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Best Flies for Panfish Fishing
Panfish are a great intro to fly fishing for beginners and are still fun for advanced anglers. Panfish come in a variety of species, including crappies, perch, rock bass, bluegills and more. They can usually be caught on the surface which makes them a real favorite and really successful panfish anglers even “match the hatch” with nymphs and leech patterns.
Flies for Catching Panfish
Panfish feed heavily on subaquatic insects, invertebrates and baitfish. Our favorite flies for panfish are poppers of topwater terrestrial patterns because of the fun of seeing the fish eat your fly. However, at certain times sub-surface flies will work best. At these times we love nymphs, terrestrials fished wet and even small baitfish. While small panfish will usually be quite eager to eat a fly, the really big ones can be quite challenging. At these times, fly rodders often will outfish the gear guys.
Rods for Catching Panfish
Panfish don’t require heavy fly rods so rods in the 2 to 6 weight sizes are most popular. We prefer rods that are 9 feet in length as these will help you cast longer distances allowing you to cover more water with less work.
Panfish Fishing Techniques
There are a variety of techniques that can be used to catch panfish with a fly. Fishing the surface with a popper, cricket or hopper is as easy as casting the fly out. Let it sit for a moment or two, wait, twitch it again, repeat this until it is time to pick up and recast. When fishing below the surface, allow the fly to sink to the depth you are concentrating on and start your retrieve. Experiment with different speeds of twitches and retrieves until you find success. When retrieving your flies always keep the line under your trigger finger on the hand that is holding the rod. This will keep slack out of the line and give you better control.
The technique you use is not very important for catching panfish, as they will eagerly eat almost any bait, presented in a large variety of ways. You will have loads of time to practice your casting, stripping and reeling while you catch fish after fish. These feisty fish inhabit all lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
Our top 10 panfish flies:
- Boogle Amnesia Bugs
The most fun way to fish panfish is with panfish poppers. Boogle Amnesia Bugs create the right kind of noise to attract panfish and are made to last with high-quality bodies, materials and hooks.
- Bluegill Bee
This has been and remains one of our top-selling and top-producing panfish flies. The bead head gets the fly down and helps to create a jigging action that panfish can’t refuse.
- Give 'Em Hellgrammite
Hellgrammites are the T-bone steaks of panfish’s diet. Found where panfish are found, large panfish that is, especially perch love eating them.
- Carter's Dragon
Want to catch big panfish? If you do then try a dragon nymph. With tons of protein, dragons are a match the hatch pattern for panfish that big ones love to eat.
- J's Boobie Ant
Whether there’s an ant hatch on the water’s surface or not panfish love eating ants. The Boobie Ant floats extremely well and will bring up panfish to the surface.
- Ehlers' Little Reaper
The Little Reaper is the little brother of the Ehlers’ Grim Reaper. This is a great pattern for panfish of all types from large bluegills and crappies to jumbo perch.
- Rainy's Bumble Bee
Panfish are very opportunistic feeders and when something good hits the water they are likely to eat it. Rainy’s Bumble Bee triggers that feeding pattern and its foam body keeps it floating.
- Rubberlegs Fly
Rubberlegs create action and vibration that attracts panfish and is a fly that they can’t refuse. This fly just plain looks alive underwater.
- Whitlock's Nuevo Spidare
This is a great topwater panfish fly that attracts large panfish. Don’t be surprised if a bass or two eats it too.
- Beadhead Rubberleg Squirrel Nymph
A great wet fly is what you need when panfish aren’t eating on top. The Beadhead Rubberleg Squirrel Nymph is that fly because of its rubber legs and squirrel nymph bodies. It has lots of underwater action. The bead head helps get this fly down.