Best Way to Catch a Redfish Using DOA Soft Plastic Lures

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Instructor: William Toney

Capt. William Toney and Mark Nichols discuss the best DOA lures for redfish. Learn about the most effective tactics, lures, and colors for catching redfish in various water conditions and bottom structures, and discover how understanding bioluminescence can help you choose the right lures to attract more strikes.

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Key Points:

  • Capt. William Toney and Mark Nichols discuss the best DOA lures for redfish
  • Different hook rigs are suitable for soft sandy and hard bottom
  • Shad lures and jerkbaits are the main lures discussed
  • Lure colors that work best in different water conditions are explored
  • The concept of bioluminescence and its role in triggering redfish to attack is covered

In this video for In The Spread, Capt. William Toney, a prominent figure in Homosassa's fishing community, sits down with Mark Nichols, the founder of DOA Baits, to discuss the best DOA lures for redfish. The conversation delves into the most effective tactics, lures, and colors for catching redfish in various water conditions and bottom structures.

Redfish Fishing – Know the Species

The Importance of Information Sharing

In the world of fishing, information sharing plays a vital role in the success and growth of anglers at all skill levels. Mark Nichols, the founder of DOA Baits, recognizes the immense value of learning from the best fishing guides across various regions, including Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas. By tapping into their collective knowledge and understanding the stimuli that fish respond to, he can create innovative soft plastic lures that cater to the specific needs of anglers in these areas.

Sharing knowledge is not only beneficial for lure manufacturers like Mark Nichols but also for the fishing community as a whole. When experienced anglers and fishing guides share their insights, techniques, and observations, they contribute to the growth and development of fellow fishermen. This exchange of information can take place through various channels, such as fishing forums, social media groups, online videos, and in-person interactions.

For beginner anglers, access to shared knowledge can significantly accelerate their learning process. By learning from the successes and failures of more experienced fishermen, they can avoid common mistakes and adopt proven techniques that increase their chances of landing fish. This information sharing helps to flatten the learning curve and allows newcomers to the sport to enjoy more productive and enjoyable fishing trips.

Even seasoned anglers can benefit from the exchange of information. Fishing conditions, fish behavior, and the effectiveness of certain lures can vary greatly depending on factors such as location, season, and weather patterns. By staying open to new ideas and insights from fellow anglers, experienced fishermen can continue to refine their skills, adapt to changing conditions, and discover innovative techniques that can lead to greater success on the water.

Moreover, information sharing within the fishing community fosters a sense of camaraderie and belonging. When anglers come together to share their knowledge and experiences, they create a supportive environment that encourages collaboration and mutual growth. This sense of community can be especially valuable for those who are new to fishing or looking to expand their skills in a particular area.

In the case of redfish fishing, the insights shared by experts like Capt. William Toney and Mark Nichols can be invaluable for anglers targeting redfish. By learning about the most effective lures, colors, and techniques for various water conditions and bottom structures, fishermen can significantly improve their chances of success when pursuing redfish.

Ultimately, the importance of information sharing in fishing cannot be overstated. By learning from one another and openly exchanging knowledge, anglers of all skill levels can continue to grow, innovate, and push the boundaries of what is possible in this beloved outdoor pursuit. As more fishermen embrace the power of shared knowledge, the entire fishing community stands to benefit, leading to more productive, enjoyable, and sustainable fishing experiences for all.

Lures and Rigs for Different Bottom Structures

When targeting redfish, it's crucial to consider the type of bottom structure you'll be fishing over, as this plays a significant role in selecting the most effective lure and hook rig. The two main bottom types encountered when fishing for redfish are soft sandy bottoms and hard bottoms, each requiring a different approach to maximize your chances of success.

Soft Sandy Bottoms

Soft sandy bottoms are often found in shallow flats, bays, and estuaries where redfish tend to feed. When fishing over these areas, anglers have more flexibility in their lure and rig choices, as the risk of snagging is relatively low. Soft plastic baits like jerkbaits, paddletails, and shrimp imitations are popular choices for sandy bottoms, as they can be rigged weedless or with an exposed hook without fear of constantly getting hung up.

One effective rig for soft sandy bottoms is the Texas rig, which involves threading the lure onto a wide-gap hook and then burying the hook point back into the body of the bait. This weedless presentation allows anglers to work their lures through sparse grass or over sandy bottoms without snagging, while still maintaining a lifelike action that appeals to redfish.

Another option for sandy bottoms is the jighead rig, which consists of a soft plastic lure threaded onto a weighted hook. This rig allows for more precise casts and better control over the lure's depth, making it easier to target specific areas where redfish are holding.

