The best tackle gear to catch redfish varies with location, tides, temperature, time of year, and other factors. It is impossible for us to tell you which tackle, which rig will catch redfish for you today – but we can give you a WHOLE LOT TO TRY!
The information on this page has stood the test of time. Reds (red drum, red bass, dots) will take shrimp – live or artificial under a popping cork almost any time, but the time you’re out there – it might not work for you. That’s fishing. Once you figure out what is catching fish in the redfish spots you frequent, you’ll have some rigs and lures you can go back to over and over to catch them. Try a lot of redfish fishing techniques – variety is often the key to catching fish!
Let’s start with the best reels to use for redfish. I’ve said in other pages at Salty101 – the baitcasting reels are super-accurate. They’re tough. They have more power and you feel the fish better. For those four reasons, you should probably always fish with a baitcasting reel. Still, some people – even pros – insist on using spinning reels so I’ll include a couple of those below too. One advantage of a spinning reel is that it doesn’t foul as much (get tangled in a heap). When you’re first learning how to cast bait caster reels, you’ll ‘spool’ or ‘foul’ the line one time after another. If you know someone who can teach you the proper way to cast with a baitcasting reel – all the better!
Two Recommended Spinning Reels
For convenience, nothing beats a spinning reel. You’ve probably used them while growing up and learning to fish. They’re easy to learn to cast – and you can keep multiple spools to change out the lines quickly and painlessly. I have to make a strong case for the baitcasting style reels though. They became my favorite after learning how to cast because my cast accuracy went up measurably. There’s nothing like the precise accuracy of a baitcasting setup.
The following reels are great reels for starting anglers or experienced pros. And not only red drum, but these reels are also great for landing any fish in the 1-40 lb. class. Perfect for all sorts of fish – redfish, sea trout, small grouper, cobia, flounder, snook, bluefish, and other fish found close to shore. Note, the bigger the fist, the better the baitcasting reels can be.
Exceptional reviews worldwide; Made in America (Seattle, WA.)
Penn Spinning Reel #1 for Redfish
Very good reviews worldwide; Made in America (Seattle, WA.)
Penn Spinning Reel #2 for Redfish
Two Recommended Baitcasting Reels
Best Baitcasting Reel 1, Made in America (New Jersey)
– Best Abu Garcia Brand Baitcasting Reel 1
Best Baitcasting Reel 2, (Offices in USA)
– Best Shimano Brand Baitcasting Reel 2
Keep in mind, you must match up the reel and rod. If you’re using a baitcasting reel, your rod must match – you need a baitcasting compatible rod. Spinning reels require spinning reel rods to match up.
Another consideration when buying reels is choosing foam or cork. I’ve had both over the years, and I can tell you that I’ve been so much happier using rods with hard black foam over cork. Cork degrades, chips, discolors and breaks off in chunks. Hard black foam – just doesn’t. Up to you, but you’ll get a lot more wear out of the Ugly Sticks below because they have foam, not cork.
Below I’ve put just a couple of rods – one baitcaster and one spinning. These are good overall rods for whatever size fish you’re catching. You can use these rods and the reels above for catching redfish on small boats, from shore, while wade-fishing, or from a pier. These are not really strong enough for trolling for bigger fish from the back of a large deep-sea fishing boat. There are thousands of rods for sale, and you can go to town finding one that fits you.
Ugly Stick Rods are Great for Redfish
Ugly Stick 7′ GX2 Inshore Rod for Spinning Reel (Redfish) – Best 7 foot Inshore Rod for Redfish
Ugly Stick 7′ GX2 Inshore Rod for Baitcasting Reel – Best 7 foot Inshore Rod for Baitcasting
A braided line around 20 lb. test is what I use almost all the time. You can go heavier if you want, but 20 lb. braided is the equivalent of even heavier monofilament (clear plastic) line. It’s tough and doesn’t stretch much. It doesn’t snap when it rubs a barnacle, it frays, but that’s so much better than snapping!
