How To Catch Black Drum Using Sand Fleas [VIDEO]

By: Joe Simonds on February 28, 2017
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how to catch black drum

It’s black drum time!

In this blog + video, we will be teaching you how to catch inshore black drum using sand fleas.

Most anglers associate sand fleas with pier fishermen and surf fishermen (because sand fleas are a popular bait of choice for those anglers), but not many people realize how effective they can be when used inshore as well.

One of our favorite fish to target with sand fleas in Florida’s inshore waters are black drum.

Not only do black drum put up a very comparable fight to a redfish (if not better), the smaller ones are great table fare (some of the big black drum have been known to be “wormy”).

how to catch black drum

Our friends at with another happy customer after getting into a big school of inshore black drum

Finding Inshore Black Drum

In the winter and spring (and sometimes all year long), these fish run up and down the shallow shorelines in huge schools looking for their next meal.

Cold fronts in the winter and spring really get these fish fired up.

Many times they will school up and coast right up the coast and up into the intercoastal, etc. This can be an awesome sight fishing experience.

Note that these black drum can be caught on artificial lures when they are aggressive, but it can be a rather humbling experience to have a school of 100+ fish completely ignore your lure (trust me, I know).

And this is where it comes in handy to bring along some live bait. 

More specifically, Sand Fleas. 

Sand fleas are one of the most convenient baits to bring along with (regardless if you are in a kayak, boat, or paddle board).


Because you don’t need a big bait bucket or water to keep them alive all day, and they hardly take up any room at all.

All it takes is a small container or a zip lock bag to keep them in (just make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight to keep them from cooking, literally.)

A little bit of water to keep the inside of your container is also recommended to help keep them from drying out.

Note: If you happen to come across some redfish or sheepshead, they will also take down one of these sand fleas with no problem.

Related Post: Inshore Fishing 101: The Ultimate Inshore Fishing Resource (see it here now)

how to catch black drum using sand fleas

Quick notes from the video:

  1. I bought these sand fleas at a tackle shop due to time constraints. But you can also easily get your own sand fleas on many of the beaches in Florida (I’ll do a video on this coming up)
  2. I use the DOA 1/8 ounce red jig head

Black Drum Gear

As for your gear setup and rigging, any spinning reel from a 2500 – 4000 size will do just fine.

Since sand fleas are very light, and it’s not recommended to use a heavy weight when sight casting to fish, the smaller and lighter your setup is, the better.

This allows for longer casts and a fun fight.

In the video below, I am using a super light spinning combo with 8lb braided fishing line.

Note: For a leader, I use about 2 feet of 15lb fluorocarbon attached to my mainline using an FG knot.

how to catch black drum

Here is my leader to jig head loop knot

The business end of the leader has a ⅛ ounce red jig head attached to the leader using a loop knot. The loop knot allows for the bait to bounce around a bit and also helps with hooksets.

Note: The loop knot allows for the bait to bounce around a bit and also helps with hooksets.

how to catch black drum

The finished product! Ready to catch a black drum.

Black drum put up a pretty hefty fight so be sure to set your drag accordingly and let them run when they want to (especially when using light tackle to avoid any break-offs).

When these fish are schooled up, they will fight to get back to their school and you will notice the rest of the pack staying close by.

You can typically get a few fish out of a school as they don’t venture too far off from where the school. They may push out deeper when they get spooked, but they will return within a short period of time. I’ve had a school of drum spook off and start tailing about 25 yards from me within a couple minutes.

They may push out deeper when they get spooked, but they will return within a short period of time. I’ve had a school of drum spook off and start tailing about 25 yards from me within a couple minutes.

In the following video, you will see exactly how I use sand fleas when sight casting to schools of black drum.

Inshore Fishing for Black Drum Using Sand Fleas [VIDEO]

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how to catch black drum

Inshore black drum fishing with sand fleas is a ton of fun!

And the best news is that you don’t need a boat or fancy equipment to catch black drum.

As you can see in my video above, I did all of this out of my kayak with nothing but sand fleas and a jig head.

Any other questions about catching black drum?

Let me know in the comments.

INSIDERS: CLICK HERE to see the exact spot all of these black drum were caught as well as how to get there.

Related Post: “3 Shortcuts To Catching Redfish Like A Pro” (see it here now).

Related Post: “Inshore Fishing 101: The Ultimate Inshore Fishing Resource” (see it here now)

inshore kayak fishing survey

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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Dexter Early

What other baits will catch black drum?

John McClain

Great info. You guys rock. Ready to give it a try along the jetties in NC.


Where can one locate sand fleas own there own?

Tony Acevedo

Sand fleas can be caught on just about any beach in Florida. You will need a sand flea rake. Where the waves wash up and then recede, this is where you will want to target. They are thicker on some beaches more than others so you may have to walk a bit to find them.

John Olson

Please compare #10 Power Pro to #10 Power Pro Super Slick. I understand both are the same diameter (.006″). Do they cast similar? Is PPSS worth the extra $ ?

John Soletti

Great information and video Tony!

Tony Acevedo

Thank you John!

Steve Weaver

What about GULP sand fleas??

Tony Acevedo

Hey Steve,

I have caught black drum on gulp shrimp, jerk shads, and crabs. I can only imagine they would also take a gulp sand flea with no problem.

Dan McNulty

Do all my fishing from a center console. Are Black drum likely to be around the jettys/ inlet or further up the intercoastal?

Tony Acevedo

Hey Dan,

They can be caught at inlets and jetties as well. Right now they are pretty thick on the flats and just off the beach.

Matthew David

Where can you consistently find black drum inshore? Do they hold to structure, etc? I’ve only had success catching them in the winter time in NC when the hole up back in creeks when it is cold

Tony Acevedo

Hey Matt,

I know down here in Florida they will school up and run up and down the flats in the cooler months digging up food, but they definitely like structure. Rocks, docks, and bridges are some of the best places to find them year round. Have to keep in mind what they eat. They are bottom feeders and primarily feed on shellfish, crabs, etc. (which also hold around these areas) so wherever this food source is, they will typically be close by.

John Olson

What brand was the 8# braid mentioned in the drum article. Thanks, Joe & Luke
ps love the angler shirts

Tony Acevedo

The braid I was using is Power Pro. All I ever use!

Wes Hall

Would you up the jig weight for incoming high tide in a surf zone or use a different set up?

Tony Acevedo

Hey Wes,

For surf fishing it would be a different setup. This is more for targeting black drum in inshore waters. You could get away with a much heavier jig in the surf but the current is really going to toss it around a bit so it isn’t really recommended. A standard surf setup (pyramid sinker below and hook a foot or two above would be your best bet as the pyramid sinkers catch into the sand and don’t roll around in the current as a jig head or egg sinker would.

Thomas Quinn

Do frozen cooked fleas work too?

Tony Acevedo

Hey Thomas,

I have not personally tried them cooked and frozen but I know that is the best method for keeping them for later use and i don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Fresh and alive is always the best option for any bait, but it doesn’t hurt to take home leftovers and use the method of cooking them and freezing them to reuse them later.

William Flynn

Great video, thanks Tony! #SaltStrong

Tony Acevedo

No problem, thanks for the nice comment Bill!