Panfish is a general term to cover Bluegills, Crappie, Rock Bass, and Yellow Perch and other regional species. The best part about panfish is that you don't have to spend a fortune to have success or a good time. There is very little equipment that a person needs to go out and catch a bunch of panfish; you don't even need a boat. These fish are usually in schools and the action can be fast, making it great to introduce children to the sport of fishing.
Some of the best panfishing can be done from shore at a local park or river bank helping to make this even more family friendly. Any rod and reel can work from very inexpensive to a small fortune, but a lighter rod and reel combo works best. I prefer a rod in the six foot range in a light or med. light weight; you don't need heavy equipment because these fish are generally under a pound. Spinning or spin cast reels work best; spooled with 4-6 lb line, I have found I prefer Berkley Trilene XL. This line has a low memory which helps reduce the line twist and curls. When rigging for panfish start with an Eagle Claw #6 or #8 Aberdeen hook, these hooks have a longer shank which helps when removing the hook from a fish. Panfish have a tendency to swallow the hook, especially when young fishermen are involved. Also a note that many fishermen use a hemostat to remove the hook.
Bluegills have a small mouth and you need small pliers to aid in removal. Next is the sinker, this will hold the bait down and aid in casting. A size 7 removable split shot is about 1/8 ounce and works very well with a round clip on style bobber in the 1 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch size. Here again many fishermen oversize their bobber and thus don't catch as many fish or have more trouble with the fish swallowing the hook. It is better to error on the smaller side for success. Anglers can also use a slip bobber which will replace the round clip on style. A slip bobber will allow you to fish deeper water without the trouble of not being able to reel up to the hook like a clip on style bobber would. Slip bobbers made by Lindy have become my favorite, because they have an over sized hole and a brass insert to aid in allowing the line to slip thru the bobber. With all slip bobbers you need to use a slip bobber knot and a bead to adjust the depth of you hook in the water.
Live bait is typically used with a slip bobber or clip on bobber. Wax worms, crickets, small minnows, and worms all work, but worms or Night Crawlers are the preferred bait. When using Night Crawlers break the Crawler into small pieces about 1 inch in length. Leaving a large piece of crawler on a hook will allow the fish to steal the bait without being hooked. With the increasing popularity of soft plastic bait many anglers are turning to small plastics to catch their Panfish. Baits like Berkley Power Bait and Berkley Gulp have a fish attracting scent and realistic feel in a number of Panfish appropriate sizes to replace, or use in correlation with live bait. You many also find that casting small Mepps inline spinners or small Beatle Spins produced by Berkley can be productive.
With Panfish spread across all of North America there is no doubt that they are the favorite pass time of many anglers. I recommend that you go out and give Panfishing a try.
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