When most people think of fly fishing, the main fish species that comes to mind is most likely trout. While trout are a great species to target when fly fishing, there is another species that is often overlooked. Bluegills are a lot of fun to catch on a fly, and can put up quite the fight. Targeting bedding bluegills is a great way for a newbie to get started fly fishing, as well as provide great fishing opportunities for anglers of any skill level.
Most bluegills are caught in the spring and early summer. When the water starts to warm up, it’s a great time to fly fish for them. Once the water temperature nears 60 to 62 degrees, the males will create nests and the females join them soon after.
After spawning, the females leave the males to guard the eggs. Just before, during and right after spawning, males are aggressive and strike almost any fly that comes near their nests. Due to the aggressiveness of the males, it can be pretty easy and quick to catch quite a few bluegills.
Bluegill like the same foods as trout, such as insects, worms, and leeches. When matching natural foods with flies think small, because even larger bluegills have small mouths and will find small foods easier to bite. If the fish are being fussy, it is beneficial to use natural trout flies. Poppers, ants and spiders all work well for catching bluegills. Bluegill and other sunfish often miss and lose interest in fast-moving foods, so many times it’s best to fish slow.
A 3 to 5-weight rod is sufficient for catching bluegills. They will most likely be bedding in four to six feet of water, and spending the rest of their time near weed edges and areas with some cover.
It is helpful to have hemostats or pliers when fishing for bluegill and other sunfish. Barbless flies tend to be much easier to remove, especially in small-mouthed fish, but in the case of a swallowed or stuck fly hemostats will be useful.
Fly fishing for bluegills can be a lot of fun, and if the conditions are right it’s easy to catch a couple dozen fish in a day. To see what fly fishing gear is available, click here.