Best Natural Bait for Redfish


Redfish, also known as red drum or channel bass, are a popular game fish throughout the southeastern United States. Anglers who target redfish know that using the right bait can be the difference between a successful day on the water and going home empty-handed. In this blog post, we'll explore the best natural baits for redfish and provide some tips on how to use them effectively in your fishing adventures.

Live Baits


Shrimp is arguably one of the most effective natural baits for redfish. These crustaceans are a favorite meal for redfish off all sizes, making them an excellent option for anglers. Live shrimp can be fished under a popping cork or on a jig head, and can be purchased at most bait shops. Be sure to keep your live shrimp in an aerated bait bucket to maintain their health and ensure they remain lively on the hook.


Small live mullet are another excellent natural bait for redfish. As a schooling baitfish, mullet are a common prey for many predatory species, including redfish. Anglers can use a live mullet by fishing it under a cork or by free-lining it on a circle hook. To catch live mullet, use a cast net near grass beds or other shallow water structures where mullet are likely to congregate.


Crabs are a favorite food source for redfish, especially when they are feeding around oyster beds and grass-lined shorelines. Fiddler crabs and blue crabs are particularly effective due to their size and availability. To use crabs as bait, rig them on a circle hook and either free-line them or fish them under a cork. This presents the crab in a natural manner, making it hard for a redfish to resist.

Cut Bait

Menhaden (Also known as Pogies)

Cut menhaden is another great option for redfish. The oily scent of this baitfish is a powerful redfish attractant. Anglers can use a chunk of menhaden on a circle hook, either fished on the bottom or suspended under a cork. Menhaden can be caught with a cast net in many inshore waters or purchased at local bait shops.


Although not a native species to inshore waters, squid are often used as a redfish bait due to their durability on the hook and strong scent. Squid can be cut into strips or chunks and fished on a bottom rig or under a cork. Most tackle shops carry frozen squid as bait, making it a convenient option for anglers.

Tips for Using Natural Bait

  1. Presentation: When using natural bait, it's essential to present it in a way that appeals to redfish. A lively and swimming bait will attract more attention than a motionless one. Rig your bait in a manner that allows it to move naturally in the water.

  2. Location: Redfish are structure-oriented species, so focus on areas near oyster beds, marsh grasses, dock pilings, or other underwater structures. These features often hold baitfish and attract redfish.

  3. Tides: Tide changes can significantly impact redfish feeding patterns. Both incoming and outgoing tides create current that moves baitfish and stirs up sediment, bringing food to the surface. Target redfish during these tide changes for better success.

In conclusion, using the best natural baits for redfish can greatly improve your chances of success on the water. Experiment with different live and cut baits to find what works best for you and the redfish in your area. Be mindful of presentation, location, and tide patterns to further enhance your odds of hooking into a trophy redfish. Good luck and tight lines!

What is the best lure for red drum?

A jig and soft plastic combination is considered to be one of the best lures for red drum. Using a 1/2oz jig head with a 4-inch soft plastic swimbait resembling a baitfish, you'll have a great redfish bait. The jig and soft plastic combo works well for surf and inshore fishing.

Can I use live bait for red drum?

Definitely! Live bait can be very effective when targeting red drum. Some of the most popular live baits for red drum include shrimp, mullet, crab, and menhaden. When using live bait, it's essential to keep it as fresh as possible and to present it naturally.

Do I need any specific fishing gear for red drum?

Although there is no specific gear designed exclusively for red drum fishing, having the right gear can make your fishing experience more enjoyable and successful. A medium-heavy action rod between 7 to 8 feet in length paired with a spinning reel capable of holding at least 200 yards of 20-pound braided line is ideal.

Which artificial lures can I use aside from the jig and soft plastic combo?

There is a wide variety of artificial lures that can be effective for red drum fishing. Some other popular choices include:

  • Gold spoons: These can be great for red drum fishing, as they closely resemble the natural prey. Retrieve your gold spoon slowly, just enough to create a wobble in the spoon when reeling it in.

  • Topwater plugs: These work well when red drum are frequently feeding on the surface. Topwater plugs create commotion in the water, attracting red drum from a distance.

  • Paddle tail swimbaits: These swimbaits create a lot of action in the water, making them irresistible to red drum. A steady retrieve or a simple bump-and-grind technique works well with paddle tail swimbaits.

When is the best time to catch red drum?

Red drum can be caught throughout the year, but their activity level increases during the spring and fall months. These seasons offer the most success in catching red drum, as they're feeding more aggressively during this time. Additionally, early morning and late evening hours are considered prime times to target red drum, as they are more likely to be feeding during these periods.

What are some good spots to find red drum?

Red drum are commonly found in shallow inshore waters along the coastline. Look for areas with seagrass beds, oyster bars, marsh edges, mud flats, and near structures such as piers and bridges. Estuaries, tidal creeks, and bays are also excellent places to locate red drum. During specific times of the year, red drum will travel into the surf, providing great opportunities for surf fishing.

By using the right type of bait and lures, selecting the appropriate fishing gear, and visiting productive fishing spots during the best times of the year, you can increase your chances of catching red drum and enjoy a fantastic fishing experience.

Additional Questions

What is the most effective bait to utilize when aiming to catch redfish?

From personal experience, I can confidently say that when it comes to catching redfish, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, it is typically suggested to use live baitfish – particularly, mullet, pilchards, greenbacks or pogies during the spring season. Redfish are opportunistic eaters, they are likely to grab whichever prey is conveniently accessible to them. While they will chow down on shellfish and crabs, they tend to go for baitfish since they’re simpler for them to catch. If live bait is hard to acquire, dead bait can work just as effectively. Declare victory by wielding a size 7/0 hook and attaching some enticing mullet fillet to it. The key to capturing their attention lies in making the bait look as natural as possible.

Which scents are most appealing to redfish?

In my years of fishing, I’ve noticed that certain scents are more potent and appealing to redfish than others. In particular, the smell of crab seems to drive them wild. The Powerbait Crab and the Z-Man Scented Crab have both proven to be highly effective in luring them in. You can add these fragrances on any soft plastic baits including the Offshore Angler Crab to increase the possibility of securing a catch. Additionally, sprays like Yum F2 Saltwater, Berkley Gulp! Alive, Berkley Powerbait, and Bang can also significantly help in enhancing the scent. Understanding that different fish have different scent preferences can, therefore, tip the scale in your favor.

What color is most likely to attract redfish?

Is cut bait a viable option for catching redfish?

From my many adventures fishing, I’ve found that redfish tend to be a little apprehensive, especially when the waters are being heavily fished or in cases where the water is clear. However, even the most cautious redfish can hardly resist the allure of cut bait. Tossing a piece of cut bait near them can often be the nudge they need to take the bait. But it’s crucial to note that this method is only effective if redfish are present in the area, otherwise, the bait might attract other species. Remember that patience is the name of the game here, cast your line and wait for the magic to happen.

Recent Posts