The Best Ice Fishing Lures for Perch

Pull jumbos through the ice this winter with these top baits
An ice fisher holds fish with one of the best lures for perch in its mouth.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More

When it comes to fishing sag-bellied jumbo perch through the ice, it’s best to have a bunch of different artificial and live bait on hand. Notorious for how finicky they can be, jumbo perch can easily elude an angler’s best and most refined approaches. Still, when the bite is on, jumbo perch can provide loads of action—and some of the best-tasting fillets in all of freshwater. 

Different ice fishing situations call for different lures—depth, water clarity, bottom structure, and preferred forage are key factors. As mentioned, perch can be picky—but the list that follows reflects an arsenal sure to catch perch on the hardwater you fish. It just takes experimentation. Here is my list of the best ice fishing lures for perch based on personal hardwater experience chasing the delicious, gold and yellow striped quarry. 

Best Ice Fishing Lures for Perch: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: JB Lures Gem-N-Eye – Gold Back

Best Overall: JB Lures Gem-N-Eye – Gold Back

See It

Key Features

  • Genuine 24K gold-plated back
  • Sizes: 1/32-ounce w/ #8 hook, 1/16-ounce w/ #6 hook, and 1/8-ounce w/ #4 hook
  • 11 colors, including Glow and Eye patterns
  • Price: $4.99 for two lures

Pros

  • Flutters erratically on the fall
  • Hybrid jig/spoon concept offers the best of both worlds
  • Split ring creates range of motion on every axis

Cons

  • Frequently out of stock

The JB Lures Gem-N-Eye Gold Back has proved itself over time as a perch producer when jigged, fished under a slip float, and used on rattle-reels inside a permanent fishhouse. Best tipped with a minnow, minnow head, perch eye (where legal), or “chandelier” of waxworms or maggots, both glow and eye patterns appeal to the visual feeding nature of perch and often turn negative and neutral fish into biters. Coated with genuine 24K gold, JB Lures’ tackle designers insist real gold offers a flash and visibility that can’t be duplicated with paint or holographic finishes. Available in three sizes—1/32-ounce w/ #8 hook, 1/16-ounce w/ #6 hook, and 1/8-ounce w/ #4 hook—and 11 different finishes (many featuring giant eyes) with hammered gold backs, this jig is a perch slayer through the ice. 

One thing that separates it from many perch ice baits is that it can be jigged as-is, fished under a slip float, or stationed on a rattle reel inside a permanent fish house. As such, it tops my list as the best overall ice fishing lure for perch due to its versatility, catch rates, and price point. If I had to choose just one bait to hit the ice with and catch perch, an 1/8-ounce Gem-N-Eye with hammered gold back would be it. Although the colors Wonderbread and Red Bloodline Glow are two of my current favorites, many patterns feature a large eye which is especially appealing to perch. Tip with a few waxies or maggots, a small minnow, minnow-head—or, where legal, the eye from a smaller perch—and prepare for jumbo perch action. 

Best Jig/Spinner Combo: Patterson’s Reel Bait Original Flasher Jig, Short-Shank

Best Jig/Spinner Combo

Patterson’s Reel Bait Original Flasher Jig, Short-Shank

See It

Key Features

  • Jig hangs horizontally, hook at a 45-degree angle
  • Willow blade attached to a swivel and split ring
  • Fish-attracting vibration and sound produced by spinner blade
  • Proprietary, Super-Glo finishes
  • Made in the USA
  • Price: $9.70 for five jigs

Pros

  • Willow-blade flutters seductively on the fall, the flash calling in fish from afar
  • Stand-up head design perfect for perch feeding off bottom
  • Short-shank hook for easy and solid hooksets

Cons

  • Lightest weight available is 1/8-ounce

This bladed jig puts out a ton of vibration and flash, which is ideal for getting perch to bite. The original bladed jig on the market, this bait’s unique head shape, hook placement, hook gap, and flickering willow blade make it a great bait for big perch. It hangs horizontally when jigged, the willow blade creating flash, distress vibration, and sound patterns that appeal to jumbo perch. 

This flasher jig is great for fishing a whole minnow or larger minnow head. It’s especially effective in areas where there are underwater currents where it can send off a lot of flash and vibration. The hook angle promotes solid hooksets and its stand-up head design is deadly fished on the bottom.

