Over the cooler months there’s one species that tends to spring to mind for light tackle freshwater fishos looking for generally productive sessions and a fearless fish to throw a range of small lures at, namely redfin, AKA reddies.
These olive coloured fish with distinctive black bands and gaudy red fins, are one of the more aggressive predatory species in the fresh, and can dominate smaller waterways with their sheer numbers and ruthless predation of basically anything aquatic that can fit in their mouths. This is where the avid lure angler equipped with their favourite Shimano flickstick outfit and a bunch of artificial presentations can really tap into some wickedly addictive cool season freshwater fun!
Redfin are a particularly resilient fish, living in the smallest, turbid, drought-ravaged pool of freshwater you can find, through to larger, more open waterways. Smaller, low flow systems however tend to be their strongholds where they can really dominate and be the primary predator. While in more significant bodies of water they regularly school up tightly and can be tricker to locate unless you’re using your electronics effectively to sound them out, and have an understanding of the holding points they’re likely to be encountered.
Shore sessions are popular for redfin, and are a large part of why the species is within reach of most anglers. Narrow creeks punctuated with deeper holes, sunken timber, reeds and undercut banks can hold a surprising amount of these fish. The truth is they can survive in a puddle, and small public ponds, dams and other man-made waterways even in quite metro parts can provide you with hot lure sessions. Don’t worry if you’re fishing dirty water either as redfin thrive in it.
Soft plastics, such as the Squidgy Bio Tough range up to 100mm, are the perfect presentation for fishing many redfin scenarios where you are pepping structure and want a fearless approach to casting, that won’t cost an arm and a leg if you happen to snag up in the murk.
A size 2-6 jighead in weights around 1-2g are suited to medium to shallow water work for redfin, with a slow sink desirable. Fishing unweighted is also an option in smaller waters, or use lighter jigheads than those mentioned to increase your time in the strike zone. Redfin love to crunch you on the drop, so watch your braid as your lure is drifting down or just after you pause a twitch.
Redfin go gaga after softies, allowing you to mix up lure selections. Squidgy Bio Tough Grubs, Double Tail, Wrigglers, Crawlers and Fish will all get eaten on sight. Both dark and bright colours will work, try changing up colours, patterns and jighead weights each session to see what’s really pushing their buttons as it can vary on occasions, even for a fish with a reputation for having a death wish when it comes to engulfing lures!
Fish your soft plastics deep and slow through the area, and much like chasing bream, tight casts near edges and structure will regularly reward you with a clunk up your braid and a rampant reddie on the other end. Try increasing your lure size, using catch scent, fishing during different atmospheric conditions and times of day to find better fish, and tempt the old ‘king of the pool’ models that may be lurking in the area but more selective when they feed compared to the smaller fish.
Bream sized hard-bodies, loosely 40-70mm, are equally adept at tricking redfin as soft plastics are, however there’s a need to be more selective where you fish them given the tight, snag-loaded waters you could be flicking over.
Standard shallow and deep diving minnows, vibes, sinking stickbaits and surface lures like Brenious Risewalk are all hard options to try that redfin will respond to depending on their mood. A hot tip is surface lures in low light or on windy days when they’re feeding off the top, which can be an exciting way to tangle with these fish for something different. Otherwise again try different presentations, and fish them as deep and as slow as you can preferably avoiding hidden logs and rocks. Seriously consider picking your battle with these lures, and if it’s too dicey break out your Squidgies!
With a spread of lures picked out, piecing together a flickstick outfit for your freshwater redfin assaults is the final factor to consider. Many light tackle anglers would no doubt be equipped with a 2-3kg outfit for flathead and bream and the like, and this can easily transfer to redfin fishing and working small lures in cramped casting conditions. Most of the lures you’re using are the same you’d tie on for bream after all, so similar principles apply – sensitivity, reliable drag, quality braid like Kairiki 8 or Power Pro, and a good length of 2-3kg Ocea Fluorocarbon tied to your favourite lure.
Shimano have a range of perfect rods in their line-up catering for all budgets. From the Jewel 721 to Zodias 270UL, matched with a 1000-2500 sized reel, there’s a bunch of combos you can put together. Consider a shorter rod option if you’re fishing tiny pools surrounded by thick vegetation, it’ll allow more sneaky casts without risk of trimming the bushes with your rod tip!
Besides the sportfishing entertainment possible with redfin, they are also known to be great eating, and are often titled ‘inland whiting’ by the guys and gals that look after their catch and make the effort to cook them up. Noted for their firm flesh and great taste, it’s another excuse to go and chase a few of these kamikaze-style lure eaters this winter!