Fly-fishing for bluegills is not the most challenging sport. But as with any fishing, attention to detail can make you more successful. Bluegills have small mouths, which restrict the size of the prey they consume. The jaw hinge on bluegills is set well in front of the eyes. When they open their mouths, a perfect circle between the size of a dime and a penny is formed.
To repeatedly catch bluegills, the fly angler should reduce the size of his offerings to no more then a size 8. Mostly, you will tie bluegill flies in sizes 10 and 12. A size 12 Mustad 9672 is perfect for streamers a 3906B is good for nymphs.
A mistake many anglers make when tying bluegill flies is making the tail of the fly too long. Bluegills are notorious “flippers.” They come up on a fly and bite it from behind. Flies tied with long, extravagant tails may draw a lot of strikes, but the hook set is often missed because the fish does not take in enough of the fly to reach the hook.
When tying marabou, or any feather, to the back of a fly, make the length of the tail no more than the distance between the bend and the point of the hook. The exception to this “shorter is better” thinking comes when tying patterns with rubber legs. If a fly’s rubber legs are too stubby, they do not move enough to attract attention. When tying with this material, make the legs about half the length of the hook shank.
Many fish, bluegills included, hold onto soft, pliable rubber legs for a long time. Also, a rubber-legged fly protruding from a bluegills mouth frequently draws a crowd, making the pack that much more aggressive.
For some of the best action, fly-fishing for bluegill can’t be beat. Bluegill will explode to the surface no matter what time of the day on any pond that are thick with lily pads or milfoil. But the best times to present surface flies, such as small cork poppers, sponge- bodied spiders or dry fly imitations of caddis and mayflies, are early morning and evening. And the best time for surface action usually comes right before dark, when a variety of midges, mosquitoes, and caddis rise off the surface or when mature insects return to deposit eggs in the surface film.
When this takes place, you don’t even need to present imitations of the naturals. The bluegill hit anything twitching on the surface, as long as they can it fit it into their mouths. Some favorite bluegill flies for evening bluegill fishing include such common flies as the Adams, the Light Cahill, Elk Hair Caddis and the Black Ant in size 12 and 14. All should be available from tackle shops that sell even a minimum of fly equipment. Cork poppers and sponge-bodied spiders in sizes 8 and 10 also are excellent surface flies.
Throughout most of the day, however, bluegill prefer a subsurface presentation. Just about any nymph from the common Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear to the equally popular Wooly Worm catches these fish. Sizes 10 and 12 work best.
The color of the fly can be more important than the pattern. It pays to keep an assortment of colors in your kit, including various shades of olive as well as black, dark brown, tan, yellow and chartreuse. Short tails of red, yellow and white also add to a fly’s effectiveness. Use a color that is easily seen in the water. On ponds with very clear water, the natural colors, such as tan and dark olive, out produce the brighter hues.
The best fly-fishing gear for bluegills, will be the lightest and simplest fly rods and reels. Three to 6 weight balanced outfits are ideal. Use a 3 weight under perfect conditions and the heavier 6 when wind becomes a problem. If you’re looking for one rod that can provide a fun fight yet still work in a breeze, look to use a 9-foot, 5 weight. It can double as a bass rod and throw slightly larger flies.
Floating lines are the most versatile for this type of fly fishing. The weight-forward variety can pump a weighted nymph as well as the small surface poppers and spiders. When fishing on or under the surface, a 7-1/2-foot leader tapered down to between 2X and 5X is ideal. You should use the heavier 2X leader around lily pads or thick weeds and the lighter 5X in open water. A tippet of 12 to 18 inches (with the corresponding X value) adds life to a leader. Leaders with an end of fluorescent yellow monofilament, will help you detect strikes, particularly when fishing below the surface. It also helps you see when a hooked fish is heading for the weeds. The important thing is the fluorescent strike indicator.
Well as you can see, fly-fishing for bluegill can be exciting and challenging. When the trout stop biting in the spring, it’s time to start summer time fly-fishing for bluegill. Don’t be too surprised to catch bass while fly-fishing. It will and does happen more often then you think . Fly-fishing for bluegill is also a great way to introduce fly-fishing to a youth. Many trout fly anglers on the water today, started out on a small farm pond, fishing for bluegills, well before they tossed a nymph on a cold April morning.
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