Are you interested in catching redfish, but don’t know what bait or lures to use?
Well, I’ll tell you absolutely everything you need to know about the different types of baits and lures to catch redfish in this article. I’ll also answer some of the most common questions about the different types of baits used for redfish.
Best Redfish Bait
The good thing with fishing for redfish is that they eat just about any moving fish or crustaceans that will fit in their mouth. However, there are definitely some baits that redfish really prefer, which I will cover in great detail in this section.
Redfish really like eating finger mullet. In fact, finger mullet are such an effective bait that many fishermen refer to them as fish candy, which really speaks to the effectiveness of it.
Simply put: Finger mullet are the best live bait for catching redfish.
Unfortunately, catching finger mullet is a little bit of a challenge because you must cast net them. They do like to school on the flats, though. This means if you find one, then you’ll find a few hundred more with them.
Simply cast net them and keep them in your bait bucket.
Pinfish and grunts are another excellent live bait for redfish. They are slightly less effective than finger mullet, but it’s much easier to catch pinfish and grunts than it is to catch finger mullet. Just chum up the flats to draw the pinfish in, and then use a sabiki rig or a cast net to catch them.
That makes live pinfish a very easy accessible bait if you’re going for redfish.
Now, pinfish can actually get pretty big – I’ve caught 10-inch pinfish before! Don’t use big ones like that as live bait. Instead, use the smaller ones for live bait.
In general, smaller pinfish work better as live bait. They swim around much more and the redfish can eat them in one bite.
Live blue crabs are another insanely good bait to use when going for redfish. Seriously, most of the redfish that I filet have crab parts in their stomach.
I can’t understate how much redfish love crabs. And yes, you can use blue crabs as live bait.
Simply rip off the back leg and hook it through the leg hole. Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it looks. Just make sure to rip off the claws before starting.
You should only fish live blue crabs if they’re small, though. Redfish usually won’t eat those gigantic blue crabs that you sometimes find on the flats. For those, simply cut them in half.
As for the hook to use, I recommend a bigger circle hook when using live crabs. A 5/0 hook has worked pretty well for me in the past when using larger crabs. You can drop down to a 3/0 or 4/0 hook if you’re using a smaller crab.
I can’t overstate this: you should try to always use a 3/0 circle hook when going for redfish. You only need a bigger hook when using bigger bait.
Live shrimp work well for catching redfish… and just about every shallow water fish.
Seriously, it seems that just about every fish eats shrimp.
Anyway, live shrimp work well for catching redfish. Simply put a shrimp on a 3/0 circle hook with a small split shot. If it’s rocky, then use a bobber. Those two rigs allow you to use live shrimp pretty much anywhere.
My favorite place to use live shrimp is within about 2 feet of the mangroves. It requires some very skillful casting to not get hung up, but it’s worth it because you’re almost guaranteed to catch something when using live shrimp near the mangroves.
That something may or may not catch a redfish, though. Trout, mangrove snapper, black drum, flounder, snook, and ladyfish will also hit your shrimp, which is why I don’t really recommend live shrimp if you want to catch redfish.
Don’t let that scare you off, live shrimp is still an amazing bait. It’s also fairly cheap and hardy. You can even catch your own shrimp from many docks at night.
Cut bait works surprisingly well for catching redfish. I actually really like using cut bait for one reason:
You don’t have to worry about live wells or anything. Simply catch the bait and cut it. It really doesn’t get any easier than that.
Here are some of the best cut baits for catching redfish.
Cut mullet is probably the best bait for catching redfish. Period.
Simply cut a big chunk of mullet, put it on a 3/0 circle hook with a bobber, and cast it out. Redfish can’t resist a big chunk of mullet floating in the water.
Keep in mind that you might catch catfish or sharks with cut mullet, but cut mullet is truly a redfish magnet.
You do have to use a properly sized mullet, though. I recommend mullet in the 10 to 12 inch range.
Pinfish and Ladyfish
Pinfish and ladyfish also work great as cut bait. The same concept applies to them as with mullet.
I also recommend using a bigger pinfish as cut bait.
Dead shrimp actually make pretty good catfish bait, but there is a method to using them as bait.
Bait them on a jighead the same way you would rig a soft plastic.
Yes, doing that actually works. The key is to only use fresh shrimp when using this method. If you use shrimp that has been frozen, then you will only get one or two casts before the shrimp falls apart.
I recommend using dead shrimp in two scenarios:
- You have dead shrimp in your live well.
- The redfish aren’t biting your artificials.
Other than those two scenarios, you’re much better off with using a live shrimp as bait.
It always surprises fishermen when they find out they can use squid to go for redfish. In fact, redfish really like squid.
Unfortunately, mangrove snapper and catfish also love squid, and there are a lot more snapper and catfish than redfish.
For those reasons, I don’t recommend using squid to go for redfish. But it will work if you can spot cast towards some tailing redfish.
Frequently Asked Questions – Redfish Bait
What is the absolute best redfish bait?
If you can find them, live finger mullet are the best redfish bait. Cut mullet also works just as well, and it’s a little easier to handle.
What size hook should I use when going for redfish?
A 1/0 to 5/0 hook will work fine. I recommend using the smallest circle hook, down to 1/0, that you need to adequately hook the bait.
Can I use previously frozen bait to catch redfish?
I don’t recommend using bait that has been frozen for fishing. It will work, but you are much more likely to lose your bait to bait stealers or the wind.
You really should use cut bait that you collected that day, which means that you will still have to spend some time fishing for bait before you head out.