There are 2 great braided lines I use for Redfish – Choose One:
Best 20 pound Test Braided Redfish Line – (125 yards)
The Ultimate Braided Line (9-strand 20 lb. test – 300 yards) – See this line here
Best Redfish Hooks?
Everyone has their own idea of the best fishing hook to use for redfish and other fish they like to catch. My idea is that hooks from a company that started showing up online in the late 1990’s – Gamakatsu. I don’t know if they’re Japanese, made in the states, or what, but they are the hardest and sharpest hooks I’ve ever used, so I just stuck with them and still use them today. I buy everything online anymore. I still like to go walk around the Walmart fishing section – but the better prices and selection is found here.
Artificial Redfish Lures
Everyone has their favorites, but to me, nothing beats the following 3 lures. Buy them and stock up on them because they are consistently good producers for redfish. Experiment with different colors and see what works. What works one day may not work the next. Buy a variety of these colors and test them out. It’s the only way you’ll know what works in your area for reds.
DOA Shrimp – Best Artificial Shrimp Lure for Redfish
Artificial Fish Lure (Shad) – Best Artificial Fish Lure for Redfish
Heddon Super Spook Jr. Lure – See them here
Green Pumpkin Plastic Worms for Redfish – See them here
Johnson Silver Spoon Minnow – 1/4 or 1/2 oz. weights – See them here
The silver spoons in 1/4 to 1/2 oz. size are amazing lures and have probably caught more redfish over the years than any lure made. They’ve been making these spoons for a long time – that’s why! Tried and true, you must have some of these in your bag. Use a small and strong swivel to clip the spoon on. Try gold as well – they both work well, change them up sometimes and see if you don’t catch more on one color than the other.
Redfish Fishing Rigs
1.) Drop-Shot Rig. For this awesome redfish rig, you need very little. It’s called the drop-shot rig and everyone from amateurs to professionals on the saltwater fishing circuit use it. Super easy to setup –
First, take a piece of 30 to 40 -pound monofilament leader (clear line) about 1 yard long. On one end, tie a 1-ounce sinker – a sinker with pellets inside that makes noise is even better, but no matter – just any one-ounce sinker works. With strong moving water – choose a slightly heavier sinker. If no moving water – less weight, but know that reds love moving water, especially a strong tide.
On the other end of the line, a 2/0 size Gamakatsu hook (see above link) should be tied. About 12 inches from the sinker, create a knot with a loop. Attach your braided line to that loop of monofilament fishing line. Add a shrimp to the hook, and cast out. The sinker holds the shrimp down on the bottom where hungry redfish are waiting to attack. This rig works so well because the sinker isn’t between you and the hook. So, you feel the strike better, and the redfish doesn’t feel all the weight of the sinker when it’s offset like that. A killer rig, and one that you should start with if fishing live-bait.
2.) Popping Cork with a DOA Shrimp (artificial lure). This one is called the Deadly-Combo. Pros started using it to win tournaments years ago after watching amateurs hammer the redfish. It’s also a very simple rig.
Buy a popping cork similar to the one below. The bright color aids your seeing it. The beads and balls around the cork make noise when you snap the tip of your rod gently – popping the cork and making noise to make the redfish hear a noise that sounds like shrimp snapping at the surface.. The popping cork is placed a couple feet from your artificial DOA shrimp. Add some beads to it to make some more noise when you twitch your rod-tip. Cast out and let the DOA shrimp drift with the incoming or outgoing tide in a grassy area ideally. When the popping cork disappears for a second, set the hook and reel in your redfish! Photo below. The line on the bottom left goes to your hook.
Other Favorite Gear
MORE REDFISH INFO Pages
- How to Catch Redfish – the Ultimate Guide
- Redfish Laws
- Amazing Redfish Recipes – broiled, Cajun blackened, pan-fried, and baked Redfish
- Gear – full page of tackle used by locals and pros – this page