Redfish are perhaps the most accessible inshore saltwater gamefish in America. Their range extends from the Laguna Madre in south Texas all the way around both coasts of Florida and up through the Carolinas to Virginia, even venturing as far north as New Jersey. Their wide distribution and bullish fighting tendencies make reds a favored target of many saltwater anglers. Redfish also frequent a variety of habitats, from deep wrecks offshore to six-inch deep muddy flats, and everything in between. That’s why it’s important to always carry a selection of the best redfish lures.
The Best Redfish Lures: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ
- Lengths: 4, 5, and 7 inches
- Key Colors: The Deal, The Wright Stuff, Sexy Penny
- Extremely durable
- Great swimming action
- Cannot be stored with other soft plastics or in high heat
To find a redfish lure that is effective in just about any situation, you have to go back to the basics, and it’s hard to get more basic than a soft plastic swimbait. While there are hundreds of soft plastic swimbait options on the market, the Z-Man DieZel Minnowz are my choice for one simple reason: durability. While their profile is essentially the same as many other options, the proprietary ElaZtech plastic is super-efficient for inshore saltwater fishing. These plastics will last through dozens of fish before needing replacement, and can withstand the chomping bites of many toothy critters. While the time wasted changing plastics seems negligible at first, it really starts to pile up when the fish are biting, or you’re being picked at by nuisance critters like pufferfish or pinfish. Keeping a lure in the water is the most important factor to getting bit, and these lures help you do that.
I’ll admit that I was not a fan of the ElaZtech material at first, primarily because it’s difficult to rig compared to more traditional soft plastics and requires a few tricks to be effective. While they can be used on a basic jighead and swam or bounced around, my go-to method for rigging them is weedless on a Mustad Weighted Grip Pin hook. The Grip Pin is important because it keeps the material from sliding down the hook shank and fouling up.
The four-inch DieZel Minnow fits perfectly on a 3/0 Grip Pin, and they come in a variety of weights that allow you to work the lure throughout the water column. I’ve found a ¼-ounce weighted hook provides the ideal weight to make the lure keel just right and allows it to be fished at most depths inshore. The ElaZtech material floats, which allows you to let the lure hang on the bottom and wiggle it enticingly at an approaching red. This rigging method is also almost entirely weedless, something that can’t be overlooked when targeting a fish that loves grass and oyster bars as much as redfish do. Equally effective for subtle sight casting to tailing fish in heavy cover, or blind casting with a steady retrieve in open water, a weedless DieZel Minnow is hard to beat.
Best Non-Weedless Searchbait for Redfish: MirrOlure MirrOdine
- Lengths: 2 5/8, 3 1/8, 3 3/4 inches
- Weights: 3/8, 9/16, 1 ounce
- Key Colors: Green Back/White/Silver, Electric Chicken, Shad
- Great selection of colors
- Go-to searchbait for reds
- Hooks can foul in grassy areas
The Mirrodine is a staple in most inshore tackle boxes from Texas to Virginia. The lure has proven itself as one of the most effective presentations for enticing wary reds into vicious thumping strikes. The profile mimics a variety of common inshore baitfish, and the incredible range of color options allows for an angler to tailor the lure to any level of water clarity. While it can certainly be used as a finesse sight fishing option, the most effective way to fish the Mirrodine is to blind cast it as a searchbait when you’re fishing a new area. The most common method of retrieval, commonly referred to as the “twitch-twitch-THUMP,” is to retrieve the lure with several quick twitches and then let it pause and suspend in the water column. Often reds will strike on the pause with a vicious thump, hence the name. This lure is effective in many habitats, but the treble hooks can foul easily in grassy areas. The lure can also be tough to effectively work in the wind, which leads us to our next option.
Best Redfish Lure for Windy Conditions: Johnson Silver Minnow in Gold
- Lengths: 1.75, 2, 2.5, 2.75, and 3.75 inches
- Weights: 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 1/8, ounce
- Key Colors: Silver and gold
- Casts well in the wind
- Easy to fish
- Proven design
- Not great for clear water and calm conditions
It’s decades old, simple, and about as basic as a lure can get. But this classic spoon is far from outdated. It just flat out catches fish. This lure really shines when conditions turn against you as they often will: The wind kicks up, making casting and effectively working most hardbaits difficult, if not impossible. The water has turned the consistency of a frothy milkshake and all the beautiful but subtle presentations you normally rely on are worthless.
In such a situation, you’d be hard pressed to find a better redfish lure than a ¼-ounce Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon in gold. The simple, aerodynamic design and compact profile of this lure lets you cast like a bullet into the wind, while the wire weed guard is extremely effective at keeping debris off the large single hook.
The best part? The retrieve is as simple as it gets. Just cast and wind. The darting, rolling, flashy action of the spoon stands out in just about any level of water clarity and allows you to cover a huge amount of water in a relatively short time. No matter where I’m fishing for reds, I always have a few Johnson Silver Minnows in gold tucked away in the box. Weather forecasts aren’t always accurate, and this redfish lure has saved my day more than once when conditions have turned less than ideal.
Best Topwater Lure for Redfish on Stillwater Flats: Rapala Skitter Walk
- Lengths: 3 1/8 inches and 4 3/8 inches
- Weights: 5/8 and 7/16 ounce
- Key Colors: Bone, Black/Chartreuse, Gold Mullet
- Deep tone
- Easy to walk
- Produces explosive strikes
- Low hook-up and landing ratio compared to single hook baits
If you cast a topwater lure on a glassy redfish flat in the morning, you may get one of the most thrilling strikes you’ve had. A redfish’s mouth is located low on its head, meaning that it has to raise its head fully above the water to engulf a plug. The result is unforgettable—and few lures draw these topwater strikes better than a Rapala Skitter Walk.
