Well, with the right equipment, that pretty well describes bluegill fishing on Lake Barkley during the spawn. For a large lake, it offers exceptional panfish fishing, and with the advent of monster redear sunfish during the past few years, it literally can be a dream come true.
We’ve been bragging about crappie around here for 50 years. Bass fishing is so good that every available ramp has a tournament or two every weekend, including some of the biggest in the country. But the bluegill–man–that’s just buckets of fun.
You don’t need a big boat, expensive equipment or a fishing library in your head. Bluegill fishermen often carry flea market deals, a box of crickets or worms and a plastic bucket to the bank. The bucket provides not only something to sit on, but a handy container for the catch. It couldn’t be more simple or enjoyable.
My dream, however, involves artificial lures. I imagine I’ve tried just about everything, and I tell you truly, Mepps’ little Spin Fly is the best bluegill lure every invented. It will out-fish live bait. In fact, I have joined bobber watchers along the bank and proven this in no uncertain terms, time and again.
I suppose fishing a Spin Fly does require some degree of rod handling skill. The hardest part is getting these little, in-line spinners to spin, and you’ve got to do that, because they won’t catch a thing unless the spinner is whirling around the shaft.
After you deliver the cast, point the rod tip directly down the line, take up the slack, then crank the reel fast while violently wiggling the rod tip from side to side. It only takes two or a few quick cranks to get the lure spinning, then slow down gradually. Don’t pause. If you pause, the spinner will stall.
Once you get it spinning, the slower you go the more panfish you will catch. Try to crank it back just fast enough to keep the spinner spinning with a smooth and steady retrieve. Any bluegill within a yard of the thing can’t resist it.
Mepps makes two sizes of the Spin Fly. The smallest one is called an "Ultralight." I tie this one to four-pound test. This is my favorite size because being smaller, you can retrieve it slower, but it is a little harder to keep working properly, and big redear can really challenge the thin monofilament.
The other is the "Agila," which is the same name given to the larger French spinners that made them famous, except this one is very small. I use it on an outfit with six-pound-test line. The key, regardless which size you use, is to buy only spinners with tiny, single hooks. These find their way inside the little, oval mouths of panfish more often, and they seldom get hung on things you don’t want to catch.
The reel I like for the four-pound outfit is a tiny type usually sold for trout fishing and is recommended for two- to four-pound test line. The other is a little larger and calls for either four- or six-pound-test line. Let your budget be your guide, but generally the more ball bearings a spinning reel has, and the more it costs, the smoother it will operate and the longer it will last.
The best rod I’ve found for both sizes, however, is inexpensive. Both are made by Shakespeare, and both are called "Micro Graphite."
The six-pound-test line and Agila spinners handle best on the five-foot, "ultra light" model, while the Ultra Light Spin Fly casts best on the five-and-one-half-foot "light" model. These terms are a bit confusing, and you may need to read this paragraph a couple of times, and then still think I made a mistake–but that’s what works best.
Normally I don’t belabor points about rods, but for this type of fishing, specific sticks are important to get the most out of these little lures.
Both of these Shakespeare rods are long, sensitive and limber enough to get the most out of bluegill too. Anything hand-sized will bend them almost double and telegraph every beautiful vibration to your wrist–and big redear will make the reels scream.