How to Catch Red Drum With Live Bait? – Tips For Beginners


Red drum on a boat

The red drum, which is also regarded as the redfish, is a fish you would want to catch. This popular game fish isn’t difficult to capture, provided you armed with the right knowledge and, most importantly, red drum bait and tackle. Speaking of tackles, when going for a redfish hunt, the live bait you use matters. However, even when armed with the right live bait, if you lack the tactics, you’ll be frustrated. That brings the question; how do you catch red drum with live bait?

Reds love live baits; this includes croakers, menhaden, spot, pinfish, mullet, etc. Live bait is fished either free-lined, beneath popping cork, or on a slip-lead rig. For shallow waters, use a popping cork. For clearer shallow water, use a free-lined bait. For deeper water, use a slip lead. Reds usually hide close to oyster beds, grass beds, sand bars, and dock pilings. Attached your live bait (shrimp) to a hook (circle hook preferably) and dip it in any of these locations. Afterward, wait for a bite.

Reds are aggressive eaters; this means they will go after anything that appears enticing. With a well selected live bait coupled with the appropriate red drum reels, you should enjoy your time out catching reds. We’ve highlighted some crucial information that could help increase your chances of capturing red drums using live baits. We have also put together some of the best fishing equipment for your red drum adventure.

The joy of catching red drum on a fishermans face

How to Catch Red Drum With Live Bait? – For Beginners

You can catch reds via a variety of methods. You can either go with artificial baits or live baits. Artificial baits are baits designed to appear like live baits. Examples of artificial, red drum bait are bomber saltwater grade mullet, soft plastic jerk bait, rapala saltwater skitter walk etc. On the other hand, live baits are live animals; they include shrimps, crabs, mullet, etc.

Squid:Cut the squid or use a whole if they are not too big. If you are utilizing lengthy strips, ensure that you wind them around the hook a few times, so they stay firm.
Live Shrimp:Ensure the shrimp is in perfect shape. This way, they become easy to spot when moving in the water.
Live Crab:Ensure that you cut off its legs, and place the hooks via one of the leg holes. Ensure that the hook is firmly attached to the crab’s shell, so it doesn’t pull off while in the water.
Cut Mullet:A freshly cut mullet will do. In addition, frozen mullets are also effective, but it’s a 50 50 chance because the frozen flesh will turn sloppy in the water and might drop from the hook.

So, with that being said, how do you catch redfish with live bait? Beginners often struggle to get this right. Catching redfish with live bait is easy when you know what to do, the red drum fishing rods (best ones for reds can be found in my other article), the hook, lures, and reels to use.

Red drum fiishing

First off, you would want to ensure that you are equipped with the right live bait. Reds are fans of crabs and shrimps. I’ll recommend you use shrimps because fixing them to your red drum hook is quite easy. Next, you may want to make use of a free-line, popping cork, or a slip lead rig depending on where you decide to fish.

Reds are usually around structures such as sandbars, dock pilings, grass beds, etc. However, for best results, search the lee sides of bars and pilings. After finding your location, Immerse your live bait attached to a circle hook. You can agitate the bait a bit, so it gets the attention of the redfish. As soon as you feel a bite, retract your hook.

What is the best bait for Red Drum?

Reds remain one of the best sport fish in the United States. They are delicious, they can grow very big, and they are also fun to catch. However, beginners may disagree. To catch reds, there are a host of things you need to know. One of those things is the best bait for red drum.

The bait you use has a significant role to play in your success. We’ve highlighted some of the best red drum bait:

  • Squid
  • Live Shrimp
  • Live Crab
  • Cut Mullet
  • Topwater Jigs
  • Rattling plugs

Squid:

Squid is one of the best bait for several predatory fish, and redfish is not an exception. You can either cut the squid or use a whole if they are not too big. If you are utilizing lengthy strips, ensure that you wind them around the hook a few times, so they stay firm. The amazing thing about this bait is that it can be used as a supplement to lures. Using squid as a trailer on a jig or spoon can be very effective when aiming for reds.

