Panfish flies patterns

Panfish flies patterns DEFAULT

The Best Panfish Flies (Catch More Panfish On The Fly!)

Fly fishing for panfish is one of the most exhilarating and fun experiences that it’s possible to have! From bluegill to crappies, rock bass to yellow perch, panfish are commonly found all over the US. They’re curious, voracious, famously unfussy, and they put up a fierce fight.

See our post on World Record Bluegill here to know the largest bluegill ever caught!

The 12 Best Panfish Flies

Whether you’re fly fishing for bluegill for the first time or you’re an experienced bluegill angler, you won’t go wrong with these fly patterns:

Elk Hair Caddis


Elk Hair Caddis

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The Elk Hair Caddis is a superb dry fly, first tied by a pioneer, Al Troth, in 1957. This fly works wonders in shallow water or for near structures in the water. Use this, and you’ll be amazed by how many fish you catch!

J’s Grinchworm

js grinchworm

This flashy, bright pattern never fails to attract bluegill, perch, and even trout. Pan fish go crazy for the eye-catching chartreuse color and the realistic, lively action of the J’s Grinchworm. The jointed body and rubber legs create a convincing sense of movement in the water. We answer the question are bluegill fish dangerous here.

Triangle Bug

triangle bug

The Triangle Bug is another great dry fly pattern that sits high in the water. It’s subtler than a popper, but that’s sometimes just what you need, especially if the fish are spooky. The long, dangly, rubber legs give a tempting silhouette, making it like a plump and tasty bite to eat.

You’ll make plenty of catches with a Triangle Bug, and its unique design makes it ideal. The bulky, triangular shape prevents it from getting lodged too far down the bluegill’s tiny throat, allowing you to remove your hook more easily.

McGinty Wet Fly


McGinty Wet Fly

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Although the McGinty Wet Fly is a classic for trout, it also works wonders for pan fish. The McGinty started life as a largemouth bass pattern, which explains its impressive performance in warm water. This killer pattern has been around since 1883, and it won’t fail you now.

The striking black and yellow coloring of the McGinty Wet Fly makes it highly visible even in murky conditions, and sunfish just love to chase this wet fly.

Clouser Minnow


Clouser Minnow

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A top streamer pattern, the Clouser Minnow is particularly suited to fish for perch and crappie. You’ll find that this is a very versatile pattern, however, so you can also use it for smallmouth bass, pike, catfish, and even saltwater salmon.

The shimmer on this underwater streamer is amazing. When you fish for bluegill and other sunfish, opt for smaller sizes so that the pan fish can get their tiny mouths around your fly.

Every fly fisher should have a Clouser Minnow or two in their fly box. You’ll be sure to reach for it time after time, and bring home a good haul of fish as a result.

Soft Hackle Wet Fly


Soft Hackle Wet Fly

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Soft hackle is perfect for fly fishing for any type of pan fish. Spend some time mastering your presentation, and you’ll be wowed by how productive the Soft Hackle can be.

Admittedly, it’s not as exciting as on the surface. But if you want to catch fish and lots of them, tie a soft hackle wet fly onto your fly rod and it won’t be long before you feel the tell-tale twitch of a strike.

Soft hackle is extremely versatile, with many different variations around. Try experimenting with a variety of colors and sizes. You can even tie your own to match the local forage and get the fish biting.

Foam Spider


Foam Spider

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Foam Spiders are awesome for bluegill and sunfish. They perform well in all types of water, and with their subtle but lifelike movement, they don’t fail to attract any nearby fish.

A top tactic for a Foam Spider is to cast out near submerged structures. Follow this with a twitch and pause, twitch and pause, and you’re almost guaranteed a catch.

Woolly Worm


Woolly Worm

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Before the Woolly Bugger existed, fly fishermen had the Woolly Worm. It’s easy to see the similarities. The Woolly Worm (or variations of this pattern) has been around for centuries, imitating aquatic insects like hellgrammites and stoneflies. The Woolly Bugger was designed as a Woolly Worm spin-off to mimic baitfish, and it’s one of the most popular patterns around today.

That doesn’t mean that the Woolly Worm is inferior, however. It’s a superb, versatile fly pattern in its own right. You’ll quickly master this fly, and it will catch you loads of fish.

