Best Baits: 15 Hottest Lures for Panfish | Outdoor Life

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The Hottest Bite from Coast to Coast

Best Baits: 15 Hottest Lures for Panfish

Did somebody say fish fry?

panfish lures

When it comes to the ultimate setup for spring and summer panfish, it's hard to beat a nightcrawler, hook, split shot, and bobber. But, there are some serious advantages to fishing for bluegills, crappies, and perch with artificial baits. You can cover more water quickly, and also avoid the little fish that are so good at robbing live bait rigs.

So with the warm panfishing months of summer on the way, we rounded up the 15 the best panfish lures of all time.

David A. Brown

rebel crickhopper lure

Crickets and grasshoppers are the staples of the panfish diet mimicked well by this mini crankbait. Twitch or wake it on top or run it to depths of 3 feet. With its realistic profile and body details, the CrickHopper is a particularly good choice after rains or any windy weather that washes and blows insects into the water.


Berkley gulp

Soft and durable, these 100% biodegradable baits are loaded with Berkley's powerful, patented scent formula, which attracts distant fish and expands your strike zone. Fished on light jig head or a small hook under a float, Gulp! Fish Fry offer an effective and convenient option to live bait – even through the ice.


beetle spinner

A true classic, the flash and thump of a single Colorado blade calls attention to the bite-size plastic beetle. Fish the Beetle Spin on a light spinning outfit with 4- to 6-pound line and cast around grass lines, lily pads, docks and shady pockets beneath overhanging trees. When panfish hold deep, vertically jig the bait around brush piles and other structure.


rapala ultra lite minnow

Weighted for long casts, this slow sinker sports a unique swimming lip designed to create an enticing wobbling and rolling action. External scales and 3-D holographic eyes complete the visual appeal.


rebel frog lure

A meaty amphibian makes a fine meal for any fish and at just 2 inches (1 ½ for the Teeny size), the Wee Frog makes a perfect panfish mouthful. Fish this floating crankbait on top to mimic a wandering frog or work it with sweeping rod motion for a fleeing action.


Road runner

A truly unique profile, the Road Runner's downturned head sports a spinner blade that provides plenty of thump and flash to attract attention. Swim the bait with a variety of retrieves, hop it across the bottom or vertically jig it – in any presentation, the pulsing marabou tail is a deal closer.

Bass Pro

yum ultralight tripod

If one minnow is good, then two is better and three is great. Create the image of a bait pod by running a trio of 1/8-ounce lead heads with 2-inch Yum Money Fry from this scaled-down version of the popular Yumbrella rig. Stainless steel arms are heat-tempered for strength and memory in a rig that's castable even on light tackle.


booyah red spinner for panfish

At 1/8-ounce, this diminutive spinnerbait is fair game for most panfish. The true-running "R" bend wire delivers serious vibration, while a lone Colorado blade handles the flash and water displacement. A 40-strand Bio-Flex silicone skirt and detailed head with realistic 3-D eye make the Micro Pond Magic an enticing target.


supper rig

Mounting a 1/16- and a 1/8-ounce Slab Daddy on twin arms, this rig rings the panfish dinner bell with a finesse presentation that's perfect for dock shooting, vertical jigging, slow trolling, long-lining, and casting. Each hand-tied minnow shaped Slab Daddy has a chenille midsection that holds scent attractants.

Mr. Crappie

basspro triple ripple grub

The tri-split tail design increases this grubs fluttering action and churns up more water for maximum attraction. Fished on a 1/32- 1/16-ounce jig head or a split shot rig, the Triple Ripple Grub gives panfish an active target worthy of a bite.

Bass Pro

poppers for panfish

Listen closely to a lily pad field or grass line and you'll hear the slurp and smack of bluegills and other panfish grabbing insects off the surface. Stripping these poppers across the water imitates the sound and action of a downed insect – an easy target for a hungry panfish. An 8-foot 5-weight fly rod will handle any panfish you hook, along with any bass that crash the party.

Bass Pro

bream getter foam spider

The old foam spider is a panfish killer and the Betts Bream Getter commands attention with its durable, buoyant body and latex rubber legs that wiggle with an enticing action. Leg spacing and tension ensure a realistic topwater presentation that opportunistic panfish can't resist.


strike king panfish bait collection

Dragonflies and Mayflies don't last long when they touch the water's surface and Strike King's soft-body imposters give panfish-tempting targets. Rigged on small light wire hooks and fished on ultralight outfits, these insect imitators are deadly around grass lines, lily pads, docks or anywhere panfish congregate.

Strike King

green grub for panfish

A 2-inch grub with stimulating tail action gains visual appeal from a combination of three distinct color laminations, which produce natural baitfish contrast. Fished on a light jighead, the Tri-Alive Hot Curly Tail Grub's appearance and action will garner plenty of panfish attention.

Mister Twister

Northland Fishing Tackle slurpie goldfish panfish

Northland's lifelike holographic Baitfish-Image body sports a tantalizing teaser tail that wiggles and displaces water for maximum attraction. Made to shimmer like real fish scales, the body contains Northland's salted and spiced Sow-Sauce attractant. Hopped or swam on a light tube jig, this little bait looks a lot like the real thing.

Northland Fishing Tackle