Minnesota guide Tony Roach offers a few tips regarding your rod, reel, and line for catching finicky panfish this winter.

Catching Finicky Panfish

Having control of your presentation is the key for catching finicky panfish. It’s all about having control over your bait and how your bait moves and acts under the ice.

There are three main factors when it comes to control and that’s your rod, reel, and line. One of most important things you can do as a panfish ice angler is to use a rod, reel, line set up that is designed for the presentation you prefer to use for panfish.

Whether you are targeting bluegills, crappies, perch or a combination of the three it’s important to have a balanced set up, because finicky panfish tend to be very aware and sensitive to your presentation.

Let’s start with rods.

Having a presentation specific rod can be the difference between catching a trophy caliber panfish or having it come up to your bait, check it out and then leave.

There are kind of two main styles of baits/ presentations for panfish and that’s a small tungsten or lead ice jigs, and the second is a small spoon / jigging rap / horizontal action style bait.

When choosing rods it is important to keep in mind what style you fish most.

Take St. Croix CCI rods as an example. If you like to use small jigs they have the CCI Tungsten Tamer. This rod is specifically designed to handle small finesse tungsten jigs.

If you prefer to chase finicky panfish with spoons St. Croix has the CCI Micro Spoon in the line up.

These are rods you can get as an ice angler that are designed for a certain presentation that will allow you to have maximum control.

Now when we look at reels there are two styles of reels to choose from and both have a place in ice fishing.

The first is your classic spinning style reel. This is the most common reel anglers use out on the ice and these style reels work great in deepwater situations or paired with small spoons. 

The second type of reel is the inline reel. These style reels tend to shine in shallow water situations and work great paired with smaller baits. One nice thing about inline reels is that they take out the line twist which is huge when it comes to your bait presentation.

Now when we discuss line the reel key is to use a line that isn’t going to be over kill for your presentation. In my opinion two or three pound test is the way to go. If you get heavier than three pound you’ll begin to loose some of the control of your presentation.

The better you can pair up your rod, reel and line to the type of presentation you plan to use the better control you are going to have when targeting finicky panfish.