If you’re delving into fly tying, this pattern is a great one to get started with. The Woolly Worm is quick, easy, and cheap to tie – just check out a fly tying video online and follow it step by step to tie your own fly.

Panfish Wiggler

Panfish Wiggler

The Pan fish Wiggler is actually a classic steelhead fly that has been shrunk down in size to fit into a bluegill’s tiny mouth.

This bead head fly sinks down quickly into the strike zone and is a killer streamer for bluegill, perch, crappie, and more. You can add a lead underbody if you need any extra weight to get your fly to sink deeper and faster.

Green Eyed Damselfly Nymph


Green Eyed Damselfly Nymph

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Green eyed damselfly nymphs are found in waters all over the US, making this an ideal fly to use for pan fish. Although there are a variety of different damselfly nymphs around, this is one of my favorites. It performs consistently and gets plenty of fish in the rubber fishing net. Give it a try on your next trip! You can also check our post on how to tie a damselfly nymph fly here.

F-C Mackie Bug

F C Mackie Bug

While this subsurface sunfish fly looks a little odd, it’s a brilliant pattern that will catch you fish, again and again. The F-C Mackie Bug doesn’t imitate any particular insect or baitfish, but it is flashy, plump, and tempting enough to get the fish chasing it.

Floating Popper


Floating Popper

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Poppers may just be simple, painted cork or rubber foam cylinders, but they sure do work! With a satisfying plop onto the water, all nearby fish are instantly aware of a floating popper fly.

If you see bluegill eating at the surface, you won’t go wrong with a floating popper. Cast it out, and you’ll draw in all the hungry fish in the proximity. You can even fish your popper with a streamer beneath it to double your chances of making a catch!


Want to know the basics or have some burning questions? You’ll find the answers in our FAQ section!

What are Pan fish?

Pan fish refers to a range of fish, including bluegill, yellow perch, pumpkinseeds, and white and black crappie. Bluegill, also known as sunfish, brim, bream, and shellcrackers, are the most common (and fun) pan fish to fly fish.

Pan fish are smaller (pan-sized!) fish that are found in freshwater streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs all over the US. They are common, abundant, give a good fight, and are tasty to eat.

What are the best flies for bluegill?

The best flies for bluegill include a range of smaller nymphs, poppers, and dry flies. Go for flies that have a good action in the water and resemble the insects that bluegill love to eat. Some top bluegill flies include the Clouser Minnow in size 12, the Black Elk Hair Caddis in size 14, and a white popper in size 10.

Is rock bass a panfish?

Rock bass is a type of pan fish that is often overlooked in favor of bluegill, perch, and crappie. However, fly fishing for rock bass is a great experience – they’re aggressive, found in waters everywhere, and delicious to eat. They also go by the name of creek bass or yellow-eye.

How do you fish a popper fly?

We love poppers over here. Popper flies are some of the most effective dry flies for bluegill, as that distinctive pop will draw curious pan fish straight up to the surface to eat.

Cast your popper near the bank, structures, or overhanging vegetation, and then give your fly a twitch with your rod. Next, let your fly sit on the water for a short while – this is when most pan fish will make a strike. It’s as simple as that!

How do you tie flies for panfish?

If you want to tie your own flies to chat pan fish, you need to stock up on some fly tying materials and tools. We recommend any of the best fly tying kit options here. Then, get online and watch some fly tying videos.

You’ll find fly tying tutorials for almost every pattern imaginable, so just pay close attention and then have a go yourself.

Tying your own flies is fun, rewarding, and will save you money, too.

What is the best size fly for crappie?

The best size fly for crappies is between a size 8-10. You might have luck with a size 6, so don’t be afraid to try out different options. The most effective crappie flies have long, flashy, marabou tails.

The Wrap Up

Fly fishing for bluegills is a fantastic experience, and now you know which flies to stock up on for your fly boxes! From the Wooly Bugger to the Elk Hair Caddis and the Panfish Wiggler, these are some of the most effective flies for panfish around.

All you need to do is grab your fly rod and fly patterns, and you’re good to go! Pan fish are abundant and found all over, so there’s bound to be an excellent fishing spot not far from you. Drop us a comment or email to let us know how you get on, and which fly patterns work well for you!

