Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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I have placed my first Spring bait order so it is OFFICIAL. Fishing is right around the corner. To prepare, I will take out my smaller tying bag with lines and small hooks and start tying some leaders.


Storing a small wallet of fine leaders in the fishing bag saves hours on the bank. Since I can't get what I want - I make my own snells and store them in a hook wallet (picture rubber pads for the hooks and some plastic bumps to put the snell loops on in a thin, plastic three-fold). This is a must-have for the bluegill angler who fishes live bait.


Next, I will need to get the tall tube of water cleaned out with fresh water. In my case, this is an old plastic decorative bubbler light that stands 5 feet tall with a wide plastic base.

As I prepare this week, I will have to shoot some pictures.


In this, I will take all the old rigs out from the fall (trout fishing season probably) and clean those off. I will also check my cold water gill rigs as the first fishing needs to be done small, light and stealthy! Metabolisms are way down and I want to catch fish - even cold ones.


Since I loaned my boots out to the Pastor to go down to Katrina - and the boots vanished, I will need to get some warm, dry replacements. Warm and dry feet heat a person's sole when on the bank.


A lot of preparation to do this week -but preparing at home, on the workbench with bright lights speeds up the process. Balancing some floats in water at home assures fast fishing when I arrive at the spot and saves me from dropping split shot into the grass. If it is 40 degrees and calm, I will be lucky. I would not want to prep out in that weather- just fish.

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Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on March 24, 2011 at 8:29am

Oh dear, now I have to get different split shot!


I guess this comes from years of using the 'leftovers' from other methods.

Comment by Johnny wilkins on March 24, 2011 at 7:06am

I use the water column to add split shot to lower the float in the water. A key to good split shot is that hey are small - this makes the rig adjustable instead of having large split. Good split shot brands are English - or French - Thill / Anchor are the two brands that are good. Other split shot is made cheaply and will not help you as it is not as soft on your line and it does not stay in place.

The good shot you can slip up your line and it will stick where you want. Fine adjustments to the bite are possible by using multiple smaller shot. 

The water column allows me to put the shot on at home and balance the rigs. Yes, this is for testing my rig to see if it has just the perfect amount of shot on it.

Snells are tied using a tool - some people can do it without the tool by hand, but I find the tool easier. My teacher used to do 6 loops over the line and hook shaft and be able to keep it neat while drawing the snell down. It can be done by hand.

The tools are $8 plus a lot of shipping since most come from overseas.

I should find these and stock them - as I think snelled hooks are essential elements in the live bait anglers' weaponry. Essential.

Comment by Johnny wilkins on March 18, 2011 at 11:03pm

YES spikes come in different sizes for sure. As an example the load I got in is not so huge because they came packed without ice! Shrinkage (in this case because of warmth).

Once they use up that food module- they get smaller in a hurry.

Also many fly species lay eggs that have very small larva - only a couple of flies lay the big honking spikes you see commercially. 

Comment by Johnny wilkins on March 15, 2011 at 6:40pm

You make your own? Oh you are trouble.


no- seriously that is fantastic. I got sick of getting charged $4 for those breaky-balsa floats also. Your foam and spring wire floats will do - and all your setups qualify.


No worries if you don't have brand names (I used those as guidelines).

This is informal, but if you use more standard like the clip pencil or foam, then others will have a reference when our results are shared.


This is very informal fun and not an audit! Just good information for all.

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on March 15, 2011 at 6:18pm

Theres a list to select from? I think I missed it....


I'm not using pre-made floats - Ive made most of mine or modified some others. Therefore, I cant tell you a precise name-type. Im pretty independent (and cheap). Once I learned of this stuff, I made what I could not find here in Dixie. I can tell you I fashioned them after the Thill and other long stem waggle type floats.


I have a bunch of balsa and 1/8 dowel and I just made teardrop wagglers. I also have a mess of Chinese coarse wagglers, which are really just plastic straws with a hole on the end. Some small piddler floats, like the little British carp floats, are in the collection, too.


But I also have the usual foam cigar bobbers, some spring clip pencil bobbers and the good old fashioned red and white cannonballs.


I tie a monofilament bobber stop knot w/ bead and use floats, slip fashion. Just enough split shot to balance the float neutral and a teensy shot about 6" above the hook. If I have jigs on, I dont use the shot. 


What Im going to do, at your suggestion, is make 20 foot lead lines of 3 lb test line (the smallest I have right now). This will be tied to 6 lb backing line. On the long poles, Ill dispense with the backing.  The terminal end (float and hook) will be on this lead section

Im a little unsure where to put a swivel in all of this, except below the float. That's pretty much my tackle plan going in.

Comment by Johnny wilkins on March 15, 2011 at 9:16am


Do me a favor and select something from the list if you would that you already fish with. Thill wagglers are good - if that is what you mean. I need to compare these (he was my teacher).

Ah - yes - that is a good rig. Yes, everyone should have a swivel on any float rig you are casting to eliminate line twist. I appreciate you helping out.

