Redear Sunfish

redear sunfish

Redear sunfish are commonly called shellcracker in the south.  They are bigger than other sunfish, averaging 7 to 10 inches in length with many fish in the 1 to 2 pound range in the south.  They have a distinct red coloring around its ear flap.  Redears feed on snails, insects, and small bait fish.  They have a special set teeth in their throat that allows them to grind up snail shells.  Redear can be harder to find because they prefer deeper water than other sunfish.

Everything we cover in our sunfish section as far as catching sunfish will work with redear sunfish.  Because these fish grow bigger, they can handle baits a little bigger than you are used to when fishing for sunfish.  You don’t want to go too big though because their mouths aren’t that big.  Redear sunfish do taste excellent.

Best Sunfish Baits


Nightcrawlers are larger worms, so most of the time, you are going to be using smaller pieces of these worms when targeting sunfish.  They can easily grab an entire nightcrawler, but go with the smaller pieces to consistently catch sunfish.

Red Worms

Red worms are much smaller worms and they are the perfect size for most panfish and they are great for sunfish too.


Leeches can be very good baits for sunfish, especially if you are targeting bigger fish.  The smaller leeches will do the trick.  If you are fishing for lots of bites and not necessarily targeting bigger fish, try cutting the leeches into pieces.  You can freeze them this way and only use what you need while on the water.


Bread is a very good bait for sunfish, however, it’s hard to keep it on the hook.  Most anglers will chum with bread and then catch the bluegill with other baits, but if you can get the bread to stay on the hook long enough, you can catch plenty of sunfish with a small piece of bread.


Corn is actually a very good sunfish bait.  Just rig a couple of kernels on a single hook weightless and cast it out near your favorite sunfish spot and hang on.


Spikes are perfect in size for sunfish and sunfish like to eat them.  Use them on a single hook or tip your jigs, spoons and spinners with them to get more bites.

Wax Worms

Wax worms are also a very good size for sunfish.  They work great on a single hook, but most anglers use them to tip their jigs, spoons or spinners.

Soft Plastics

There are a variety of small soft plastics that are made specifically for targeting sunfish.  If you are in a pinch though, you can rip a tiny piece of soft plastics from your bigger baits to use them as bait for catching sunfish.

Hair Jigs

Hair jigs are one of the better baits for sunfish.  Some of these hair jigs are too big for the sunfish to eat the whole jig, however, it doesn’t matter, because you are using the hair jig as an attractor to your bait.  Tip these hair jigs with a tiny piece of worm and sunfish will come up and eat the piece of worm.  It can be very effective.

Jigging Spoons

Jigging spoons are used for deeper water and they can be used as an attractor also.  You will catch some sunfish without tipping these spoons, but you will catch a ton more by tipping the hooks with a tiny piece of worm.