Best Perch Tungsten Ice Jig: Custom Jigs & Spins Chekai Tungsten

Best Perch Tungsten Ice Jig

Custom Jigs u0026 Spins Chekai Tungsten

See It

Key Features

  • Sizes: 1/12-, 1/16-, 1/32-, and 1/60-ounce
  • 22 colors, including many glow options
  • Price: $2.50 per jig

Pros

  • Wide hook gap for solid hooksets
  • Falls fast to fish and cuts through slush
  • Ideal for tipping with live bait or micro-plastics
  • Ultra-sharp hook

Cons

  • None

It seems every manufacturer is manufacturing tungsten jigs these days. Custom Jigs & Spins have been offering customers tungsten for years now and the baits have become a staple with professional tournament ice anglers and weekend warriors alike. When it comes to finesse fishing for perch, the Chekai Tungsten gets the job done.I’ve fished them extensively and when a small, tungsten jig is called for to really finesse bait-wary perch, this is my go-to, either tipped with a micro-plastic, waxies, or maggots.

Best Pre-Rigged: Northland Fishing Tackle Rigged Tungsten Bloodworm

Best Pre-Rigged Perch Ice Bait

Northland Fishing Tackle Rigged Tungsten Bloodworm

See It

Key Features

  • Diminutive sizes cater to finesse fishing
  • Pre-rigged Mud Bug tungsten jig head with rugged bloodworm micro-plastic
  • Sticky-sharp hook
  • Sizes: 1/16- and 1/28-ounce
  • Match-the-hatch and glow color options
  • Rugged Impulse Bloodworm plastic body

Pros

  • Sinks quickly and punches through slush 
  • Closely mimics a real bloodworm
  • Excels when perch are feeding out of the mud on macroinvertebrates

Cons

  • Limited color pairing of tungsten jig head and plastic

You can spend more time fishing, and less time rigging with this tungest jig and bloodworm combo. There are many situations when perch nose down in the mud or soft, weedy bottoms gorging themselves on larval and nymph life, especially emerging bloodworms. These situations call for down-sizing presentations significantly, but you still want to get to the bottom quick, hence the tungsten jig head. “Puffing” the bottom with the bait is a great way to attract feeding perch.

Rather than having to rig up a tungsten jig heads with tiny plastics with numb fingers, Northland makes it easy to grab a pre-rigged bait and start fishing. It’s the perfect marriage of two proven baits—the Impulse Bloodworm soft plastic and the Northland Tungsten Mud Bug Head. Matched with the uniquely-molded jig head, the plastic and head combo looks about as close to a bloodworm as anything currently available to ice anglers, perfect for when perch are nosing into the mud for bloodworms and macroinvertebrates and passing on minnows. The jig design has a considerable hook gap, too, for easy hooksets. 

Best Rattle Bait: Rapala #3 Ultra-light Rippin’ Rap

Best Perch Rattle Bait

Rapala #3 Ultra-light Rippin’ Rap

See It

Key Features

  • Lipless, deep belly baitfish profile
  • VMC black nickel treble hooks
  • 1 1/8-inch body size
  • 21 colors available
  • Natural forage, glow, and UV options
  • Price:  $7.49 to $7.99.

Pros

  • Fishes fast
  • Flutters seductively on the fall
  • Realistic appearance attracts fish in clear waters
  • Loud BB rattles attract fish in stained water

Cons

  • Price

When hopping from hole-to-hole, this small rattle bait is great for searching out the most active perch through the water column. When jumbo perch are on an active feed—and it’s a race to make the most of the bite before they quit—it’s hard to beat an Ultra-light Rippin’ Rap for the sheer speed you can fish it from hole-to-hole. With its skinny sides, the bait flutters on the drop, sometimes getting hit before the bait strikes bottom. Featuring a BB rattle system, the bait’s loud and draws fish in from afar. Textured scales and gills with deep-set 3D holographic eyes enhance the bait’s visual appeal. Whether you’re fishing clear or stained water, it simply draws in fish. 

Best Rattle Spoon: Northland Fishing Tackle Glass Buck-Shot Spoon

See It

Key Features

  • Lead frame spoon body
  • High-pitched glass rattle 
  • Resin finish 
  • Sizes: 3/32-, 1/8-, and ¼-ounce
  • Price: $9.99 (single spoon) and $24.99 (three pack)

Pros

  • Rattle calls in fish 
  • Erratic tumble on the fall
  • Can be fished fast or slow

Cons

  • Cost

A recent design change drawing from the vast, long success of the Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon, the Glass Buck-Shot Spoon features a high-pitched glass rattle that fish have never heard before that turns even old, wary and conditioned jumbo perch and walleyes into biters. This spoon’s loud rattle calls in fish and triggers a predatory response. 

