Late July and August is "go time" for the best pan fishing of the season.

This is the time of the summer when downsizing your fishing gear to accommodate the tremendous crappie and bluegill fishing happens. Usually when water temperatures hover around the 80-degree mark, I re-rig and downsize my equipment.

Here is my equipment list for making the transition.

Rods and reels

I drop down to a 5-foot rod and equip the rod with my smaller, ice fishing reels. The trick is to match the rod and the reel together in unison. It’s all about the balance.

Too many anglers just throw a large reel on a smaller rod or try and use their walleye setups for crappies and bluegills.

To make the experience so much more rewarding, drop down in gear size. Catching a 14-inch crappie on a smaller rod and reel combo is awesome! That’s what ultra-light fishing is all about.


Four-pound test line is the best all-around choice.  Anything heavier and it will impede the action of your bait and the balance between the rod and smaller reel will be off kilter.

Four-pound is adequate as long as you re-tie the knot periodically.


I prefer a look-alike minnow artificial that has a tiny, 1/32nd or 1/16th ounce jig head.  Nowadays, many manufacturers make these plastic minnows that are very realistic.

During the hot summer months, crappies and bluegills are smashing everything in sight and staying artificial keeps the action going without fooling around with live bait.

Keep in mind these summertime pan fish are not the hinky and reluctant biters of the springtime, these are eating machines as we head into August.


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