A Better Way For Fall Panfish
By Chip Leer
from The Fishing Wire
When fall crappies and sunfish roam deep weed edges and structural sweet spots such as points and bars, fishermen adept at precisely positioning subtle presentations in front of fish’s noses can enjoy banner catches other anglers miss.
One of the best ways to reap the autumn harvest—and indeed, catch panfish anytime they favor deep habitat—is working a small jig on a modified three-way rig similar to those used by walleye anglers.
It’s a simple yet deadly setup. You’ll want to keep the jig in or close to the sonar cone, so leave the long rods in the locker. I favor a 6′-3″ medium-light spinning rod such as 13 Fishing’s Muse Gold (http://www.13fishing.com/muse-gold/), strung with 6-pound Bionic Braid (https://shop.northlandtackle.com/line/bionic-walleye-braid/).
Tie a three-way swivel to the end of the mainline, then add a relatively long dropper (say, 24 inches) of 4-pound BIONIC mono. A 3/16- to ¼-ounce dropshot weight should do the trick on the tag end. Tip: By adjusting the weight’s location on the dropper, you can raise or lower the jig in the water column to position it slightly above the level of the panfish.
Tie a 12- to 16-inch tagline of similar 4-pound mono to the swivel’s trailing eye, then add a small jig. Northland Tackle’s Helium Stonefly (https://shop.northlandtackle.com/seasonal-tackle/ice-fishing/impulse-helium-stonefly/) is my favorite choice, but any of the neutrally buoyant Helium Series heads work fine. Don’t worry about adding meat. The IMPULSE body adds all the scent and animation you’ll need.
Armed with this rig, you can inch your way along weed edges and breaklines, or hover over a school of fish. Either way, keep rod motions to a minimum. The jig and softbait’s natural subtle action is perfect for panfish that typically aren’t overly aggressive and not inclined to chase down prey.
The light jig is easy for fish to inhale, and you typically don’t feel the fish until it turns to swim away with your lure. When you feel a light tug, execute a gentle, sweeping hookset and chances are good you’ll be firmly hooked up to another fat fall panfish.
Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, which offers a full suite of promotional, product development and consultation services. For more information, call (218) 547-4714 or email Chip@fishingthewildside.net