Redfish Surf Fishing Rigs

Redfish Surf Fishing Rigs: Tips and Techniques for Successful Fishing

Redfish surf fishing is a popular pastime for anglers looking to catch the elusive red drum from the shore. Red drum, also known as redfish, are a highly prized game fish due to their hard-fighting nature and delicious taste. To catch these fish from the surf, you’ll need the right equipment, including the right red drum rig for surf fishing. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of redfish surf fishing rigs, including the best baits to use, how to catch red drum in the surf, and some tips and tricks to help you maximize your chances of success. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know to surf fish for red drum.

When it comes to redfish surf fishing, a handful of effective rigs have emerged as popular among anglers. Some of these include the fish finder rig, Carolina rig, and popping cork rig, among others (Sportfishing Buddy). Choosing the appropriate rig will not only increase your chances of hooking a redfish but also enhance your overall fishing experience.

As with many aspects of fishing, versatility is key, so having a couple of different rigs for varying conditions and bait preferences is essential. It’s also important to consider factors such as water depth, current, and the specific feeding habits of redfish when determining which rig is best suited for a particular fishing session (Salt Strong). By becoming familiar with these rigging options and adjusting your approach accordingly, you’ll be well on your way to successful redfish surf fishing expeditions.

Redfish Surf Fishing Rigs

Surf fishing for redfish is an enjoyable pastime for many anglers, and choosing the right rig can make a significant impact on your success. There are several effective redfish surf fishing rigs suitable for different conditions and angler preferences.

One popular rig for redfish surf fishing is the fish finder rig, which works well for a variety of species, including redfish and black drum. By using a sliding sinker on the mainline, this rig allows the fish to pick up the bait without feeling the full weight of the sinker. Adjusting the length of the leader enables you to present the bait at different depths, catering to the feeding habits of redfish.

The Carolina rig is another versatile option for surf fishing. Similar to the fish finder rig, it features a sliding sinker on the mainline and a leader attached to the hook. The main difference is the inclusion of a bead and swivel, which help prevent the sinker from damaging the knot connection with the leader.

Anglers may also choose to use the popping cork rig for redfish surf fishing. This rig uses a float, typically a popping cork, to suspend the bait at a specific depth. When the cork is popped or shaken, it creates a disturbance on the water surface, attracting redfish to the bait.

Another effective rig, especially when targeting redfish in areas with strong current or structure, is the cannonball rig. This rig features a cannonball sinker tied to the bottom of a three-way swivel, with a leader and hook connected to the other swivel eyelet. The cannonball sinker helps maintain the bait’s position, even in heavy currents, while the three-way swivel allows the bait to swing freely and appear more natural in the water.

When choosing a redfish surf fishing rig, consider factors such as depth, current, and structure, as well as your preferred bait and angling technique. Experimenting with different rigs and adjusting your setup will ultimately help you find what works best for your specific situation.

Essential Components

When assembling your redfish surf fishing rigs, it is crucial to consider the essential components that will make your rig effective and successful.

Circle hook
Fish Finder Rig Hook


Choose the appropriate hooks for redfish surf fishing. Circle hooks are a popular choice because they have a greater chance of hooking the fish in the corner of the mouth, making catch and release easier. The size of the hooks may vary depending on the size of the bait and target fish, but a general range is from size 2/0 to 4/0.


The line plays an essential role in the durability and sensitivity of your redfish rig. For surf fishing, a 30 to 50 lb test monofilament or fluorocarbon leader is recommended. This provides enough strength to withstand the harsh conditions near the shoreline and allows for precise casting.

Fish Finder Rig Pyramid Sinkers


The type and size of the weight used in your redfish surf fishing rig can greatly affect your casting distance and the way your bait moves in the water. Weights typically range from 1 to 4 ounces, depending on the conditions and the bait being used. Pyramid sinkers are commonly used for surf fishing, as they can grip the sandy bottom and help keep your bait in place.


Swivels are essential in reducing line twist, which can negatively impact your casting and bait presentation. Opting for a barrel swivel will help keep your line straight while allowing your bait to move naturally in the water.

