Do you love big bluegill?
Here's just a couple jigs I like to fish. Some micro and some regular sizes.
Just one of my Panfish Boxes.....Various jigs, floats and weights.
I've had several inquiries in recent weeks about fishing jigs under a float so I thought I would post a discussion with my suggestions and then others could add their questions and/or suggestions as they feel necessary.
I've been fishing jigs under a FIXED float for many years and it has become one of my favorite techniques to pursue Gills. Just like any and all fishing it takes calculated decisions to generate strikes and optimize the strikes that you get. The three most important factors in my decisions regarding jig fishing are as follows:
1. Water TEMPERATURE: This will dictate the size of the jig I select along with the float and weight. The colder the water gets the smaller I go. The natural tendency of the fish in these conditions will be to softly approach a bait, this would often remain undetected by larger gear. In ideal water temperatures above 62 degrees I go all the way to a 1/32 ounce jig with up to a 2" soft plastic. This approach is proven and in no way is to large for Bluegill fishing. Each angler will have his/her favorite and they should follow their instincts. But for my time and money, bigger gills will take the larger presentations more readily and hopefully cutting down your battles with the "tird" tappers......I just want folks to leave this discussion ready to try some things that they may not have before or may not have considered......
2. Water DEPTH: If the fish are shallow, how can I get my bait to them with the least amount of disruption from the bait entering the water. Smaller gear would create less disturbance entering the water but perhaps you can throw past the strike zone and retrieve your bait to the zone. Perhaps a telescopic pole would be better to just lower the bait into the zone without the accompanied splash and commotion. Again, deeper fish will be impacted less than fish in three feet of water or less. This is a very important consideration that is often overlooked. My belief is that in areas holding catchable fish, an angler can improve quality and numbers with this approach.
3. Water CLARITY: I for one use heavier line with zero negative impact because my waters are dark with very limited visibility. Many anglers will prefer smaller line and I totally understand and would follow the same advice given similar environments. Fish you can see are often easier to spook from surrounding movement. The dark waters provide me an advantage but I still fail very conservative.....If the winds are low, can I remove or down size my weight or float and still catch fish. All things to consider when heading out for gills with your favorite jig.
I will go into more detail in the weeks ahead but feel free to ask any questions you may have. I will discuss weight placement and tipping recommendations in the next couple posts. Good luck and please ask if you have any questions, whether general or specific....Maybe all it will be for you is a subtle change to increase your quality or numbers. I'm not the only successful jig angler on Bigbluegill and I know collectively, we probably have the answer to just about any question you may have......
I always figured that the more streamlined a float was, the better. I've seen the European floats, but all that I've seen have been fixed float designs, and I prefer a slip for it's greater versatility. That's not to say that I always fish them in slip mode, as I rig them fixed whenever possible, just that for a shorebound angler fishing cold water, and casting to a spot 60 feet away, slip is the way to go.
It seems to me that most European floats are designed with a telescopic rod in mind.....just swing the bait out and drop it. And I can see where that would allow an angler to utilize a fixed float to its full potential, while the advantage of the long rod allows for a greater depth if necessary. Unfortunately, during the winter the fish aren't usually found 20' from shore.....they're waaayy out there, possibly near the bottom. I need to be able to reach a spot 50- 60' away, and fish at a depth of 12' once I get there. Slip float territory.
I also take the time to balance my slip floats, trying for a neutral bouyancy. I understand that a lighter weight float, coupled with a streamlined appearance, will provide less resistance, thereby needing a smaller amount of weight to properly balance, which is the desired outcome. But, I believe that if I were patient enough, I could spend some time and effort and probably balance a volleyball to neutral bouyancy....to the point where it would register a tentative bite. Sure, it's easier with a smaller float, but isn't the principle the same, irregardless of size? Whether you're balancing a float, or trimming a submarine (sorry Jeffrey), neutral balance is achieved the same way....adding or subtracting weight.
Certainly you wouldn't want to fish the volleyball float on Gills' nesting in 2-3' of water....but deep water bluegills.... cold water bluegills, are often at a much greater depth, and I believe that a surface splash caused by a slightly larger, properly weighted float, is less likely to disrupt those fish.
I guess I want the best float for the circumstances I'm currently fishing, but I also believe that properly weighting an average float will make up for a lot of it's less-than-desireable, generic, mass-produced tendencies.
See your point since the goal is to get as vertical a presentation as possible. I'm NJ based and shorebound. December - March is quiet time for me. The rest of the time. it's just fixed line by choice.
Your point is well made, I use slips as well. The conditions and time of year always should dictate the style of float as well as bait. That to me is the fun part, putting together a rig that will solve a particular problem.
I was fishing with a local fella the other day, named Ray. He's got a drawl about as long as your arm and you can tell he's country. But he is sharp eyed and you know right off that he is no bumpkin. Ray is one of those guys that casts right to where he intends; when he lets fly, it is both pretty and hits the target.
