Skip to main content

Five Top Lures for Redfish

Sam White

Red drum are one of the top gamefish in the Southeast, and for a number of good reasons. They’re pugilistic brawlers, especially on light tackle, and usually aren’t too finicky about crashing a lure when they’re feeding, which seems to be nearly all the time. They’re a noble fish, broad-bodied and thick, with that characteristic spot on the tail; they might range in coloration anywhere from a barely red-tinged silver to a deep copper. And since the introduction of some greatly improved conservation measures in the 1980s, stocks of redfish have rebounded nicely, so harvesting a few for the dinner table is no longer a cause for concern.

While live bait has always been a go-to for reds, there are times when artificial lures can outproduce the real thing. Depending on the conditions and location, sometimes it’s best to go this route even if bait is plentiful. Lures will allow an angler to cover much more ground, which is especially critical when fish are scattered.


Think calm, still conditions first thing in the morning and in the late afternoons prior to sunset. Reds will be on the prowl and can often be tempted by the splash and commotion of a topwater lure, plus it’s hard to beat the crashing strikes they produce. Among the favorites are those lures produced by Zara Spook, MirroLure and others, but just about any with a noisy splashing or walk-the-dog action will attract strikes from reds. Notably, since their mouths are underslung, they might not get hooked on the first strike though so be sure to feel the fish before setting the hook. Alternately, follow up a missed strike with a second cast using a soft plastic jerkbait or gold spoon on a second backup rod and you’ll nearly always be rewarded with a solid strike.


Top topwaters from MirroLure and Zara Spook.

Artificial Shrimp

Crustaceans lead the menu items of any redfish, and with today’s new breed of scented shrimp imitations, it’s easier than ever to use these proven lures. A favorite technique is to fish one beneath a popping cork. Depending on the depth of the water, set the shrimp to drift just above an oyster bar or other structure—give the cork a few fish-attracting twitches and pops and the scented shrimp will do the rest. These lures can also be drifted by themselves along the bottom, a deadly tactic along mangrove-studded waterways and estuaries.

shrimp lure

A scented artificial shrimp from DOA Lures is a dead ringer for the real thing.

Gold Spoon

The old standby for red drum fishing, and the single lure that has probably produced more redfish catches than any other on the planet. This is the go-to lure for nearly any situation, but it really shines in off-color water. The gold color flashes seductively in any tannin-stained waters, attracting reds from a distance. It’s best to use a slower-than-usual retrieve so the spoon wobbles and flashes; go too fast and it tends to spin on its axis, which can result in unwanted line twist. If you do go with a faster retrieve, then just add a snap-swivel to reduce the twist.

golden spoon redfish lure

A gold Johnson spoon, one of the top redfish lures of all time.

Suspending Minnow

With a silhouette that perfectly imitates prey like scaled sardines and finger mullet, a suspending minnow-type lure allows anglers to fish anywhere in the water column, slowly counting down until the lure finds the appropriate depth of water. These are best used in clear-water conditions, where the lifelike lure design will fool those more wary reds. These lures also allow for long casts to probe waters well away from the angler.

soft plastics

Soft plastic jerkbaits are highly versatile and can be fished in a variety of ways.

Soft Jerkbait

Another one of those go-to redfish lures, this family of baits is also available in scented or flavored versions, like the Gulp! and Hogy. They’re also incredibly versatile as well: tick the bottom slowly in cold weather or rip it across the surface when sight-casting to feeding fish—it works equally well for both, and just about everywhere else in between. Favorite colors can range from pearlescent whites and silvers to darker shades and even those bright chartreuse and oranges for dirty water. Just match it to the appropriately sized lead jighead for the depth of the water and you’re in business.

No matter which you choose, having these five styles of lures in your arsenal will make you a more effective angler when red drum are the target species.

Latest Content