While a variety of topwater lures will catch redfish, the Skitter Walk is one of the best topwater lures for redfish, for three reasons. First, it has a deeper knocking sound than many other walking baits, which seems to draw the reds in from a good distance. Second, it requires very little experience to make the Skitter Walk move the way it’s supposed to. Just about anyone can pick up a Skitter Walk and make it dance from side to side with ease. Third, it has a realistic baitfish profile, and sits in a slightly more submerged position than some more traditional walking baits. This is a subtle difference, but can certainly help entice a strike on the pause when the fish is inspecting the lure.
Best Redfish Lure for Pitching Structure: Berkley Gulp Shrimp
- Sizes: 3 and 4 inches
- Key Colors: New penny, white, white/chartreuse
- Gulp! scent
- Lots of rigging options
- Will get bit by interference fish
While a number of more realistic and seemingly advanced scented shrimp lures have hit the market in recent years, the classic Gulp Shrimp is still king. With a simple design that barely resembles a shrimp and a stiff body that emits almost no real action, it’s easy to dismiss the Gulp Shrimp at first. But it is the best artificial shrimp lure for redfish. lt can be rigged in a variety of ways and used to fish everything from wide open mud flats to tight mangrove pockets.
However, this lure really stands out when pitching docks or other structure. Rigged on a ⅛- or ¼-ounce jighead, the Gulp Shrimp can be easily skipped up under the shadows and sinks quickly. While many soft plastics work well in this situation, the added benefit of the Gulp! scent clearly gives this lure an advantage and makes it one of the best soft plastics for redfish. While redfish feed in many ways, scent is one of their primary senses when searching out food. And anyone who has accidentally spilled a tub of Gulp in their car or tackle box can attest that one thing it has no shortage of is scent. When redfish are pressured, or the water temperature has them sluggish and coy, that little extra push of scent can be the difference in getting an eat versus a refusal.
Best Redfish Lure for Cloudy Days or Stained Water: Z-Man Chatterbait
- Weights: 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 ounce
- Key Colors: White, chartreuse, greenback shad
- Tip: Trim and thin out or remove skirt for a sleeker profile and pair with a DieZel MinnowZ
- Lots of vibration
- Good for stained water
This is where the worlds of bass fishing and inshore saltwater fishing begin to collide. An unconventional option but becoming more and more popular among redfish anglers, the Chatterbait is a very effective lure. While spinnerbait style lures and bladed jigs have been popular redfish options for years, the Chatterbait is really starting to steal the show. Why? Because it does all the things that spinnerbaits do, only better.
Looking for flash? The Chatterbait has it in spades. Need something that emits a potent vibration? The Chatterbait will make your teeth rattle on the retrieve. While it’s true that sometimes less is more, and the subtlety of a spinner blade can be the better option, most of the time redfish tend to act on their baser instincts. Essentially, if something is flashy and loud and makes them mad, they’ll eat it. The Chatterbait can be fished bare, with only a skirt, or with any number of different trailer styles. I prefer a shad-style swimbait trailer, but just about any appropriately sized soft plastic will do the trick.
This lure is a great choice on cloudy days where you just don’t quite know where the fish are. Blind casting a Chatterbait around in various depths while moving from spot to spot will usually find the fish. The combination of intense vibration and flash seems to draw more strikes than similar presentations in these situations. The blade also deters the hook from snagging on weeds, so it’s a good choice in grassy areas.
What to Consider When Picking the Best Redfish Lures
When it’s time to choose a lure, the habitat you’re fishing is the first consideration. Is the water muddy and shallow, or crystal clear and deep? Will you be fishing over sandy bottom, or a treacherous minefield of oyster bars? Is there grass, and if so, how thick is it?
Next is what’s in front of you. Are you seeing redfish, or will you have to search for them? Is there structure to fish? Then there’s the weather. Is it sunny? Cloudy? Windy?
The list of factors goes on, which is why you’ll need a selection of lures that will be effective in those varying habitats. That’s why there is a seemingly infinite number of redfish lures on the market, and you could easily buy hundreds. But if you keep your box stocked with these six lures, you’ll be in good shape no matter where you target reds.
The quick answers to all your basic redfish fishing questions.
Q: What colors do redfish like?
Green is generally regarded as the color that redfish see best. Gold and copper are also staples in any good red pattern. As usual, a touch of chartreuse never hurts.
Q: When’s the best time to catch redfish?
The best time to catch redfish varies based on region and the size of fish you’re targeting. However, Fall is generally regarded as the best time for targeting redfish all the way from Texas up through Virginia.
Q: What’s the best lure for redfish?
Redfish have a wide range of natural prey, making for a diverse list of artificial lure options. A paddle tail swimbait rigged either on a jighead or weedless wide gap hook is the universal standard, followed closely by topwater walk-the-dog-style plugs.
Final Thoughts on the Best Redfish Lures
The best redfish lures depend entirely on the situation. While reds will hit a simple old spoon as readily as a modern crankbait, you often can’t fish many lures effectively because the habitat, water clarity, and weather conditions make them ill-suited. Next time you hit the water in search of reds, consider your environment and the conditions, and then pull out one of these staples and put some redfish on the deck.