The Glass Buck-Shot Spoon features a high pitch glass rattle chamber to play on the perch’s auditory senses. The translucent patterns add to its attractiveness, whether depth and water clarity call for glow or a forage-matching color scheme. Available in three sizes and 10 distinct fish-catching colors. 

Best Non-Rattle Spoon: Custom Jigs & Spins Pro Glow Pro Series Slender Spoon 1/16-ounce with or w/o Pro Finesse Drop Chain

Best Perch Ice Non-Rattle Spoon

Custom Jigs u0026 Spins Pro Glow Pro Series Slender Spoon 1/16-ounce with or w/o Pro Finesse Drop Chain

See It

Key Features

  • Distinct, fluttering shape often catches fish on the fall
  • Pro-Glow paint with UV coating 
  • 1/16-ounce is 1-inch in size, perfect for perch
  • Price: $4.95 to $5.50

Pros

  • Durable 
  • UV coating for long life
  • Versatile 

Cons

  • None

The Slender Spoon can be effectively fished without bait, especially the 1/16-ounce size. As mentioned, it often gets hit on the fall and is great for fishing through suspended pods of perch. All colors are available with nickel or gold back for various water clarity (I personally like gold everywhere). The spoon is also available in glow red for Lake of the Woods and glow blue for the Dakotas, must-have patterns for those waters. Green glow adds to the mix for everywhere else. Tip with waxies, spikes, or a minnow head and you’ve got one deadly bait. Or add a Pro-Finesse Drop Chain and the bait suddenly becomes a finesse lure that will convert neutral to negative fish, especially when combined with a chandelier of waxies or maggots.

Best Minnow Glide Bait: Rapala #3 Jigging Rap

Best Perch Minnow Glide Bait

Rapala #3 Jigging Rap

See It

Key Features

  • Hyper-realistic minnow profile
  • Two single reversed hooks and bottom treble
  • Available in 30 match-the-hatch and glow/UV patterns
  • Built for long-life
  • Price: $6.49 to $8.99

Pros

  • Swims in circles to trigger bites
  • Can be snap jigged and held at depth 
  • Lends itself to bottom-bouncing without snags
  • Yo-yo jigging aggravates big perch

Cons

  • Should be used with a small swivel from leader to main line

There are countless minnow-profile glide baits on the market today, but the original keeps proving itself as one of the best ice fishing lures for panfish. Another must-have bait, over the past 50 years or more the Rapala Jigging Rap has iced literally thousands of fish on hardwater. Now available in sizes suited to perch and other panfish, when it comes to jigging minnows, there’s no substitute for the original.

For jumbo perch, pros and guides are typically opting for the second smallest size in the family—the 3/16-ounce, 1 ½-inch W3 with one #12 treble hook—which swims in tantalizing circles under the ice, especially suited to suspended fish. The bait can be fished mid-depth, bottom bounced, of jigged yo-yo style with spectacular results. Available in 30 patterns, including four new colors including Fruit Punch, Headspin, Glow Pink Squirrel, and Glow Slimy Lime. There are also glow and UV patterns available. 

Best Dropper: Schuck’s Jigger Minnow  

Best Dropper-Style Perch Ice Bait

Schuck’s Jigger Minnow

See It

Key Features

  • Dense minnow-shaped spoon/jig body
  • Features an eye for visibility
  • Gold chain attached to bottom of spoon/jig body
  • Gold longer-shank single-barbed hook attached to chain
  • Price: $3.49

Pros

  • Handmade lures, one-at-a-time in the USA
  • Excel at converting neutral/negative fish into biters
  • Lead spoon body for slower rate of fall for suspended fish
  • Single gold hook versus treble on most dropper baits, easy for fish to mouth
  • Slides through weeds, cribs, brush, and wood to hard-to-reach fish

Cons

  • None

Simply, when other baits fail to produce through the ice or open water, I turn to the Schuck’s Jigger Minnow. Its dense body falls fast and shows up great on the best ice fishing fish finders. The minnow-shaped body also attracts perch but the dropper dressed with waxies, maggots, a minnow head, or perch eye (where legal) seals the deal. A great option of neutral to negative fish. It also slides effortlessly through weeds, brush, timber, and cribs without snagging, getting to hard-to-reach fish. Known to many Midwest anglers as their secret panfish go-to bait, Schuck’s Jig Spoon is another must-have for any ice perch angler.