Several rigs are popular among anglers targeting redfish in the surf. The choice of rig will depend on factors such as location, bait type, and personal preference. In this section, we will cover four popular redfish surf fishing rigs: High-Low Rig, Fish-Finder Rig, Carolina Rig, and Popping Cork Rig.

High-Low Rig

The High-Low Rig, also called a dropper loop rig or double-dropper rig, is a versatile setup where the hooks are positioned above the weight. This keeps baits off the bottom and reduces the chance of snagging. This rig is effective with both live and cut bait, and can also be used for other species such as flounder and sea trout.

Here’s how to set up a High-Low Rig:

  • Create dropper loops in the mainline for attaching hooks.
  • Attach hooks to the dropper loops, usually 1-2 hooks.
  • Tie a weight at the end of the mainline, below the lowest hook.

Fish-Finder Rig

The Fish-Finder Rig is especially popular when targeting bull redfish. It allows the bait to move freely, enticing redfish to bite. The sliding weight on this rig helps to maintain contact with the bottom, allowing the bait to be presented naturally.

To set up a Fish-Finder Rig:

  • Slide an egg sinker onto the mainline.
  • Add a barrel swivel followed by a short leader and the hook.
  • Secure the hook with a live bait or cut bait, like mullet or shrimp.
carolina rig setup
Carolina rig fishing tackle setup scheme for catching redfish, flounder and other predatory fish.

Carolina Rig

A Carolina Rig is ideal for presenting live bait or soft plastics to redfish, particularly on grassy or sandy flats. This rig allows the bait to move more naturally underwater, giving the angler increased control over the presentation.

Setting up a Carolina Rig is simple:

  • Slide an egg sinker onto the mainline, followed by a bead and a swivel.
  • Attach a leader of around 2-3 feet to the swivel.
  • Tie a hook, jighead, or lure onto the leader.

Popping Cork Rig

The Popping Cork Rig is particularly effective when fishing with artificial or live shrimp. This rig imitates the sound and movements of shrimp or other prey, attracting redfish to the bait. The adjustable depth settings of the Popping Cork Rig make it very adaptable to different water depths and conditions.

Setting up a Popping Cork Rig:

  • Attach a popping cork to the mainline, either fixed or sliding.
  • Add a leader of your preferred length.
  • Tie a hook, typically a circle or J-hook, at the end of the leader.
  • Secure the bait or lure, such as shrimp or a soft plastic.

Choosing the Right Bait

When it comes to redfish surf fishing, selecting the appropriate bait is crucial for success. To help you choose the best bait for your redfish adventures, we’ve outlined some of the most effective options in the categories of live bait and artificial lures below.

Pin fish

Live Bait

Fresh, live bait is often preferred by redfish, as the scent and movement can attract them from a distance. Some top choices for live bait include:

  • Cut bait: Typically small fish such as mullet, porgies, croakers, or pinfish; these are durable and easy to cast.
  • Fresh shrimp: A popular and effective choice, shrimp can be used whole or in pieces.
  • Crab knuckles: Another great option for redfish, especially larger ones.
  • Mullet or cut bait: These can be used whole or in chunks, providing versatility to suit the conditions.
artificial lure

Artificial Lures

Although live bait is effective, many anglers also have success using artificial lures. Some top choices include:

  • Strike King Saltwater Flats Jig: A versatile and durable jig for redfish surf fishing.
  • DOA Deadly Combo: A pre-rigged topwater lure designed for redfish and other inshore species.
  • Swimbaits: Realistic artificial fish that mimic the swimming action of live bait.
  • Soft plastic baits: These come in a variety of shapes and colors, such as shrimp, crab, or fish imitations.

Ultimately, the best bait for redfish surf fishing will depend on the conditions and the preferences of the fish on any given day. It’s a good idea to bring a variety of options to ensure you’re prepared for whatever situation you encounter.

Tips and Techniques For Catching Redfish

In this section, we will discuss some essential tips and techniques for successful redfish surf fishing. These include location selection, understanding tides and currents, and factoring in weather conditions.

