A large bluegill in hand with the title overlay "How To Catch Bluegill: The Best Baits For Jumbo Gills"

How To Catch Bluegill: The Best Baits For Jumbo Gills

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If I were to describe to you a fish species that is…

great fun to catch 🎣…

plentiful across the United States…

…highly sought after for trophy specimens 🏆…

…and tastes amazing 😋…

…you might think I was talking about bass, trout, or crappie!!

Spoiler alert ➡️ there is another great fish species that fits the bill.

Welcome back to Jig Is Up Lurecraft! Today we are going to talk about how to catch bluegill! To be more precise, we are going to look at the tackle and baits you can use today to start catching trophy sized gills anywhere across the nation!

Due to their smaller size, bluegill are not highly sought after like bass and crappie are.

But don’t count this underrated species out. If you use the right gear, big gills can give you an incredibly fun fight!

I’ve predominantly fished for bass the past few years, but I recently started fishing for bluegill and other panfish as part of my One Lure To Rule Them All Challenge

Along the way, I’ve caught jumbo bluegills that peeled drag and gave me a serious run for my money!

To catch these fun fish, all you need are a few key techniques and baits.

Here’s what they are.

Best Baits For Bluegill Fishing

👉Bobber and Worm

The bobber and worm rig is arguably the most classic bluegill catching technique known to man.

graphic showing how to do a bobber rig

Not only is this rig a mainstay for experienced bluegill anglers, it is also a very popular technique used by beginner anglers!

Why is this rig so popular?

The advantage of this rig is simple ➡️ it allows you to suspend a bait in the same place indefinitely!

Not only that, but the floating bobber allows you to plainly see if a fish has taken the bait. If the bobber twitches or goes under, set the hook!

To use this rig, simply attach a bobber stop and a slip bobber onto your line.

Then tie on a bait hook or an octopus hook.

You may optionally pinch on a split shot a few inches above the hook – this helps the bait sink to the desired depth more quickly.

Thread on a live worm or a small soft bait and you are all ready to catch fish!

My Bobber and Worm Suggestions

Bobber Stops 👉 BPS Bobber Stops
Bobbers 👉 BPS Assorted Plastic Floats
Hooks 👉 #8 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook
Bait 👉 Berkley Gulp! Nightcrawler

👉Micro Jig

Next on our list is a personal favorite of mine – the simple ballhead jig!

ballhead jig with a crappie grub hooked to a fishing rod

Few techniques catch bluegill as effectively as a simple jig. In fact, anyone who follows this blog knows I love jigs. They flat out catch fish!

I’ll share a secret with you…

Although jigs are commonly used for bass and walleye fishing, they are deadly for catching big bull bluegills.

And I mean deadly.

The technique is simple. 

All you do is cast out a super light jig and let it fall. We’re talking about jigs as light as 1/64 oz and as heavy as 1/16 oz. 

Let the jig sit for several seconds in one spot, and then gently pick it up and let it fall several inches back toward you.

Sometimes I even cast the jig out and just very slowly reel it back in.

It’s an old-school technique that simply works!

bluegill with a ballhead jig stuck in its lip

One of the best things about this technique is you can fish it in twenty feet of water just as easily as you can in one foot of water.

Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!

My Jig Suggestions

Jig 👉 JIUL Custom Ballhead Jig
#1 Trailer Option 👉 2” Kalin’s Triple Threat Grub
#2 Trailer Option 👉 BPS Crappie Maxx 2” Grub
#3 Trailer Option 👉 Trout Magnet Grub

Psst, want to learn how to make your own jigs?

Then check out 👉 this article!
It teaches you everything you need to know about making your own ballhead jigs!

👉Dropshot Rig

The dropshot rig is a technique that has taken the bass world by storm and led many pro anglers to victory.

graphic of a dropshot rig

With that said, the dropshot rig is not just a bass technique. It catches bluegill and many other fish just as effectively!

The premise of this rig is simple.

First, tie on a #8 octopus hook using a palomar knot. (I recommend the octopus hooks by Gamakatsu).

Leaving yourself a long tag end, tie a drop shot weight onto the end of the line.

Having the hook above the weight is a powerful concept. Simply put, it allows you to cast your rig down to the bottom and let it sit in the same spot indefinitely with the bait suspended above the bottom!

