The Best Rigs for Redfish Fishing

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Redfish are an incredibly popular species when it comes to angling inshore. Oftentimes found in fishing destinations, redfish are delicious staples of southern seafood cuisine. 

Understanding that redfish will feed throughout the water column in its entirety, but are also predators that rely on vibration, sight, sound, and scent, rigs that focus on these factors will benefit fishermen greatly in their quest to bring in the daily catch.

With warmer water comes bait near the surface which provides redfish the opportunity to feed at the top of the water column, and the first two rigs listed attack just that area.

Here are the best redfish fishing rigs to try.

Popping Cork

The first rig listed is a popping cork with a shrimp-tipped jig. An incredibly effective rig for both cold and warm water, the vibrations and disturbance this rig causes will sound like a dinner bell for any redfish looking for an easy meal.

When the cork is popped, it creates a chugging sound that draws the redfish to attention, and coupled with either live or natural baits, the smell and disturbance are simply too enticing to ignore. 

Redfish truly love the smell of old shrimp, so the decision between live fresh shrimp and dead shrimp may not make all that much of a difference depending on the environment.

The benefits of utilizing a popping cork with a jig head are an incredibly easy rig to introduce to beginner anglers. A large popping cork attached to a fluorocarbon leader is tied 2 feet down to a jig head and beat. This rig is easy to manipulate and oftentimes successful. 

A straight cast out, the rig can be left to its own devices aside from an occasional rod tip twitch to stimulate motion. Slow in the retrieve. This is the perfect rig for any novice saltwater angler.

(Insider Tip: Working a popping cork past or away from the structure is a surefire way to lure out any lurking predators.)

Crank Bait

Crankbaits are also incredibly effective when it comes to angling for redfish. Given the fact that redfish will feed just about anywhere in the water column, the ability for swimbaits to dive down is an asset that’s hard to ignore. 

However, these crankbaits require a solid plug with a firm lip, as they often run over oyster shells and rocks.

Many anglers, both professionally as guides and amateurs, will clip front-facing points of treble hooks to streamline their crankbait to avoid snags in these situations. 

Though redfish will rely on the sense of sight, much of their predatory instinct is based upon sensing vibrations and noises. 

Therefore the crankbait is an excellent lure to utilize in murky or shallow water, as it causes quite a disturbance. Its ability to cover a vast quantity of water and reach reds that may be scattered about is beneficial to all anglers.

(Insider Tip: Sending a crankbait down a long offshoot or channel is a quick way to find out if any reds are lying up in the cut.)

Carolina Rig

The Carolina rig is an excellent example of working the bottom of the water column. A pyramid sinker or egg sinker with a free-floating leader, which allows the bait to dangle in the water current, the Carolina rig is an angler favorite for bottom fishing world round. 

This particular rig is incredibly successful in surf fishing for redfish in the Gulf of Mexico or other areas of their habitat.

Whether utilizing a treble hook, or a 3/0 to/7/0 circle hook, an egg sinker attached to a swivel will connect the fluorocarbon leader to the braid of the rest of the line. 

Often, shrimp or fish bites are used as bait. However, one of the most successful baitings of the Carolina rig comes from crabs. 

A staple in the redfish is diet. Crabs will attract fewer sharks or jacks in the surf zone while drawing in the large redfish anglers are looking for. 

Blue crabs ranging between 3 to 5 inches are preferable, as they are easy to hook and maintain on the rig. 

Cracking the carapace or shell of these crabs allows their scent to permeate the water and draw in the targeted fish without artificial senses. 

Croakers, finger mullet, pinfish, or shrimp are also excellent bait choices but have less specifically tangible results regarding redfish than crabs. 

For surf fishing with a Carolina rig, it’s important to have the proper equipment. A 10-foot surf pole equipped with a 40-pound fluorocarbon leader on a 30 to 50-pound braid is standard for tackling bull reds in the surf.

(Insider Tip: The perfect weight for a Carolina rig will not snap your leader but remain in place under the current’s constant pull.)

Soft Plastics

When working in the middle of the water column, soft plastics are often incredibly successful. A perfect example of this is the jerk shad rig. 

A 2 to 3-foot monofilament leader tied to braid on a half-ounce jig head works very well with plastic such as the Berkley gulp shad. 

Keeping the hook buried inside of your plastic is essential if working the shoreline or round structure, as snags tend to be prevalent in redfish habitats. 

When utilizing soft plastics, it’s important to recognize that redfish have a very keen sense of smell. The artificial plastic does not have an attractive scent and must be masked. This can be accomplished by inserting a small piece of shrimp onto your hook or anise oil.

A steady retrieve with several bumps to the pole is an excellent way to use this bait. Again, redfish are incredibly susceptible to vibrations and movement, so any disturbance created will attract their attention. 

The goal of the rig is to place the lure as close to a structure or any ambush sites that may harbor fish without snagging one’s lure. 

(Insider Tip: Find a scent or bait to attach to the soft plastic that is commonplace in the redfish’s environment. Foreign scents, even food, can turn them away.)

This rig is not beginner-level equipment. However, it is incredibly easy to use once mastered. An excellent rig for any novice to master level angler who’s looking to up their redfish game, soft plastics are the way to go. 


Soft plastic swimbaits round out this list as some of the most lifelike lures available. Though weedless twitch baits can also look incredibly lifelike, the swimbait genre as a whole has this corner of the market covered.

Shrimp swimbaits work well in a swimming and twitching technique utilized for site fishing. Redfish we’ll cruise shallow water and are easily spottable, making this lightweight but realistic lure an easy cast to put in their path. 

Whether the swimbait resembles a mullet, shrimp, or some other variation of a redfish diet, these lifelike lures are usually attached to a fluorocarbon leader similar to every other rig. 

Swimbaits work incredibly well on lighter rods, allowing for more manipulation of the lure to replicate lifelike movements, such as an injured shrimp or mullet in their death throes.

(Insider Tip: Learn to manipulate your swimbait to mimic a wounded baitfish or shrimp, which will pay off.)

Redfish have been compared to the golden ticket for saltwater angling. 

Their coppery bodies cut beautiful swaths through both surf and estuaries alike, and their meat comprises some of the most delicious Southern cuisine available. 

Depending on the context an angler finds themselves in, there is a multitude of rigs that can be implemented to increase the chances of catching one of these golden beauties. 

So find the rig that works for you, grab that rod and reel, and head out to catch one of the most exciting fish in the water.

Jacob Pelle
Fishing Expert
Jake Pelle is a third-generation outdoorsman and Eagle Scout. He grew up fishing ponds and rivers in South Louisiana and Mississippi and graduated to fishing brackish/marsh and coastal waters for redfish, drum, and speckled trout. When not on a flat range, he can be found with rod and reel in hand searching for the next greatest fishing hole in South Louisiana.
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