When jumbo perch are neutral to negative, this is the bait that’ll crack the code—specifically, the 1.5-inch, 1/8-ounce Jigger Minnow, although anglers fishing giant perch in deeper waters may want to size up to the 2-inch Jigger Minnow. Especially great for fishing around cribs, brush, weeds, and other structure, the spoon slides vertically through the mess, presenting a waxy, several maggots, minnow head, (or where legal) fish eye, to jumbo perch on the attached dropper and hook chain. Still handmade in the USA, Schuck’s is a small operation but with a handful of diehard followers across the Ice Belt who’d prefer the baits remain a secret. Available in 29 different patterns, including glow.

Best Hybrid: Clam Dropper Spoon

See It

Key Features

  • Small, compact tungsten design
  • Three-link dropper chain with #14 glowing epoxy treble hook
  • Weight: 1/32 ounce

Pros

  • Fishes fast
  • Shows up well on electronics
  • Performs on active, neutral, and negative fish
  • Great option for upward-feeding perch
  • Price: $5.49

Cons

  • Only available in 1/32-ounce

Built from tungsten, the Clam Dropper Spoon is small and compact with a short, three-link dropper chain and #14 glowing epoxy treble hook to fool upward-feeding perch. It works great tipped with waxworms, a minnow head, or the eye from a smaller perch (where legal). Drops down to fish fast and allows the angler to actively hole hop to find active fish. The three-link, gold dropper chain has repeatedly proven its merits during cold fronts, bad pressure systems, or when fishing traffic turns perch off. 

How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Lure for Perch

Forage Base

The first thing you need to figure out is what the predominant perch forage on the water body you’re fishing. Are the perch suspended and feeding on pods of roaming minnows? And what size are those minnows? Or, are the perch nosing into the bottom and feeding on emerging life like bloodworms? It could be they’re doing all of the above and just at different times of the day. Yes, it can be complex but with today’s advanced ice electronics, it’s easier to discern this factor.

Water Clarity

A general rule of thumb is to fish brighter colors and glow patterns—and lures that emit sound from rattles or spinner blades—in more turbid waters. In waters that are clear, match-the-hatch patterns become critical to success in a lot of cases where the perch’s vision becomes more important in locating and eating your bait.

Depth

Depending on whether you’re fishing early, mid-season, or late ice, the depth that you find perch roaming can vary significantly. From shallow, weedy bays and flats, weed-line edges, cribs, to rocky mid-lake humps and drop-offs, you’ll need to match your presentation to how deep you’re fishing—and more importantly, where the fish are holding in the water column. Of course, with today’s ice fishing electronics this is getting a lot easier and quicker to discern. You can even watch the reaction of perch on most ice fish-finders now. Do you want a bait that falls slow in the water column for upward-feeding fish? Or, do you want a bait that quickly races to the bottom to attract bottom-feeders that are here one minute, gone the next?

Technique

Are you drilling large areas and hole-hopping versus sitting on perch travel routes/structure or in a fish house? This can all make a difference as to what kind of bait you want to fish. For “run and gun” ice fishing, you want to employ baits that fish fast like Rapala’s Jigging Rap or Ultra-light Rippin’ Rap, which will help you cover water quickly and pluck the most active fish from each hole. Conversely, if you’re sitting on a travel route or a piece of structure, you might want to use a jig or spoon. Found the fish but they’re seemingly shut off? Go down in size to something like a Chekai Tungsten and spike, Northland Pre-rigged Microplastic, or Schuck’s Dropper Spoon and gently finesse them into biting.

FAQs

Q: How do I choose the best perch ice bait?

Choosing the right perch ice bait depends on several factors: 1) forage base; 2) water clarity; 3) depth; and 4) technique. 

Q: What’s an ideal rod/reel set-up for ice fishing perch?

Much has changed in the last thirty years, with more manufacturers offering high-quality ice fishing specific rods and reels. Almost every big reel company builds ultralight reels in 500 and 1000 sizes, which are perfect for ice fishing. In winter, I personally like the stretch of monofilament and fish clear Sufix Ice Magic in 4-pound test. When it comes to rods, there are a host of great options out there but I’ve fallen in love with the 32-inch, medium-light power, extra-fast action, Perch Seeker from St. Croix Rods. I use it for perch, big bluegills, crappies, and walleyes. It’s a great all-around stick.

Read Next: Best Ice Fishing Rods

Final Thoughts

I encourage you to try different waters across the Ice Belt this winter to find your new favorite jumbo perch destination. Grab a handful of the best ice fishing lures for perch. Outfit yourself with a host of different micro-plastics and don’t forget the live bait; best to bring some waxies, maggots, and small minnows as insurance. Then start dropping them through the ice.

Share

WHY YOU CAN TRUST OUTDOOR LIFE