If you’re going after bluegill you need to make sure they will actually bite whatever you put in the water for them.
They aren’t those pickiest fish, so they will actually bite a lot of things. In this guide, we will cover some of the best natural baits and artificial baits for catching bluegill and other panfish.
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Best Natural Baits for Bluegill
Worms are great for all panfish. Whether you’re going after bream, sunfish, or crappie, worms should always have a place in your tackle box.
Nightcrawlers are widely available everywhere and bluegills love to eat them. You can also use red worms or almost any other kind.
The key to using worms is to make sure you are using a small enough piece. Bluegills don’t have very large mouths so they won’t take your bait if it’s too large.
Cut your nightcrawler into thirds to place on your hook. You want to use just enough to cover your hook. Rig your worm on a basic bobber rig setup and you’re ready to start fishing.
Many people consider crickets to be one of the most effective baits for catching bluegills. They also tend to be one of the cheaper options too if you are on a budget.
There are a few different methods to hooking a cricket. The most common is to hook it just behind the head, making sure not to hook too deeply.
Another common way is to hook them through the body until the hook is exposed.
To fish with crickets use a bobber and split-shot weight setup on either a cane pole or a light spinning rod.
Panfish love eating larvae which is why mealworms are a great option.
There are a number of places you can get mealworms. It’s hit or miss whether your local bait shop will carry them. Many do, but in some places, it proves a challenge to find. Pet stores are good places to buy them, or you can order them online.
If you want to catch your own bait, grasshoppers work pretty well too. During certain times of year, grasshoppers become a key source of food for bream.
If you’re out fishing and you run out of bait, catching grasshoppers in a nearby field is also a good back up plan.
Another excellent larva option to use, wax worms are great for catching bluegill. They are the perfect size for these smaller fish.
You don’t need to cut up a wax worm. You can simply use one to place on your hook and you’re ready to fish.
Similar to mealworms, these are available in many bait shops, but if you’re having trouble finding one, pet shops are likely to have them.
If you’re in a hurry to get to your favorite fishing spot and don’t have time to spot at a bait shop, there are a few different things you might have in your kitchen that you can use to catch bluegill.
Corn tends to work great for bluegill and other panfish because it’s the perfect size for their smaller mouths.
Canned sweet corn tends to work best over other varieties. You just need a few scoops out of the can and you should be good to go.
Corn is also great for kids who may be afraid of using live bait.
If you don’t have many other options—bread will also catch fish. But this should be your last choice because it will disintegrate very quickly in the water.
Bread will work when the bluegills are biting right away and your bread doesn’t have a chance to dissolve in the water.
Best Artificial Baits for Bluegill
Artificial baits and lures are also pretty productive for catching bluegills. These are some of the best options:
1. Gulp! Maggot
Brand Name: Berkley
Type: Artificial Bait
Quantity: 1.5 Ounces
The Berkley Gulp! Maggots are one of the best options for any panfish. Whether you’re fishing bream, sunfish, or crappie—these little things catch fish. They are already the perfect size for a smaller fishes mouth, which may be one of the reasons they are so effective.
They are designed to taste and feel lifelike while also have a fish-attracting scent that spreads through the water. Overall this is an excellent option if you’re looking for something artificial for catching smaller fish.
Brand Name: Johnson
Quantity: 1 Lure
Traditional spinnerbaits are simply too big for panfish. The hook sizes are too big. The Johnson Beetle Spin on the other hand is the perfect size. This lure is approximately 1.5 inches long. It’s budget-friendly, easy to use, and features a rattle to attract fish as it spins through the water.
Overall this is an excellent lure to add to your collection.
Brand Name: Rebel
Type: Topwater Popper
Quantity: 1 Lure
As we covered earlier, in many areas bluegills love to eat crickets and grasshoppers. If you’re in an area with a lot of these insects, the Rebel Crick Hopper Popper Fishing Lure should be just what you need.
This lure is designed to twitch and pop as you work it along the surface of the water. With a realistic design and sharp hooks—this thing is sure to catch fish. And let’s be honest, topwater fishing for big bluegill is more enjoyable than using traditional lures.
Many different kinds of bait work well for fishing bluegill. Live bait works great but lures are also effective if you fish them properly.
The key with any kind of fish is to use something similar to what they are already eating. Experienced anglers will also carry more than one option with them when they go fishing. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and experiment with what works.
Read our ultimate guide on how to catch bluegill here.