Live Shrimp:

A live shrimp is identical to a squid. One of the reasons why you should consider this bait is that reds seldom ignore them. All you have to do is ensure the shrimp is in perfect shape. This way, they become easy to spot when moving in the water.

This bait is an awesome supplement, especially when there are no croakers or menhaden around. The only issue one may have with shrimps is that they are vulnerable to smaller annoying fishes.

Live Crab:

Crab is regarded as one of redfish favorite. Bigger reds often go for crabs because they have the proper mechanism for eating them. To rig your live crab, first ensure that you cut off its legs, and place the hooks via one of the leg holes. Ensure that the hook is firmly attached to the crab’s shell, so it doesn’t pull off while in the water. If you are after smaller reds, you can cut the crab in pieces and attached them to the hook.

Cut Mullet:

Cut mullet remains the best bait for reds, based on popular vote. This bait will successfully attract reds. A freshly cut mullet will do. In addition, frozen mullets are also effective, but it’s a 50 50 chance because the frozen flesh will turn sloppy in the water and might drop from the hook.

Mullets are handy in different types of waters. If you are trying to aim at bull reds, make use of mullet head. If you are after smaller reds, you can adopt 2-4 inches of mullet body to lure the fish. Don’t make use of the tail fin as it can complicate things with your line.

Topwater Jigs:

If you are fishing in shallow waters, especially around the Mosquito Lagoon or flats, you can use topwater jigs to attract redfish. If you are out on grassy water hunting for reds, you will need to retract the lures as fast as possible to prevent them from getting tangled in the grass.

Topwater jigs are also effective for clear waters because you can place them as you prefer, even underneath. Lures such as bait busters don’t sink rapidly, so you will have adequate time to display the bait properly.

Rattling plugs:

This bait can come in handy in muddy waters where it is hard to spot reds. Since reds stay close to the bottom when feeding, a rattling plug is the best bait to use in muddy waters. This bait is improved with a rattling chamber inside, which has metal components that shakes as the bait moves. This leads to vibrations underneath the water surface. It is these vibrations that attract the fish to the plugs. This bait is very effective, particularly when fishing for reds in potholes.

Lucky fisherman with red drum

What is the best Red Drum tackle?

A tackle is simply a collection of fishing equipment. Your tackle plays a vital role in the success of your fishing trip or escapade. As a beginner embarking on a trip to catch reds, you will need to equip yourself with the best red drum tackle.

Below we’ve highlighted some of the best redfish tackles:

Rods:

There exist two major types of rods for red drums: the long, heavy, or medium heavy surf rods, should you be surf fishing, or a light/ medium action rod if fishing from a vessel. The Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rod, Ugly Stik GX2 or Cadence Vigor Spinning Rod are your best pick. However, if you plan on fishing from a pier or the beach, an Okuma Tundra Surf Glass Spinning Rod would do well.

Hooks:

A Gamakatsu is a good hook for reds. Alternatively, you can also consider an Owner circle hook.

Line:

A monofilament line is ok

Rigs:

Go for a gliding sinker rather than a fixed one.

Reel:

Consider: Penn Conflict or Penn Battle II & III (spinning reels), Abu Garcia Revo SX or SHIMANO Curado K (baitcasting reels), Daiwa Sealine-X SHA or Daiwa SL20SH Sealine (surf fishing reels).

When using rigs, ensure you check the regulation in your area. You are not allowed to use certain types of rig in some areas.

What is the best hook size for Red Drum?

When fishing for reds, you will need to ensure that your tackles are on point. Your line must be fit for catching reds; the same goes for your rigs and your hook. The hook size you use in capturing reds matters. If you use a smaller hook size, you may be left frustrated. If you use one that is too large, you may not catch anything. So, what is the best hook size for red drum?

The best red drum hook size for white baits is 1/0 to 3/0 size circle hooks. If you are using small whitebait (2-3′), use a hook size of 1/0. For medium size whitebait (3-4″), use a hook size of 2/0. Ultimately, for bigger whitebait (5″+), use a hook size 3/0.

With the right tackle, tactics, and patience, you should smile back home from your fishing trip. The condition of your fishing spot also plays a major role in your success. For this reason, ensure you select a spot that you are comfortable with.

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