If you’ve found this pan fish fly guide helpful, why not share it on Facebook or Twitter? Don’t miss our other guides to the top fly rods, reels, fly lines, and accessories for fly fishing on the blog, too!


The Best Flies for Catching Panfish

The panfish category is a catch-all class of fish that takes in bluegill, redbreast, redears, greens, longears, warmouth, perch, crappie, and possibly even rock bass—if by panfish you mean a fish that rarely grows so large it won’t fit in a skillet. Panfish in farm ponds, lake coves, and creeks and rivers are prime targets for fly anglers, especially in the pre-spawn and spawning periods that fall around the full moons of spring and early summer. Even when they’re posted up in deeper holes and creek channels, panfish will smack the right weighted nymph or attractor pattern, so this isn’t just a topwater game. And be ready. The biggest bass I ever caught—a 10-plus pounder, according to onlookers—took a size 8 white Woolly Bugger I was fishing around crappie structure.

A few colors and sizes of each of these flies will fit in a single fly box small enough to fit in your back pocket. Paired with a 3-weight or 4-weight fly rod, they’ll give you as much fun as you can have on a farm pond or local creek.

Foam Spider

I don’t know if a foam spider is a spider at all, because it looks to me like it simulates everything from a big hopper to various beetles and even damselflies. What really matters is that panfish—and bluegill especially—will chomp a sponge arachnid even when the bite is slow. In the spring, when cold water can make for a sluggish bite, a subtle twitch-drag-rest retrieve can pry open fish jaws when no other fly produces. Later, as the water warms, a foam spider lands with a pleasing plop that’s not quite as obtrusive as a hard-bodied popper, and that subtle splat can make all the difference. Especially when bluegill follow flies without an eat, or nose-smack them without an open-mouth take, a foam spider can turn the tables.

And when the fishing is hot, an easy-to-cast, tough-as-nails foam spider can catch fish after fish without shredding. Load a flybox with black, orange, and chartreuse foamies to dial down on what works best for the available light and water clarity.

Copper John

With its bead head and weighted metal-wire body, this depth-charge of a sinking nymph was developed by a Montana fly-tyer to drag down unweighted nymphs when fished in tandem. The thing simply looks delicious: The wrapped wire gives the abdomen a tantalizingly segmented look, there’s plenty of flash to simulate a beetle body, and the legs undulate with strike-inducing movement. A Copper John is a super choice when targeting panfish holding deep, and it’s a killer when used in moving water and conditions or when fish don’t have a lot of time to look over the fly.

Traditionally fished as a dropper under a floating bug, the Copper John can also be used as a heavy anchor fly that pulls an unweighted nymph deeper into the water column. Simply tie a smaller nymph to the end of your line, and drop a Copper John 18 inches below to pull the double rig to the depths. In the summer heat, after the panfish spawn has fish deep and sulking, a Copper John under a stout foam grasshopper is a one-two knockout punch to bluegill hanging tight along ledge drops and creek channels.

Bitch Creek

Another panfish fly borrowed from trout anglers, the Bitch Creek imitates a stonefly nymph crawling towards the water’s edge. The white rubber tail and antennae twitch enticingly as the belly flashes orange like a big stonefly. I don’t think a shellcracker knows a stonefly from a box of Cracker Jack, but deep-feeding panfish crunch on Bitch Creek nymphs like candy. The black-orange contrasting color scheme is definitely a big-fish attractor, and the fat, buggy profile looks like a 3-course perch meal in one chomp. These hefty flies are great for crayfish predators like warmouths and shellcrackers, and they really stand out when waters are stained a bit from a big spring rain.

Wooly Worm

The Wooly Worm is about as unsexy a fly as you can find, but this old-timer will simply stack up suspended bluegill. Its Woolly Bugger heritage is hard to miss, but it is heavily palmered and comes with a brightly colored—most commonly red—yarn tail instead of a long trailing sprig of marabou. Tied in dark colors, it might imitate a dragonfly nymph. In brighter colors, such as yellow and red, it’s definitely in the attractor-pattern column. Tied on a long-shank hook, a Wooly Worm is easy to twist out of the relatively small mouth of most panfish.

Nice and slow is the way to fish the Wooly Worm. It’s no darting baitfish or herky-jerky crawdad. Cast to the bank or tight to cover, and either bring it back slow and sultry with a hand-twist retrieve, or strip it in short 1- and 2-inch strips. Might as well go ahead and pre-heat the Fry Daddy.

