Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Be the lure: Fishing plastics for bluegills and other panfish

New plastics have occupied the end of my line while panfishing on an increasingly frequent basis. When I locate a school of aggressive or even neutral fish, I often find myself considering plastics first. Why? So I’m wasting less time with live bait and spending more time catching fish. Experiencing fewer nipped minnows saves me time and money.

A key to successfully fishing plastics is to visualize how they perform underwater. Say you have a Power Night Crawler… try and imagine how it’s reacting to the water and imitating natural forage. Replicate that in your retrieve.

Think about how those concerns apply to color, width of the bait, its density, and length of bait. Try and match the consistency of live bait, whether it’s nightcrawlers on spinner rigs for walleyes, with imitation minnows, say 3- to 4-inchers with lightweight jigheads.

Like so many lures, plastics attract fish, but it’s up to us to trigger strikes. Vary your retrieves with some shake-it stops, lift-and-drops, or stop-and-go’s. Try something  different on every retrieve. Swap in different colors regularly, too.

And never be afraid to modify your plastics. Shorten your plastics and fish different species with plastics than common sense might suggest. Always think outside the box while trying to imitate what triggers strikes.

If fishing with plastics and not catching fish, give it a little time or always be willing to switch to other methods. We’re not truly fishing unless we constantly learn from the fish!

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