Panfish potential of lightweight tackle

Worms, crickets and minnows under bobbers yield a lot of our bluegill and crappie action, but there’s another game that promises tons of fun — light cranking.

Running a tiny minnow or insect imitator across and over likely hangouts offers home run potential.

Panfish species vary somewhat in their preferences and approaches to feeding, but there’s plenty of crossover. Both crappie and bluegill tend to operate in schools, or at least small packs; both are highly motivated by feeding competition; and both seem much more willing to dart after a moving object than bass generally do.

Gluttonous souls known for an indiscriminate appetite, bluegill will smack just about anything they can stretch their mouths around.

Common offerings include baitfish shapes like a Rebel Tracdown Minnow, Rapala Ultra Light Crank and Rapala Shad Rap (size 04).

In addition, the Rebel Bighopper and Crickhopper, Strike King’s Bitsy Wiggler, Luhr-Jensen Kwikfish (size 05) and a tiny lipless crankbait can tempt bluegill.

For crappie cranking, stick with your baitfish imitators like the Rapala Ultra Light Cranks, Size 04 Rapala Shad Raps and Strike King’s Series 3 mini.

Spool your light baitcasters with fluorocarbon line, which allows just enough stretch to prevent pulled hooks but is sufficiently abrasion resistance to stand up to any structure your quarry might inhabit.

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About David A. Brown 323 Articles
A full-time freelance writer specializing in sport fishing, David A. Brown splits his time between journalism and marketing communications

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