When the water is warm, calm, and full of bait on the surface, you’ll find reds where the bait is—on the surface. It’s essential, though, to give them a chance to make a solid strike, due to their downward facing mouths. This means not setting the hook at the strike itself, but rather when you feel the weight of the fish on your line, much like with topwater frogs for bass.
Soft plastic jigs, especially scented ones, are great for redfish. Unlike other flats species, like snook, that feed by sight, redfish often feed by scent. With this in mind, I love using a Berkley Gulp shrimp with jighead. The speed and action with which I work this rig depends on where the redfish are holding in the water column. If you go with this setup, keep an eye on you bait to make sure it tracks properly in the water. With this rig, I like to use braided line and a graphite rod for sensitivity.
Weedless soft plastics are another great bait for sightfishing redfish over heavily grassed bottom. One of my favorite weedless lures is the Yum Money Minnow, which redfish love. With it, you can cast into deep cover without worrying about snagging. Furthermore, since the Money Minnow has a paddle tail that gives it great action, all you need to do is reel it. Of course, you can vary the retrieval speeds as needed, and even add a twitch here and there. You’ll just need to make sure to use a strong, steady hookset when you get a strike, since the hook is embedded in the minnow’s weedless sleeve.
One of the most effective rigs when the water is colder and the redfish are lethargic is a cork popper with a jighead tipped with shrimp. The chugging sound of the popping cork grabs a redfish’s attention, while the scent of the shrimp seals the deal. Be sure to set the hook when the cork goes under, and quickly wind down on the fish if you feel solid weight.
If you’ve never had the chance to float lazily along the flats and pick apart the edge of the marsh for tailing redfish, you’re missing out. The tips outlined today will help you start things on the right foot if you do, though, so keep them in mind if you find yourself in redfish country this season!