Hardbody Popper

This is the fly most people think of when they say, “bream bug.” Built most often of a painted cork body with guinea hackle, bream poppers come in at least forty-seven colors and feather schemes—solid colors, half-and-halfs, polka-dot patterns, frog patterns, and stripes—and with and without rubber legs. They all have their devotees, but I stick with the basics: black, white, and yellow. I keep a steady supply of various sizes, and I’ll switch up the profiles as well. Sometimes, farm pond bluegill prefer a cupped mouth with its gurgling action, but other times a pointed slider head seems to be the irresistible offering. I’ll even switch to a popper tied with spun deer hair when takes are tentative. Something about that squishy body entices a big spawny bluegill to hang on tight.

Poppers are so popular that they’re often the first fly an angler ties on when fishing for bream, no matter when. While they’ll definitely fool a bedding fish, they can make quite a fuss when they hit the water. Poppers are most effective when you need a bit of disturbance to key fish in to the lure. Cast tight to weedy cover, they’ll draw out hungry bluegill like nobody’s business. And one trick to fishing poppers effectively is to match tippet size to the profile and weight of the bug. Tippet that will turn over a No. 6 bumblebee popping bug will be way too stiff to fish a small No. 12 popping bug effectively. The fly will smack the water with all the finesse of a chunked rock.

Read Next: The 25 Greatest Flies of All Time

Clouser Minnow

When panfish, such as crappie and perch, are on the feed, meaty minnows and shad are the target. Give them what they want with a Clouser minnow. Originally designed for smallmouth bass, small Clousers are easy to cast so you can cover a lot of water to key in on what fish are biting. With the heavy eyes tied close to the hook eye, Clousers dart and flash like small jigs, which crappie especially are fond of. Find or tie them on longshank hooks for easy retrieval, and Polar Flash bodies instead of bucktail. And cast them in the ugly stuff. Their hook-up profile in the water helps you probe weed edges and submerged tree tops with less chance of losing your lure. Go small with a size 12 Clouser in white and red. And the fact that Clousers are known for taking bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, means you’re always in the running for a bonus bucketmouth.

Mackie Bug

Part of the strategy of panfishing with a fly isn’t in matching the hatch, but matching the hunger of spring and summer fish on a heavy feed. That often means putting something in front of them that looks plump and sexy and flashy and worth chasing down. The Mackie Bug ticks off every category. The rubber tail and legs wiggle enticingly, a bit of flash in the head or abdomen helps fish track the fly though treetops and weed beds, and the pudgy belly must look like a triple cheeseburger to panfish. The fact that the Mackie Bug doesn’t look like anything a perch or bluegill has ever seen in real life doesn’t seem to matter at all. Run the fly below a large popping bug, and hang on.

Beadhead Prince Nymph

When subsurface action shuts down, I size down to a beadhead Prince nymph fished under a small popping bug. The popper is little more than a strike indicator, for close-mouthed bream will often suck in a Prince nymph with a subtle take. The iridescent peacock shell casing and the contrasting white wings are certainly attention getters. But I think a bedding bluegill sees that sinking Prince nymph coming and coming and hits it out of pure aggravation, so a standard bead is often the ticket. For bottom-sulking panfish, and for deeply suspended fish in creek channels, a Prince Nymph with a tungsten beadhead dives deeper and faster.

Bream Killer

The name puts it out there: This venerable wet fly standby stands tall as one of the most consistent bream flies ever. With rubber legs galore, a squirrel tail wing and a squishy chenille body, the bream killer looks like the love child between a hellgrammite and a tarantula. If you threw one on me, I’d have a full-on arachnophobic meltdown, but bluegill suck them down without a second thought and shellcrackers, especially, will whack a Bream Killer, possibly because those rubber legs have the shape and enticing twitchiness of a cricket. The squirrel hair traps air to make the Bream Killer sink slowly, so fish it with patience, with short sharp jerks occasionally to give the long rubber legs plenty of fish-attracting action.

