How To catch Bluegills: Bluegill Fishing 101

How To catch Bluegills: Bluegill Fishing 101

Table of Contents

Why bluegills

It is no secret that many people like to fish for bluegills. I bet that one good reason for this, like for many of us, is since the bluegill was the first fish we caught. Moreover, probably, it was when you were a little kid while joining your dad or grandpa.

Fishing for bluegills is a great event, even as a family event. Many times, when I saw a man fishing, I was also seeing his little boy or girl, standing next to him, holding a short rod and targeting bluegills. Their smile always worth a lot. We all know that this is a great way to spend time with the family.

In contrast to many other fish species, the bluegills will always provide us the fun in fishing. This is since they will bite everything (well, almost everything). And not only they bite everything, but bluegills can also be found in many places like ponds, rivers, lakes etc.

When you go out fishing for bluegills, remember, once you found the first one, it is very likely that you end up your fishing day with several more dozens of them in your basket.

Another great reason to go out fishing for bluegills is that you don’t need an expensive fishing tackle. You can use simple and un-expensive gear, and it will be enough for you. And this is also many parents can allow themselves to buy such a gear for their kids as well.

So here are the main reasons why fishing for bluegills is great:

  • Bluegills are easy to catch – they bite almost anything.
  • They are found in many places – lakes, ponds, rivers, reservoirs…
  • You don’t break your savings to fish them – fishing tackle is not expensive.
How to catch bluegills - Bluegill with a worm in his mouth
How to catch bluegills – Bluegill with a worm in his mouth

Are you new to fishing?

If you are new to fishing, I recommend you to read our great tutorial on fishing for beginners. It will give you a great idea of how to start and what to expect.

Where can you find bluegill?

As said earlier, bluegills can be found in many places, like lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and ponds.

Some say that they prefer clear water. A cloudy day is good, however, having sun is better. Moreover, bluegills prefer a quiet place.

After finding such a place, look for weed beds and bushes, these places are preferable for bluegills since it gives them cover from other fish like bass.

When is the best time to fish bluegills?

Well, as seasons are changing, so as the places the bluegills schools. So the best time of the day for fishing bluegills are changing according to the season. Moreover, the bluegills activity in each season is different.

Generally, sunrise and sunset are the best times of the day when we are in the spring and summer. However, midday hours are preferable when we are at the fall and winter.

During the spring, the sunrise and sunset is the best time for you. The fish at that time are very active and they are likely to bite almost everything. However, their activity will go down during midday as they will be found more at the deeper water, enjoying the cooler water.

To explain that a bit more, during spring (and early summer as well), the males are protecting their nest. Hence, you will find them in shallow water. So, they are more likely to attack everything, even small plastic lure, as the lures will be taken as predators that threaten their nest.

As the summer goes on, the heat goes up as well. The bluegills will go to a bit deeper to chill – something around 10 feet deep.

When the fall begins, since the weather is getting chilled, it is more likely that the bluegills will return to the shallow water. Since the shallow water on midday is warmer than the mornings and nights. So, in the fall, midday hours will be the best time for you to fish for bluegills.

Winter is the worse time of the year (compared to other seasons) to target bluegills. During winter, due to the cold temperature, the bluegills are less active – hence they less likely to bite. They will go deeper than the summer – and you should expect them to school around the 20 feet deep. However, if you want to adjust your success in the winter, read our tips about fishing in the winter. It will help you a lot.

Watch this movie, and see that the bluegills are getting caught at 20 feet deep. You can skip to time 02:20 where the depth is described, and the fish were caught only at 20 feet deep. You are of course welcome to see the rest of it and enjoy it like I did.

Ice fishing for bluegills

You can still catch bluegills when it is freezing outside. The best time for that is sunrise and sunset. But when I say Ice fishing, I mean when the ice is not yet thickened. It is good when the ice begins to form on the water surface. In this time the fish eat less.

Fly fishing for bluegills

Fly fishing is not a method for beginners so I will not discuss it in this article. However, I will post an article about fly fishing for bluegills very soon.

Essential tackle

As for the tackle, you won’t need a special gear for that. Nothing fancy, so I will keep it simple. Light tackle will do the job perfectly for bluegills. So here is my recommended fishing tackle for fishing for bluegills.

I will go thru the fishing rod, fishing reel, fishing line, hooks, lure, baits, and floats which will be needed.

Fishing rod for bluegills

Great rod for bluegills should be no longer than 7 feet, and if you need that for a kid, go with a 6 feet rod. SeaKnight has a great fishing rod, the SeaKnight Falcon fishing rod, which comes with 2 tips, allowing you to use it in several types of fishing. It has ML which will be good for bluegills, and another tip which is Medium, this can be good for bass. So, basically, you pay for a rod that expands your possibilities.

Fishing reel for bluegills

For the reel, like the fishing rod, a light spinning reel should be good enough. I do not recommend to buy the cheap spinning reels since they are not giving the fun after a few hours of fishing. There are good reels in decent price which are exactly what you should be after. And the Shimano Sienna size 1000 is good enough.

Fishing line for bluegills

Regarding the fishing line, when fishing for bluegills I prefer monofilament. This is since the bluegills are often to be found in weed beds and bushes. If you will use a braided line, it is likely to tear, ending up with a lost bait and fish.

The line should have the strength, not more than 6 pounds.  Berkley has a good line that I love to use. Berkley Trilene Super Strong which is great underwater and comes in several strengths 4LB up to 15LB.

You can use the 4LB instead of 6LB, I sometimes prefer it to make it more challengeable.

Fishing hooks for bluegills

Since the bluegills are not bug fish, we will need small size hooks. Size 8 and 9 are good enough. And since the bluegills are at freshwater you don’t need to get those hooks that are good also for saltwater fishing. As they are more expensive.

Fishing lures for bluegills

This is a bit tricky part. When you are fishing for bluegills, the season is important since it is affecting the activity of the fish.

During the spring and summer, you can use lures in a way that it will threat the bluegills. This way it will trigger the bluegills to chase after the lure and bite it.

However, in the winter and in the fall, the fish are less active and using a lure as a bait (like a dead fish or crawler) will be better.

One of the best lures that will stand out for you in summer and winter is the Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow. You need a small size, which is 1 inch long. This is a great lure which is soaked in a powerful attractant that drives the fish crazy even during the winter. It comes in a jar, which is very handy and it replaces the live bait for you.

How to catch bluegills - Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow 1 inch

But, that is not the only lure that works for bluegills. You can use also microjigs, small soft plastic lures in a shape of insects, tubes, and even spinnerbaits will do.

Lure action for bluegills

Make sure to slowly move the lures or insects, and this is enough for bluegills. Even if you use twitches while you move the lure, make sure to do it not too hard, but small and delicate twitches.

One important tip, watch out not to snag your lures since the bluegills love all these bushes and weeds. You can snag your line very easy if you will not pay attention to it.

Bluegills baits

Best baits for bluegills are nightcrawlers and worms, bluegills love them very much. I personally don’t like to use them since I don’t like to place in my fridge a box of nightcrawlers or worms. And if you don’t keep them in a cold place they will die.

Regarding live bait, like small minnows, they are great as well and during summer they will be a great success for you. Just make sure to keep them in a place with an aerator pump.

When you are using the nightcrawlers or worms, just make sure to cover the entire hook with it.

Some are even using crickets, however, from my experience, the crickets did not grab too much of an attention from bluegills.

Fishing for bluegill - worms
Fishing for bluegill – worms

Fishing floats for bluegills

Here, every float will do the trick. For many of us, the red and white bobber is perfect.

You need the bobber just to set how deep you want the lure or bait to be. You don’t really need it to be a bite indicator for you.

Basically, you can use also a regular round bobber or a stick bobber. If it floats and you can see it on the water it is enough for bluegills.

Regarding the length of the rig, well that depends how deep you want to fish for bluegills.

On most places, 2 feet long should be enough for you.

Best Fishing Rigs for bluegills

Again, the seasons are affecting the rigs. Not too much, but still.

In the winter, I am using a drop shot rig, this is since the bluegills are not very active.

So, that means, a float, after that a split shot weight, then the fishing hook, and then the sinker.

The split shot weight is not necessary; It depends if the lure can hold well in the water or not.

However, in the fall, spring and summer I am using lures to catch the bluegills. They are more active and tend to bite more. You can use the drop shot rig in these seasons as well, however, I find it more effective.

I would certainly say, that if you are taking your kid with you, then a drop shot rig will be the best one for your kid, that of course, until he will learn the job well J. After all, operating a lure on the water does requires some experience.

When you go ice fishing for bluegills, use tear drops which is a small colored hook with a float and a live bait.


Fishing for bluegills is without a doubt a great fishing journey to have alone or with your family.

You can go out fishing bluegills all year around, and it is very simple. It does not require special gear, and the bluegills will sure provide you best success in fishing along with a great fun.

Kids love fishing for bluegills, and if you take them with you, their smile all over their face is guaranteed.

I did not cover everything on bluegill, but, that will be the best start for you.

Let me know what you think about your experience with bluegills.


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