Two prevalent fish to the coastal waters of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are the Red Drum and Black Drum. These fish are sought after by anglers in the southeast because of both the taste and battle they put up when hooked. The two fish are in the same family but are distinctly different from each other. So, red drum vs. black drum what is the difference between a red drum and a black drum?

Other Names for Red Drum And Black Drum

Both types of drums may be called different names by anglers which can cause confusion as to what type of fish it is. 

Red Drum

First, know that the redfish vs red drum is the same species of fish. The red drum is called redfish, red bass, channel bass, and puppy drum. Keep these in mind the next time you are listening to or reading a fishing report. 

When an angler mentions either red drum vs redfish you will understand that you are speaking about the same type of inshore saltwater fish.

Black Drum

A black drum does not have as many nicknames as a red drum. They are also referred to as drum or striped drum. Avoid confusing them with the sheepshead, otherwise known as a convict fish.

How To Identify The Red Drum Vs Black Drum

The two types of drum are not confused because they are distinctly different in appearance and, as a result, are easy to distinguish. Anglers will find no trouble in distinguishing the black drum vs redfish.

Red Drum Identification

First and foremost, they don’t have chin barbells. Secondly, they are bronze in color and have a minimum of one black-colored spot near the tail. When talking to fellow anglers, use redfish vs red drum interchangeably because the two are the same fish and anglers will know the fish you are referring to.

Black Drum Identification

The black drum does not have any teeth and has vertical black stripes along both sides of the body. No matter the size, they will have barbels beneath the lower jaw. The black drum is colored significantly different when compared to the red drum.

How Big Do Redfish And Black Drum Grow

One of the only similarities between the two is the size in which they grow. Each drum is common between one and fifteen pounds.

Anglers are in for a tussle when hooking red drum vs black drum. Generally, the black drum will have a larger population of heavier fish, but they both exceed 50 pounds. Heavy spinning combination rods and reels are required when targeting large redfish or black drum.

How Do You Compare The Fight Of A Red Drum Vs Black Drum

Both are strong fighters. The red drum edges out the black drum in its sporting qualities. Expect strong runs because the redfish has more strength and stamina. As for the black drum, they are strong but not as quick. 

Black Drum Vs Red Drum Taste

One of the primary targets of anglers in the southeastern United States’ coastal regions is the channel bass. Both saltwater drum are sought after for both the fight and the taste. Here is a comparison of the black drum vs red drum taste.


A redfish is excellent table fare if it is under ten pounds. Large red bass takes on a gamier taste and is not recommended to keep.

The fillets of a red drum or redfish are moist, sweet, mild, and firm. A red drum fillet is excellent when prepared grilled, broiled, baked, or sauteed.

Black Drum

The black drum, much like the redfish, is best to keep when the fish is small or under eight pounds. Some would say they are equally as good in taste as a red drum. The large black drum fillets will have a dark color and become coarse in texture, making them almost inedible. 

The key to remember for either of the two drums is to keep them when they are small but, of course, of legal size. 

What Type Of Bait Do Red Drum Vs Black Drum Eat

Fortunately, both the red drum and black drum consume an almost identical diet. Because the drum prefers the same bait and lives in the same habitat, both are often caught on a single fishing trip. 

Black drum, NC, black drum, SC, and black drum GA like redfish in each state are caught from the shore, saltwater fishing piers, docks, and boats. Similar angling tactics are used when targeting red drum vs black drum.

Some of the most popular baits to catch drum include live or dead shrimp, crabs, or fish chunks. As far as artificials are concerned, the best presentation is by casting a jig. Neither the redfish nor the black drum prefers casted or trolled lures compared to live or cut bait. 

How Do You Catch Red Drum Vs Black Drum

When it comes to rods, reels, and tackle the set up is the same when fishing for either the red drum or the black drum.

Rods And Reels When Drum Fishing

When it comes to selecting a rod and a reel, we recommend a 5500 size spinning reel on a medium-heavy spinning rod.

The reel is best spooled with 20 pounded braided line to avoid break-offs with large drums. Replace the fishing line when it becomes frayed to avoid losing fish during the fight.

Tackle For Catching Red Fish and Black Drum

Anglers targeting red drum and black drum most frequently fish in two different ways. One approach is to leave the bait suspended off the bottom beneath a float while the other is fishing on the bottom.

Popping corks allow anglers to fish suspended by tying a leader line beneath the float which mimics feeding fish when popped. The pop is created by gently pulling back on the rod tip. Tie a circle hook to the end of the leader line and apply the bait of choice.

The second option is to fish directly on the bottom by using a weight and hook. Select a weight heavy enough to hold the bottom and tip the hook with bait. Allow the bait to soak until you get a strike.

Red Drum Vs Black Drum: So Which Drum Is The Best Bet For Anglers

When comparing red drum vs black drum, the red drum is the clear-cut winner as to what an angler should target. One of the most notable differences is the quality of the fight. Redfish are one of the strongest fighting inshore fish. Beyond the battle, they are a very unique-looking fish, and they are excellent to serve up for dinner. However, don’t be disappointed if you get the chance to tussle with a black drum;  they, too, are tasty.