Pistol Pete

Oh, boy. Here we go. The purists and haters are about to go nuts. The Pistol Pete is a pint-size prop bait with a tiny propeller on the front of the fly. Sort of like a Woolly Bugger meets a Devils Horse with a little Roostertail thrown in the mix. Is it a fly? I won’t judge. But a Pistol Pete will put a whipping on bream. For river and stream species such as redbreast sunfish, a Pistol Pete cast to the bank and swung downstream and across will suck trophy fish out of the shadows, along with redeye and other moving-water bass, plus whatever chain pickerel happen to be hanging around. Pistol Petes come in more than 50 different patterns and sizes, so you can fine-tune the offering to whatever works best in your waters. It’s not a long-range bait. On a fly rod at anything but medium-short distances, a Pistol Pete casts about as well as a wet cat. But get one of these Frankenflies in front of a bream, and it’s shore lunch time. And even the most highfalutin fly rodder won’t argue against a hot fried bluegill with a side of onions and potatoes.

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15 Best Flies For Bluegill [with Video and Setup]

In fishing, it’s sometimes best to take things back to the start. Getting in touch with your roots and the things that made you fall in love with fishing can remind you why it’s the best hobby in the world. Fishing for bluegills is where many anglers started. These fish can be found in almost any body of water across the United States and are a great species to target if you’re looking to learn some new things about angling!

Here is a list of some of the best flies to use for your next bluegill adventure!

1. Parachute Ants – Proven to Catch Bluegills

Parachute Adams a MUST have Fly for Bluegills

Ants are some of the best flies you can use when targeting bluegills. Bluegills spend quite a bit of time feeding on the surface so if you see any sort of surface activity, start with an ant. When you’re using these flies, spend time near the banks of the river or lake.

Ants tend to fall in the river when they begin the mating process. They grow wings and fly in search of another ant to mate with. The wind often blows the ants into some sort of water source.

You can find these flies anywhere between size 12 and 20. It’s smart to carry all of these sizes in your box. Bluegills are not often picky about what they eat, but can be picky about the size of insects they eat.

2. Elk Hair Caddis – High Floating and Fun to Fish

Elk Hair Caddis a GREAT Bluegill Fly

Elk Hair flies are another common dry fly to use when you’re targeting bluegills. These work great in smaller ponds or up in the shallow portions of a lake. Again, be sure to look for surface feeding activity. You can see this by listening for pops near the surface of the water.

These fish will feed most often in the morning and the evening. Throw the caddis flies between 12-20. If the fly is too large, it could overwhelm the bluegill and deter them from eating.

3. Popper Flies – A Little Strip & BAM

Poppers for Bluegill

Poppers are an extremely versatile fly that every angler should keep in the box. It can work to catch bass and even pike. However, size 12-16 poppers are likely not going to be exciting enough for bass, but the bluegill love them.

4. Griffiths Gnat – When You Need to Go Small

Griffith's Gnat to Fly Fish Bluegills

The Griffiths Gnat is one of the most realistic looking flies you can find. These work wonders when you’re targeting bluegills. They’re best fished between size 14-18. Fish these in a more erratic way.

Small strips, twitches of the tip of your rod is going to make the fly look like it’s trying to escape the water. Keep working your fly until you get a strike. It’s not going to take long!

5. Sneaky Pete’s – Affective on the Beds

Sneaky Pete - Great for catching bluegills

The Sneaky Pete makes a bunch of commotion on the top. When the ‘Gills are on the beds this bug triggers aggressive strikes. Heck it almost seems unfair how willing the fish will take a fly.

Crush the barb and release the fish quickly, so you’ll have a sustainable population. Sometimes if a small lake is overrun with bluegills, another option is to take some home. Bluegills are delicious!

These are fished on size 10-14 hooks. It’s irregular shape is what’s going to make it difficult for the fish to swallow. Bluegill often choke on the hook so it’s a nice surprise when they don’t swallow this one!

6. Foam Spider – Rubber Leg Madness

fly fishing with spider  for bluegills

The foam spider is another great dry to use for bluegills. These are quite active on the water so don’t be shy when you’re retrieving it. Cause as much action as you can! It’s going to work out well for you.

This article is all about flies for bluegills, if you’re looking for a “How To” please checkout my article – How to Fly Fish for Bluegills

7. Bumble Bee – A Natural

Bumble Bee to Fly Fish Bluegill

Small bumble bees are another common target for bluegills. These fall into water similar to the way an ant does! It won’t take long for the bluegills to make their way to the surface and strike. You’re going to have more success if you use smaller bees.

