Red Drum Fishing Tips for Beginners

Red drum tips for beginners

Fishing for red drum can be difficult or easy, depending on the tackle you use (you can check the best tackle for reds in my other article), and most importantly, your level of experience. Sometimes, you may not need to be as experienced as Kevin VanDam (one of the best anglers in the world) to catch reds; what you need is the right guide to follow. In this article, I’ve put together a comprehensive red drum fishing guide and fishing tips for novice anglers.

Below are a few red drum fishing tips for beginners:

  • Red drum love live baits just as bees like honey
  • Menhaden, spot, pinfish, mullet, crabs, etc. are ideal choices for reds
  • Reds are bottom feeders
  • Reds are aggressive eaters, thus, catching them requires the use of sturdy red drum reels
  • Reds can be found in nearshore waters ad estuaries
  • The tackle you use will play a key role in your red drum fishing escapade

Red drum, redfish, channel bass, including a variety of other names this fish goes by, is a top and energetic sport fish. This amazing fish which comes in a deep black or coppery color can reach approximately 11 inches and one pound in its prime year, 17-22 inches and 3 ½ pounds in two years, including 22-24 inches and 6-8 pounds in three years. Indeed, it’s a fish every angler would love to bag, including a novice.

Learn more about tips while fishing from a kayak for red drum.

Red Drum Fishing Tips for Beginners:

Lots of you out there wish to bag a fish as prominent as red drum. You’ve probably tried but to no avail. Well, your misfortune is not because reds are difficult to catch, but because you lack knowledge of the “HOW”. Trust me, reds are fun to catch, and they are as well delicious. To cut the chase, I’ll be giving you a little sneak peek into how to bag this fish even as a novice. You’ll also have an insight into some of the best tackles for this fish.

Redfish are aggressive eaters with an appetite for mullets, shrimps, and crabs. Some anglers target this fish because of the thrills and spills that come with its capture, while others capture this fish because it tastes great. Catching a redfish is an achievement, especially if it is as big as the one David Deuel captured in 1984.

Novice anglers may find it hard to bag reds because, you know, they are newbies, and they lack the experience or prerequisite skill needed to capture this fish. However, it is my job to ensure that you have all that it takes to catch reds like a pro.

When fishing for reds, you either make use of a lure (artificial bait) or a live bait (best options for reds are provided in this post). If you plan on fishing for reds in shallow waters, go for lures. They are mostly used for jigging for reds.

The lures commonly used are:

  • Plugs
  • Spoons
  • Soft plastic jigs
  • Bucktails

Live baits are popularly used to bag reds in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Mid-Atlantic coast, particularly at nights or when fishing in the shore.

Here are some common bait choices for reds:

  • Shrimp
  • Mullet
  • Spot
  • Clam
  • Soft or peeler crab
  • Menhaden

If you are using natural lures, use a medium-sized circle hook including a 40 lb monofilament leader. Hook the natural lure (mullet or shrimp) via the back, so it’s able to swim. For crabs, hook them via the edge of their shell on the side. This will draw even the most unwilling redfish. When everything is set up, all you have to do is to cast your lure in front of where the reds are. This will allow them to find your lure naturally and not chase them away with a splash. Alternatively, you can cast your bait past where they are swimming and slowly retract it until it’s above them.

Learn more about the best reels for reds.

What is the best bait for Red Drum?

Going for a red drum fishing trip is like going for an exam, you need to be prepared so as not to fail. For red drum fishing, your preparation revolves around the tackle you use. You need to equip yourself with almost the best of everything. To catch reds, first, you need to entice it with the best bait for redfish.

Beginner anglers with prize red drum

The best bait for red drum are croakers, menhaden, spot, pinfish, mullet, including those little scaled sardines. Alternatively, you can as well consider using live shrimp, crabs, and blood worms. With the right live bait, enticing reds shouldn’t be difficult. This should make it easier to capture.