I need a few more. Also- I will be doing a podcast radio show this Saturday and will use the show to go over the Revolution - anyone interested will be able to get a link to listen as it approaches: Revolution Show Link Saturdays (only this show will feature the Revolution, but I might give updates and feature some logs to give an overall progress).


I really appreciate you helping. I need all anglers to outline their fishing a bit so we can all collect this, see it and learn. I must be progressing because I have learned that working together is the way to accomplish goals.


I will have to do a whole radio show on my teacher Mick Thill some time with some call-in guests. 

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on March 15, 2011 at 8:26am
Alright then, Johnny, I will log my data for you. Know that I have mostly small slip bobbers and wagglers already... but I do have some of the "wrong" kind, too. I'll do my best to collate information between them.
If I were going to attach a leader, I would use a Surgeons or Albright knot. That way I would maintain a closer connection to the line. I might use just a #12 or #14 barrel swivel...
Would these suffice?
Comment by Johnny wilkins on March 15, 2011 at 7:09am

I definitely want to share all the rig information, but after a couple months of the Revolution. Without a gauge on how everyone fishes, equipment they use and methods I won't have information to compare. I need to learn from everyone.


I feel like without this information on how everyone is doing with their systems, that I have nothing to compare it to. Also, if you yourself are catching fish with your current rig and logging it, we have something to compare on the same water with the same angler. Yes, I will even send you a completed rig and components as part of the Revolution- but first everyone needs to get out, fish, catch and log with their favorite tackle between March & the end of April - if we get everyone on board.  Let's just say you should love the rig.


I am going fishing this weekend and hope to tie into some fish- I can't wait. Warm front is on the way!!


I would say this for the leaders I use 10" of leader in the Spring and as the temperature picks up - or the bite increases I decrease that leader down to 6". 2 and 3 lb. line will be much easier to snell - 4 lb. is brutal stiff. We will find you some 3 lb. line and 2 lb. line - this will solve it for you.

Meal worms are good for keeping in your box- they don't need ice. But, for hookbait, I don't like them as much. They are too long, the hard shell and all makes them come of the hooks. They are good - but spikes are GREAT. The added trouble with the ice is worth it.

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on March 15, 2011 at 3:22am
Good info on the maggots. Ive never seen them here, and people get all weird looking when I mention them. Far more common are meal worms in this locale.
What is your opinion on them?
May I ask how you are affixing your snelled hooks to the main line? I have snelled many a hook, and I surely know what you mean about the diameter of line being a problem.
I tend to use #10 hooks generally, which are alright but I can never find line smaller than 4 lb test. I have to special order smaller line. I usually back the reel with 4-6 lb test and then run a 20 ft. lead line of the smaller stuff. Im thinking I may use up a bunch of the old braided line I have around here as filler, instead.
Would you object to sharing what your pre-made rigs look like and how you attach them to the main line? I'm interested to know what you are doing, that I may give it a try. I like your approach to brim fishing.
Comment by Johnny wilkins on March 14, 2011 at 6:30pm


This tube is a long, 5' tall tube and is used to add shot under my float until the float is perfectly balanced for the bait I will fish. If I do this on the bank, it is windy, light is sometimes bad and I would rather be fishing when I arrive than tying or balancing a float.


If you are enjoying the day - you may do this at the water's edge, but I always get excited to fish. Adding shot on the line when you are sitting in front of the water means spilling shot, dropping shot into the grass and taking longer to make the rigs.


I will be taking some pictures this week of my setup. The bait that is ordered for Spring is the smallest I can fish - spikes (maggots). I ordered 12,000 maggots. Shipping them to myself in bulk I can bring them in at $6 per 1,000. When I go to my local store, they want $15 per 1,000.


If you buy spikes by the 50 ct., you are paying $25 per 1,000. That is the going rate. Note, if I had gone in on this bait order with another angler as I do later in the season, I can drop that price down to $4.75 per 1,000 spikes - a huge savings.


Now, the real secret to the bait - use it. Don't store it! Storing it is wasting it. Get a small network of gillers in your area to split the shipping together and reap the benefits. Not only will you save money but more importantly - you will get the best bait you have ever fished in your life. Fresh bait is the top 5 elements of having great live bait fishing.


Take a look at these typical bait store maggots (spikes):

If you get them this fresh- you are lucky. These are over a week old and chances are your bait store supply is at LEAST that old or two weeks old by the time it is out for you to buy. The stuff you ship in fresh should look like this:


It's subtle - but see those dark, big black dots... that is the food module the spikes use. Some of you have NEVER seen this - it's not your fault. Bait goes to the distributor and then is sorted, unpacked, packed for shipping out to bait dealers and then trucked out once a week. Most of your bait is also NOT stored at a cold enough temperature for this food dot to remain there long enough for you to have seen it.


A bait store by told me the bait was fine at 47 degrees (their fridge thermometer reading). They are now out of business. 


Stored at 47, you have about 1.5 weeks before they are flat dead or turned to flies. Stored at 34 degrees you can get 5 weeks out of them and have fresh, lively, strong bait for fishing.


Fresh bait makes a MASSIVE difference.


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