How To Catch Redfish Like A Pro [3 Shortcuts To Success]


How To Catch Redfish

While growing up in central Florida as a die-hard bass addict, I never thought any other type of fishing would compare to an early morning out on the lake with my favorite topwater lure tied on the line…

However, that quickly changed once I was introduced to inshore fishing and hooked into my first topwater redfish!

I was blown away by how hard they fought, and I absolutely loved that they often push up into very shallow water making for some amazing sight fishing… my absolute favorite because it’s like hunting and fishing combined!

We’ve received a lot of questions from subscribers about how to catch redfish, so I thought it would be good to make some time to put together this 3-step approach for successfully targeting redfish along any coastal region in Florida (and most other regions where redfish live too).

Although it’s 3 shortcuts (with a secret bonus tip too), this article and its associated videos can be a complete game-changer for you if you’re struggling to catch as many redfish as you would like…

Here are the 3 shortcuts for catching redfish that I wish I knew years ago:

(Note: download the FREE PDF Cheat Sheet here)

otis' first redfish
Me posing with little Otis on one of his very first fishing trips… he only fell in once that trip:)

1: Learn How To Assess An Area For Feeding Redfish

Out of all the core needs in consistently catching redfish, being able to properly assess an area for feeding fish is by far the most important.


Because being consistent at catching redfish all comes down to a numbers game…

The fisherman who puts himself or herself in front of the most redfish the most consistently will be the angler to catch the most redfish the most consistently.

Fortunately, redfish are highly predictable so this can be a relatively easy problem to solve with the proper know-how.

For starters, it’s smart to simplify it all into thinking like a redfish…

Redfish generally have just two things on their minds at all times:

  1. Where is my next meal?
  2. How can I make sure to not be a meal to something else?

And knowing that slot sized redfish inhabit inshore waterways all around the state where they can’t outswim their ultimate predator (dolphin)…

It’s safe to assume that redfish will be spending most of the time around structure.

Why Redfish Hang Around Structure

Redfish heavily rely on structure because it helps them solve both of their core concerns stated above:

  1. Provides consistent food (shrimp, baitfish, crabs, etc.)
  2. Offers protection from predators (dolphin)

For the same redfish utilize forms of structure to seek protection from being caught in the jaws of a hungry dolphin, smaller fish along with shrimp and crabs hang around structure for their own protection too.

So when targeting redfish, it’s smart to focus your time to areas with good structure in the water.

Here are 5 examples of good structure for redfish:

  1. Oyster Bars
  2. Shallow Grass Flats
  3. Docks
  4. Rocks/Jetties
  5. Mangrove Roots

And yes, shallow grass flats absolutely qualify as structure because they enable redfish to get out of sight from dolphin.

In fact, of the list above, my most consistent results come from oyster bars and shallow grass flats.

And the ultimate spot for slot sized redfish is an oyster bar located on a healthy grass flat because two forms of structure are better than one.

Shortcut #1 Conclusion:

When looking for spots with feeding redfish, look for areas that have good structure as well as a healthy supply of bait… redfish will often hold in these types of areas throughout the year because it addresses their two top concerns (finding food & protection from bigger predators).

Want To Solve Your #1 Redfish Catching Problem Right Now?

After surveying over 7,000 inshore anglers about their top problems in consistently catching redfish, we found that it all boils down to a half-dozen core mistakes (aka – “Redfish Skunk Factors”).

So we made this custom analysis tool to help you solve your #1 problem: Click here to get started

2: Use Proper Equipment

fishing artificial lures for inshore fish

A common mistake anglers who are targeting redfish make is using equipment that is not properly suited to their goal.

Although this doesn’t seem to be discussed as often as it should, it’s extremely important for us to always match our equipment to the type of lure/bait we’re using as well as the area we’re fishing.

For example, it would not be practical to use a 20 lb leader on a rod spooled with 10 lb line to fish from an inlet for bull redfish in heavy current with lots of structure around because that would lead to break-offs.

But it’s also not practical to use 60 lb leader on a rod spooled with 30 lb braid when fishing shallow flats in low-current areas because line that heavy/bulky would significantly hinder casting performance.

Given that the mouths of redfish are not very rough, using a very heavy leader is not needed… going lighter will increase strikes without much risk of break-offs.

So the lesson is… Match gear based on the conditions:

Best Fishing Line For Redfish

After years of being a strictly mono line angler, I finally gave braided line a chance and have never gone back after feeling the advantages it brings to inshore anglers.

First, it allows for much better casting performance given that it’s diameter is so much thinner than mono (20%+ farther in many cases while having the same power).

Secondly, it’s zero-stretch nature allows for feeling everything that is happening to your lure/bait… strikes, bumping bottom, snagged a weed, etc. (all of which puts the advantage to the fisherman and not the fish).

And since redfish often are found in open flats where long and accurate casts are incredibly important, it’s smart to do everything possible to increase casting performance.

So using light braided line is essential.

