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Hey guys and gals... I know this tactic is nothing new, but I think it deserves review.The 'tailgunner' rig for shallow bedding or feeding gills is simply the use of a small, floating crankbait with a short dropper tied to it with a dry or wet fly attached.

We used this simple rig today for over 70 gills over a windy, shallow spawning area and could easily have caught more. We like the small floating Rapalas or the Yo Zuri Tad Fry and a six to 10 inch dropper of 6 lb test lo-vis mono tied to the back treble hook...or....remove the back treble on the crankbait and tie the mono dropper directly to the split ring on the back. Then tie on a # 12 to # 16 dry or wet fly of your choice.

Cast and steadily retrieve this combo in and around bedding areas and watch for hard, pounding strikes on the fly or slashing attempts at the crankbait. Big gills will follow this package and make last-second swipes at either lure, however, 90 % of the fish will take the fly.

By keeping the dropper length at 6 to 8 inches and removing the back treble, you will eliminate a lot of tangles that would otherwise occur if the mono was longer and/or tied to the back treble hook. Either way works, just that one has fewwer tangles with the dry fly mono dropper wrapping around the plugs hooks.

This tactic was highlighted about 6-7 years ago by In Fisherman editor Steve Hoffman. It remains deadly today...try it!

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Comment by Rob on December 1, 2014 at 7:39pm
Thanks for posting this info. I've added this to my list of things to try next spring.
Comment by Jim Gronaw on November 21, 2014 at 8:59pm

Sorry, Mark...

There are no 'best' flies that I have found for the tail-gunner tactic, as long as it is a #10 to #14 ant or hares ear patterns are very effective. Many others, I am sure, will work equally as well. Just keep it a 10 or smaller.

Comment by Jim Gronaw on November 20, 2014 at 4:28pm

Before, after and during the spawn is a prime time...sometimes late summer.

Comment by carl hendrix on November 20, 2014 at 2:02pm

also  is there other prime time to use the tail gunner?  very interested in this approach!!

Comment by Mark Sleeper on November 20, 2014 at 9:00am

 what fly have you had the best luck on for the dropper Thanks Mark

Comment by Slip Sinker on September 22, 2014 at 7:09am

sounds like a great tactic... definitely adding to my arsenal.... thanks Jim!

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on August 25, 2014 at 6:01pm
Good ideas. I've wondered about that.
Comment by Jim Gronaw on June 13, 2009 at 8:19pm
Hey Steve...I caught several redears the other day on a # 16 black ant about 12 inches back from the Rebel Frog. Normally, I use about a 6 inch dropper to the fly but I was fishing for shellcrackers that were bedding a little deeper than the gills were. Depending on your situation, you may want to experiment with the length of the dropper to see what works best in each environ you fish. Keep in mind that this is a shallow water techique and it is exciting if you can actually see the strike. But it is not neccessary as the panfish usually pop the fly pretty good. If they seem to wise -up on it then change the color of the fly or the dropper length.
Comment by steve b on June 13, 2009 at 6:52am
I am looking forward to trying this. Don't catch many fish on a "bobber", might as well be a little Rapala with a hook of its own. Just makes too much sense. I have a secret weapon type of streamer fly that a friend ties for steelhead that in a smaller size...hmmnnn...(evil giggle sound being heard here) ! steve b
Comment by Jim Gronaw on May 31, 2009 at 9:13pm
I have not tried streamers...but it sounds like a winner! I have had doubles of gills, crappie/gil, bass/gill and got bass up to 18 in on the TG rig. Thanks for the imput!

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