Anywhere between a size 12-18 is going to be more manageable for these fish. Cast near shore and use short little movements to see what the fish want. After a while, you’ll learn the feeding tendencies of these fish and you’ll have yourself a field day.

8. Madam X – Go with Red

Madam X Dry Fly for Bluegills

This is a strange looking fly that doesn’t necessarily imitate anything. It has rubber legs that creates lots of action. I use this fly on still water bays along weedlines. Cast beyond the weeds and strip back. Vary the strip until you find what will trigger the ‘Gills.

I’ve seen smallmouth slam this fly, so be prepared!

Like I said go with a red body, size 14. Apply floatant to a couple flies, that way you’ll have your bug treated and ready to fish. These are great to use on a sunny day and in clear water.

9. Chernobyl Hopper – Foam Bodies are Yummy

Hopper's for Fly Fishing Bluegills

In mid-summer grass hoppers will start to pop. If the wind kicks up in the later afternoon the bugs will get blown into the water. Try to fish in a small bay with the wind to your back. Casting a hopper can test your casting skills with a small fly rod like a 3 weight so this would be a great time to pull out a 5 weight to fight the wind.

Dry Fly Setup – Simple and Fast

When you’re looking to set up your rod for dry fly fishing, there are a few things you must keep in mind. First, use a floating fly line on your rig! If you use any other type, your fly is going to get pulled down in the water column.

Bluegill Fly Rod Setup

Next, it’s important that you use both leader and tippet. Many anglers think that using only a leader is enough, but tippet is going to truly hide yourself from the fish. To attach your tippet to the leader, use a double surgeon’s knot. This is the best and strongest knot you can use.

You can use anywhere between 12-16 inches of the same “x” as your leader. As you’re fishing, pay close attention to the fly. Bluegills aren’t going to fly out of the water after their prey. They’ll make a clean swipe at the surface and disappear.

If you really love dry fly fishing and want to learn how I setup my fly rod check this article with pictures and videos – How to Setup a Fly Rod

If you’re targeting bluegills, go ahead and use a 3 or 4-weight rod. You need the right amount of finesse to land these fish!

GUIDE TIP: When you’re fishing with an indicator rig, don’t set the hook on the first time you see it drop in the water. Wait until the second strike and set the hook! Bluegill will play around with the bait before they commit to it.

10 . Pheasant Tail Nymph – Every Fly Box Should Have!

Pheasant Tail Nymph for Bluegills

The Pheasant Tail Nymph is a classic in the world of fly fishing. You can catch everything from trout to pike with these flies! They’re also going to work great with bluegill. The bead head on these nymphs is going to drop it in the water column.

Depending on where the fish are in the water, you may need to reach the lower levels! Bluegill are willing to feed on non-moving bait, but small action is going to work better. Let these nymphs hit the bottom and use short, six inch strips to entice the fish. Strip, pause and strip. It will work wonders!

Fish these nymphs in size 12-18. You’ll love the success you have with these flies.

11. Hare’s Ear Nymphs – Seriously Buggy

Hare's Ear Nymph for Bluegills

Hare’s Ear Nymphs are not the most appealing flies that you can find, but they work. Plus, if you’re new to fly tying, this is a great fly to try! Fish are more willing to eat a less “manufactured” fly. They see all sorts of perfect looking flies so it pays to be different.

Fish these between size 10-18. Again, pay attention to the size of bugs that the fish are eating. This will help you determine what size of fly that you need to use. Don’t make your life too difficult!

12. Squirmy Worm – Gotta Love Worms!

Squimy Worm for Bluegill Fly Fishing

Bluegills and worms are two peas in a pod. They never fail to land fish. If you remember anything from your childhood fishing adventures, you’ll know that worms and bluegills are always going to lead to a fun time on the water.

This worm is also easily tied on your own. Bluegill will eat any size of worm as long as it looks somewhat natural. The best colors to use are either pink or green. These aren’t going to throw the fish off in any way.

Cast these near lily pads or any other area of the water with vegetation. You can also cast these parallel along the shore line and strip slowly towards yourself. A short, slow strip is going to draw the bluegill towards your worm. Once you stop stripping, wait. You’ll start to feel a tug on your line and you know it’s time to set the hook!

