Panfish Plastics: 11 Techniques You NEED to Be Using

Panfish Plastics: 11 Techniques You NEED to Be Using

When it comes to fishing for panfish, one technique has gained remarkable popularity among anglers – using plastic baits. While traditional bait options like live worms and insects have their merits and can seem necessary at times, plastic baits offer a range of advantages that can significantly enhance your panfishing experience. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of using plastic baits for panfish and provide some creative ideas on how to make the most of them.

Large Panfish Caught on Plastics

Advantages of Plastic Baits for Panfish:

  1. Durability: One of the primary reasons anglers turn to plastic baits is their exceptional durability. Unlike live bait, plastic baits don't easily tear or get stolen by nibbling panfish. This means you can spend more time fishing and less time re-baiting your hook. You also get to keep your hands clean since you won't be digging in the worm case every couple minutes.

  2. Variety of Colors and Sizes: Plastic baits come in an astonishing array of colors and sizes. This versatility allows you to mimic the natural forage in the water and match the prevailing conditions. Experimenting with different colors and sizes can help you determine the panfish's current preferences and boost your chances of a successful catch.

  3. Customizable: The profiles of plastic baits can often be customized to suit your specific needs and Freedom Baitz specializes in just this so you can make simple adjustments to one bait instead of testing several. For example, if you're pitching the Hornet but noticing the bite is extra finicky, you can reduce the size of the profile by clipping off the second ball of the body or a few of its appendages. With live bait, you're a lot more limited with what you can do unless you have multiple size options available.

  4. Scent Infusion: Many plastic baits are designed to hold and release scents, effectively attracting panfish from a distance. Scented attractants enhance the appeal of your bait, making it more lifelike and irresistible to panfish even in murky waters or low-light conditions. All of our profiles at Freedom Baitz are scent-infused to make them that much more attractive to hungry panfish.

  5. Realistic Action: Modern plastic baits like ours are especially soft and intricately designed to mimic the movements of live prey. The subtle wiggles, vibrations, and twitches produced by plastic baits can fool panfish into thinking they're about to seize an easy meal, increasing your strike rate. Our best-selling Hellcat profile has the most tentacles of any of our baits and requires the least amount of movement on your end to create a lifelike appearance underwater. 

Best Crappie Plastics


Effective Techniques for Using Plastic Baits:

  1. Texas Rigging: This classic technique involves threading a plastic bait onto a hook with a bullet-shaped weight positioned above it. Texas rigging prevents snagging in weedy areas while offering a lifelike presentation that panfish find irresistible. Try using more slender profiles for this setup like our Hornet or Bonita.

  2. Drop Shot Rig: Ideal for targeting suspended panfish, the drop shot rig involves attaching a plastic bait above a hook and weight, allowing the bait to hover just above the lake bottom. This imitates a struggling baitfish or suspended grub and can be exceptionally effective in clear waters.

  3. Ned Rig: The Ned rig has gained fame for its simplicity and success. It involves using a short, soft plastic bait on a small jig head. The bait sits off the bottom, resembling a feeding or injured prey, making it a favorite for panfish. We recommend trying our Sidewinder, Apache, or Frogman for fishing panfish with this increasingly popular technique.

  4. Wacky Rig: Perfect for tempting panfish in shallow waters, the wacky rig involves hooking a plastic bait in the middle, causing it to move in a tantalizing, fluttering motion. Panfish find this erratic movement hard to resist. This method works best with our A-Bomb bait that is simply a round body with a tentacle extending out of opposite sites.

  5. Bobber Fishing: Using plastic baits under a bobber is an excellent technique for targeting panfish near the water's surface. Simply attach a small plastic bait, such as a soft plastic minnow or grub, to a hook and suspend it at the desired depth using a bobber. This method allows you to present the bait right in the panfish's strike zone and is especially effective in shallow or weedy areas.

  6. Jigging: Jigging plastic baits is a versatile and dynamic technique that can entice panfish throughout the water column. Attach a soft plastic bait to a jig head and use a twitching or hopping motion to imitate the movement of prey. This technique is particularly effective when panfish are actively feeding or when you want to cover a larger area in search of schools of fish.

  7. Spinner Rigging: Rigging plastic baits on spinners is a clever way to combine the enticing flash of a spinner with the lifelike action of plastic baits. Thread a plastic bait onto a hook attached to a spinner blade, and let the spinner's rotation create vibrations that attract panfish. This technique works well for covering water and can be particularly effective when panfish are located in deeper areas. We recommend our baits with longer tails for this method including the Patriot, Tomahawk, and Ring of Fire.

  8. Swimming Plastics: Employ a steady, swimming motion to retrieve plastic baits through the water. This approach mimics the movement of small fish and can be especially effective for luring panfish out from cover or enticing them in open water. This method works especially well with our popular Bonita plastics that mimics the smallest baitfish.

  9. Sight Fishing: Spot panfish in shallow waters and present plastic baits directly to them. This technique can be a lot of fun when ice fishing especially and allows for targeted and precise presentations, making it a favorite among anglers who enjoy observing their catch up close.

  10. Slow Rolling: Retrieve plastic baits at a deliberate pace along the bottom to entice panfish feeding on the bottom. The subtle movement can trigger strikes from cautious or lethargic panfish when the bite is off.

  11. Pitching and Flipping: Cast plastic baits accurately into specific target areas, such as under docks or into cover where panfish may be lurking. This technique requires precision and can yield impressive results when targeting panfish in tight quarters. You can fish plastics weightless for a subtle, floating action or throw on a small sinker for a faster fall rate.
How to Catch Panfish with Plastics

By incorporating these additional techniques, you can expand your repertoire of plastic bait tactics for panfishing. Each technique offers a unique way to present your plastics and trigger a panfish's predatory instincts. Whether you're fishing in different depths, targeting specific behaviors, or adapting to changing conditions, plastic baits can be customized to match your strategy. Remember, successful panfishing often requires experimenting with different techniques to determine what works best on any given day.

In conclusion, plastic baits for panfish are not only versatile and effective but also provide anglers with a wide range of options to suit various fishing scenarios and can help keep your line in the water longer. Whether you're delicately presenting baits under a bobber or energetically jigging them, plastic baits offer the lifelike action and versatility needed to entice even the most finicky panfish. So, gear up with a selection of Freedom Baitz for your next panfishing expedition, and get ready to reel in a rewarding catch!

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