Dredge Fishing for Small Boats: Everything You Should Know

Jul 7th 2023

Dredge Fishing for Small Boats: Everything You Should Know

Dredge fishing with a small boat can be extremely productive if you do it right. Of course, how to dredge fish depends on who you ask, as every angler has their own strategies. That said, if you’re planning to put together a small boat dredge, there are ways to maximize the efficiency of your spread.

You don’t need a big boat to catch big fish! Plenty of monsters have been pulled up in smaller center console boats. In fact, if you’re not using a dredge, you’re missing out on some massive potential.

What’s more enticing to your prey — individual baitfish or a school of them on the move? Using a small boat setup with dredges lets you mimic real feeding conditions, naturally bringing more attention to your hooks.

Here’s what you need to know to get big results from your small boat.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Sure, a massive spread can deliver massive results, but only if you’re actually able to manage it properly. You need to think about your reeling capabilities when you put together a dredge setup. On a small boat, you’re probably going to be running your dredges from a stern cleat with a weight.

Just because you don’t have the hefty gear that’s common on mega sport fishers doesn’t mean you can’t create a high-performance small boat setup. As you learn how to dredge fish with a small boat, the first step is finding the right size dredge bars and the right amount of dredge teasers.

The ideal size of your spread depends on multiple factors, such as the size of your boat, the size of your crew, and the size of your equipment. A bucket dredge with 21 squids is going to be a whole lot more manageable than multiple 38” dredges with 130 squids each. You could also even use a StripZ dredge. Start small, gauge your capabilities, and then work your way up.

Placement Is Key

squid and tuna mud flapz on a dredge

When learning how to dredge fish, It’s important that your setup places your spread in a visible location below and away from your boat’s prop wash. While that white water will attract gamefish, it can also obstruct the view of your bait — not just for your prey, but for you and your crew.

Best placement practices depend on your boat and water conditions, but around 20 feet away and no deeper than six feet below the surface is a good starting point. If you’re also running flat lines, make sure your dredges are deep enough to avoid getting tangled.

Bait Choice Matters

With a small boat dredge, bait choices are especially important. Massive boats can run huge spreads with many bait styles, but a small boat dredge has to make every bait count. Experimenting with bait is crucial as you learn how to dredge fish.

Of course, the bait that works one day may not work the next. You should also always have at least one backup dredge ready in case of breakage, so consider having unique baits on each one. That way, you can switch them out if the first isn’t productive.

Our CustomZ Pre-Rigged Teasers are another fantastic option if you’re looking to build a custom dredge. We designed them to be a turnkey solution that makes switching out your dredge teasers a hassle-free affair. They’re pre-rigged with premium leaders and tackle, so you can make rapid adjustments on the fly. We also have complete dredge kits that come ready to drop.

Use a Cleat + Pulling Kit

Multiple dredges on the deck of a boat

When you’re learning how to dredge fish with a small boat, your setup still needs to be able to handle the tremendous weight and pressure from a dredge spread — even a small one. For most small boat dredges, a cleat will do the job. Fish Razr’s dredge pulling kit is the perfect setup to cleat off a small dredge.

Shop Tournament-Grade Dredge Equipment

Knowing how to dredge fish won’t mean a thing if you don’t have high-quality gear to make it happen. At Fish Razr, we stock everything you need to build a tournament-ready small boat setup, including dredge bars, dredge teasers, and dredge accessories. If you have any questions about building your small boat dredge rig, get in touch. Check our offshore angling blog for more tips, tricks, techniques, and tactics. Catch more fish with professional dredge equipment. Shop Fish Razr now.

About Author

Les Orr is a co-owner of Fish Razr and a native of the Gulf Coast of Texas. He grew up fishing the inshore waters of the Galveston Bay system and occasionally offshore. He moved to South Carolina for a job opportunity in 1994, and his love of the offshore grew in the Charleston area. He currently lives and works in Mt. Pleasant, SC, with a wife and two young kids, 12 and 13 years old. His son is becoming quite the angler and loves going offshore to catch dolphin, tuna, wahoo, and the occasional marlin or sailfish.