Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

Something new I would like to do this year is venture into the ultralights and fish a lil artificial. Ive got 10 bream busters in my boat 1 tiny tackle box with only corks, weights, hooks and 200ft of 10lb tst line and two cages usually loaded with 150 to 250 crickets a pc. Fishing with live bait all your life tends to make you scared to death when you go out without them crickets but I wanna try!

First off when fishing artificials Do you do it like bass fishin? Do you chunk at the outskirts of tree tops? Or do you just jig? How deep do you know you are when your fishing in current. Do you even fish the same spots? Life is scary without a cork. When do you use a blade? Is a rooster tail better than a spoon? How important is the color of the jig head? Should I rub the beatle spin in the worm dirt to add some flavor to it? Life was so simple when it was just a cricket, a stick, a cork, and some string.

Lets have a technique discussion. Imagine your writing to a ten year old kid on what to get and how to use it! (no im not that dumb but lord please be gentle with me to begin with..... I gotta get warmed up first)

This is going to be like Big Country takin his chevy into the city so keep the technical terms slim PLEASE

Scared of the plastic in Al.

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Mr. Mayo.

Funny you should ask this, because I've spent the last three years moving the other direction. I went decades without using live bait, but now I'm getting more and more enjoyment out of drownin' a worm or waxie.

First off, this doesn't need to be a complex exercise. You need to keep the hooks small (I'll send you some this spring if you'd like) and the jigheads bright, like yellow, chartreuse, green (although at times black or white seem to do great).


I alwasy start at well defined weed lines. I prefer to make my casts parallel to the week edge. I start slow, then get slower and slower and slower.

Ultimately I end up letting it sink to the bottom, then I jig it in little hops. Imagine in your head what a tiny crayfish looks like as it skitters off the bottom. The bluegill will follow, then strike just before the jig settles back to the bottom.

Try black body jigs with green tails first. Something about that looks just like a dragonfly nymph.

Big bluegill eat more fish than you might realize. I think the biggest bluegill would eat minnows all day long if they could catch them more efficiently. So you should try a yellow rooster tail with silver blade. Throw it along the same weedline and tug on it right before you start your retrieve. This will start the blade spinnin'. Then adjust your retrieve speed to be the slowest, steadiest possibly without allowing the blade to stop.

You'll get the hang of it real quick.

One other suggestion that I feel really strongly about.

Don't try artificials just when the fish stop biting on the crickets. This will set you up for failure.

Try the artificials when the fish are biting the best. This will give you some much needed confidence. Run with it.

My belief is that if the fish are biting light or slow, live bait will outperform artificials. When the fish are biting well, then artificials make you more efficient. Less time rebaiting, or worse yet, spending 3 bucks on a dozen crawlers.

For what it's worth, when the fish are biting the very, very, VERY lightest that's when a skilled fly fisherman will kick your "you know what". Nothing is more subtle and delicately presented than a tiny dry fly or bead head for a big naughty bull 'gill.
Bruce....... You ever get you a worm bed goin and learn how to dip a cricket?
Hey! Great to hear from you! Just last week I was working on starting my first worm bed at the new house. Still haven't fished with a cricket, though. What have you been up to?
Lots of things been going on here Mr. Condello.  Works been on edge so its get it when you can kinda thing. Doesnt leave much time for the creek. Im still managing at least 1 time every 2 weeks though. Ive been courting my new lady so you know how important presentation is!!! Got her lil boy his first fish rite before the cold of winter came in. Cant wait till march gets here to start takin him out. Hes never really had a male figure around everyday till me so Im doin my best to give him a crash course for the last couple of years of his life hes missed out on. He has yet to catch his first bluegill yet. Ive been teachin him how to crappie fish. Yea... You know I like a challange...... 2 and crappie fishin. I LOVE IT!!!!! So far since the last time I was on here Ive managed to bring over half dozen people into the wonderful world of fishing and get them there first fish. I honestly believe there is no bigger thrill than to watch somebody catch there first fish. This spring I plan on hitting it hard so I hope your ready for Mr. Mayo to blow this site up again!!!!!
This should be interesting........I have no clue, I'm used to live bait, rod, float...and patience!!!!

I used to fish live bait almost exclusively until I experienced the productivity of spoon fishing....the ability to cover large areas, and depths of water with this type of presentation has proven to trigger aggressive fish....
Quote..... Big bluegill eat more fish than you might realize. I think the biggest bluegill would eat minnows all day long if they could catch them more efficiently.

