Rigging Up For Spring Panfish

“Keeping things simple” is a good approach when fishing in spring for yellow perch, crappie and sunfish. An ultralight or light spinning combo, along with some jigs, soft-plastics and minnowbaits are all you need to catch plenty of early-season panfish.

Gotta Have Jigs

VMC Boot Tail Jig

VMC Curl Tail

VMC Nymph Jig

VMC Flap Tail Jig

Jigs are essentials for the warm, shallow bays, flats and sheltered shorelines where perch, crappie and sunfish abide in spring. Most days 1/32, 1/16 and 1/8 ounce are sufficient. The VMC Boot Tail, Curl Tail, Nymph and Flap Tail jigs represent a good collection of profiles, actions and vibration signatures. Trigger X material attracts panfish and maximizes taste and texture to ensure they hold on when they bite.

VMC Curl Tail Spin Jig

VMC Wingding Spin Jig

The Curl Tail and Wingding Spin jigs also catch panfish. The addition of a spinner blade produces added flash and vibration to draw-in panfish and tempt bites.

VMC Curl Tail Spinnerbait

VMC Boot Tail Spinnerbait

Equally good are Curl Tail and Boot Tail Spinnerbaits. The wire form helps these baits track through vegetation and timber with fewer hang-ups than standard jigs, making spinnerbaits great for catching tight-to-cover panfish as well as covering water.

VMC Hot Glow Skirt

Not to be overlooked are the durable VMC Hot Skirt Glow Jigs. On tough bites, tip the jig with a piece of worm or a small minnow.

The Float Factor

VMC Lighted Float

A float is a useful tool for maintaining depth control and keeping a jig in the strike zone. The VMC Lighted Slip Float does this and more. Outfitted with a super-bright light and 30-hour battery run time, it helps see more bites in low light.

Big Panfish Love Hard-Baits

Original Floater


Ultra Light Minnow

Panfish will also eat 1-1/2” to 2-1/2” minnowbaits. The baitfish profile and legendary Rapala wobble of the Original Floating Rapala remains irresistible to giant crappie, perch and sunfish. The X-Rap and Ultra Light Minnow are also excellent. These lures run between one to five feet.


Use the CountDown for working deeper. Let it sink to the desired depth, then start the retrieve.

Ultra Light Shad

Ultra Light crank

The Ultra Light Shad is a favourite among our pros. With a running depth of five feet, its wider profile appeals to big fish. To go deeper, use the Ultra Light Crank that dives to eight feet. Fish hard-baits with a swim-pause cadence. Add pauses to stimulate strikes. Cast lures on shallow flats, points and rocky reefs, over and around vegetation, and adjacent to timber.

The Perfect Panfish Combo: 13 Fishing’s Defy Silver Rods and Creed K Reels

Featuring Japanese 24-Ton HTC2 graphite and premium Portuguese cork handles, 13 Fishing’s Defy Silver series are excellent panfish rods. Sensitive enough to feel the lightest bite, these rods provide the power needed for wrestling giant crappie, perch and sunfish to the boat. Add a 13 Fishing Creed K 1000 or 2000 for the perfect panfish combo.

A rod performs best with a bait matched to the blank’s lure weight rating. If planning to use 1/32- to 3/32-ounce jigs, an ultra-light Defy Silver will deliver excellent casting performance and sensitivity. If your panfish adventures focus more on 1/16- and 1/8-ounce jigs, along with occasionally wielding 1/4 ounces, go with a light power rod. Light power is also recommended on trophy panfish waters and when fishing near cover.

Defy Silvers are available from 5’ to 7’. The 5’ and 5’6” ultra light rods are handy when tight to cover and for pitching light jigs. The 6’6” and 7’ models can increase casting distance, provide more leverage and improve line control with floats.

Sufix 4-Pound Mono Is All you Need

Sufix Advance Monofilament

Day in and day out, four-pound Sufix Advance Monofilament is the best line for panfish. It delivers all the benefits anglers want from mono. It’s subtle, has low memory, provides superior knot strength and is long-casting. Unlike typical nylon lines, however, Advance Monofilament fishes more like a braid, and has exceptional sensitivity, smoothness and abrasion resistance.

Two Important Tools

EZ Open Forceps

Forceps are perfect for removing hooks from panfish. Rapala’s EZ Open Forceps offer smooth, one-handed operation. Its serrated jaws deliver a sure grip and scissors easily cut monofilament.

A ruler is a handy tool when practicing selective harvest and “catch-photo-release” of big panfish. Rapala’s rulers have large, easy-to-read numbers, for a fast, accurate measurement.

Gearing-up for spring panfish doesn’t need to be complicated. The above baits and equipment are all you need to catch yellow perch, crappie and sunfish from shallow water in the spring.