Nowadays, options are endless when it comes to fishing gear, tactics, and techniques.
But if you are anything like me, you want to keep things simple, and just catch more fish!
In this article, I’m going to cover the 5 best bluegill rigs that will catch fish no matter the time of year or the season.
Some of these bluegill fishing rigs have been around for decades, and others are quite new…
Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
Quick Note About Bluegill Fishing Rigs
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to cover bluegill rigs, otherwise known as methods or styles of lure/bait rigging to target bluegill.
It’s important to note that any of these rigs can be used with live or natural bait (such as crickets, worms, grubs, etc) or artificial lures such as soft baits and artificial worms, etc.
I encourage you to experiment with different rigs, to find what works best for your style of fishing and the type of water body you are fishing on.
The Float Rig
The float rig is perhaps the most popular rig for bluegill fishing because it’s a simple and effective technique for bluegill all year round. The greatest advantage of the float rig is that you can watch your bites! This makes it easy to detect light bites with tiny baits or lures.
Fishing a float rig isn’t complicated, so it’s a great choice for beginners and experienced anglers. You just have to watch your float for bites.
This rig doesn’t require any special rods, reels, or lines, so if you’re setting up for float fishing, you don’t have to worry about bringing your most sensitive setup.
The float rig works well with different baits and lures. Fishing live bait below a float is super effective; live minnows, worms, and grass shrimp are my favorite.
You can also tie a jig head below the float and rig a soft plastic lure; this is often called suspended jigging.
How To Fish A Float Rig
Setting up a float rig is quick and easy. If you’re using a peg-style float, just clip it to your line at your desired depth.
If you’re fishing a slip-style float, just slide a bobber stop up your line, then slide the line through the float.
The float rig can be used shallow or deep. All you need to do is adjust your float depth. Peg floats are often more convenient, but slip floats have the advantage of fishing deeper water.
By adjusting your float depth, the float rig can be used to perfectly suspend baits at any depth you choose. This is useful if you’re targeting suspended bluegill at a specific depth or trying to keep your hook just above the structure.
Another advantage of the float rig is that it can help achieve greater casting distance compared to other rigs. The float adds a good amount of weight to your cast, so you can cast the tiniest baits quite a distance.
However, you should still be careful not to overload your rod, so choose an appropriate size float.
The float rig shines in rivers, creeks, or anywhere with some current! The float catches the flow of the water and naturally drifts your bait downstream.
Float fishing in this manner is a great way to effortlessly cover water in rivers or creeks.
The jig head is a minimalistic rig, but it’s an incredibly effective technique for all species, especially bluegill. Unlike float fishing, jigging gives anglers a direct connection to their hook and allows the freedom to work the entire water column.
How to Jig for Bluegill
Jigging for bluegill is an incredibly versatile and sensitive technique that can be used anywhere. The angler has full control of their jig and increased sensitivity. You can feel the jig hit the bottom, deflect off structure, and of course a bite from a fish!
However, jigging for bluegill can be challenging. The ultralight jigs required for bluegill fishing are difficult to cast and retrieve without the right setup, so I would consider this a technique for intermediate and expert anglers.
The lightest jigs, 1/32 oz and lighter, work well in the shallows and tend to get the most strikes because they fall very slowly. With lighter jigs, you may have trouble feeling bites, so you should watch your line to detect subtle bites.
Heavier bluegill jigs, 1/16th to 1/8th oz, are easier to cast and retrieve. They sink faster and work well for bluegill in deeper water. They are also more sensitive and are easier in the wind.
You can use this sensitivity to your advantage. Feel your jig as it bounces along the bottom, and create a mental map of your fishing area.
Remember where the structure is, and the fish will likely be nearby!
Split Shot / Carolina Rig
The split shot and Carolina rigs are great for bluegill too! The advantage of these rigs is that the hook is trailing behind the weight. With this style rig, your bait will drift near the bottom and appear weightless to the fish.
The split shot and Carolina rig function very similar because they both have a weight up the line and away from the hook. On a Carolina rig, the weight is sliding up the line and stops at a swivel or weight stop. On a split shot rig, the weight is pinched onto the line at a fixed length.
These rigs work well for bluegill in shallow and deep water, just adjust your weight size. They also work well with both natural bait and popular bluegill lures.
Live worms are my favorite to throw on a Carolina or split shot rig, but sometimes I also use soft plastic trailers, like the Eurotackle Shrimp-X.
Tandem (Double) Rig
The tandem rig, or double rig, allows you to fish two lures at the same time! This lets you fish two different lure types and imitate a little group of bait swimming through the water. There are many different variations of tandem rigs.
The most popular tandem rig configuration is the double jig or hook rig. With this rig, you fish one jig head and one baited hook at the same time. You can experiment with different jig head weights, colors, and bait combinations to see what the fish are responding to.
The Jungle Jig is a revolutionary new rig allowing you fish small lures without getting snagged! The Jungle Jig is truly weedless, just like a Texas rig, but it’s downsized to fit soft plastics under two inches. You can fish it right in the snags and don’t have to worry about getting stuck.
The Jungle Jig is made up of three components: a Jungle Jig size 10 weedless hook, 1/32 oz tiny tungsten bullet weight, and super small weight stop. These are all available from @finnafishmerch.
The Jungle Jig is best fished with ultralight braided line and a fast action ultralight rod. This gives you the extra power to set hooks and pull strong fish out of the cover while maximizing the casting distance and control of such a small lure.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best bluegill rig for a boat?
Vertical jigging and tandem rigs work particularly well from a boat because you can position yourself directly over your line, which is impossible to do when fishing from shore.
Best bluegill rig for shore fishing?
Any rig with a float is going to be ideal for fishing from shore. The float will keep you line from getting snagged in a submerged structure, and provide an easy visual indicator of any bites.
Best baits for bluegill rigs?
Bluegills are primarily insectivores so, crickets, grass shrimp, worms and grubs are all excellent choices to tip your bluegill rigs with.
Best hook size for bluegill?
Fishing hook sizes can differ a lot from brand to brand. In general size 4 is the biggest I’ll use for bluegill, and you could go all the way down to a size 12. For jig heads, I like size 6 or 8, and weights depend on the depth and current.
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