GUIDE TIP: When targeting bluegills, patience is key. These fish don’t need much action! Let the fly sit and the bluegill will eat.

13. Carrot Nymph

Carrot Nymph for Bluegill

Carrot nymphs are another classic in the world of fly angling. You can find these with and without beadheads. Beadhead nymphs are going to drop a little lower in the water column. Fish the beadheads when the water is warm.

Warm water drives the fish lower. It also means that they may be less active so don’t be too aggressive with your retrieve. The fish may need to be coaxed into feeding. Stay patient because the fish will eat, but it may take some time!

Use this in size 10-18!

How to Setup your Nymph Rig

When you’re targeting Bluegills with a nymph, use a 3 or 4-weight. Also, weight-forward line is going to work great. This will bring the flies lower in the column to meet the fish. Use 4-6x leader and similar size tippet.

The most important thing you can have on this rig is some sort of strike indicator. The strike indicator is going to alert you when the bluegill are eating your fly. Put the indicator a few feet higher on your line than the depth of the water. Your line will fall at an angle so you need to make sure your indicator is high enough!

14. Small Clouser’s – Gill’s Love EYES

Clouser for Bluegills

The Clouser is a small streamer that works great for larger bluegills. Larger bluegills often hang on the outside of the school a little deeper in the water.

Cast it, let it fall completely in the water column and then slowly raise it. It won’t take long for these fish to strike. You also have the potential to catch bass with this fly. Bass will hang out a bit deeper and away from the school of bluegill. If they see one in distress, they’ll try and eat it!

15. Mickey Finn – Go Small

Mickey Finn for Bluegills

I’m not sure why I fall back to a Mickey Finn when I think the bluegills are deep and streamers are the quarry. Probably because a Mickey Finn was the first fly I tied and caught a fish on. If you can find size 14 Mickey Finns buy them. If you tie your know flies make sure this is on your “to-do list”

I will usually increase the length of my tippet to 30 inches and add a small split shot above the knot connecting the tippet to leader.

What Kind of Fly Box for Bluegills and Other Panfish?

Slit fly boxes are great for panfish flies. They hold a variety of flies or all styles and sizes. Since the flies for panfish are so unique, you need a box that is going to hold them all.

At the End of the Drift for Bluegill

Trial and error doesn’t always work when you’re fly fishing. However, when you’re targeting bluegills, it does. These fish will eventually eat if you’re willing to put in enough effort. Focus on sight casting for these fish. When you identify their location, be patient and focus on short and slow strips.

Are you looking for some great How To Fly Fish Articles? Checkout this list:

  • How to Fly Fish for Bluegills – These amazing fish are all over the USA. I like to call them the “Gateway Drug to Fly Fishing”
  • How to Fly Fish for Brook Trout – Find the cleanest, coldest, most beautiful streams and I’ll bet Brookes are present.
  • How to Nymph Fish – Step by Step details for setting up, presenting and catching trout with nymphs.
  • How to Fly Fish for Salmon – Image hooking into a +25 pound King Salmon in a river and your Fly Rod breaks! Seriously this happened to me on my first trip.

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How 2 Fly Fish

Fly Fishing For BIG Crappie

The Top Ten Flies for Bluegills

Panfish On The Fly

I was recently asked if I had to go out on the water with only ten flies (god forbid!) what would they be.  I gave it some thought, and this list is what I came up with.  So without any further delay I present the Panfish On The Fly Top Ten Bluegill Flies.

#1  The Triangle Bug

Everyone loves the excitement of a fish taking a fly off the surface and I am no exception.  If there is a possibility of catching fish on the surface, I always prefer to fish a floating fly.  I may be able to catch more fish by fishing sub-surface but I am addicted to dry fly fishing and take advantage of the opportunity to do it whenever I can.  The triangle bug sits low in the water and is perfect for those shallow water situations when big bluegills get spooky.  The fly lands softly without spooking fish, and those long rubber legs are irresistible.  The best part about this fly is its design.  The triangle shape of this fly prevents small mouthed bluegill from swallowing it too deeply.


#2 Soft Hackles

Sometimes I just want to catch fish. As much as I love to watch a big bluegill grab a fly off the surface, I can not deny the effectiveness of a properly presented subsurface fly.  Like any other fish, the bluegill does the vast majority of its feeding underwater.  A soft hackle wet fly can be fished 12 months out of the year.  It is a reliable producer the year round.  By varying the size and the color you can imitate just about everything a bluegill eats!

