Fly Fishing for Bluegill

Flyfishing for Bluegill Tactics

A great way to dust off your fly rod and get some easy action packed fishing in is to fly fish for bluegill. They are eager to hit, they aren’t selective about flies and they are great training for trout fishing. You can easily catch bluegill on just about any fly you have in your box if you present it to them properly. Another benefit of fly fishing for bluegill is the way they attack dry flies. Everyone loves to see (and hear) the popping hit of a large bull bluegill eating a small dry fly.


Panfish and Bluegill Fly Fishing

Catching panfish with a fly rod

This rock bass was caught on a large streamer. You can catch all types of panfish on flies.

Catching these fish is not rocket science, so even beginners can have a great day fly fishing for bluegill by following these tips.

  • If you see the bluegill in close proximity to your fly but it won’t quite hit, give your fly a light twitch. The little bit of extra movement will usually convince the fish that your fly is in fact alive and provoke a strike.
  • If you don’t see bluegill up near the surface go down to them with some heavy nymphs or streamers and possibly grab a rod with sink tip line or even a full sink fly line to get right in their face.
  • The best strategy for cool water bluegills will be slow moving flies, the warmer the water temperature gets, the faster you can present your flies. It is best to start with very short strips of just a few inches and speed up your stripping and twitching from their.

Fly fishing for bluegill is a great way to teach kids the basics of the sport, it will also provide quick action for even the most seasoned angler.

Flies for Bluegill

A popper, one of the best flyfishing bugs for bluegillThe bluegill is not known to be a picky eater, especially when it comes to flies. They are extremely opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat whatever is near them that resembles food. But certain flies are known to be more effective than others. Fly fishing for bluegill is a great way to get into the art of flyfishing. I have tried a lot of patterns, and I am here to tell you my list of top producing bluegill flies. Any or most of these should be available at your local trout fly shop or decent sporting goods store. Keep in mind that you can color any of these flies with a permanent marker to make them even more desirable to the fish.

  • Poppers Poppers are an effective fly fishing pattern for bluegill. They are extra fun because they make the popping sound and you have the visual of the fly making the disturbance on the water. There are many days that the bluegills simply cannot resist the popper!



A triple deckder foam hopper fly for bluegill

  • Foam hopper flies These are just as good as the popper, except there are days where the bluegill want to see a little more low key presentation. Every fish has its days where they simply don’t go for the loudest most “blingy” lures. They like the more subtle, natural approach. If there are a lot of grasshopper or water striders on the lake, then using the old foam fly might be the ticket.


Nymph fly for panfish flyfishing

  • Nymphs When the fish are lethargic or the water temperature is cold you might have to resort to going down to where the bluegill are. This calls for small nymphs. There is nothing more natural the the larval stage of an insect you could present to the bluegill. It will be nearly impossible for them to resist! If they won’t hit your fast stripping technique you might have to slow down quite a bit to trigger a strike.


Streamers are great for fly fishing bluegill and crappie

  • Streamers The streamer is a representation of a small minnow or bait fish. Since all fish are cannibalistic this is a great way to take advantage of the bluegills voracious attitude. You can tie streamers for bluegill easily. They don’t require much skill at all, not to mention the bluegill don’t mind if your fly doesn’t look perfect. In fact most fish aren’t picky about streamers. They tend to bite them for the same reason a bear attacks you if you run away — predatory instinct.


The List of Wet Flies for Gill’s

Stonefly Nymphs

3 types of stonefly nymphs for bluegill.

These first flies on the list are stone fly nymphs, they are effective for all panfish species and are a natural food for every fish in your lake. As you can see they come in a variety of colors and shapes. These are most effectively stripped under water at a variety of speeds to trigger strikes from fish. These nymphs are very effective for fishing over bluegill beds and all around at all times f the year these fish are active. If you cannot get them to come up for a dry fly these would be a great choice.

