What... No Bait? Panfish Plastics


I was late. Chris Beeksma patiently waited for over an hour while I made my way through one small town after another.


It took almost 4 hours to go 140 miles, proving to me once again there is no easy way to go through eastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin.

"It was taking so long to get here, I didn't think I should stop for bait." That was my excuse, anyway. Not that I really cared, but I asked anyway. "Did you guys bring any waxies?"


"No."

"Maggots?"

"No. We use panfish plastics pretty much all the time," Beeksma said. I asked which plastics. "Gulp, Pin Point, Northland — we use all kinds."

I've often stated in print that livebait is not a required substance for panfish, especially in winter. The one problem is, which style? Maggots, waxworms, and minnows are

crutches and, just like everybody else, I often lean on them too hard. The choices are simple, the methodology is simple — everything is easy with bait. That's why our brains are getting smaller. Even the adult neanderthal had a larger brain than the average man today, but archeologists recently concluded that human skulls dating back about 25,000 years or so held significantly larger brain capacities. The brain began getting smaller with the development of agriculture, suggesting the easier we make things on ourselves, the less brain we require. (Imagine how quickly our brains must be atrophying here in the computer age.)

I digress. The point I was making is that it can take time to sift through all the options with plastics today to find the one that excites the most aggressive responses. When panfish are being suicidal, it doesn't matter. But sometimes, the right plastic shape — like the right color, or the right scent — makes all the difference.

The jigs in the top photo are  TC Tackle Girdle Bugs (406/683-5485). Beeksma and I find them invaluable in the search for bull 'gills and slabs year 'round. The little rubber legs add a dimension the fish never see in lures this small, and the variety of available colors allows you to match any water condition, mood, water color, or amount of light penetration.

The second photo is a box I always carry on the ice, filled with Custom Jigs & Spins Wedgees in all available colors. They don't bleed, which is cool — you can pile all the colors in one box or plastic bag. But the great thing about the Wedgee (and the old Pin Point Pin Tail, which our friend John Paulson was using) is that long, tapering point that almost reaches the realm of the microscopic. It quivers on the drop like a swimming "thing," and won't stop quivering on the pause. The method I use to run it on the hook is on display with another of jig artisan Tim McFadden's TC creations on the Customs box. It's not easy, but if you can thread one on so it lays straight on the shaft of the hook — wow. Panfish love it.

How did we present it, and how did we do?  We'll cover that in tomorrow's post.

Postscript: I apologize to all surfers who have tried to contact TC Tackle and failed because I've been linking you up to a dysfunctional website. Please contact Tim McFadden (TC Tackle) directly by calling 406/683-5485.

Get Your Fish On.

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