Best Lures for Redfish
Redfish will hit a variety of lures. They actually hit so many lures that it’s hard to figure out which ones work the best.
This section will cover the types of lures that work best. I’ll even suggest a few lures that have worked well for me.
The lures used in shallow water (under 5 feet deep) are generally lures that move on the top of the water column. Now, redfish are bottom feeders. However, you don’t necessarily need to fish off the bottom in shallow water because redfish will chase bait to the surface.
Spoons are probably the most popular lure used to catch redfish in shallow water. I really like using them on oyster beds or on huge grass flats. You obviously want to use a weedless spoon if fishing on a grass flat.
I’ve found that gold spoons and white spoons work best for redfish. In my experience, redfish don’t like to hit silver spoons. Of course, results may vary depending on the area.
With that in mind, my favorite spoon for redfish is the Aqua Dream white minnow spoon. It’s weedless and has great movement.
Soft plastic lures work great for shallow water redfish. There are so many types of soft plastics available that it’s difficult to choose the best ones.
There are three must-have soft plastics for redfish, though.
First, Berkley Gulp combined with a jighead of the appropriate weight will work great for redfish. If you get one soft plastic, get this one. I know Gulp is annoying to use, but it really does work great for redfish.
Another must-have is a classic DOA shrimp. This works great for when you inevitably run out of Gulp. Trust me, it happens to everyone.
Finally, an assortment of soft plastic swimbaits. I prefer using soft plastic shrimp in shallow water. But sometimes the redfish just don’t want to hit the shrimp, which means that you need to pull out the swimbaits that imitate baitfish.
I recommend using the soft plastic shrimps as the day heats up and the redfish move further down the water column.
Redfish will feed on the surface during the morning and evening, which makes it the perfect time to pull out the topwater lures. The popping of a topwater lure will attract the attention of any nearby redfish.
My recommendation is a simple popping lure, such as the Mirrolure C-Eye Poppa, for those situations.
I’ll also add that popping lures are awesome because redfish won’t tear them apart the same way they tear apart soft plastics. The only risk of losing the lure is if you somehow lose your line.
Popping corks aren’t a type of lure per se, but they do provide some good action on soft plastics. Though, you will need to learn how to properly use them.
To answer the obvious question, you can use a popping cork in shallow water. You just have to make sure that you have a shorter leader coming off the cork. If it’s too long, then you will drag the lure through the grass.
Also, try to avoid dragging it through the grass. I really like using a slow cast to bounce the lure off the grass. That gives the appearance of a baitfish feeding in the water.
Fishing for redfish in deep water gives you a few more options when it comes to the type of lures that you can use. The main benefit is that you can now use lures that dive and move around on their own.
Here are some types of lures that work great for redfish in deepwater.
Diving crankbaits are most commonly used by bass fishermen. However, they work surprisingly well for catching redfish.
This is because practically no one uses them to go for redfish.
Anyway, the movement on a diving crankbait is pretty intense – they really do move all over the place. The best part about diving crankbaits?
Diving crankbaits actually float. This makes it so much easier to get unstuck from any debris or structure, which is convenient because diving crankbaits work well for jetty fishing. One more thing, they’re much easier to cast.
I definitely recommend adding a diving crankbait to your tackle box if you fish for redfish in deeper water or jetties.
Swimbaits are another excellent choice for redfish in deep water. Some of the higher quality swimbaits can mimic baitfish so well that it’s practically indistinguishable from a baitfish.
Again, there are so many swimbaits that it’s impossible to choose one that will work best for your situation. You simply have to experiment with the different colors and possibly even sizes.
My personal favorite swimbait is the Calcutta Flashfoil Shad. It is a little light, though. If you are fishing in deeper water, then the Egret Baits Vudu Mullet works great. The ½ ounce weight means it will drop to the bottom pretty quickly.
Redfish Lures – FAQ
What color lure is best for redfish?
This just depends on the area and the day. In my experience, the best color is the one that you are using. Your success catching redfish mostly comes down to your fishing skill.
With that in mind, I have had great success using white lures and Arkansas glow for redfish in murkier water. In clear water, darker colors tend to work best.
What size lure should I use for redfish?
Use bigger lures when going for redfish because redfish don’t like hitting small bait. Basically, a redfish will hit a bait if it can fit the bait in its mouth
Something in the 5-inch range should work well for a bull redfish. Use lures in the 3-inch range for slot redfish.
Do I need a realistic looking lure?
This depends on the area you’re fishing. If it’s a murky bayou, then an intricately designed lure isn’t that important. Instead, you need a lure that has plenty of action and maybe even a rattler.
On the other hand, if you’re fishing crystal clear Florida water, then you need a hyper-realistic looking lure or a spoon.
What is the best lure for redfish?
My favorite lure for redfish is simply a golden or white spoon. If that doesn’t work, then a Gulp shrimp will usually work fine.
Of course, using a spoon or Gulp shrimp on a jetty isn’t really practical. You simply have to choose the best lure based on the area you are fishing.
That covers it for the best baits and lures for redfish. It really isn’t as complicated as it sounds.
Mullet, pinfish, and blue crabs are your best bait option for redfish. You can use live or dead mullet, pinfish, or blue crabs. Most beginner fishermen are better off using bait of some sort – it’s just a little more versatile than lures.
Unfortunately, lures are a bit more complicated. I recommend having a few types of soft plastic shrimps, some golden spoons, and a few different types of swimbaits. If you do a lot of fishing on jetties or really deep water, then you will definitely want to try using some of deep diving crankbaits.