Reds love live bait and would go after them provided you present it to them in a way that doesn’t arouse any suspicion. Ensure that the bait you are presenting looks natural so as to increase your chances of hooking this fish. In addition, when fishing for reds, always get ready for some aggressive display because once they realize they are hooked, they’ll do everything within their strength to break loose.

What hook size do you use for Red Drum?

Professional anglers don’t catch reds by casting some weird spells, neither do they chant the word “Abracadabra” and a redfish surges from the water. No, a pro angler compliments his or her skill with the right tackle. That means, the best red drum fishing rod, the best red drum reel, the best red drum hook size… basically, the best of everything, if possible. When fishing for reds, the smallest things matters, such as your hook size.

When fishing for reds, the best hook size to use will depend on the size of red drum you are targeting. If you are targeting small reds, go for a hook size of 3/0 to 4/0. However, if you have your sight set on bigger reds, go for a hook size of 5/0 to 8/0. The bigger the fish, the bigger the hook.

If you fail to make use of the appropriate hook size when capturing reds, you may not like the outcome. Imagine trying to hook a large red with a little hook. Picture the scenario in your head; what would be the outcome? You may lose your fish and your bait in the process. So ensure the hook size matches the size of red you are targeting.

How do you get Red Drum from a Pier?

Catching reds from a pier can be fun. You don’t need a boat to navigate the water. You can simply sit on the pier and catch your fish while chatting with friends, or loved ones. However, If you lack the skills to pull this off, you may end up staying at the pier for a long time without making a significant catch. So, how do you catch reds from a pier?

The factors to consider while choosing red drum rods for any type of fishing (baistasting, spinning, surf fishing) are provided in this article.

To catch redfish from a pier, you need to arm yourself with the right tackle. A basic spinning rod and reel setup are ok. For bait, go with mullet, shrimp, or menhaden. In the warmer season, use live whitebait. While in cooler periods, use cut bait or a weak live bait. In addition, make use of one of the strongest red drum fishing rods since you’ll be fishing on higher ground and would need to pull your catch out of the water to your level. Go for a fairly sturdy reel that boasts of a smooth drag. Use a braided line and a hook of size 3/0 to 6/0 depending on the size of the redfish.

Happy angler with redfish

You may also want to consider acquiring some egg weights and split shots, though it’s not a must. If you are fishing the bottom with cut baits, particularly in shallow water or rapid currents, take along a variety of egg weights. Egg weights will allow your bait to sink to the bottom, thus presenting itself to your prey.

How do you get Red Drum from shore?

If you don’t have a boat, or you don’t feel like wadding in the gigantic river or ocean to catch reds, you can capture them from the shore. It’s fun and not difficult if you know how to go about it. When you fish from the shore, it is regarded as surf fishing. So, how do you surf fish for reds?

To get reds from the shore, you will need to equip yourself with a long surf rod. This rod will help in presenting a bait to the redfish. It is also recommended that you use heavy weights so that the bait doesn’t wash back to the shore. Pyramid sinkers are the best to use in this condition because they can dig into the soft sand bottom, offering a good grip. Go for a 10-12 ft. rod with a smooth-casting, high-capacity reel. Affix a pyramid sinker to the bottom of a two-hook rig, and bait the hook with a dead baitfish (either bits or whole) or a dead shrimp.

Before you begin to fish, ensure you study the beach. Keep your eyes out for cuts and troughs in the surf. For excellent results, fish you baits either in the cuts or in troughs behind those little bars. Small regions of tranquil waters are also areas to look out for.


Professional anglers were once novice like you. They gathered experience along to way to becoming better anglers. You can do the same. Take one step at a time and before you know it; you’ll be catching reds as easy as one would catch sunfish. This guide is tailored to guide you through the process by offering you valuable tips and tackle recommendations. So, read through meticulously as it contains the knowledge required to hone your skills and knowledge as far as red drum fishing is concerned. Cheers to your success. I’m rooting for you!

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