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More people fish for panfish (bluegill, crappie, warmouth, rock bass, red ears, white bass, perch, pumpkinseed) than all other freshwater fish combined. These species are readily available , relatively easy to hook, great as table fare, and demand little expense to successfully participate.

Among my favorites are in-line spinners and small blade spinners with plastic jigs ( Mepps, Panther Martins, Roostertails), always attached to a ball-bearing swivel.

However, not nearly enough anglers seem to make the move up to exclusively using artificials to accomplish the feat. What most will find is that they save money in the long run, keep their boat and themselves much cleaner, have much more fun, and catch more and bigger fish than they had previously. That's right. Proper use of artificial baits will definitely increase your tally, especially for bigger, more aggressive panfish.

Another option growing in popularity is the TENKARA fly system. But watch out for those trees!

One of the fundamental weaknesses of live bait fishing is you are only covering the area where the bait is placed at any given time. Another inherent weakness in addition to limited water coverage is the propensity for smaller fish to eat your offerings off the hook with frustrating reliability. They also will be far more likely to swallow the hook than with an artificial offering. Fact is, the more aggressive and often bigger fish are far more likely to run down a bigger, louder, and faster-moving offering.

Simple jig loaded with maggots or Powerbait will do the trick

Among my favorites are in-line spinners ( Mepps, Panther Martins, Roostertails), always attached to a ball-bearing swivel. This essential type of swivel will reduce line twist, enable better blade spin at slower speeds, and provide some added casting weight, vital with smaller lures. Stay with the 1/32 and 1/16 oz. sizes for panfishing.

Finding the BIG Crappie may depend upon coaxing them out of hiding with an artificial offering

Another legendary producer is the Blakemore Roadrunner in the 1/8 oz. size, preferably colored white. Still another cleanup hitter, especially in streams and creeks , is the 1/10 oz. Deeper diving version of the legendary Rebel Crawdad, attached with a small size 0 snap. Avoid those cheap "snap-swivels" -often a brass color-at all costs, they are action robbers. Another topwater-oriented favorite is the 2'' floating Rapala , Rebel makes an even smaller minnow that works great. These topwater offerings will not catch nearly as many fish as some other offerings, but they call up bigger fish, including some bonus largemouth or smallmouth bass.

An ideal combo would be an ultralight spinning combo loaded with four -pound mono. A fiberglass rod is both cheaper, more fun, and more effective, as its parabolic action better facilitates the casting of these smaller baits.

Get out now and upgrade your pan fishing possibilities.


Jack Kiser is the long-time Outdoors Columnist for the Record-Courier and " Midwest Outdoors" and Angler magazines, as well as host of the Buckeye Angler and veteran TV and radio host for WNIR, PBS, and Fox Sports.

You may reach him at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site.

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