Once the hook and weight are in place, thread a live worm or a soft bait onto the hook and you are ready to catch fish!

One of the best times to catch bluegills with a dropshot is during the heat of summer when bluegills move into deeper water. During this time, a dropshot is an easy means to get bait into deep water and in front of bluegill fast.

When fishing with a dropshot, lightly pick up your bait every few seconds. If you feel movement or extra weight on the line, there is likely a fish on – set the hook!

My Dropshot Rig Suggestions

Hook 👉 #8 Gamakatsu Octopus Hook
Dropshot Weight 👉 BPS Finesse Dropshot Weight
Bait 👉 Berkley Gulp! Minnow

👉Spinner

Last but not least is a timeless classic – the inline spinner!!

Painted trout spinner tied on to a spinning rod

Spinners are a favorite lure for many anglers, and for good reason. All you have to do is cast it out and reel it back in, and you will catch fish!

Although spinners catch all kinds of fish species, you will want to use small 1/32 oz and 1/16 oz spinners for bluegill fishing.

Small fish ➡️ small baits

Spinners are great for bluegill fishing because they specifically target aggressive bull bluegills. These flashy, active baits trigger the angriest of instincts in them!

If you’re looking to cover a lot of water for active bluegill, look no further – this bait is for you!

My Spinner Suggestions

Spinner #1 👉 Rooster Tail Spinner
Spinner #2 👉 Mepps Spinner

Psst, want cheap spinners?

Check out 👉 this article to learn how you can make your own spinners for $1 apiece!

How To Catch Bluegill: Tackle

All the baits I’ve suggested so far have one theme in common – they are all super tiny!

Why?

Because bluegill eat such small forage!

Since we use such small baits for bluegill fishing, ultralight tackle is the best tackle for the job.

In a nutshell, ultralight tackle

👉 casts tiny lures remarkably well
👉 makes the bluegill fight way more challenging and fun

With ultralight tackle, we’re talking 

  • Ultralight rods
  • 1000 size reels
  • 2 lb line to 6 lb line

Believe you me, once you start fishing for bluegill with super light tackle you will never go back.

My Light Tackle Setup

Rod 👉 Berkley Lightning ML Rod ($49.99)
Reel 👉 Daiwa Regal 1000 LT Reel ($59.99)
Line 👉 CX Premium Clear Fluorescent 6 LB ($8.49)

Other Light Tackle Suggestions

Rod 👉 BPS Panfish Elite Rod ($79.99)
Reel 👉 Daiwa Crossfire 2000 Reel ($39.99)
Line 👉 Crappie Maxx Super Vis Line 4 LB ($8.99)

Conclusion: How To Catch Bluegill

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. Not only have we looked at great baits for bluegill fishing, we’ve also looked briefly at the tackle you will need for catching bluegill.

“Wow Blaine, I’ve learned a lot from this article! Where should I go from here?”

First off ➡️ get yourself an ultralight setup. 
This can be one of the setups I suggested, or a totally different setup altogether! The point is, you will need a nice ultralight tackle setup for bluegill fishing.

Once you are setup for bluegill fishing, consider these tips 👇

To catch spawning or suspended bluegill ➡️ go with a bobber and worm rig. It’s simple, easy, and catches oodles of bluegill!

To catch bluegill on the bottom ➡️ go with a dropshot rig. It gets baits down deep in a hurry, which is perfect for scenarios where bluegill are hugging the bottom!

To catch bluegill in shallow water, deep water, or brush ➡️ go with a jig. This is arguably the most versatile technique for catching bluegill! You can fish it shallow or deep, fast or slow. You can’t go wrong with a jig! 💪🏻

To catch active, aggressive bluegill ➡️ go with a spinner. These flashy baits cover a lot of water and get big bluegill fired up!

Did you find this advice helpful? Punch in your name and email below to get even more tips and tricks!

I periodically share insider tips with my email subscribers – tips and tricks that help you catch more fish! 😎🎣

For instance, I recently shared what techniques helped me catch whopper bluegills during a fishing trip in the northern United States.

giant bluegill resting in a hand
Whopper Bluegill

I shared the fishing report from this trip exclusively with my email subscribers.

Sign up below to get in on the act!


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