The right spoon for the right conditions, presented in the right way, mimics an injured minnow and has proven to trigger neutral and even inactive fish via reaction strike, even when finesse tactics have drawn a blank.

Why use swivels and snaps instead of tyingn directly to the lure?
Hi Jeremy...

Swivels are a must ! I actually use 2 of them. Tip: Don't skimp... buy the best ball bearing swivels you can buy... they may just save your fishing trip. There is nothing worse than getting a coil of loops and twists in your line, especially when the Gills have decided they like what you are offering.

I connect the first swivel directly to the lure and a 4 foot 2lb test leader to that. The 2nd swivel gets tied in right there where my leader connects to my 4 lb main line.

Twist gets even worse when you are using really light lines and the two swivel technique works very well. I usually fish with tiny jigs, either on the drop (counting them down) or slow on the bottom. These don't require a swivel but anything that 'Spins' will make a birds nest of your fishing line after just a few casts.

They don't get much attention but I would put swivels up there amongst the most important pieces of fishing tackle in your box...

Tight Lines

Thanks for posting this up Mr MAYO. I've been thinking of trying to catch more gills on artif. Bruce, I think you pointed out one of my problems. I usually don't try jigs when the bite is hot on worms/hotdogs/bacon. I try them when I'm not catching fish with my regular methods. The biggest bluegill I caught last year was with a bass crankbait. If anyone has any panfish cranks that they have success with I would love to know. I really think that they could produce some quality fish.
Ive only used one artificial lure for bluegill. Its called a Bitsy minnow. Its a 1" crankbait with a double red treble hook. Tiny tiny hooks. If your fishing huge shallow flats its an awsume lure. Especially when that flat is covered with beds. You can find it at walmart. The biggest pc of advice I can give with this lure....... 4lb ts line. It will throw on 6 but any heavier and you can just hang it up.

the bitsy minnow is awesome.  i have caught some nice gills on it.  also try a size 3 or 5 rapala original floating, reel it really slow and hold on.  i throw them on a UL rod with 4 lb test.     

I'm not so certain this is a topic that can be covered within a simple forum thread.

Here again, Bruce has me questioning quite a few details about my own angling experiences - first of all being, "Have I found the largest 'gills in the systems I fish?"

While we have caught many bluegill while long-lining crankbaits, using hair jigs for crappie (and specifcally targetting 'gills), and even tussled with a few that took a minnow/jig combo, I have never opened a bluegill stomach and found any signs of other fish as a food source.
Now, keep in mind the size fish we are keeping; they are not the largest fish we catch. However, some of the fish kept are those that showed a definate urge to take a lure imitating a minnow (or YOY species).

In regards to artifical use and when to use it:
Some of the most productive fishing trips we've had over the last eight years have been when we broke the golden rule:
"Don't leave fish to find fish."
I guess if you're content to simply catch fish after fish this is quite fine - I tend to get bored easily and start looking for a challenge.
If I see fish being caught on every drop, or every other drop on a jighead tipped with a waxworm, I'll change to something else. This is simply my warped way of learning. I know if I need that added sense of angling security that I can go back to what is working for my boat partner.
It doesn't stop there though - riggings, locational changes, lure types (plastic vs. hair vs. feather vs. etc.). Experiment to learn what works when.
I'm a firm, uneducated, believer in color - esp. when it comes to bluegill.
I've watched bluegill reject one jig only to fight over another simply different by color only. I have two lakes locally that are another example of color making a difference. On a clear water impoundment, bright orange is an absolute must to carry. Use this same color on the stained water impoundment 25 minutes away and you'll have a whole day of casting practice with nothing to show for it; switch to a pearl white, and you'd swear you found the Holy Grail.
The last issue of IGFA has an interesting article on color and fish perception of such. It tends to deal with the differences between deep water vs. shallow water fish eye construction, but still leaves me wondering, "So what does each species see, and when?"

For myself, small jigs of various types are my confidence baits. I tend to start with artificals and move to live bait if the conditions warrant the use. Can't really say it has to do with a sense of accomplishment or personal satisfaction - it's merely being so conditioned to picking up a jig first over the years, and knowing I have the ability to make that lifeless object look alive that gives me the feeling of confidence.

Once again, that's what I highly enjoy about panfishing - it can be as complex or as simple as the individual wants it to be.


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