Ask ten anglers to name the best way to catch redfish and you will likely get ten different answers. Which one is the best? The one that works for you. Redfish will eat a variety of natural and artificial baits with their preference changing with the seasons. If I could use only one bait for redfish year round, however, I would choose a soft plastic jerk bait rigged on a weedless worm hook. Color is a matter of personal preference. I favor a DOA CAL tail in gold flake or Arkansas Glow. Others prefer chartreuse, rootbeer, avocado, or white. All will catch fish provided you use the proper presentation.
Soft plastic baits come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. Plastic shrimp, crabs, mullet, pinfish, and worm style baits are all popular choices for redfish. I prefer to use soft plastics in sight fishing situations. Although you can use many of them for search baits, they are subject to attack from pinfish, puffers, and a myriad of other small baitfish, especially during the warmer months. Blind casting these lures can result in a costly day of fishing. When sight fishing, however, there is nothing more effective.
In the winter months, I prefer to use small baits such as DOA crabs, shrimp, or 3-4” jerkbaits. Mullet are scarce and the reds are feeding on small crustaceans. As the water temperatures increase, larger jerkbaits and mullet imitations will draw strikes. The key to effectively fishing the soft plastics is presentation. Even the lightest of lures landing near a redfish will send it fleeing in the opposite direction. The same is true for a lure that is moving towards the fish. Baits must be presented so that they appear to be escaping from the fish, not attacking them. In nature, prey escapes from a predator fish by either fleeing or hiding in the grass. When using a soft plastic that is imitating the natural prey of a redfish, it must do the same. With shrimp and crab imitations, cast past the fish, reel it quickly across the surface until it is in their path of travel and let in drop to the bottom. The sight of a crab or shrimp fleeing towards the grass will cause a feeding redfish to race over and attack the bait. If you do not see the fish reacting to your bait, give it a slight twitch to get their attention.
Soft plastic jerkbaits can be use effectively year round. While some like to rig them on a lead head jig, I prefer to use a worm hook with a weighted shank. As a Mosquito Lagoon redfish guide
, I find most of the redfish in my area in and around thick grass. This setup gives me a totally weedless bait but still has the weight needed to make a long cast even into the wind. The weight also helps get the lure down near the bottom quickly where the redfish are feeding.
Adding a rattle to your soft plastic baits can improve their effectiveness. The rattles can draw the attention of a fish to a lure that may have gone unnoticed due to an errant cast or low visibility. Woodies Rattles can be inserted into any soft plastic bait to increase your success. Tailing redfish can be some of the most difficult to catch. They are so focused on digging their prey out of the bottom that they do not see your lure. The sound of a rattle will often draw their attention towards your bait.
Capt. Chris Myers
Central Florida Sight Fishing Charters