Check out our Early Season Soft Hackle Selection

#3 Poppers

Poppers are a lot of fun to fish.  When bluegills are looking up nothing beats a popper.  The noise a popper makes on the surface can attract fish from a long distance.  Poppers also make an excellent platform to suspend a subsurface fly off of.  The popper/dropper method is a great way to cover all your bases, providing fish the option of either a topwater or subsurface fly. You will be surprised how many doubles you will catch with this method!


#4 The Green-Eyed Damselfly Nymph

Damselfly nymphs are present in every body of water I fish and they are a prime food source for bluegills.   Although I always have some different damselfly nymphs in my fly box, I usually reach for this pattern, so if I had to pick just one, this would be it.


#5 The Mop Dragon

Like damselflies, dragonflies are found everywhere I fish.  A dragonfly nymph is a little more of a meal than a damselfly for a bluegill.  That’s what makes it one of my best big bluegill fly patterns.  Bass seem to love them too.  The Mop Dragon is not your average mop fly!  It is a realistic dragonfly nymph pattern that is deadly on big panfish.


#6 The Wooly Worm

This classic pattern has been around forever and it is just as deadly today as it was a hundred years ago.  A small wooly worm will catch bluegills all day long the hardest part is deciding what color to tie on!


#7  The Brim Killer

The original Brim Killer has been around for a long time.  There was a time when you could find this fly in every local fishing department across the country.  My version is tied a little differently, and is more durable and carefully weighted to produce a slow sinking pattern that is irresistible to big bluegill.


#8 The James Wood Bucktail

The James Wood Bucktail is a smallmouth bass pattern developed by Harry Murry (of Murray's Fly Shop in Edinburg, Virginia).  The James Wood Bucktail is, in fact, based on a saltwater bonefish fly.  The fly as tied here is supposed to imitate a baby sunfish.  It does not look like a sunfish to me but the fish seem to think differently.  It is a great big bluegill pattern and it also cleans up on crappie, perch, bass, and pickerel.  This style of fly is so effective I have tied it in other color combinations to imitate immature pumpkinseeds, crappie, bass, and pickerel.


#9  The Panfish Wiggler

This pint-sized adaptation of a classic steelhead pattern has become a favorite of mine.  Bead chain eyes get the fly down deep.  It is an excellent choice for when fish are holding little deeper and you need a fly to get down to them.  I’ll tie this pattern with a lead underbody when I need to get the fly down deep quickly.


#10 The McGinty Wet Fly

The McGinty is another classic trout fly that has found its way into my bluegill arsenal.  The black and yellow color combination is particularly attractive to bluegills.  An interesting fact about the McGinty is that it was initially tied as a largemouth bass pattern way back in 1883.  No wonder it works so well in warm water!

While it is doubtful that you would find me on the water with only ten flies if I had a fly box loaded with these ten patterns I would not feel unprepared.  I thought it was interesting that only two topwater patterns made this list. Naturally, I tie and fish a lot more topwater patterns but this selection of flies reflects the way I fish.  If you want to catch more and especially larger fish, you need to target them where they feed the most, and that's under the surface.

I should mention that the recipes for all of these flies are on this website.  You can find them on the pattern pages or just use the search function on the home page. If you have a top ten list, I would love to hear it.  Leave a comment below or shoot me an email through the website’s contact form.


Patterns panfish flies

I know myself, there are exceptions, different people and circumstances. As a panacea, this essay will not suit absolutely everyone, but it will draw general lines. I have divided the article into paragraphs, where I will give their description, interpretation and examples from personal experience. This time I pay attention to the meeting in real life. It doesn't matter if you met on the site or work colleagues.

The Creature - A Killer Fly For Big Bluegill

One could see how one of the girls in the sports section was dragged to the side and she eagerly devoured the hefty limbs of the creatures. While behind her another monster was satisfied with her lower part. Suddenly one of the monsters threw back his head and began to violently move his palm along the shaft of his.

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I am trying to direct the tip into my ass, so it seems that it remains to enter it correctly. I squat down again and aim the tip, it still. Won't fit.

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