While many saltwater fishermen are focused on catching red drum, they often forget about fishing for their larger cousin: the black drum. Black drum can be harder to find than redfish, but often grow larger and put up just as good of a fight. They also taste phenomenal! So what’s the secret to catching black drum? Have the right black drum fishing rig.
In this article we’ll start with the basics of how black drum are different than red drum, then we’ll get into where you can catch black drum as well as what tackle you should use. After that, we’ll go into detail on the best black drum fishing rigs for all situations. We’ll show you how to make a deepwater black drum rig, a black drum surf fishing rig, and more! Let’s jump in.
What Tackle is Best for Black Drum?
Although black drum have been known to grow over 100 lbs, most black drum that you will encounter will weight between 15 and 30 lbs. This is the size of fish you should plan on catching. We recommend getting a medium-large saltwater reel paired with a similar-sized rod you would use for redfish. If you prefer using a saltwater baitcasting reel, that works too! Spool your reel with 12 to 20 lb braided line and use a 30 lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon leader.
Black drum feed on crabs, shrimp, sand fleas, and clams predominantly, and they can be finicky and only prefer one time of prey at given times, but imitations of these prey will work well on your black drum bottom fishing rigs.
Author Note: After that, it’s time to decide which black drum fishing rig or lure you will use. Let’s start with our favorite bottom fishing black drum fishing rig. You should also get a good pair of fishing sunglasses to spot the black drum.
Black Drum Bottom Fishing Rig
Bottom fishing for black drum is often the easiest option and can produce the best results if you use the right black drum fishing rig. Here’s how to make our favorite bottom fishing rig. You’ll need a 30 lb test fluorocarbon or monofilament leader, a 3 oz egg sinker, 1 barrel swivel, a plastic fishing bead, and a size 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook. After you get these supplies, you’re ready to build our black drum bottom fishing rig.
Steps to Make the Rig
- First, slide the egg sinker onto your main fishing line. After that slide your fishing bead on next. The fishing bead will help prevent the knot you’re about tie next from wearing out and will also produce sound underwater that will attract the black drum.
- Next tie your barrel swivel onto the end of your mainline.
- Then cut a 30-inch leader off of your 30 lb test fluorocarbon line and tie to the other side of the barrel swivel.
- Lastly, tie your 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook onto the end of your leader. You’re ready to add some bait and fish for black drum! We recommend small crabs or shrimp.
Black Drum Carolina Rig
Another great black drum fishing rig for shallower waters is a form of the Carolina rig. We went into detail on how to make a Carolina rig for bass, and the same steps apply for black drum. You just need to use a havier test leader and larger hook/rubber lure. Use 15 to 20 lbs test fluorocarbon for your black drum Carolina rig leader paired with a 1/0 offset hook, 2 oz bullet weight, and a Berkley Gulp! Shrimp soft bait.
Steps to Make the Rig
- First, thread a slip sinker onto your line. 1 to 2 oz bullet-shaped weights are ideal as they have the least chance of snagging on weeds. Insert your line through the pointed end so this will lead when dragging your bait through weeds or rocks.
- After your weight, thread the fishing bead onto your line. The bead will prevent the bullet weight from getting stuck and help it stay put near the swivel.
- Next, tie the end of the line onto one side of a barrel swivel. The barrel swivel is crucial in preventing your line from twisting and tangling.
- After the swivel, tie on a 12 to 18-inch leader.
- Next, you’ll need to add your offset hook to the line. The offset style hook works well because it holds the lure and allows the end of the hook to not catch on weeds.
- Now it’s time to add your plastic lure. We like using plastic shrimp or flat tail worms for black drum. Stick the hook into the center of the tip of the lure and push the point of the hook out of the side of the lure about a quarter-inch down. Continuing pushing the hook through the lure until it’s almost entirely through. Then flip the hook so the point is facing the lure again, and drive it back through so the shaft of the hook forms a loop on one of the sides of the lure. Make sure the tip is still buried inside the lure, but almost reaching the surface of the other side. Then straighten the body out so the lure looks natural.
