If you're a fan of panfishing you undoubtedly have a good selection of jigs
in your tackle box. Lures ranging from 1/32- to 1/8-ounce are common weights
for catching perch, sunfish, and crappie. Yet beyond their weight, another big
factor is how these tiny jigs are dressed. When fish are finicky this is a
critical detail. Here are some of the top panfish jigs you should have in
your tackle box.
Feathers And Fur
Hand-tied jigs are often deadly on panfish when working baits beneath floats.
Bucktail and marabou are perhaps the two most popular materials. While chenille
and various other types of feathers add more options in patterns, undoubtedly
the fish-catching ability of these baits lies in the life-like movements the
materials convey underwater.
When suspended beneath a float, the slightest
ripple in the water or rod tip twitch results in a pulse, flair, or flutter in
the bait. Many of these moves are often too temping for an inspecting panfish
and often trigger strikes. When faced with tough fishing conditions, feather
and fur-tied jigs are often what I go to first.
Tied in a similar fashion to a straight bucktail jig, tinsel delivers something
hair cannot: flash. Silver, gold, chartreuse, and orange are some of my
favorite colors in tinsel jigs. These baits do well suspended beneath floats,
but can also be deadly when cast out and then worked back on a hopping
retrieve. The flash combined with a darting, swimming motion replicates the
movements of a tiny baitfish. When panfish are munching on minnows, tinsel jigs
can really shine.
Plastics And Soft-Bait
This category of panfish plastic jig bodies is extremely vast. Panfish tackle
is overflowing with different soft-bait body designs for jigs. Twister tail,
tubes, and shad-body baits are well-established patterns for any sport fish,
and pannies are no exception.
Teaser tails are a finesse profile that can also be deadly at times. Most
plastic jigs can be worked on a slow, jigging retrieve or suspended beneath a
float and occasionally twitched. As expected with plastics, baits come in an
array of options in natural and hot color patterns. Scent-infused soft-baits
give anglers even more choice. Make sure you have some scented baits in you
box, they consistently coax hits from finicky fish for me during tough bites.
In a category of its own are jigs featuring spinners. One option is a spin jig on a wire shaft that attaches to the line tie of a jig head. The other choice for
anglers is to use jigs with spinner blades molded directly into the head.
Regardless of which you choose, these bladed jigs have a way of catching big
crappies and perch. Better suited to casting and worked with short, hopping,
jigging retrieves, the flash and vibrations of these blades only heightens the
fish-catching power of a standard jig.
If you're serious about panfish, you need a well-stocked tackle tray filled
with different jig styles. Throughout the season, certain jigs will out produce
others. To ensure you're prepared for whatever preferences pannies have on any
given day, carry a mix of all the jigs represented above.
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