I was up for some chatting, and found Ray to be forthcoming. Most country folks are like that. He had no problem sharing what works for him in our neck of the woods. Fishing with him was another of those "educatin' moments in fishing."
You know the kind of moments I mean. Most times, I reckon I pretty much understand things, although I allow I don't know everything. Then along comes a guy like Ray... Fortunately, I AM smart enough to keep quiet and watch. Luckily, Ray's not like my wife, who can tell you all the things I don't know.
Looking back now, I wonder what Ray might think of all this talk about light floats, wagglers and so on. He uses no-name, weighted, walnut sized floats from WalMart. They probably don't cost more than fifty cents apiece. My bet is that he's never seen a real porcupine, either, let alone one of its quills. Waggling? That's what you do after too many beers.
Beneath his floats he has a plain #4 Aberdeen, a large split shot and a soaking minnow. I do see that he has rigged things slip float fashion and I ask him about that.
"Well, it's kind of a pain," he says, "but it's the only way to get to 'em from here. They're about 8 or 10 feet down, right by those pilings." I look over and admire his long casts; the float plops down right next to the piers each time. Good angler, this guy.
I like Ray right off, too, mostly because he totes a whole armload of rods with him. Any man with too many rods is alright with me. He has two of those ping-pong ball floats in the water - one with the minnow and another slip floating "leadheads with yellow plastics", as he puts it. "They just love yellow," he says and shrugs.
The rest of his rods are piled up beside him like firewood, in case he should want them. As it turns out he doesn't - it was all he could do to work the two he had.
He'd squint a little, or sometimes he'd pull his hat down and peer closely at the floats.
"Look, there's one messin' with it, now" he'd announce, as if I could actually tell. Then he'd rear back and the rod would bend. The float would go under and he'd fast-crank the spinning reel. In a second or two, a nice crappie comes up and he lifts it to the surface.
"It's a keeper," he says calmly and he flings open the cooler. The fish disappears inside with not so much as a whimper. This little dance plays out every five or ten minutes and to be useful, I add cooler opening to my other job of gum flapping.
Through it all Ray just keeps fishing and talking. He shows me how to rig 'em and tells me why this is a great spot in the winter. I learn of other local places where the fish will bite tomorrow, or where they were hot last week. I hear about his boat and how his lame-brained brother-in-law put a hole in it.
But through it all I watch this good old boy "wearin' em out." He just sits there in his tattered hat, perched on his paint bucket seat... launching those darned WalMart floats. It occurs to me that I am very lucky.
Some of the best advice I ever got about fishing came from guys like Ray....I moved to the Low Country as a young man in the early 80s when the Navy assigned me to my first submarine and it was the start of something great.....A few trip's to old Black's Fish Camp was the beginning of the transition from student to regular on the Santee Cooper.....
HEY DAVID, TTTTTTTTTTHANKS for posting this one and was a really interesting read for me and all others who viewed it , I'm sure.
I learned from Ole Uncle Dud in Indiana the same way as you learned from Ray. He didn't talk much but when he did I always shut up and listened . He could say more in 20 words than most people would say in a lifetime........
love the story of your buddy ray! being a [old geezer] i remember just tying any kind of stick to a line for a float! and it worked!
I have used the Boddied Waggler Floats from Thill for a number of seasons, but only during cold water periods and only if I can reach deeper water within a 50 ft cast or, preferably shorter. It does take time to balance the tip of the waggler so that just the top 1 inch sets above the water, but it detects 'up bites' better than any float I have ever used. With 2 pound test you can rig it as a slip float with an adjustable rubber bobber stop. Long rods are in order, and I prefer an 11 ft Crappie Systems rod from Cabelas, a rod that's over 20 years old and are no longer made.
Once warmer weather/water emerges I go to floats like the Conal 1.5 in weighted cigar-shaped items that are bright orange or the .75 in dia. pear-shaped floats by Plastilite, both of which are fixed bobber applications for 2 to 6 ft deep. Once water temps hit the mid fortys, both gills and crappies seem to be active enough to submerse or tow these floats, thus signaling strikes.
The english/europeans have by necessity developed float fishing to an art. I have spent years reading, studying and using light floats like waggers and quills for panfish and other fish as well. The lightest takes are easy to detect and fun to watch as the float will disappear as the fish pull it under.
Ive used some of the Euro float styles for some time, especially the wagglers. They inspired my own 'kurz' versions. I find the wagglers cumbersome to cast over any distance, so I just lopped them down to a smaller size. You can buy them this way, of course, but I dont care to lose expensive floats to the fishing gods. Mine arent pretty, but they work.
For serious float jigging, when casting is called for, I like the cigar types Jeff shows.
how about a pic David, would like to see
I can do that, Mike. It will be a few days - I use the internet at work, in short doses.