover, oyster bars, and bay edges with lots of vegetation and soft mud. They often move from shallow to deeper waters daily — depending on changes in the water temperature and tide.
Beginner and experienced anglers can catch redfish any time of year with several types of baits and lures. Browse the Academy Sports + Outdoors fishing gear shop and stock up on everything you need before you head out on your next redfish trip.
To learn even more about the best baits and lures for other popular fish species, check out our complete guides: