Using Softplastics for Panfish
Ice fishing for Panfish and soft plastics go hand in hand. Perch, Bluegills, Crappies and Pumpkinseeds all love plastics. While there has been a lot written on this subject over the past few years, I feel most ice fisherman are still afraid to make the leap. I for one was one of them.
Over the last couple of seasons I've experimented with Berkley Gulp Waxworms on occasion, and while they worked I can't say they worked better then the real thing. Earlier this season we started using the Berkley Gulp Alive Fish Fry and WOW these little guys are amazing! The Gulp Alive product has incredible life like movements, that other plastics just do not have. The wispy tail on the Fish Fry is a serious trigger, and Bluegills inhale them.
Live bait will always have a place in my arsenal but the Berkley Gulp Alive Fish Fry is now in the starting rotation. I like using the Fish Fry with a #12 or #14 Custom Jigs and Spins Diamond Jig
or a 4mm Tungsten Wolfram jig made by Your Bobbers Down,
another option is a #12 or #14 Northland Mud Bug
. Try rigging two rods up, one with spikes or waxworms ,and the other with the Fish Fry. I like to hole hop while fishing for Pans since Panfish seem to bore easily. Having two different offerings rigged up let's me catch bonus fish from each hole.
Use the Gulp Alive Fish Fry first, and often you'll catch the largest Pans immediately. After you catch a few, follow up using the jig loaded with live bait and you can scratch out a few more. I like to rig the Fish Fry length wise on the shank of the hook, for finicky biters you can bite the body of the Fish Fry down. Another option is wacky rigging.
So what are the other advantages to using plastics like the Fish Fry? For starters they last longer then live bait. Berkley offers their plastics in really cool fish catching colors. Between the plastics and jig heads your color combos are virtually endless. We really like the orange Fish Fry with a chartreuse jig (FireTiger) another killer is a pink Fish Fry and chartreuse jig. Unlike dyed spikes or waxies the Fish Fry don't lose their color in the water.
Fish really hold onto the Gulp Alive products, in fact they seam to inhale the Gulp Alive better then live bait. So next time you're on the ice give soft plastics a try, I'm sure you won't be disappointed!
Sick of frying all your Panfish? Try this amazing "Panfish Chowder"
recipe for a change of pace. It's delicious and really simple.