- That’s it! This black drum fishing rig works best when sight fishing black drum in areas with heavier cover.
Black Drum Surf Fishing Rig
If you plan on fishing for black drum from shore, we recommend using a version of the classic fish finder rig. We’ve written a more detailed article on how to make a fish finder rig, but here are the basics. You’ll need a 3 to 4 oz pyramid sinker, a monofilament leader, a sinker slider, a fishing bead, a barrel snap swivel, and a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook.
Steps to Make the Rig
- Cut a 24 inch 30 lb test fluorocarbon or monofilament leader and tie your circle hook to one side and a snap swivel to the other.
- Next, slide your sinker slider onto your fishing line and clip your pyramid weight to it.
- Thread your plastic bead on after the sinker slider.
- Tie the open snap swivel side of your leader to your main-line.
- That’s it! Hook a crab or shrimp on and you’re in business.
Where and When Can I Catch Black Drum?
Black drum live off the eastern seaboard of North America running from Delaware all the way down into the Gulf of Mexico. They are most often caught off the shores of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. As far as seasons go, black drum can be caught year-round with the most plentiful fishing occurring in February and March.
Black drum can be found easily from both shore and boat or inshore kayak. They enjoy hanging out offshore near deep channels and around underwater structures, as well as nearshore around rocks, debris, and sand flats.
Black Drum are a highly migratory fish. They can be all over an area and vanish days or weeks later. Typically when they are in open water or on the shallower flats they can be found in giants schools of thousands of fish.
In situations where you encounter these massive schools, the fish will typically be large, weighing anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds, and you can have an action-packed day throwing lures like jigs into the school and get bit on nearly every cast.
These schools are typically seen when the red drum are migrating around spawning season. The spawning season can occur from November to April in the southern regions of their range, And April to June in the northern regions.
If you are not familiar with black drum or are one the water frequently enough to know when they are migrating in large schools, a fishing guide will be your best option to catch them when they are schooled in the thousands.
Author Note: Piers, docks, and buoys also are great places to look for black drum. Focus your fishing on when the tides change, as this is often when black drum like to feed. The tide brings food in from deeper water as well as pulls out crustaceans from inshore.
What Tackle is Best for Black Drum?
Although black drum have been known to grow over 100 lbs, most black drum that you will encounter will weight between 15 and 30 lbs. This is the size of fish you should plan on catching. We recommend getting a medium-large saltwater reel paired with a similar-sized rod you would use for redfish. Spool your reel with 12 to 20 lb braided line and use a 30 lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. After that, it’s time to decide with black drum fishing rig or lure you will use. Let’s start with our favorite bottom black drum fishing rig.
How are Black Drum Different Than Red Drum?
Besides in color, black drum are different than red drum in several ways. Both species make a signature drumming sound during mating season, however black drum tend to be louder than redfish. Black drum also tend to grow larger, with the largest black drum caught weight over 113 lbs.
Black drum are bottom feeders than enjoy eating crabs and other kinds of mollusks as well as small fish. Much like redfish, you can often see black drum nosing through shallow sandy waters with their tail above water searching for food. This is called “finning” is a great indicator you should get a black drum fishing rig or lure in front of them.
Many people think that black drum tastes better than red drum, as their meat isn’t as oily and is milder. Cleaning them, however, can be a challenge as they have many scales that don’t come off easily. Larger fish also tend to not taste as mild and can have tougher meat. We recommend preparing them cajun style like how you would with red drum.
There you have it – those are the three most prolific black drum fishing rigs depending on the style of fishing you plan on doing. Whether you’re fishing for black drum from a boat offshore or from a dock inshore, we’ve got a black drum fishing rig for you. Pro tip: get a good pair of polarized sunglasses for sight fishing before you go. We hope you found this article useful and end up seeing black drum success with our rigs. Have another black drum fishing rig that works well? Let us know about it in the comments below!