Here’s what I’ve found to work best:

  1. Open grass flat or oyster bar with slow current: 10 lb or less braid with 20 lb leader
  2. Docks or Mangrove Line with slow/medium current: 10lb to 20 lb braid with 25 to 30 lb leader
  3. Fast-moving current with heavy structure: 20 to 30 lb braid with 40 to 60 lb leader

Best Rod And Reel Combo For Redfish

best rod and reel for redfish

There are an enormous amount of options for rods these days… and it can certainly be mind-blowing for many anglers and certainly cannot be answered in a short post…

So I recommend going to a local tackle shop or two to have a local help you out if you’re confused.

But here are the two core questions that should be considered:

  1. Will you be fishing heavy or light/med current?
  2. Will you be using live bait or artificial lures?

If you feel that you’re answers are towards the first two options (heavy current and live bait), then getting a strong rod/reel with heavier line is probably the best bet.

But if you’ll be fishing light/med current with artificial lures (my personal favorite), then it’s necessary to use lighter lines with lightweight fast action rods that allow for better presentations and feel of the lure (plus you’ll get longer casts too).

Note: If you’re worried that lightweight rods and small reels won’t be able to handle a big bull red that hits, then watch the video below where a ~50 lb tarpon in landed on a 2500 series spinning reel with 10 lb braid:

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Shortcut #2 Conclusion:

For maximizing redfish catching results, be sure to match your equipment to the type of fishing that you’ll be doing.

Consider the type of water that you’ll be fishing and make sure that you’re not unnecessarily harming your casting performance by using line that’s too thick or a rod/reel that’s too heavy.

Go with a light braided line and make sure to maximize your line to line knot strength (the FG knot is the strongest I’ve tested so far).

Want To Solve Your #1 Redfish Catching Problem Right Now?

After surveying over 7,000 inshore anglers about their top problems in consistently catching redfish, we found that it all boils down to a half-dozen core mistakes (aka – “Redfish Skunk Factors”).

So we made this custom analysis tool to help you solve your #1 problem: Click here to get started

3: Live Bait Is NOT A Requirement

how to catch redfish

Although it seems as if the majority of saltwater anglers these days are using live bait, that certainly is not a requirement to catching good redfish.

My journey in learning how to catch redfish started as a 100% live-baiter…

And when bait was not showing up in my normal spots (or when going to a new area), I’d sometimes have to spend over an hour catching bait before I started to actually fish.

Add in the extra time in having to scrub the boat once back at home due to throwing the cast net on grassy/muddy bottom, and using live bait can quickly become a serious time burden for those of us in the real world who can rarely get a full day free for fishing.

But after years of targeting redfish with both live bait and artificial lures, I’ve found that redfish are one of the easiest of all the inshore game fish to fool with lures.

In fact, my fishing tournament partner and I made a pact to do our first inshore tournament series for trout and redfish consisting of 8 tournaments over an 8 month period with 100% artificial lures even though we knew that most others would be using live bait.

And our game plan was always to focus on big trout before the sun got up knowing that we could get some good reds whenever that task was done.

This seemingly reckless game plan resulted in us getting on the leaderboard in many of the tournaments (more than covering all entry fees) and placing 4th place in overall weight over the entire series.

(Note: download the FREE PDF Cheat Sheet here)

End of FLFA Season Awards Ceremony
End of FLFA Season Awards Ceremony – Pre-beard me in the long pants:)

And still to this day, I’ll not even bother taking the cast net out with me when fishing the flats because I have zero doubt that it’ll help me catch good slot redfish.

Best Lures For Redfish

Redfish are a fantastic game fish to target with artificial baits because they’ll gladly eat a large variety of lures.

Given the large array of lures that can work, I like to segment them based on the depth that I’m targeting:

Here’s a quick list of some of my favorites:

  • Shallow Water (3 ft or less)
    • Soft plastic jerk baits on light hooks
    • Suspending hard plastic lures
    • Weedless spoons
    • Topwater plugs
  • Deeper Water (over 3 ft)
    • Soft plastic baits on Weighted Jig Heads
    • Swim Baits
    • Diving Crank Baits
    • Bucktail Jigs

But if I were to pick one specific lure that anglers of all experience levels can find success with, I’d go with soft plastics because they can be effectively fished in all water columns and they can easily be rigged weedless when needed.

The trick is to perfect your retrieve style so that you can trigger a fish that’s not even hungry to strike your lure (this is taught in our Redfish Mastery Course).

Best Live Bait For Redfish

Redfish are one of the most adaptable of all inshore game fish with an impressive span in America from Texas all along the Gulf and around the tip of Florida to cover the coastline all the way up to the New England states.

Given the redfish’s adaptable nature, their diet is not focused on just one or two meals… they’ll most often be eating whatever is in the area they’re in at that particular moment.

So the best way to determine which bait is best is to simply use whatever bait is most prevalent in the area you’re fishing at that particular time.

