Best Bait for Red Drum: An Essential Guide

Red drum, also known as the redfish, puppy drum, channel bass, and spottail bass, lives in the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Massachusetts and northern Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico. As the name suggests, the red drum fish is dark red, which fades into white while moving to the front of the dish.

Being one of the most or possibly the most popular fish in the United States, most anglers aim to catch as many of them as possible. The reason for its popularity mostly boils down to the fact that it is quite delicious; it can grow big, and catching it is not a struggle.

If you want to make sure that you catch a lot of redfish the next time you go fishing or if you’re going to suggest ways to someone who would like to have a good catch of red drums keep reading on because we are listing down the best baits to catch them.

red drum redfish

Catching a Redfish – The Science

Since the redfish has a downward-facing mouth, it mostly feeds itself from the bottom by sucking in whatever it finds. This ultimately means that if you are looking to catch a red drum fish, you will have to present the bait right in its face.

Redfish are not too selective, so you can try your luck by using whatever fish is present in the water as bait. A significant advantage of this is that the redfish will already be used to eating it.

If you are an experienced fisher, you can opt for artificial baits to make your fishing more fun and exciting.

red drum fishing

Now, let’s dive into more detailed about best bait for red drum.


Red drums easily take to lures. You can use any combination of jighead and soft body, and the redfish will take it. Surface and suspended plugs work effectively too. If there are mullets in your fishing area, use a top-water lure with a mullet pattern, and you will surely get a good catch. If there are no mullets, use whichever baitfish is common in your area of fishing, and you will get the desired results.

If you are choosing to fish in skinny, clear waters, you can use top-water lures, and there is a high chance that a nice redfish will come to bite it.

If, however, you are fishing in muddy, grassy waters, you will have to pull back the lures quickly so that they do not get stuck under or above water.

Natural Baits

Natural baits can be of two types: live or dead. Both work effectively depending on the conditions and the kind of water you are fishing in.

Live Baits

Using live baits to catch redfish is a useful technique, and it will surely work as redfish will happily take a lot of varieties of live baits. Some good choices for live baits include croakers, pinfish, menhaden, and mullet. Live crabs are also used to catch a lot of redfish each year.

If you are fishing in shallow, unclear waters or at night, we suggest you use a popping cork. During the day in shallow, clean and clear water, use a free-lined bait. In hasty waters with a lot of current or depth, you should use a slip lead.

You can also mix cornmeal with shrimp heads, groundfish or crabs to attract redfish. Menhaden oil and milk are also useful for attracting fishes.

A can of cat food is also good enough for a nice chum line. You can make it easily by making a few holes in the can and suspending it in the water.

If you are using a crab for bait, there are some things you need to consider. First off, make sure that the crab you’re using is legal in whichever state you’re fishing in. Some people prefer taking the claws off the crab; while we’re not sure if it has any effect on the catch, it does make handling the bait quite easier.

Live shrimps are also great for bait. The best thing about live shrimps is that they can be easily found in most places and are loved by fish. The important thing to do is to make sure the shrimp stays healthy and alive so that it keeps moving inside the water and the red drum spots it easily.

Dead Baits

Just like live baits, redfish are easily attracted to dead baits. Dead mullets, peeled shrimps or any other baitfish will work perfectly. If fish other than your desired redfish are eating your dead bait, you can butterfly the bait which will make it quite large. Large bait will make it impossible for normal fish to eat it, so the redfish will be easily able to swallow it.

To let the dead bait sit at one place so that its smell reaches the red drum, a 24- to 36-inch leader would be best. It’s also essential that you leave a little slack in the line just like you would with a live bait so that the redfish can pick up the bait and eat it.

Rattling Plugs

If you’re fishing in muddy or unclear waters, it is hard to spot fish, and it is also hard for the fish to find the bait. In such situations, rattling plugs come in handy as they can be used to draw attention. They consist of rattling chambers that create a sound when the bait moves.

They are also very effective on big redfish hiding in holes at the bottom. They can easily be attracted to the sound, and soon enough, you will have a big one right on your bait.

Lure colors are another important factor that determines how many fish you end up getting. Depending on the conditions of the water you are fishing in, yellow, green, white or other bright colors are favorable so that the lures are visible to the redfish.

redfish fishing


The key to catching a good amount of redfish lies in choosing the perfect bait, either dead or alive, according to the water conditions that the fishing is being done in.

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