Redfish are among the most popular fish in the country. A survey by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that nearly 30% of charters run in the Gulf of Mexico target them. If you’ve got Drum in your sights, we want to make sure you really fill the boat. With that in mind, we’re breaking down the six best Redfish bait choices out there.
So, why are Redfish so popular?
They’re tasty, they strike hard when hooked, and can grow ridiculously big. On the other hand, they don’t make such long runs after taking the bait, and they aren’t fussy eaters either.
This makes them perfect for both rookie anglers and pros alike.
A number of factors will affect your success. You have to think about the tide, time of the year, terrain, technique, and of course, or whether it’s live or artificial bait you’re using.
Here’s how you can combine these factors to make sure you’re always using the best Redfish bait or the most productive lures:
Job done? Not quite. Read on for more in-depth info on our top 5 bat choices, and when, where, and why each of them work.
The Anatomy of Redfish Fishing
Redfish feed off the bottom. They rely on their sense of smell and sight, and forage the sea floor in search of food. If you take a look at their head, you will see that Redfish have a downward facing mouth. The fish move near the bottom sucking in and gulping the food they find.
This means you will want to present the bait so that the fish can find it. Luckily, Red Drum aren’t choosy. As a rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a live bait choice, use what’s in the water you’re fishing. That should give you the best results, as Redfish will be already accustomed to eating it.
For more experienced anglers, artificial baits are the weapon of choice. Fishing for Redfish this way is more demanding and can be a blast.
As Reds inhabit clear and turbid waters, you will need to adapt to the conditions. There are a hundred and one ways to get a Red to bite, but the key is to adapt to the conditions. You should either find a good vantage point from which you can spot the fish, or test your luck by blind casting for Redfish near the marshes and other turbid waters.
Best Redfish Bait: Our Top Picks and Why
All this general advice is great, but what’s it got to do with your bait choice? Well, getting Redfish to bite is about more than the food itself. You’ve got to consider everything about the water you’re fishing in when you make your choice. We’ve put all of that together and picked the best bait for every situation:
#6 Topwater Jigs
If you’re fishing the skinny waters, particularly around the Mosquito Lagoon or flats, you can deploy topwater jigs to get a nice Redfish to bite. If you’re fishing grassy waters, you will need to retrieve the lures fast to avoid them getting stuck.
These lures also work for clear waters as you can position them as you like, even near the bottom. Lures like bait busters have a medium sink rate, so you will have enough time to present the bait properly.
#5 Rattling Plugs
When fishing muddy waters, it’s difficult to spot the fish, but it’s also difficult for the fish to spot the bait. As Reds stay close to the bottom when eating, you need to have something to draw their attention.
Rattling plugs are enhanced with a rattling chamber inside which there are metal parts that shake as the bait moves. This causes vibrations below the water surface. It’s these vibrations that the fish pick up and head for when feeding. Particularly effective for Redfish hiding in potholes, plugs with rattles can get you a big guy in no time.
Anglers often wonder what lure color is best for Redfish. Most of the time, it really depends on the conditions where you’re wetting the line. Major manufacturers promote chartreuse, yellow, green, white, and other bright colors.
Squid is a go-to bait for many predatory fish, and Redfish sure are one of them. You can use smaller cuts or whole squid if they’re small enough. If you’re using longer strips, make sure to wind them around the hook a few times so they don’t dangle too much.
The great thing about squid is that you can use it as a supplement to lures. Using squid as a trailer on a spoon or jig can work wonders when you’re targeting Redfish.
#3 Live Shrimp
Similarly to squid, shrimp are a widely available bait option. More importantly, Redfish almost never ignore them. The trick is to keep the shrimp alive and healthy as long as possible so that they can keep moving in the water and the fish can spot them.
Live shrimp work as a nice supplement when there are no croakers or menhaden around, but the only problem is that the smaller pesky fish can peck them away or unhook them.
#2 Live Crab
Live crab are hands down one of the best baits for catching Bull Reds. Larger Redfish love eating crab and because they have decently large mouths, they can gulp a whole crab without a problem.
The best way to rig your live crab is to take the legs off, and place the hook through one of the leg holes. Guide the hook through the shell of the crab so it’s nice and firm. If you’re targeting smaller Reds, you can also use smaller pieces, but you’ll probably need to take the shell off.
#1 Cut Mullet
Cut mullet is by far the best Redfish bait, according to popular vote. This bait will prove pretty successful, more so if you manage to get fresh mullet and cut it up. Frozen mullet can also work, but it’s risky business as the frozen flesh will turn mushy in the water and might fall off the hook.
Mullet works as an excellent bait choice in a variety of waters. To target bull Reds, use mullet head. If you’re targeting smaller fish, you can use 2-4 inches of mullet body to attract the fish. Don’t use the tail fin as it can tangle your line.
These are our favorite baits when taking on Redfish, but there are a lot more out there.
We now want to turn it over to you.
What do you think is the best Redfish bait? Which is your favorite out of our picks? Let us know by leaving a quick comment below.