How to Catch Redfish: Fishing Tips for Red Drums

Kristian Ole



Going fishing and coming home empty-handed can be frustrating sometimes. Likewise, catching redfish (red drum) can be challenging. But with the proper techniques and tips, you’ll reel them in left and right.

Redfish are a popular target for recreational anglers due to their fighting ability. The Red Drum’s natural habitat includes the Gulf of Mexico and along the southern Atlantic coast of the United States. 

Fishing for redfish can be an advantageous experience. You will enjoy the ocean’s beauty and the catch’s thrill when fishing. Besides, redfish also give excellent and flavorful flesh. 

In this article, I’ll share a guide to catching a redfish. I will also cover the best places to catch redfish, tackle, and fishing techniques. So, if you’re ready to learn how to catch a red drum, read on!

Species Overview

Latin nameSciaenops ocellatus
SizeMale 28 inches,Female 33 inches
Weight5 to 8 lbs
Where to findGulf of Mexico, Southern Atlantic, Florida Gulf coast, North Carolina, and Texas coast
Preferred seasonLate Summer
Best weatherWarm Weather
Temperature700 F – 900 F

Gear & Setup 

Best Place to FishShore, Boat, Pier, and Dock
TechniqueLive Bait, Jig, Fly, and Spinning
Best baitsLive Shrimp, Finger Mullet, and Worms
Best luresWhite paddle Tail (3-5 inches)
Fishing rod length6-7 feet long
Fishing rod actionMedium/heavy action rod
KnotsPalomar Knot and Uni knot
Fishing line20-pound Fluorocarbon line
Reel3500 to 4000 series reels

Fighting a Redfish

When you hook a redfish, hang on, as they will put up a good fight.

Redfish are one of the most challenging fish to catch, and fighting one is an intense experience. They are incredibly powerful and can put up a fight that tests your strength and stamina. These are some of the difficulties you will get when angling a red drum.

  • They are fast swimmers and will be hard to keep up with
  • They will often try to jump out of the water when hooked, making it difficult to land them
  • They are aggressive and will often try to shake off your line

When fighting a redfish, keep your rod tip up and the line tight while reeling down. This will help tire out the fish and make it easier to land.

But the reward for landing a redfish is a worthy adversary for any angler. Of course, they are one of the tastiest fish around. 

Tackle for Redfish

When targeting redfish, it is crucial to use the proper tackle. A light spinning or bait-casting outfit is usually the best choice, as redfish can be pretty powerful. Furthermore, use correct-sized rods, reels, lines, and lures, as redfish can be picky eaters.


There are a few things to consider when choosing a rod for redfish fishing. The type of water you’ll be fishing in, the size of the fish, and the kind of bait or lure you’ll be using.

For saltwater fishing, you’ll want a durable rod that can handle the elements. The best choice for redfish is a 7-foot medium-heavy action rod. The setup will give you the power to fight the fish and the flexibility to cast smaller baits.

If you’re fishing for smaller redfish or in freshwater, you can get away with a lighter rod. A 6-foot medium-action rod will do the job just fine.


The choice of a reel depends on your personal preferences and fishing style. For example, some anglers prefer baitcasting reels, while others prefer spinning reels.

A 3500 or 4000-series spinning reel is the best option for redfish. It can handle heavier line weights and is also suitable for making long casts. You can also use lighter lures with a spinning reel for ease of control.


There are many different types of fishing lines available on the market. However, the type you use can make a big difference in success with landing a redfish.

When choosing a line, it’s important to consider the size and weight of your lure or bait. Heavier lures need a stronger line, while you can use lighter lures with a lighter line. 

A 20-pound Fluorocarbon line is ideal for clear water conditions, as it is virtually invisible to fish. It’s also strong and durable, making it a good choice for fishing in heavy cover.

Best Locations for Fishing Redfish

mangrove fishing for redfish

Location is significant when trying to catch redfish. Red drums are popular in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, and the Texas coast. You can find redfish in various habitats, but they prefer shallow, coastal waters. They often hide near reefs, oyster beds, and mangroves. 

You can always fish from the shore, a pier, or a boat. Depending on your preference and equipment, you can also fish in saltwater or freshwater.

If you’re fishing from the shore, the best place to cast your line is from a sandy beach. Redfish like to feed on live shrimps and crabs. So, they’ll be attracted to areas with many small creatures to eat. You can also try fishing around docks and piers, as redfish often congregate in these areas.

You can try trolling around reefs or near grass beds for boat fishing. Redfish like to hide in these areas, so they’ll be more likely to bite if you’re fishing in their territory. You can also try bottom fishing, as redfish often swim near the bottom of the water.

Fishing Techniques for redfish

redfish fish looking for bait
Image credit: ftlaudgirl, depositphotos

Many anglers struggle to catch redfish, but it can be a breeze with the proper techniques. Here are the three best methods to angle this fish species. 

Live Bait Fishing

Pro Tip

Are you looking to catch a redfish? There’s no better way than to use live shrimp bait. Then, always keep your bait moving to attract the attention of redfish. And finally, when you hook a redfish, reel it in slowly and steadily to avoid breaking your line.

One of the best techniques for catching a redfish is live bait fishing. This technique involves using live bait, such as shrimp or minnows, to attract and catch a red drum. 

Always rig the bait in a way that allows it to keep its natural movement. For example, if you’re using a live shrimp, thread it onto the hook to enable the shrimp’s tail to move freely. This will give the shrimp a more lifelike appearance and attract redfish.

Combining the live bait with a fluorocarbon line and a Kahle hook can help you be successful. First, attach the live bait to the hook. Next, cast the bait into the water and allow it to swim to the bottom. 

Always twitch the bait with the rod tip to add a little movement after every 20 seconds. Don’t apply an aggressive action. This will help attract the fish and increase your chances of getting a bite. The fish will then bite the bait and hook in the process. 

The live bait fishing technique is also very versatile. You can use it in both deep and shallow water. So, if you’re looking for a great way to catch redfish, give live bait fishing a try.


The jigging technique is another effective technique to catch a red drum. It involves using a lure or bait to entice the fish to bite and then jerking the line to set the hook.

When jigging for redfish, it is vital to use a heavy quarter-ounce jig head with a 3-to-5-inch white paddle tail lure. This is because redfish are often found near the bottom of the water column. A heavier jig head will thus help to keep your lure or bait in the strike zone for longer. 

Additionally, a brightly colored lure or bait can also help attract redfish. This will increase your chances of a successful hookset.

Start by casting your lure and allow it to hit bottom. Then, make a slow, steady retrieve with light rod pressure to create a series of small puffs in the sand behind the lure. The main aim is to imitate a live shrimp movement to attract the attention of redfish and entice them to strike.

Once you’ve hooked a redfish, keep your rod tip up and maintain a tight line to prevent the fish from shaking the hook loose. Then use a steady reeling motion to bring the fish in. Finally, use a net or lip gripper to land it.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing for redfish has become increasingly popular in recent years. This method involves using a fly rod for fishing a redfish in backwaters or flats. 

Remember that fly fishing requires calm water conditions with little to no wind. This is because the flies you’ll be using are very light and can be easily blown around by strong winds. The method, thus, requires a little bit of experience.

Are you looking for more catch-guides? Check out our guide to catch stripers


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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