perch

Top Flies for Panfish

Big panfish eat few flies consistently, while smaller fish swallow everything that moves. In order to catch big panfish you’ll need a box that can adapt to water conditions and fish location. Here are the flies that help me catch more big fish in a variety of conditions:

  Pink Punch

The scruffy collar pushes water and the cone head gets it down, making this fly a good option for murky water or aggressive fish. The pink color makes it irresistible to crappies, and the ice dub gives it a translucent minnow effect.

Thread: Pink or Black 8/o UNI
Hook: # 12-8
Bead: x-sm Silver Conehead 
Tail: Pink Marabou or pseudo marabou
Body: Pink Ice Dub in a dubbing loop
 

pink punch crappie streamer

 

the flashy veil and weight of the cone head make it perfect for murky or deep water

the flashy veil and weight of the cone head make it perfect for murky or deep water

   Noah’s Minnow

The Noah’s Minnow is a great fly for picky panfish. The marabou tail twitches in the water driving the most skittish fish to bite. The natural colors and bead chain eyes make it a natural option to throw. I created this one in 2010 and have put it through many renovations, but this is the “finished” product (for now).

Thread: Black 8/o
Hook: # 8 to #12
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Tail: Marabou, crystal flash (opt.)
Body: Wrapped marabou, same plume as tail
Extra Weight: 3-4 wraps of .025 round lead free wirethe final fly
 fly fishing for big bluegills

  Flash Bugger

The minnow-like characteristics of flashy estaz followed by the flowing marabou make the flash bugger a killer fly for panfish. It is really easy to tie and extremely productive in murky water or for aggressive fish. My favorite color combos would be pink\blue, pink\chartreuse, gray\blue, chartreuse, olive, and brown (tail\body).

Hook: #8-12
Thread: 6/0 UNI
Bead: 1/8″ copper
Tail: Marabou (any color)
Body: Eztaz (any color)Flash bugger
A nice perch on the flash bugger

A nice perch on the flash bugger

A Flash Bugger streamer fooled this nice bluegill

A Flash Bugger streamer fooled this nice bluegill

 DNA Mini Clouser

The DNA Mini Clouser is a great for big bluegills and crappies. The profile and shine of the DNA Frosty Fish Fiber looks almost exactly like a small minnow. They’ve got cool transparency that makes them look really nice in the water.

Thread: Black 6/o UNI
Hook: #8-12 wet fly
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Over wing: Chartreuse DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on bottom of shank
Under wing: White DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on top of shank
 

 

 

 

  Panfish Gurgler

This fly is bullet proof, doesn’t sink, and pushes a big wake – a great combination for big bluegills. Both fish and fisherman can track this fly in low light conditions. It will produce any time in shallow water, but the hottest bite is sunset.

Hook: # 12
Thread: 6/o UNI
Tail: Any color of marabou
Body: Palmered hackle
Back: Any color of thin foam
Legs: Centipede legs
Marker: black permanent
the Panfish gurgler a great fly for topwater crappies.

The Panfish gurgler, a great fly for topwater  panfish.

 
 
 

  Soft Hackle Telico

When the fish are less aggressive, you’ll need a subtle fly. The soft hackle will entice the picky fish, making it a must-have for a versatile panfish box. Also add a bead to get it down to deeper fish. This fly has saved several of my trips from being skunked.

 
Hook: #14 wet
Thread: Black 8/0 UNI
Bead: 3/32 gold copper bead
Tail: Lemon wood duck flank
Body: Yellow GSP or floss
Rib: Copper wire
Shellback: Pheasant tail fibers, folded over body and rib
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Rust brown/white hen hackle

Tellico Soft Hackle

Tellico Soft Hackle

 

Tellico Nymph

Bead Head Tellico Nymph

 slab bluegill on the fly mn
 
 
bluegill dinner fly fishing

All the flies combined

Tight Lines,
Noah
 

Favorite Panfish Flies: Part One: Streamers

Part one of Noah’s three-part series on panfish flies.

Small panfish will take almost every thing that moves and is colorful, but if you want to catch slabs consistently you have to fish flies that are designed for panfish. Big panfish eat meat, and streamers are a great way to catch slabs consistently. These five patterns are all fantastic streamers for panfish, producing in every environment. They are also pretty quick and easy to tie. They are overall great flies. Enjoy!

Pink Punch

If I had to pick one fly for my panfish box this would definitely be the one. I created this great warmwater fly in August of 2012 and have fished it in small streams,  lakes, and quarries.  Fishing for greenies, sunnies, ‘gills, crappie, and perch, I’ve never found a spot where it would not produce. Here’s the recipe:

Thread: Pink or Black 6/o
Hook: # 12
Bead: Silver Conehead
Tail: Pink Marabou or pseudo marabou
Body: Fluorescent Hot Pink UV Ice Dub
Collar/veil: Fluorescent Hot Pink UV Ice Dub (touch dub it to get a nice scruffy collar)
noah's favorite streamer for big panfish

Pink Punch

Nice crappie that slammed the Punch

This is a great fly and my absolute favorite to fish.

