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#11585 - 10/20/09 08:15 PM 3-Way Rigs for Trophy Panfish - Bob Bohland
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN

3-Way Rigs for Trophy Panfish
By: Bob Bohland

While 3-way rigging is commonly thought of as a finesse technique for walleyes, there are many fish that can be caught with this presentation with simple variations. My favorite technique for targeting trophy panfish starting in mid-to-late summer all the way through ice-up is to slowly run a 3-way rig along weed edges. While you will have many accidental hookups with other species, it is one of the few ways I have found to consistently catch the largest panfish in a lake.

Crankbaits are not a new idea to those who fish panfish regularly. The so-called “peanut” crankbaits have been popular for crappies and bluegills for several years now. But their main limiting factor was that they could rarely dive deeper than 2-4 feet. While this is great for early spring panfish, it makes them essentially worthless the rest of the year. Also many peanut cranks, will not run true even after a lot of tuning, especially at speeds above 1mph. However there are many shallow running crankbaits that are just larger than “peanut” sized. Many of them are made for casting for shallow bass or walleyes, but will often work for panfish, provided they can be presented at the correct depth. This is where a 3-way rig shines as it allows an angler to present a small crankbait at any depth desired and at almost any speed. One of my favorite crankbaits for running a 3-way rig is a Rapala Husky Jerk. They are available in a multitude of different sizes and color patterns. I like the Husky Jerk as it allows me to work the lure with twitches and pauses and because it suspends it will sit right in front of inactive fish coaxing them to bite. Another great crankbait for this presentation is a ????.

I always use a 3-way swivel or split ring to set this rig up. Some anglers will often tie the line that goes to the lure straight to the main line, but I find that the knot weakens the main line. I generally make the line going to the lure 1-3 feet, I find that any longer than that and you will lose a lot of the control over the presentation. The line terminating in the sinker can be as long or as short as you need it to be depending on the depth of the weed edge. The size of your sinker will be dictated by the speed you will need to troll the rig to entice the fish. I have gone as small as a 1/64 oz jighead with the hook cut off and as large as ¾ oz. The Lindy No-Snag sinkers work great for this presentation as they will not get caught up and go right through weeds, timber, and rock.

One variation on this tactic I have been shown is to replace the crankbait or stickbait with a floating jighead for those days when the fish want a really slow presentation. A live minnow such as a fathead or even a shiner will get bites on those days when nothing else can draw a strike. This modification works really well at speeds less then 1.5 m.p.h.

While this presentation work very well for fish that are sitting at weed edges waiting to ambush prey, it will also help you cover large swaths of mid-depth flats and help you pinpoint where a school of fish is located. With the fish putting on their feedbags this fall, this presentation will help you catch that trophy bluegill or crappie you have been looking for, but please remember to put the big ones back as they are the future of our fisheries.
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Matt Johnson
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#11642 - 10/22/09 08:19 AM Re: 3-Way Rigs for Trophy Panfish - Bob Bohland [Re: Matt Johnson]
Mark Pothen Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 06/17/09
Posts: 1909
Loc: Mounds View, Mn.
Care to give out some of your favorite cranks and colors.

I'm going to give this a try next year for Pannies!!!!

So I would guess that if you are doing this on the edges of weedlines, expect a few bite offs from Pike??


Edited by rodmaker (10/22/09 08:33 AM)

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#11658 - 10/22/09 11:13 AM Re: 3-Way Rigs for Trophy Panfish - Bob Bohland [Re: ]
Bobb-o Offline
TB Moderator

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 654
Loc: St. Paul, Mn
I love the Husky Jerks for this, but other great cranks like the Salmo Hornet work well too.

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#11664 - 10/22/09 12:11 PM Re: 3-Way Rigs for Trophy Panfish - Bob Bohland [Re: Bobb-o]
Mark Pothen Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 06/17/09
Posts: 1909
Loc: Mounds View, Mn.
What about colors??

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#11668 - 10/22/09 02:06 PM Re: 3-Way Rigs for Trophy Panfish - Bob Bohland [Re: Mark Pothen]
Bobb-o Offline
TB Moderator

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 654
Loc: St. Paul, Mn
colors can vary depending on water clarity. If i am fishing a clear lake i like to stick with natural colors like perch or shiner, but if the water is murky i like to use colors like firetiger, clown, or black. One thing a lot of people don't realize is how many perch larger crappies will consume.

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