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The Boatless Angler - Chapter 5.1 - Shore Pan Fishing with Live Bait

Pan fishing is one of the most popular types of fishing and is most often done from shore! The reason for its popularity is due to the fact that they are generally found close to shore, found in large numbers, and are relatively easy to catch. Oh, and of course I forgot that they make amazing table fair!

Chapter 5: Shore Pan Fishing with Live Bait
Part 1 – Pan Rig’s

Panfish are most often fished for with the use of live bait, whether it’s perch, crappie or sunfish, they all can be caught most effectively with live bait. However, the most common mistake made while fishing for panfish is, “they have to hit it, I’m using live bait!” and that is not the case. I’ve been in many situations where I’ve been fishing for panfish, and the guy right beside me is using the same bait I am, and isn’t catching a single thing. The reason? The way the rig is setup as well as how the bait is hooked and presented.

Basic Pan Rig Rules!!

RULE 1: Use monofilament line that is in the range of 4-6lbs test. This factor cannot be stressed enough; thicker and heavier test line will prevent you from getting big fish as they often are wary of your natural bait when presented in this manor.

RULE 2: Avoid using pre-tied snells and pre-made rigs as they make your set-up more cluttered with knots, beads and gadgets that can make panfish think twice about your live bait.

RULE 3: Keep it clean. Don’t leave your rig sloppy; make sure to trim off line near knots as close as possible, use smaller knots where you can. Make sure your hook is the right size for accommodating the bait but keeping in mind the wariness of the fish.

RULE 4: Keep it simple. The less complicated your rig is, the better!

Using the Basic Pan Rig Rules, there are 2 very simple rigs that will catch every type of panfish most efficiently so that you can catch those monster slabs! There is a Bottom Pan Rig which is in fact the Thundermist bait rig found below (video on tying this rig is also available on the Thundermist fishing tips website).


Firstly with this rig, it is used when fishing for panfish that are located on or near the bottom. Make sure when tying this rig that you use 4-6 pound test line as well as number 8 hooks that are straight shanked. The straight shanked hooks allow you to remove hooks more easily from panfish preventing harm.

Also, the snell length, or leader length for the main line is better kept short rather than long. This keeps the rig more streamline allowing you to feel a bite quicker and thus set the hook quicker. The picture above shows 2 hooks tied, but you may only want one depending. However when tying hooks, your 1st hook nearest to the sinker must not come in contact with the sinker, not even when the bait is rigged.

You want to limit tangles because it will kink your line and you will lose your efforts of having a streamline rig. If you rig 2 hooks, the distance between the hook must be enough that when your line is tight the two snells or leaders will not extend and hook onto each other; again preventing tangles.

Therefore if your leaders with hooks are 3.5 inches in length each, you should have your leaders at least 7 inches apart. This rig can be used for any type of live bait, and can be casted with a slow patient retrieve or can be left to wait for a bite. Either way, you are going to catch fish!

Many panfish of course are taken from above, so here is a simple but effective float rig to tackle these situations.


Again, use the 4-6 pound test line and tie a number 8 hook at the end. Pinch on a split shot no closer than 8” to your hook, this prevents tangles as well as limiting spooking of fish. This rig can be fished with a slip float or a spring loaded float, while being fished with any type of live bait.

If you use the Basic Pan Rig Rules as well as these 2 simple rigs outlined here, I can guarantee you’ll fill up your frying pan and you’ll in fact……out fish your neighbor!


PS. These 2 rigs shown for panfish keep in mind can be up scaled for larger game fish!!!

Coming soon…
Chapter 5: Shore Pan Fishing with Live Bait
Part 2 – Rigging Live Bait for Pan’s

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