Great panfishing is available in our local-area lakes and ponds. This article is about how to set up a fishing rod for bluegill — and also about the single mistake most fisherman make when panfishing.

Panfish (bluegills, sunfish, redear and crappie) are some of the most popular fish of all, probably because they are available almost everywhere in the United States and because they make for enjoyable fishing without a lot of expensive gear.

The most basic setup is a 5- to 7-foot-long stick, 7 to 10 feet of line, a hook and a bobber (float). Most people will replace the stick with a fishing rod: For panfishing, a 5- to 5½-foot-long fishing rod is great. Any type of reel will work — I prefer an open-face spinning reel.

The line is important, as too often people use too big a line for these little fighters. The best would be 2 lb. to 4 lb. test line, nothing larger. The hooks are very important as well. At first experiment with a #10 hook, then try small ice-fishing jigs or 1/32 oz. jigs designed for panfish.

The most overlooked and misjudged item of all is the bobber. Most people use a bobber that is probably the wrong shape and is too big for the fish they are trying to catch. The average fisherman at the local-area ponds is probably using a round, red-and-white bobber about the size of a good walnut or larger.

For a small bluegill, pulling that bobber under water to signal a bite is like asking that fish to pull a beach ball under water. The bobber should be as small as can be used depending on the bait and the direction of the wind at the pond or lake. The bobber should preferably be shaped to allow it to be pulled under with little or no effort. Experienced fisherman use small thin bobbers and watch for movement up as well as down to signal a strike.

With the correct setup, one can be much more successful catching those great-eating panfish, and certainly have more fun doing it.

Keep a tight line…

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