The Best Rig for Redfish
As redfish season starts to heat up, we can’t help but get excited at the thought of catching them. Their ferocious strikes and strong head shakes are something few anglers forget. They’re also a great fish to cook at home – we recently posted about how redfish taste great and our favorite recipe for them. But if you aren’t using casting lures, what are the best rigs for redfish?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll go over the best rigs for redfish in all situations – when you’re fishing from shore, in the surf, from a boat, or inshore kayak. You’ll want to use different redfish rigs for each of the above situations. We’ll also cover the basics: what redfish are, the appropriate tackle to use, and when/where you can catch them. Let’s get started!
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Favorites
Author Note: For shoreline fishing, we recommend using weedless swimbaits like the Optimum Baits Boom Boom Weedless Swimbait with a Gamakatsu Swimbait Hook. These weedless lures work great when fishing for redfish that are near weeds or rocks that other rigs might snag on.
For boat fishing, the Berkely Gulp Shad work best when combined with a smaller jig head like the Berkely Fusion19 Jig Head. This will give you some extra finesse when fishing near rocks and weeds, but will also give you more action than the weedless rigs.
What are Redfish?
Redfish (also called red drum) are a saltwater gamefish that live on the east coast of North America from Boston’s coastline to the Gulf of Mexico. Redfish are dark orange and red in color with a black spot on their tail. The spots are used to distract predators and fool them into attacking their tale instead of their heads. Snakeheads also use this type of distraction to fool their predators
Author Note: Redfish are called red drum because they make a rhythmic drumming sound during their mating season by vibrating their swim bladders. The females fish are attracted to the drumming sound and it helps the males defend their territory.
Redfish eat many different types of underwater creatures – from crabs to mullet and shad. Most redfish grow to be around 40 lbs as mature adults, but some grow way larger. The record redfish weighed almost 100 lbs! The best redfish rigs aim to imitate the kinds of fish and crustaceans redfish eat, or work well securing live and dead versions of these creatures.
Where can You Find Redfish?
Redfish can be found in a variety of areas and are commonly fished for in mangroves, large flats, jetties, and other areas.
At certain times of the year, they can be found in huge schools in the hundred or thousands on large expansive flats, and other times in shallow estuaries, tributaries, and marsh areas.
Their numbers and locations make the redfish very popular by inshore anglers, fly anglers, and offshore anglers alike.
Are Redfish Bottom Feeders?
Redfish typically feed on worms, crabs, shrimp, clams, snails, and smaller fish. Most of these prey creatures are located on the bottom, thus the redfish is predominantly a bottom feeder.
But redfish don’t solely feed on the bottom and at times can aggressively strike lures like topwater poppers like any other predatory fish.
This means you should be adaptable when fishing for redfish and be prepared to use a variety of fishing tactics and lure presentations to catch them.
The Best Tackle for Redfish
Since there are redfish out there that way +60 lb, we recommend preparing with heavy tackle in case you hook a big one. The best combo we’ve found is a large saltwater spinning reel paired with a 7 to 12 ft long surfcasting rod. This combo works especially well if fishing for redfish in the surf, but also give you extra leverage when fishing from a boat or the shoreline. If you plan on fishing for redfish in-shore, go with a medium/heavy inshore spinning rod. If fly fishing is more your speed, be sure to check out our redfish fly fishing article.
Redfish also love conventional lures like poppers and soft plastic shrimp and crab imitations, so do be afraid to use them if other presentations aren’t working.
The Best Fishing Line to Use
For fishing line, we recommend using monofilament or braided line. You can use fluorocarbon, but it isn’t as good as monofilament for casting and can tangle easily at heavier test levels. If you end up using braided line, you should also use a monofilament leader.
Redfish tend to live close to underwater structure and will try and retreat to it when hooked. When this happens, braided line can easily get caught and tear against sharp rocks or wood underwater. Using a monofilament leader can help minimize this from happening. It also prevents the redfish from seeing your line and getting sketched out.
The Best Rigs
As we mentioned earlier, we’re splitting up our recommended redfish rigs into three categories. You’ll find details on each below!
Surf Fishing Redfish Rigs
The best rig for surf fishing for redfish is the fish finder rig. This rig works well for many species, including the redfish’s close: the black drum. Begin with a 2 to 3 ft thick monofilament leader and tie a snap swivel on each side. Attach your circle hook to one side (size 5/0 and up). Next, slide your sinker slider onto your main fishing line and attach a pyramid weight to it.
You should use a 3 oz or higher weight. Then thread a plastic bead on after the sinker slider, and tie the open snap swivel side of your leader to your line. Your rig is complete! As we mentioned above, be sure to use a redfish surfcasting reel for optimum casting distance. This style of rig works for most saltwater game fish, so don’t be surprised if you hook a cobia or a tarpon instead!
As far as bait goes for redfish, we recommend using either live/dead mullet or shad. If you’re using dead bait, use the head for larger bull redfish and the body pieces for juvenile redfish.
Shoreline Redfish Rigs
For shoreline fishing, we recommend using weedless soft plastic bait. Many types of weedless bass lures work well for this, however our favorite are swimbaits such as the Optimum Baits Boom Boom Weedless Swimbait with a Gamakatsu Swimbait Hook.
These weedless lures work wonders when fishing close to underwater shoreline structures such as weeds or rocks. Their design prevents your hook from catching on the structure and allows you to present your rig to even the most cautious redfish.
Author Note: Another tip when fishing for redfish from shore with an artificial lure and weedless rig: be sure to cover up your scent with a small piece of shrimp or anise oil. Redfish hunt by smelling their prey and will definitely pick up any foreign (human) scents you add by touching your rig.
Boat Fishing Redfish Rigs
The best rig we’ve used for fishing for redfish from your boat is a Jerk Shad rig. Use a 2 to 3 foot long monofilament leader and tie a quarter to one half ounce jig head on to one end with a snap swivel on the other end.
We’ve found the Berkely Gulp Shad to work best when combined with a Berkely Fusion19 Jig Head. This will give you some finesse when fishing close to underwater structure, but with more action than the weedless rigs.
As with fishing for redfish from the shore, cover up any foreign scents you may have imparted onto your rig by using a small piece of shrimp on the hook or anise oil.
What is the Best Cut Bait for Redfish
The best cut bait to use to redfish is undoubtedly cut mullet. Cut mullet can be very effective when used in the right conditions, and will outshine many other types of bait.
Picking out the correct redfish rig for the type of fishing you plan to do can be difficult. We hope that after reading this article we’ve helped point you in the correct direction. Got a redfish rig that we didn’t list that you love using? Let us know what it is in the comments below!