Downsized softbaits work wonders on a variety of panfish.
From that point forward, Glorvigen put plastics in play at every panfishing opportunity, and quickly developed a number of killer patterns. He also dispelled the notion that softbaits are best left to basic crank-and-wind maneuvers. “People have a tendency to think of open-water panfish plastics as twister-tails suited only for swimming in a horizontal manner,” he says. “But today’s miniature creature baits have such supple appendages, they work great for a variety of vertical presentations.”
Glorvigen begins throwing plastics shortly after ice-out, and continues to use them throughout the season. One of his favorite early season scenarios centers on fishing a jig-and-softbait combo beneath a small float in shallow feeding areas. “Look for places where the water warms up first, such as old reed beds, canals and dark-bottomed bays protected from the wind,” he begins.
Once in a potential hot zone, he ties on a downsized jighead such as a Northland Mud Bug, Gill-Getter or Hexi Fly. Heads in the 1/32- to 1/16-ounce class are ideal, provided the hook is sized to yield solid hookups, without tearing a small softbait. Tippings include Northland’s ice fishing friendly Slug Bug and Scud Bug, along with open-water softbaits in the Impulse lineup, including the Mini Smelt, Mayfly, Stone Fly, Tadpole, Water Bug and 1-inch Tube. “I try to match the hatch, but ultimately the fish tell me what they want, so it pays to experiment with different heads, bodies and color combinations,” he says.
Tackle considerations are straightforward. “A quality spinning combo is perfect,” he says. “I personally use rods from St. Croix’s Panfish Series, which offers plenty of options.” Lengths of seven feet or less are great for casting and retrieving, while longer sticks stretching up to 11 feet work well for dipping jigs into brushpiles and other cover. Both varieties handle bobber rigs, though longer rods fuel lengthier casts and make it easier to take in slack before the hookset.
“Always use as light a line as possible,” he adds. “I prefer 2-pound-test monofilament because it’s harder for fish to see, and gives the bait a more natural fall.” Indeed, using light line can at times make a huge difference in catch rates. “I was fishing an ice-out crappie tournament with my brother,” he recalls. “We were throwing tube jigs on 4-pound-test and catching a few fish. But when we switched to 2-pound line in an effort to cast the same jigs just a little farther, we absolutely lit them up. We placed second, but might have won if we hadn’t wasted the first hour fishing with heaver line.”
After spooling and before tying on a jig, Glorvigen slides a small, clear casting bubble on the line. Next, he ties a small swivel to the end of the mainline, and adds about a two-foot leader of 2-pound mono before capping it all off with the jig.