A great bluegill fly pattern called a blue dunBlue Dun Soft Hackle Wet Fly

Looking at this great fly you can tell it imitates a variety of food for fish. It could mimic a scud or freshwater shrimp or especially a small baitfish. This should be stripped in short bursts in a similar manner to the stoneflies mentioned above.

Midge fly for bream and panfish speciesMidge Pattern

This small midge pattern is deadly to all species of panfish, especially bream and bluegill. It is a small sized 20, that will easily hook even the most timid fish. These small flies are even very effective through the ice with a small splitshot.

Dry Flies for Bluegill

Hopper flies for panfish

The hopper patterns above will work well all summer long on your favorite big panfish lair. While 2 of these hopper flies are very well known, the one on the far left has the western flair of a chernobyl ant the bright and buoyant foam on the top will offer you the ability to easily see it at long distances and in choppy or wavy conditions. Also included in the image is the rainys hopper and the dave’s hopper. Fishing around tall grass in the heat of mid summer these flies will be hard to beat for a great day of fishing for bluegill.

The Chernobyl Ant and Foam Spiders

A foam chernobyl ant fly for bluegill and crappie
The tantalizing legs and high floating foam of these flies will catch fish without a doubt in the summer months. These patterns were created by western trout fisherman to mimic grasshoppers and large stoneflies at the same time. They have also become a standard in a lot of bluegill fisherman’s secret stash. They will also quite likely provoke strikes from bass as well as a variety of panfish.

A standard foam ant or spider fly for panfish

A small foam pattern for gill’s. A very easy fly to tie that will entice strikes.

Small Dry Flies for Panfish

Brown drake mayfly for catching bream

Mayfly Patterns

This is a great mayfly imitation known as the brown drake. A large species of mayfly that hatches during May-June, in lakes and rivers across much of the US. They will usually appear late in the day and can come out in extreme numbers. I chose to include this fly in this list because of its versatile natural color. The fish will eat it all year even if there is no large hatch of these insects present.

The white miller fly works well for bluegill and other panfish.

White Miller

This is a simple white fly that could mimic moths an several different species of caddis or mayfly. It is easy to see, floats really well and most importantly it catches loads of bluegill all season long.

Using a similar set of flies to the variety mentioned above you should have a diverse box of a fish catching arsenal. This list of bluegill flies is all you should need for a summer filled with delight and a bent fly rod. for even the most seasoned angler.

Fly Fishing For Bluegill With a Transparent Bobber and Spinning Tackle

fly fishing for bluegill with a bobber rig

The swivel for this rig is optional. It is just to prevent the bobber from slipping down to your fly.

Have you ever been out fishing for bluegill and wished you could use a dry fly easily with your spinning or bait casting rod? There are a lot of days that the bluegill just aren’t concentrating on eating worms, or anything else under the surface of the water. They are eating flies on the surface. But it has always been difficult to get a fly to them using standard gear. Well there is a way that you can take advantage of these bluegill with your spinning rod.

The technique of using the transparent bobber for fly fishing for bluegill and other panfish is not new. It has been around for a very long time. Its just not something you always think about. I will show you how to rig and use this technique effectively to catch any bluegill that is craving flies over standard bluegill baits. The main brand that comes to mind is the adjust-a-bubble this bobber can be filled with water to increase its weight to cast with any fishing setup. If you are using a stiff rod, and heavy line you will simply add more water to the inside of the bubble. This will allow you to cast extreme distances if necessary.

This is such a deadly technique that I am certain you will be surprised. You can even have your children enjoying fly fishing without any trouble at all. This is particularly effective during a mayfly hatch on the lake. You should retrieve the “adjust a bubble” slowly in order to trigger the strikes from the large bluegill. The best part of this method is that you get to enjoy the strikes on the surface of the water that used to be exclusively enjoyed by fly fisherman using standard fly rods. Using this technique you should easily be able to get out and even have the kids enjoying bluegill fishing with flies.

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