 

Noah’s Minnow

The Noah’s Minnow is a great fly for panfish, bass, and even trout, and definitely one of my favorites. It is especially good for wary fish in clear water.

Thread: Any color of 6/o
Hook: # 12
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Tail: Marabou, crystal flash (opt.)
Body: Wrapped marabou same color as tail

Olive with some Krystal Flash in the tail. This is also a great little streamer for trout (Conner caught his biggest brookie on one of these, a fourteen incher in northern MN).

 
 

Flash Bugger

The flash bugger is a good fly for aggressive panfish, and in stained water conditions. You can tie them in many different colors to match your fishing conditions.

Hook: #12
Thread: 6/0 any color
Bead: 1/8″ copper
Tail: 1 generous plume of marabou (any color)
Body: Eztaz (any color)
 

My favorite Flash Buggers

 DNA Mini Clouser

The DNA Mini Clouser is a great fly for big bull bluegills, and especially crappies. Big panfish eat meat, and the profile and shine of the DNA Frosty Fish Fiber looks almost exactly like a small minnow. They’ve got cool transparency and look really nice in the water.

Thread: Black 6/o UNI
Hook: #8-12 wet fly
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Over wing: Chartreuse DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on bottom of shank
Under wing: White DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on top of shank
 
 

These are all great flies for panfish, and quick and easy to tie.

Redear(?) that slammed a #4 Meat Whistle tied on a saltwater hook! Slab panfish want meat, and streamers are a great way to consistently hook the big ones.

Tight Lines,

Noah

 

2012 Year In Review

2012 was probably the best year we’ve had as fly fishermen. It was our first full season fly fishing southeastern Minnesota’s Driftless Area. We fished a ton, camped, and caught some great trout. Here are a few pics and highlights from the season.

Driftless Trout

80 degrees and wet wading in mid-March!

 

Noah with a nice brown trout

 

We found a great new brookie hole...

Fat brookie that crushed Braden's hopper

Another trout on the hopper

Camped on this awesome creek during the fall C&R season

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Smoky Mountains were amazing. We fished Great Smoky Mountains National Park for almost a week in late October. Endless miles of beautiful, trout-filled streams cascaded through the park. While the weather didn’t cooperate on the first few days, we still got some awesome small stream fishing. I landed a 17 ” rainbow, the biggest I’ve caught on the fly.

Lake Taneycomo

Warmwater

The warmwater fishing was great this year. We started throwing big, heavy flies for bass and it payed big. I caught my first pike on the fly, and Braden and I also caught our first smallmouth on a fly rod. Noah terrorized the local panfish population with his glass rod and some Noah’s Minnows. Highlights include a camping trip to the St. Croix River, lots of fishing at the cabin, and finding some small, quiet rivers loaded with fish.

First pike on the fly

Bucketmouth that slammed a big yellow deer hair bug way back in the weeds

Braden caught this smallmouth on his Braden's Crayfish fly

Braden's first smallmouth.

Bass-filled granite quarry

Early morning mist on the St. Croix River

Hunting

We duck hunted a few times in central MN with our cousin Andrew. It was a blast…

Ice Fishing

We brought in the new year with some hardwater fishing on Gull Lake.


Tight Lines in 2013 and thanks for reading!

Bass, Brown Trout, and Summer Fishing

Fun weekend fishing and exploring at the cabin. We got up there Friday afternoon and dug out Grandpa’s old fishing row boat. This little boat was pretty awesome for fly fishing. It was nice and stable and had a deck for casting, without any extra hinges, rings, or obstacles for fly line to get caught on. So we launched it and started casting for bass around the lake.  Lately I have been using a Meat Whistle attached with a Rapala (non slip loop) knot for my bassin’. The Rapala knot gives the fly a bit more action, which I think is sometimes necessary for getting fish to strike. Fishing was pretty good in terms of size. We started at the mouth of the river and hit some submerged cattails. Noah took the oars while Braden and I fished. I caught a few little guys and then hooked a what felt like a decent fish. He swam off and came flying out of the water. Thats when we realized it was a big fish. I really thought I was going to lose it when it buried itself deep in the weeds, but I was able to get it toward the top and Braden made an awesome net scoop. Taped out to 17″, around 3-4 pounds, biggest bass on the fly I’ve caught so far A few minutes after I released it Braden tied into another good fish on a crazy new fly he tied. After that we caught a few small ones but nothing else of any size.

