Kayak Fishing for Redfish: The Ultimate Guide

July 24, 2020

Kayak Fishing for Redfish: The Ultimate Guide

Kayak redfish fishing is a blast. There’s no other way to get your lure in front of off-shore coastal fish with less equipment. Redfish thrive in shallow water, and many times the only way to reach their hangouts is by single person watercraft. When you hook into any size fish, the battle that ensues will be much more intense and exciting. Sometimes when you hook into a large redfish, you’ll end up getting towed as work to frantically real in the fish. But for those fishermen in-experienced with kayak fishing for redfish, it can seem like a daunting endeavor. So where do you start?

The answer to that question should be obvious: here! In this article, we’ll go over the tackle needed for kayak fishing for redfish, how to pick out a good kayak for redfish, where to look for redfish on your kayak, and much more! We’ll also get into specific techniques that work well when kayak fishing for redfish. Let’s get started!

Tackle Needed for Redfish

Before we get into the proper type of kayak you should use for redfish, let’s talk about your fishing tackle. Redfish can grow upwards of 30 lbs, so you should be prepared with equipment that can handle large fish. We like to use a medium to large saltwater spinning reel combined with a medium spinning rod. You can check out our guides on both by clicking the above links. 

For fishing line, we prefer to use a 40 lb test braided line for our backing and a 40 lb fluorocarbon leader to ensure skeptical redfish don’t see your line. Make sure you use strong knots (like a Palomar knot) to connect your two lines. 

As far as what kind of redfish lures to use, there are many great options that work well. We’ll go into more detail in the how-to catch redfish from a kayak section below.

The Best Kayak for Redfish

Now that you know what fishing tackle to bring, let’s talk about what type of kayak to get. We like using inshore kayaks the best as they are the most affordable and are easy to use. Inshore kayaks can be bought for under $300 and will work great in most situations. If you plan on fishing with a partner or going out in the open ocean, then we recommend getting a more expensive and capable kayak.

Redfish Kayaking Gear

Before you head out to go kayak fishing for redfish, there are a few more items you’ll want to bring with you. These general kayaking items will make sure you stay safe and comfortable while out on the water. 

Waterproof Sunscreen

This one might seem obvious, but if you forget to bring or put on sunscreen you’ll be in a world of hurt later in the day. 

Fishing Sunglasses

Since most of the time, you’ll be sight fishing for redfish, being able to see them underwater will be paramount to catching them. We recommend getting a solid pair of fishing sunglasses that have blue or green lenses and are polarized. This will limit the reflection of the sun and keep your eyes safe while scouring the water for redfish.

Hydroflask Water Bottle

We can’t speak highly enough of Hydroflask water bottles – they do an unreal job of keeping your supply of water cold and will improve your endurance while out on the water immensely. 

Bug Spray

Another item you’ll be very sorry you left home without. Some of the favorite spots for redfish are also the favorite spots of mosquitoes. Trying to sit still and be quiet while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes is a quick way to ruin a fishing outing.

Fishing Pliers

Although redfish have a relatively safe mouth for unhooking, we like to have a pair of fishing pliers handy with us when kayak fishing for redfish. They are not only useful for unhooking fish, but also for cutting line and fixing anything that might break on your kayak. We don’t leave home without them.

Consider Getting a Fish Finder

Getting a kayak fish finder can be a be a huge advantage when fishing for redfish in deeper water or in low light conditions. If you have the budget pick up a portable fish finder built for kayak use.

Utility Life Jacket

Although it might not be against the law in some states, we like wearing a utility life jacket whenever we go kayaking fishing for redfish. It hardly restricts your movement at all and gives you added security in case you fall in. It’s also useful for holding fishing gear like your pliers or additional lures.

Where to Fish for Redfish

No matter where you’re fishing for redfish, you’ll want to look for channels, docks, sand flats, creeks, and inlets. These areas are where redfish love to feed and are comfortable hanging out in. This is true in Florida, Texas, North Carolina – you name it. Some of our favorite places to fish for redfish are near oyster flats and marshes. We like these areas for several reasons: first, they can’t be reached easily by boats. This means you’ll have some privacy. Second, it’s much easier to see redfish in shallow water compared to deeper water, so sight fishing for them is much more feasible. 

The key to fishing these shallower waters is to follow the tide. The high tide brings in the water necessary for both the redfish and your kayak. When the tide is coming in, position your kayak so you have access to the flats or inlet choke points. These are the deeper channels that have enough water for larger fish to swim through and also have access to the marshes where baitfish like to feed. This is where you’ll find the most redfish!

Catching Redfish from a Kayak

We’ve seen success catching redfish from a kayak multiple ways. It’s worth bringing enough tackle to try different techniques depending on what’s working and what isn’t. We’ll start with the most effective methods and end with the less traditional.

Sight Fishing

Sight fishing for redfish on your kayak is probably the most fun and most effective way to catch redfish, but it requires clear water and lots of patience. We like using a rubber swimbaits or topwater plugs when sight fishing for redfish. Look for birds flocking on the water, bait balls splashing, anything that could indicate fish are feeding. If you’re lucky, you can also find redfish nosing through the sand with their fins sticking out of the water. This is the jackpot – not only did you find a feeding redfish, but you can now sneak up on it from the appreciate angle. Cast your redfish lure slightly in front of the redfish, let it sit for a second, then start twitching it like a shrimp or wounded fish. If you’re lucky, it’ll be moments until it’s fish on!

Using Dead Bait

Another tried and true option is to use a simple weighted bait rig and sit and wait. Sometimes this is your best bet when the water isn’t clear enough to sight fish or active lures just aren’t working. Try using a piece of shrimp or mullet with a circle hook on a fish finder rig. This technique requires patience, but the good news is you might end up catching something else besides just redfish. There are lots of predatory fish that will chomp on a dead piece of shrimp. 


Trolling is another technique that can work wonders when sight fishing and using dead bait just isn’t working. Trolling a spoon or swimbait allows you to cover much more ground than sight fishing, and is a good option when the redfish are hard to find or far apart. It requires a decent amount of work on a kayak, but we’ve caught many redfish trolling behind our kayak. Just make sure you use a barrel swivel to prevent your line from tangling. 

Final Thoughts

Kayak fishing for redfish is our favorite way to catch them. Fighting a large fish from your kayak is a thrilling experience, and many large redfish like to feed in areas that aren’t accessible via traditional boat. We hope that this article has helped you prepare for your next redfish fishing trip and inspired you to try kayak fishing for redfish. If you end up catching a monster redfish from your kayak, let us know about it in the comments below.

Happy Hunting!

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