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Comfort Baits For Sunfish

By Mike Dial

The Pan Fish Comfort Bait.

Bluegill and bass
Bluegill and bass.

Finding a bait you have confidence and comfort in using can be tough. This article will introduce you to my comfort bait for pan fishing. As spring rolls in so do pan fish such as Bluegill, Crappie and Rock Bass. These fish will move out of their wintering holes and into shallower water. When this happens you have one of those fantastic opportunities to score big on these fish. Now what to use!

My Crappie Bait Of Choice

Ultimate sunfish bait
Top sunfish bait.

Jeff Smith at Leland Lures came out with the\"Trout Magnet" a few years ago and it quickly became my comfort bait for Bluegill and Shell Cracker as they began to bed. Last year Jeff introduced the Crappie Magnet. It didn't take long for this bait to prove itself big time on Percy Priest Lake here in Nashville.

The Crappie Magnet is very easy to use. It consists of a small bobber, a small lead head with a small plastic Crappie Magnet attached. The plastic bait has a split tail that gives a little tantalizing movement that Crappie can't hardly resist. On my last Crappie outing last week the day started out slow. We tried other lead head/plastic combinations and techniques with very little success. I just thought it was going to be a slow day. I tied on the Crappie Magnet and eased over to another tree and began fishing it extremely tight to the cover keeping my boat positioned correctly into the wind. Sure enough the bobber went down and kept going down. When the Crappie hit the Magnet they usually inhale it deep and you can pull them right up out of the brush.

Crappie on a mini-jig
Crappie on a mini-jig.

As far as rods are concerned I like to use a long 8 foot rod to be able to just lift the lure straight up and down keeping the bait from hanging up in the trees. Some situations like when you have clearer water and no wind you will need to keep your boat off the shallow structure making longer casts. When I'm doing this I like to use a 6 foot to 6 foot 6 inch medium light rods. As the Crappies begin to head out of the shallow water you can still use the Crappie Magnet to probe deeper structure.

My Bluegill-Shell Cracker-Rock Bass Bait Of Choice

You guessed it! The Crappie Magnet and the Trout Magnet both are fantastic on Bluegill, Rock Bass and Shell Cracker. I have caught these feisty pan fish all year around using these baits. It doesn't matter if the fish are on bed in one foot of water or suspended out in twenty feet of water these baits are awesome. Another great benefit of this system is that the EZ Float is light enough that you can cast it into the shallow water with a quite presentation but yet aerodynamic enough to give you all the distance you will need. Remember, these baits will work all year long until the winter season sets in again.

Let's talk about my favorite pan fish the Rock Bass. (aka: Warmouth, Goggle Eye, Black Perch) The Rock Bass will absolutely eat this up all year long, but in the Spring all you have to do is get in one of our Middle Tennessee streams and let the Trout Magnet system drift barely bumping the bottom. When the fish are in the rocks bedding or in the root balls and root systems, cast as close as you can just above the structure and let it drift by. Wham! The Rock Bass can't resist. When the Rock Bass are actively feeding you will find that drifting the Trout Magnet through the run will not only produce Rock Bass but Smallmouth as well. It's not unusual to get 20 to 30 fish out of one run in the Spring


There are many products to choose from to Pan Fish with. But take it from a Guide that specializes in Pan Fish and Stream Smallmouth. If you are looking for a proven pan fish system that is easy to use not only for you but for your kids as well that will produce time and time again, you need to try the Crappie Magnet and Trout Magnet Systems. I don't go Pan Fishing without them.

Article written by Mike Dial of Tennessee Bass Guides.