NAIFC Pro Tony Boshold breaks down his favorite presentations for targeting panfish through the ice. He works down from larger crappie setups to the right baits and tactics for the toughest bluegill bites.
When targeting crappies, Boshold will often start by using a larger profile such as a whole Jumbo Wedgee or a Trigger X Nymph. For bluegill, he’ll often drop down to start with a smaller Duppie, Skimpie, or Nuggie where he’ll usually run a ‘vertizontal’ rig. For Boshold, the Nuggie on a ‘vertizontal’ presentation is one of the hardest baits to beat when it comes to finicky panfish.
By ‘vertizontal’ – Boshold means to run a vertical lure with a plastic tail that hangs horizontal. The keys are to make sure your plastic isn’t pointing upward too much and to pull your knot toward the point of your hook. This will help it hang appropriately. In this presentation, your microplastics will vibrate and move with incredibly little effort. The key with a ‘vertizontal’ presentation is that when the fish come in to bite, they get all hook instead of a trailing hook on a longer length bait.
Notice how the jig hangs vertically off the line but the plastic is horizontal.
When using longer profile plastics like the Jumbo Wedgee from Little Atom, Boshold likes to pair his bait with a longer shank like the VMC Pug Bug Jig. If he’s downsizing, he’ll opt for the Tubby Jig that has a shorter shank.
Start with the entire bait profile until the fish tell you otherwise. The great thing about plastics is that you can pinch them down without having to go through your bag until you get them to eat it. Also, don’t forget to change colors if that’s not working. If a fish straightens your knot and pulls your tail down, make sure to reset and point your knot toward your hook and push that plastic back up.
If the bite gets even tougher where jigs and plastics simply aren’t working, Boshold will move on to using flies. VMC Tungsten Flies are great with or without a tail. Flies are really the end all be all for Boshold on the toughest bites.
On an exceptionally finicky bite, Boshold will dip his baits in a scent such as the Little Atom C9 Formula. If you notice fish are blowing your bait out too quickly, scent can be the key to get them to hang on a little longer for the hookset.
Boshold generally won’t use live bait unless he is sight fishing. In that case, he’ll thread a maggot onto a hook and smash it so that he can see the larger white profile down the hole. If it’s at the bottom of his depth of vision and the white disappears, he knows it’s time to set the hook.
Shop Boshold’s Recommended Panfish Baits:
- Little Atom Jumbo Wedgee
- Little Atom Duppie
- Little Atom Skimpies
- Little Atom Nuggies
- Trigger X Nymph
- VMC Pug Bug Jig
- VMC Tubby Jig
- VMC Tungsten Fly Jig
- VMC Tungsten Bullfly Jig
- Little Atom C9 Scent Formula