The versatile Scud
Bug from Bro’s Bug Collection is at home under a light float or jigged
on a tightline. In both cases, the nimble and luscious soft plastic body moves
like a real aquatic creature. Photo courtesy of Topwater Media.
When it comes to bite detection methods for winter panfish angling, there are
two schools of thought. Some believe the only option that makes sense is to use
a bobber or float. Others have found that a tightlining system, with or without
a spring bobber, is the best choice.
In order to make the right decision, a person has to consider several factors.
These factors include temperature, bait choice, depth, time of day, and of course,
First of all, air temperature is a key ingredient in making a presentation
choice. If the angling is being done in a shelter of some kind with warm temps,
slip bobber systems work very well. However, slip bobbers have a tendency to
ice up when used outside on cold days which means stationary floats would work
When using minnows, I believe a bobber or float system is the way to go. Fish
are not aggressive feeders in the winter and need time to suck in the minnow.
A very light bobber will allow a finicky perch or crappie time to chew on things
with little resistance.
TEAM NORTHLAND™ ice fishing specialist Jason Durham favors Bro’s
Mud Bug for deep water situations. The sculpted jig fishes heavy for its
size, maintaining constant tension on the line for seeing and feeling strikes.
Photo courtesy of Topwater Media.
Depth is an important consideration when making a bobber or tightlining choice.
On a few lakes I fish, the panfish are found in relatively shallow water and
are pretty much all at the same depth. Bobbers can work well for these situations.
Frequently, I find myself working fish that are in deep water and suspended.
Tightlining is ideal for these conditions because it is very easy to watch your
electronics and change depth as the fish come through. Keeping up with constantly
changing depths with a bobber is nearly impossible.
I find the time of day I am fishing to be a big factor in my presentation choices.
During the daylight hours, panfish are usually more lethargic than they are
during the low light periods. Because of this, anglers need to do more coaxing
in order to get them to bite.
Tightlining systems make it possible for anglers to jig larva bait in front
of the noses of finicky panfish. Persistent jigging of one form or another will
usually convince something to bite, even if they are in a very neutral mood.
If the strikes are really light, a spring bobber may be needed.
Mud Bug in the vibrant Fruit Fly pattern.
Hook choices for tightlining are more critical than they are for bobber fishing.
When tightlining, anglers need to select a jig that is small yet heavy enough
to bounce effectively when jigged. It also needs to have enough bulk that it will
read easily on your electronics. Bro’s Bug Collection from Northland is
a good place to start. And I suspect the new Hexi-Fly
with its ability to reflect sonar signal, will perform ideally for tightlining.
No matter what system a person uses for winter angling, always keep it as light
as the conditions will allow. If it is a bobber presentation, use the tiniest
one you can. If it is tightlining, keep the jig as small as possible.
Slug Bug in a
natural Mealworm tone.
As for line, make sure it is very light. I believe this means supple, one to
three-pound-test line such as Berkley Micro Ice. Four-pound test is too heavy
to hang straight with light lures. If your line does not hang straight, the
curls have to be pulled out before a bite can be detected.
Choosing a presentation for winter angling is often a matter of personal preference.
However, sometimes the circumstances will dictate the best options for success.
Posted on Fri, November 20, 2009
by Jerry Carlson filed under