Hard Bottom

Hard bottom, such as oyster beds, rocky outcroppings, and reef structure, present a different challenge when fishing for redfish. These structures provide excellent habitat for crustaceans and baitfish, which in turn attract redfish, but they can also be treacherous for lures and rigs.

When fishing over hard bottoms, it's essential to use lures and rigs that minimize the risk of snagging. Weedless soft plastic baits, such as those with the hook point embedded in the lure's body, are a popular choice for these conditions. Jerkbaits, like those used by Capt. William Toney on the west coast of Florida, can be rigged with an exposed hook and still be effective over hard bottoms when paired with the right rod technique.

One key aspect of fishing over hard bottoms is the use of proper rod technique to avoid snagging. By keeping the rod tip high and maintaining a tight line, anglers can guide their lures over and around structure without getting hung up. This requires a bit of finesse and practice, but it's a skill worth mastering for those looking to consistently catch redfish over hard bottoms.

Another option for hard bottoms is the use of weedless spoons or jigs with weed guards. These lures are designed to deflect off structure and can be an effective choice when fishing in areas with heavy cover.


Knowing how to match your lure and rig to the bottom structure you're fishing can make all the difference when targeting redfish. Whether you're fishing over soft sandy bottoms or navigating the challenges of hard structure, selecting the right combination of lure and presentation will help you put more fish in the boat.

Capt. William Toney

Know Your Bottom

Understanding how to adapt your lure and rig selection to different bottom structures is a critical skill for successful redfish fishing. By choosing the appropriate lures and presentations for soft sandy bottoms and hard bottoms, and mastering the necessary rod techniques, anglers can significantly increase their chances of landing these hard-fighting and highly sought-after game fish.

Choosing the Best Colors for Redfish Lures

When it comes to selecting the most effective colors for your redfish lures, it's essential to consider the water conditions you'll be fishing in. The clarity and color of the water can significantly influence how well a particular lure color performs. Mark Nichols, the founder of DOA Baits, and Capt. William Toney, a renowned fishing guide, share their expertise on which colors tend to work best in different scenarios.

How to Catch Redfish

Dark Water

In dark, tannic water, such as that found in many coastal marshes and estuaries, lure colors that offer a high contrast or bold appearance tend to be most effective. Glow, red, and gold fleck colors are among the top choices for these conditions.

Glow colors, such as chartreuse or pink, are particularly useful in low light conditions or when fishing in deeper, darker waters. These hues mimic the natural bioluminescence of certain prey items, making them an attractive target for redfish.

Red is another standout color for dark water, as it closely resembles the hue of many crustaceans and baitfish that redfish feed on. Red lures can be especially productive when targeting redfish around oyster beds or other structure, where crabs and shrimp are abundant.

Gold fleck colors, which usually consist of a base color like white or chartreuse with metallic gold flakes, are another excellent option for dark water. The added flash and sparkle of the gold flecks can help draw the attention of redfish and trigger strikes.

Clear Water

In clearer water conditions, more natural and subdued lure colors often outperform their brighter counterparts. Naked or newpenny colors, which mimic the appearance of shrimp, baitfish, and other prey items, are top choices for these situations.

Naked colors, such as clear with silver or gold glitter, or a combination of clear and natural hues like gray or brown, closely resemble the translucent appearance of many baitfish and crustaceans. These subtle colors allow for a more natural presentation that can be especially effective when fishing in clear, shallow water where redfish may be more wary.

Newpenny, a popular color choice for many soft plastic lures, is a combination of light olive green and copper or gold flakes. This color mimics the appearance of shrimp and other crustaceans, making it a go-to choice for many redfish anglers fishing in clear water conditions.

Jig Head Color Considerations

In addition to the color of your soft plastic lure, the hue of your jig head can also play a role in the overall effectiveness of your presentation. Matching the jig head color to the water conditions and the color of your lure can create a more cohesive and natural appearance.

For example, when fishing in clear water with a naked or newpenny colored lure, a gold or copper-colored jig head can complement the lure's hues and enhance its overall appeal. In darker water, a black or dark green jig head may be a better choice to provide contrast and make the lure more visible to redfish.


Experimenting with different color combinations is key to finding what works best in your local waters. Don't be afraid to try new things and pay attention to what the redfish are responding to on any given day.

Mark Nichols

Understand How Colors Effect Performance

Ultimately, the best lure color for redfish will depend on a variety of factors, including water clarity, depth, light conditions, and the prevalent forage in the area. By understanding how different colors perform in various scenarios and being willing to experiment with different combinations, anglers can dial in the most effective hues for their specific fishing environment and increase their success when targeting redfish.

