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Panfish Fishing Tips

File written by Adobe Photoshop® 4.0Gear & Tackle

Panfish, that is, crappie, sunfish, bluegills, rock bass, bullheads and the like are the most pursued game fish in America today. Weighing, on average, less than a pound, ultra-light tackle is the rule. Longer (6'6" to 8') spinning rods should have a soft tip, and line should be thin and flexible in 2# to 4# test, at most. Special telescoping "dipping" rods are also popular, some as long as 15'.

Lures & Presentation

Plentiful in large schools and easily accessible from shore, panfish are most often fished with a float rig of some kind. Small clip-on bobbers, casting bubbles and slip floats are the norm. Tiny jigs, ice flies and long-shanked hooks, weighted with split shot, tend to produce the most fish. Set your float to suspend the bait at about half the depth of the water and adjust up or down as the fish dictate. Keep the rig moving to search for fish, pausing only for 30 seconds or so in one spot.

How to Locate

As mentioned, panfish are abundant in shallow water near shore, especially in spring and fall. Look for fish near bullrushes, lily pads, grass flats and rip rap, as well as under docks, boat lifts and other man-made structures. In summer, panfish will be deeper, in 12' to 18' range, but nearly always relating to structure such as weedlines and drop offs. In that case, vertical jigging or casting and allowing a small spinner jig to flutter down along the face of the structure is a deadly tactic.

Courtesy of Berkley


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