Location Selection

Finding the right location for surf fishing is crucial to increasing your chances of catching redfish. Look for areas with good water movement, such as inlets, cuts, and points, as these will typically hold more bait and attract redfish. Pay attention to sandbars and beach troughs, as they can provide excellent spots for redfish to feed during changing tides.

Surf Fishing For Redfish

Tides and Currents

Understanding how tides and currents affect redfish behavior is essential for timing your surf fishing trips effectively. Redfish are likely to be most active during incoming and outgoing tides, especially when there is water movement between sandbars or around the structure. Additionally, monitor current speed and direction, as redfish often position themselves facing into the current to ambush prey.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions can significantly impact redfish surf fishing. Overcast skies and light rain can encourage redfish to move closer to shore to feed, increasing your chances of hooking one from the surf. Conversely, bright and sunny days may push redfish into deeper waters, making them more challenging to catch. Meanwhile, stable weather conditions with lighter winds and mild temperatures can also improve your chances by not causing too much disturbance to the water where redfish feeds.

Safety Considerations

When surf fishing for redfish, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and practice proper handling techniques. Here are some important safety considerations to keep in mind:

Safety gear is crucial while surf fishing. Wearing a life vest or personal floatation device (PFD) can provide an extra layer of safety, especially in situations where the surf is strong or currents are unpredictable.

  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear such as waterproof boots, gloves, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun, wind, and water. Layer your clothing according to weather conditions to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
  • Always check local weather and tide reports before heading out to fish, as sudden changes in weather can make surf fishing conditions hazardous.
  • Carry a first aid kit with you at all times to treat any potential injuries.
  • Practice safe casting techniques, ensuring that there are no people nearby to avoid injuries from hooks or sinkers.

When handling redfish, be cautious of their sharp fins, which can cause injury. To safely remove the hook, use a pair of pliers, and gently hold the fish by its mouth. If the fish is too large or difficult to handle, use a landing net to secure it.

Finally, always be careful around the water and the shoreline. Watch for slippery, uneven surfaces, and be cautious of sea life or shells that may be underfoot. Never turn your back to the ocean, as incoming waves or sudden surges can catch you off-guard and cause accidents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best lure for surf fishing red drum?

The 1/2 oz jig head is made from soft plastic and is perfect for surfing and scuba diving. Choose a 4-inch hard plastic swimbait similar to the baitfish. The red drum tackle can be used in deep water using lightweight jigs and in deepwater with a heavy weight.

What is the best surf fishing rig for redfish?

What are the best baits and fishing rigs available in the market? Fish finders are great for putting baits into your water at a low depth.

How do you fish for red drum in the surf?

You see the waves crashing in there on the first SandBar before it hits the beach.

What tide is best to catch redfish in the surf?

The best tides to fish redfish are in the high sea waters. Redfish are among those who move to flat water once tides are changed from dead low towards entering. Redfish are the first choice for crab, shrimp, snails and fish that escape through potholes and small tidal rivers gorges.


In summary, redfish surf fishing can be a highly rewarding experience when using the right rigs and techniques. A few of the most effective rigs to consider include the Fish Finder Rig, Carolina Rig, and Pompano Rig. Each rig offers unique advantages, depending on the conditions and the specific tactics employed.

When surf fishing for redfish, it’s essential to consider factors like water depth, current, and the presence of structure or cover. These details will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your chosen rig. Additionally, using live or natural baits such as shrimp, mullet, or crab often yield the best results when targeting redfish in the surf.

Maintaining proper tackle maintenance and line management is crucial for maximizing your chances of catching redfish. Moreover, consulting local angler forums and tackle shops can provide invaluable insights into regional tactics and bait preferences for redfish in your area.

Reeling in redfish can be an exciting and challenging endeavor, requiring knowledge and patience. By mastering the appropriate surf fishing rigs, examining local conditions, and fine-tuning your approach, you can increase your chances of landing these highly prized game fish.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.