The Role of Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence, the production and emission of light by living organisms, plays a fascinating role in the underwater world and can significantly influence the feeding behavior of redfish and other predatory fish. Many anglers may not be aware of this phenomenon, but understanding how bioluminescence works and incorporating this knowledge into your lure selection can lead to more successful fishing trips.

What is Bioluminescence?

In the marine environment, bioluminescence is most commonly observed in invertebrates, such as jellyfish, squid, and certain species of shrimp and crabs. These creatures produce light through a chemical reaction that occurs within their bodies, often as a means of communication, defense, or attracting prey.

Bioluminescence can also be triggered by physical disturbance, such as when a predator attempts to capture its prey. In these instances, the sudden burst of light can serve as a distraction, allowing the prey to escape or attracting larger predators that may target the initial attacker.

Bioluminescence and Redfish Behavior

For redfish and other predatory fish, bioluminescence can serve as a visual cue that triggers their feeding instinct. When an injured fish or a molting crustacean emits a glowing appearance, it can signal an easy meal for opportunistic predators like redfish.

Redfish are known to be voracious feeders, and they rely heavily on their sense of sight to locate and capture prey. The sudden appearance of a glowing object in the water can quickly catch their attention and entice them to strike.

In addition to the visual attraction, the presence of bioluminescence may also indicate the presence of vulnerable or injured prey, which can further stimulate a redfish's feeding response. This instinctual reaction to bioluminescence can be a powerful tool for anglers looking to increase their catch rates.

Incorporating Bioluminescence into Lure Selection

Understanding the role of bioluminescence in redfish behavior can help inform your lure selection and increase your chances of success on the water. When choosing lures for redfish, consider options that mimic the appearance and behavior of bioluminescent prey.

Soft plastic lures in glow colors, such as chartreuse, green, or pink, can be particularly effective at mimicking the bioluminescent qualities of certain prey items. These colors are especially useful in low light conditions or when fishing in deeper, darker waters where the glow effect is more pronounced.

Another option is to use lures that incorporate fluorescent or phosphorescent materials, which absorb light and emit a glowing appearance in low light conditions. These lures can be particularly effective during dawn, dusk, or night fishing sessions when natural bioluminescence is more likely to occur.

In addition to color selection, the action and presentation of your lure can also play a role in mimicking bioluminescent prey. Erratic or wounded swimming actions can simulate the movements of an injured or vulnerable prey item, further enticing redfish to strike.


By understanding the role of bioluminescence in the marine environment and incorporating this knowledge into your lure selection and presentation, you can tap into a powerful natural trigger that can lead to more redfish in the boat.

William Toney

Take Advantage of Nature

While bioluminescence may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about redfish fishing, it's a fascinating and important aspect of the underwater world that can significantly influence the feeding behavior of these popular game fish. By selecting lures that mimic the appearance and behavior of bioluminescent prey and presenting them in a manner that triggers a redfish's predatory instincts, anglers can unlock a new level of success and enjoyment in their pursuit of these incredible creatures.

What are the best DOA lures for redfish?

According to Mark Nichols and Capt. William Toney, shad lures and jerkbaits are two of the most effective DOA lures for targeting redfish. The specific lure choice may vary depending on the bottom structure and water conditions.

How do I choose the right color for my redfish lure?

The best color for your redfish lure depends on the water conditions. In dark, tannic water, opt for glow, red, or gold fleck colors. In clearer water, naked or newpenny colors tend to work well. Don't forget to consider the color of your jig head, as this can also impact the lure's effectiveness.

What is bioluminescence, and how does it relate to redfish fishing?

Bioluminescence is the natural glow emitted by injured fish, molting shrimp, and crabs. This phenomenon can trigger redfish and other fish to attack, making it an important concept to consider when selecting your lures.

How can I improve my redfish fishing skills?

One of the best ways to enhance your redfish fishing skills is to learn from experienced anglers and tackle innovators. Sharing information and insights with fellow fishermen can help you refine your techniques and increase your chances of success on the water.

Learning Should Never Stop

By understanding the best lures, colors, and techniques for catching redfish, you can take your fishing game to the next level. Remember to adapt your approach based on the bottom structure and water conditions, and don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations until you find what works best for you.

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Captain William Toney

Captain William Toney, a Florida native, is a fourth-generation fishing guide known for his expertise in Redfish, Sea Trout, Mangrove Snapper, Snook and other fish species. He is a licensed and insured guide, a Homosassa Guide's Association member, and hosts 'In The Spread', an online fishing instruction platform. Toney's expertise in redfish, tides, and bait presentation is unparalleled, and he shares his knowledge on seasonal fish migration patterns and tidal flows. His dedication to passing on his knowledge to younger generations is invaluable.

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