Bluegill on the fly


lakeBluegill – what can you say? Bluegill, or some other related small but spunky fish, is how many of us begin our fishing life. Then we “progress”. We progress to what we think are greater things, or better things, or more profound things, or cooler things. It is a perceived evolution. Well I never evolved I guess. Maybe I’m just plain simple, but spending an afternoon casting a fly to a bunch of voracious bluegill – especially if the occasional one is a chunk with a silhouette like a plate – is just as fine way to waste the time as any, and better than many. Don’t be afraid to devolve.
On this day I walked the pier and paved shore of a lake in a state park while the kids swam. I was lost for hours. I fished until my hands ached – for real. Those big gills put a bend in a long tenkara rod and they set the line to singing. If you’ve never heard the singing then string your tenkara rod up with some level line and head to the gill pond. It will be music.
I will not say that the fishing was hard and that the fish were selective. But it takes a knack to get the hookset timed, and so if you have to make excuses to do a day of panfishing then just chalk it up to “practice” for the more serious piscatorial pursuits.
Somedays they take the fly on top like mad and somedays they don’t. I won’t pretend to understand it. On this day they wanted it subsurface. And it had to be big and it had to be cast with a splash. A delicate presentation with a dainty little fly was not rewarded. Buggers, stonefly nymphs, that kind of thing was in order.

12 Comments on Bluegill on the fly

  1. Dave Southall // June 25, 2013 at 3:09 AM // Reply

    I’ve visited Florida several times (my home is East Yorkshire, UK) & have fished for Large Mouth Bass & assorted Sea Fish with both fly & lure, but some of the most fun fishing has been tempting Blue Gills to a small foam popper whilst gently canoeing through the reeds, grass & lily pads of the lakes near to Kissimmee.


  2. Bream, red ear, blue gill, sunfish…

    This genre of fishing is awesome.

    …especially in single digit childhood years.

    Stick string and hook,

    dancing hopper grass,

    memory cook,

    you shook.


    • Adam – I am still a child at heart I reckon and a 夏の少年 (Natsu no shōnen) to boot.

      When I was a little kid I would sneak to the local pond without any gear and find hooks and line on the ground – tie them to a stick and fish.

      Bluegill tenkara takes me right back to this – except I don’t usually have to sneak now

  3. “…especially in single digit childhood years.”

    Single digit? I’m pushing the middle of that road at 48 and it’s still a hoot! I love catching gills still to this day.

    And the only thing that sings better than Tenkara (my chosen method for gills now) is a B&M Black Widow pole (hollow glass telescopic poles) rigged with Spider Wire.

    Lets hear it for Gills!

    • I reckon you’re like me – you have a single digit heart. I’ll have to check out those B&M Black Widow poles…


        You can usually find them at Wally World for $10 or so.

        I fix the line on the grip end (there’s a line holder there) and run it up to the single eyelet and on to the hook. A lot of folks rig them through the eye and tie it off a few inches behind it. I think my way gives the full backbone of the rod a chance.

        Great for cranking them out of cover. A 3 lb LMB really makes these things sing.

        I switched to SpiderWire on them last year when I was cranking Crappie out of really heavy deadfall.

  4. Alan Deutsch // June 25, 2013 at 7:49 PM // Reply

    Fishing for Gills is a blast! Nothing beats the singing made by a slab gill. I fish a heavily pressured pond in the middle of a planned community in NJ and slaughter gills and small bass after dark. The heat of the day is gone but the bite is usually red hot. I prefer a black or olive bugger size 10 or 12. Or one of my bright green with black hackle bugs. Give it a try at night — you will be amazed how many bodies of water really heat up.

    • Yes Sir! On really heavily pressured water, Tenkara sores above other methods for Gills. Something delicate and real looking.

      Even with a 2w, I can’t present as delicately as I can using a Tenkara rod.

      I’ll second after dark. In the summer we get the best catches from 8-10 PM.

  5. Alan – now you’ve got me thinking…I have to get out at night.

    What is the design of your bright green/black hackle bug? Is it a dry or a subsurface fly?

  6. “Devolve…” Are we not Men,we fly rod guys who fish for Gills? We are D-E-V-O!(Sorry, throw back to the 70s, before we all got Serious).

what say you?