There is a very large variety of red drum tackle on store shelves, yet alone online. Consider all the differences in size, color, weight, and style, and it becomes difficult to sift through and make the right purchase the first time around. This article gives you a clear-cut opinion so that you can hone in on the best redfish lures that you can count on in most situations. We understand the “best tackle” is fairly subjective and varies a bit from person to person. So we narrowed the list down to two lures that always make it at the top of every red drum fisherman’s list, always found somewhere in their arsenal. If you’re a beginner, let’s first get into the best alternative to lures for redfish: natural bait.
Best Natural Bait for Red Drum
You can never go wrong with natural bait. Whether you’re a beginner or very experienced, natural bait is hard to beat. For redfish, shrimp and crabs are two excellent baits. They’re usually readily available in season at the local tackle store and seafood market. You can buy them frozen, but fresh bait is the best. Buy it fresh, and freeze any leftovers for another day. If you were only allowed one way to catch redfish, then natural bait is the essential piece of red drum tackle.
Puppy Drum Bait
Even small redfish (puppy drum) like a big meal, so plan on using whole shrimp if that’s what you’re using. As for crabs, the key is getting “peeler” crabs. Peeler crabs are crabs that are in their pre-molt stages before forming a new hard shell. Common crabs used as bait are typically blues, calicos, and speckled. Mole crabs, known as sand fleas, will work too and make great baits for bottom fishing in general, but they often lack the size and substance of the other crabs.
Bull Drum Bait
If you’re targeting large drum, or bull drum, it’s best to use big chunks of cut bait. Chunks of bunker or mullet 2”-4” long will do the trick. Again, frozen bait works, but fresh is the best. Fresh cut fish bleeds out more oils and blood which helps attracts the drum at a distance. Cut bait can outshine live bait because a cut piece releases more attractant than live bait. The other advantage is you can secure cut bait much better than live bait and be able to cast it further. As the current takes away the blood and oils from the bait, the scent becomes weaker and the bait eventually turns into just skin and bone. Be sure to check your bait periodically and replace it with a fresh piece to keep it attractive.
Best Natural Bait Rig for Red Drum
When choosing a rig for your natural bait, go with the fish-finder rig. The fish-finder rig is one of the best pieces of red drum tackle you can have. This rig will allow drum to put the bait in their mouth without feeling the entire weight of the sinker. Take a moment to notice the design of redfish’s mouth. Notice the front of the head extends beyond its mouth. This is what makes them proficient bottom feeders. They also don’t have sharp teeth. Instead, they have crushers in their throat which they use to chew their bait. A fish-finder rig will give a more natural weight and feel to the bait as they situate it in their mouth. This is an important factor because redfish won’t always have the bait situated in their mouth when you feel them bite. You want your bait to feel as natural as possible when this happens to encourage them to continue eating the bait.
Which Hooks to Use?
We recommend to use fish-finder rigs attached with circle hooks. Use 2–2/0 circle hook to secure shrimp for smaller drum (less than 25”) and a 5/0 circle hook to secure cut bait and peeler crab for large drum.
The Two Best Redfish Lures
There is a wide array of redfish lures out there. Which one is the best? The answer is it depends. Below we’re going to give you what are arguably the two best styles of redfish lures that have proven themselves time and time again.
A silver or gold spoon is a classic saltwater lure. Superior casting ability combined with erratic action makes this a timeless lure for any species. A weedless silver or gold spoon, however, is a classic lure for your red drum tackle box. Stick with spoons around 1/2oz. These spoons ride with the hook up and come equipped with a weed guard to prevent snags and picking up weeds and debris. As the weed guard might suggest, these are a great choice in grassy areas where drum like to feed. Start off with long casts and slow steady retrieves to work through these areas. These also work great over large oyster bars in search of drum that could be feeding anywhere.
Jig & Soft Plastic
The jig and soft plastic combo is possibly the best lure of all time. A 1/2oz jig head with a 4-inch soft plastic is a great all-around surf and inshore bait. Select a 4-inch swimbait resembling a baitfish, and you have a great redfish bait. For shallower water red drum tackle, use light jig heads, and for deeper water go as heavy as you need to get it to the bottom. Let the water clarity dictate your color selection. Stick with natural colors in clear and shallow water. Dark colors or neon colors such as pink or chartreuse are best in stained and muddy waters. Also, the deeper you fish the less the light is able to penetrate. If you’re fishing deep clear water more than 10ft, switching to darker colors can be the key.