Here are some great baits to consider:

  • Shrimp
  • Pilchards
  • Crabs
  • Mullet
  • Pinfish
  • Grunts
  • Pigfish
  • Croakers (Atlantic)
  • Ladyfish
  • Ballyhoo

Any of these are great options, and it’s best to match hook size to the size of the bait being used… small bait like a shrimp will require a much smaller hook compared to a bigger baitfish.

Live Bait Tip: Hook your baits toward their nose if the current is ripping so they appear to be swimming naturally when getting pulled through the water, and hook baits towards the tail when fishing light current so you can direct the fish to swim away from you towards the structure by simply pulling on the line (see example below for a live mullet).

Conservation Tip: Make sure to use circle hooks when live bait fishing for redfish because they will help keep out-of-slot fish from getting injured.

how to rig a mullet

Shortcut #3 Conclusion:

Live bait, of course, works great for catching redfish, but it’s certainly not required.

And when an experienced angler with good casting ability masters the art of drawing strikes using artificial lures, the sky is the limit on how many redfish he or she will catch.

Want To Solve Your #1 Redfish Catching Problem Right Now?

After surveying over 7,000 inshore anglers about their top problems in consistently catching redfish, we found that it all boils down to a half-dozen core mistakes (aka – “Redfish Skunk Factors”).

So we made this custom analysis tool to help you solve your #1 problem: Click here to get started

Bonus Tip: Fancy Boats Are Not Required

A common excuse for not fishing that I hear as an explanation for not fishing (or not catching) is that the problem goes something like this…

If only I had a boat… or a nicer kayak, or anything other than simply walking along the shore or paddling to a nice looking grass flat.

But this is so far from the truth when it comes to successfully targeting redfish because they are so prevalent in our inshore waterways and often feed up on shallow flats that are very accessible to wade fishing (or a short kayak trip).

For example, here’s one of the very first fishing videos I ever made showing a lot of action on a short wade fishing trip where I only carried 1 rod and some spare soft plastics while wade fishing:

Note: Skip to the 4:26 mark to see the cast when the bigger reds showed up.

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Catching slot redfish can be one of the most fun inshore fish to target given how prevalent they are along our coasts and how accessible they are to anglers who do not have a boat or a kayak.

The only thing required to consistently catch slot redfish is to be an informed angler…

An informed angler with just one lure will outfish an uninformed angler with every piece of fancy equipment in a tackle store.

These 3 shortcuts discussed in this article cover the core high-level needs for having success in catching redfish:

  1. Learn to assess an area for feeding redfish
  2. Use proper equipment (light braided line with leader and strong knots)
  3. Don’t worry about having to always get live bait… mastering just one lure can be just as good (if not better)

If you’re interested in really taking your redfish catching game to the next level, then your next step should be to take our new “Redfish Skunk Factor” analysis tool…

Because it’ll help you solve your #1 biggest problem that you’re currently having in not catching as many redfish as you would like.

Click here or below to learn more (It’s 100% FREE):


What do you think?

Was this helpful?

Any other ideas on other “how to catch redfish” shortcuts?

Let me know in the comments.

Fish On!

Related Posts:

1) Are You Making One Of These Mistakes When Fishing For Redfish?

2) The Best Lures For Catching Redfish [Surprise Answer]

3) 4 Tips To Catching More Redfish By Mangroves

Related Course:

Redfish Mastery: How To Catch More Redfish In Less Time

P.S. – If you think your angler friends or fishing networks would like to see this, please Tag them or Share this with them. You Rock! Pa-POW!

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dennis orozco
7 months ago

pretty good information, thanks

Michael Sharber
8 months ago

The slam series baits

Michael Sharber
8 months ago

How to hook artificial baits

Jeff Edwards
9 months ago

Great article and I appreciate your information. I have found that if I use too small of a rod/reel on bulls, the prolonged fight seems to make it more difficult to revive the fish after landing them. Can using too small gear increase the mortality rate?

Christopher Kepley
1 year ago

Having a hard time trying to locate red fish in Morehead City, NC area, I see people posting pictures all the time. I’m new to the area any suggestions to find good spots?

Tom Walling
2 years ago

can i use a white topwater popper to catch reds

3 years ago

Can I catch any size red on a 5” top water plug?? Or just big ones??

Tom Walling
2 years ago
Reply to  Ayden

my opinion i like those ayden

3 years ago

Great advise try. it tommoro

Gordon McMurray
3 years ago

Don’t really see many comments in the south texas area .

Jeff Oxenreider
3 years ago

Good info!

I have a question if anyone knows. Currently i fish mainly in dark colored brackish water of the North Fork of the St Lucie river. I have caught small redfish as far north as Port St Lucie blvd. Problem is i have not been able to make a pattern. i have caught them year round but in a very mixed bag of locations and offerings. Do you know if redfish normally will hang out in brackish water? Just when i think i have seen my last redfish up here i will catch one again, its just so far between catching that i really wonder if these are just one off type scenarios. or am i missing somethings?Thanks

Jeff Oxenreider
3 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

yes thank you. That pretty much explains why i have only caught the small reds up the river.


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