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Panfish On The Fly

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One of my favorite rigs for panfish is a popper/dropper rig. I pick a small  panfish popper or bass popper, tie on a 2’-4’ piece of tippet, and tie on a  nymph. I love this rig. Most times my nymph of choice is a pheasant tail or a worm, but really it can just about any Stillwater nymph. I’m a two fly guy, and this fits the bill.

The popper can get the fish to the surface. Many times, they’ll observe and not hit it. That’s where the nymph come in. They’ll hover and just like that, turn on the nymph. This is best in warmer water conditions when they are in the shallows.

In colder temperatures similar to pre-spawn conditions, a two-nymph rig is the set up of choice. In the unstable weather of early spring, they will enter the shallows on warm sunny days and retreat to the deeper water during periods of colder weather. You need to adjust your game to the conditions and be able to fish both shallow and deeper water.

When the fish are holding deeper, you need to get the flies down to them, but I rarely use a sinking line. I just don’t want to miss an opportunity when things brighten up and they begin to move to the shoreline. In this case, when I’m fishing deeper, I rig up a large, heavy fly like a stonefly pattern. Not too many stoneflies granted, but it’s the weight that counts. If it’s buggy, it will get hit from time to time.

I like to tie on a unweighted fly to my heavier point fly. It moves nicely in the water and can really entice a strike. I find the natural movement seems to attract the most attention. The options really are endless when fishing for panfish.

My float of choice in these conditions is my one-man pontoon. A kayak also works well from the reports I’ve gotten I’m a big guy and I prefer the stability of the pontoon and I’m betting I’m probably over the weight rating of the typical kayak!

The key is to get out there. How many of use grew up catching panfish drowning worms. It’s just as fun today as it was 40+ years ago, trust me. Until next time my fishy friends…..

Tight Lines and Screaming Drags

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