Braden’s bass

 

On Saturday we explored a small trout stream. In some spots you could jump accross. The weeds were high and the brush made for some tricky casting, so often the best approach was to get in the stream and wade up to the pools. The stream was very winding, almost doubling on itself many times. We started fishing a short meadow section, and Braden and I each got some action. The brown trout were tiny, but still fun to catch. It is ridiculous how much they can fit in their mouths. We caught all of them on #14 hare and coppers. We then hiked into a wooded section where the stream opened up a bit and had some sweet pools. For some reason we didn’t catch or see anything above five inches, although I’m sure there are some bigger fish sitting in impossible to reach snags and pools. Minimalist fly fishing and wet wading on small streams like this is a ton of fun. All you really need is a small fly box, floatant, and a pocket knife, no waders, vest, or other junk. Very clean form of fishing. Ended the morning with one trout, Braden three. Grandpa and I checked out a river on Sunday. We had been there once before, and I had caught a pike on spinning gear few years ago. A cold stream dumps into the river there, so it is a natural hot spot for fishing. I hooked a beast of a smallmouth, but he jumped and spit the hook. Grandpa had a pike follow his Rapala right to his feet, but that was it. The bass fishing really slowed down at the lake. They have moved into their summer patterns, cruising the deep weed lines. Grandpa hooked up the trolling motor to the row boat, so that made it a lot of fun driving around the lake. Much easier than paddling.

Pig sunfish that ate a #4 saltwater Meat Whistle. Hungry little guy.

We should be doing some serious trout fishing in the next week or two, so stay tuned. Hopefully the hopper fishing will be starting up. Nothing like trout hammering the big bugs.

Tight Lines,

Conner

6-9…Family Fishing

Today we drove up to a family cabin to celebrate a cousin’s birthday (and do some fishing, of course). I don’t get much time to fish with my oldest cousin, so it was fun to get some time in the boat. Anchored the boat in three feet of water and caught a few nice bluegills and perch, along with a little bass. I had a decent topwater bite, and he bobber fished with worms.

Braden and I hit some good sized bluegills and perch off the dock

First Pike on a Fly

For the past five days we were up at the cabin in central MN with Grandpa. The fishing this weekend was epic, the best I’ve had in a long time. All of us caught some big fish, and had non stop action with smaller bass and big bluegills.

We rolled into the cabin Wednesday night with Grandpa. It was good to be back up for the first time of the year. The lake holds a lot of memories. This is where I learned how to fish as a little kid, spending countless hours drowning worms for the plentiful bluegills off the dock. The lake is pretty green, especially during the summer. A lot of the bass in this lake are small, but you will occasionally find a big one. A 18″ incher would be absolutely huge. There are also good numbers of pike and a few walleye. The panfish in the lake are the highlight. Its filled with slab bluegills and crappies in the weedy shallows.

I was up and on the water just after sunrise on Thursday morning. The lake was perfectly calm and the sunrise reflected in the morning mist. Bass were crashing the surface all around the mouth of the river where it drains into the lake that the cabin is situated on. I threw a popper for about an hour and only got one half-hearted swipe. Then I noticed a bass chasing a minnow, so I switched to a brown bunny leech. That was the ticket, and I started catching some fish. They were small, as most of them are in this lake, but I did manage a decent 12″ largemouth.

A nice perch that Braden caught

After breakfast, Braden and Noah joined me out on the dock. The perch were really biting, and catching a bunch on small minnow patterns was easy. Braden and Noah caught a few nice ones, along with a bunch of smaller fish. Oddly, no bluegills were hanging around the shallow weeds. Usually there are a bunch this time of year, but we didn’t catch one. Although they aren’t quite as good as bluegills, perch are still pretty fun to catch. The bass fishing remained good into the afternoon. I took the canoe out and anchored off some docks, casting into the shallow water alongside. Docks always seem to hold some fish, and paddling along the shore casting to them is usually productive.

 

  Today was no different. I fished a brown Meat Whistle, a brilliant pattern from John Barr that is like a spin fishers pig and jig. I was slowly working the fly off the end of a dock when the line stopped. I set the hook into a good fish. He shot off toward deeper water. Right away I knew it wasn’t a bass by the way he was fighting. The fish made two fast, powerful runs before I slowly brought him toward the boat. He did the classic pike dive and tried to go under the canoe, but I got him in the net. Luckily, I hooked him right on the edge of the mouth, otherwise he would have shredded the 15lb. mono I was fishing. My first water wolf on the fly taped out at 23″, not bad for the first one. I caught a few more bass on the meat whistle, including a nice fat 12″.

 

I ended the day fishing for bluegills with poppers. Its fun to go after these beasts after casting 8 weights and big lead eyed flies for bass all day. Got a few nice slabs in an hour.

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