Fishing Skillz is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

10 All Time Best Baits (And Lures) For Bluegill

by Don | Last Updated: September 1, 2020
huge bluegill caught on the best panfish rod and reel combo

The Best Bait And Lures For Bluegill

Catching bluegill isn’t difficult at all. You’d be surprised by all of the weird things that they’re perfectly comfortable eating. I’ve caught them on everything from Slim Jims to bare hooks.

If you want to catch them consistently, you’ll want to use things that they actually like, though. In this article, I’ll tell you about five baits and five lures that I have had the most success with.

Bluegill Lures Mentioned In This Post

5 Best Baits For Bluegill

Bluegill will eat just about anything. I’ve managed to catch some particularly angry bluegill by simply dabbing a bare hook on the surface of the water. However, there are five baits that I’ve consistently had success with in​ fishing for bluegill.

1. Canadian Nightcrawlers

boy putting worm on hook

Canadian Nightcrawlers are the long worms that you can buy in a Styrofoam box at any bait shop. Walmart and other major retailers typically carry them, too. 

They’re some of the best worms that you can use for catching lots of bluegill on a budget. The fish love to eat them, and they’re so long that you can easily break a single worm into three or four pieces. So, you get your money’s worth when you use them. 

To use these for bluegill, I recommend ripping off a chunk that’s long enough to cover the shank of your hook. Then, thread the piece onto the hook, and push the pointy end through in a way that allows a small bit of the worm to wiggle around. 

 

2. Corn

corn on fishing hook for bait

If you want cheap bait, you can use a can of corn. A single can has more kernels than you’re likely to need, and you can buy a can of corn for well under a dollar. 

I don’t suggest using corn as your go-to bait, though. I’ve never caught anything big on it, and I’ve had trouble getting bluegill to eat it on days when the bite was already slow. However, it’ll work wonders if the fish are very active. 

To use this, you have to be a little careful. Canned corn is fragile. Pierce the center of a corn kernel with your hook, and slide the kernel up the shank. Do that several more times until you have a little line of corn on your hook. 

If you don’t want your corn to slide off every time you get a bite, try using fresh corn. The kernels are stiffer. It’s a little more expensive than canned corn, but it’s still cheap. 

 

3. Crappie Bites

These look a lot like corn kernels that were dyed neon colors. They come in a little jar, and they can be purchased at any big box store. They’ll draw in less active bluegill a lot easier than corn, but they also cost five to ten times more than corn, and you get less in a jar. 

Magic Bait Crappie Yellow Fishing Products

To use them, you do the same thing that you do with corn. You can also use them to tip the hook of your favorite lure, and that will increase the lure’s effectiveness. You can do that with corn kernels, but I’ve noticed that corn kernels tend to slip off of the lure as I’m reeling it in. 

 

4. Meal Worms

meal worms in a can for fishing bait

Meal worms look a little creepy, but they’re my favorite bait for bluegill. I’ve never caught anything big on them, but I’ve caught tons of bluegill in a short amount of time with them. They’re perfect for catching enough bluegill for a large fish fry. 

To use these, insert your hook into the worm’s face, and thread its body up the hook. Leave a little bit of its tail free to wiggle. Even if the worm dies, it’ll likely catch you some bluegill. 

You can even easily grow your own meal worms at home to use for bait! 

 

5. Small Minnows

These should be used when you’re targeting big bluegill. The little guys usually just aren’t able to get them into their mouths. That means that you won’t catch as many fish, and you might even hook into a few small bass or crappie, but your chances of catching a big bluegill will be a lot higher. 

To use these, just pierce your hook underneath their spine, and let them swim around in the water. Be very careful when inserting your hook, though. It’s pretty easy to break their back, and they’re less effective when they’re dead. 

Best Lures For Bluegill

I like the baits that I listed above, but lures are what I really like targeting bluegill with. They make it more of a challenge, and they’re more engaging. Here are my five favorite lures for bluegill. 

1. Johnson BeetleSpin

Johnson Beetle Spin Nickel Blade

Johnson Beetle Spins 

Beetle Spins are my all-time favorite lures for bluegill. They’re cheap, versatile, and effective. They function a lot like the spinner lures that are used for bass, but they’re smaller, and they utilize soft-plastic baits instead of silicone skirts.

Any Beetle Spin kit comes with one bladed frame, one or two small jig heads, and a few soft-plastic lures. You get all of that for a few bucks. 

You can buy them in a couple of sizes, too. The smallest size comes with lures that look like colorful meal worms, and the bigger ones come with two-tailed grubs. There are plenty of color variations for each type, and I recommend buying a bunch. 

If you’re targeting bluegill, I recommend buying the smaller ones. The larger varieties are great for crappie or spawning bass.

To use one, you attach a jig head to the bladed frame with the hook pointing up, and then you thread the soft-plastic lure onto it. You can drag it across the surface at high speeds, bounce it along the bottom, or use it like a jig. I’ve caught plenty of bluegill with all of those methods. 

2. Spin-Tail Grubs

Mister Twister Lil' Bait, Chartreuse Silver, 1-Inch

Spin-Tail Grub

These are the stubby soft-plastic lures with a curly tail on the end. The larger ones are commonly used for bass, but I’ve had a lot of success throwing the one-inch variety at bluegill. 

To use one of these, just thread a grub onto a J-hook. Worm hooks would be more effective, but I haven’t found any small enough to use on bluegill. A normal J-hook has served me well for many years, though. Then, just bounce it around in the water. If you want to check out the bottom of the pond, use a very small bullet weight with it. 

Buy these in a lot of different colors. Like any soft-plastic, you’ll have to rotate through different colors to see what the fish want. 

3. Crappie Tubes

Johnson Crappie Buster Tubes

Crappie Tube

Crappie tubes are easy to use, extremely cheap, and somewhat versatile. These are the tiny lures that look like jellyfish. 

To use a crappie tube, just push the tube over a small jig head, and tie it to your line. Then, drop it straight into the water, and bob it up and down until something bites. You can also cast them out a bit, and then bounce them back to you. Whichever method you decide to use, try to be slow and methodical. You want the tails to move around like a jellyfish. If you move them too quickly, they just jut out behind the lure. 

 

4. Tiny Spoons

Johnson Silver Minnow Silver 1 1/8in - 1/16 oz

Johnson Sliver Minnow

If you can find a spoon that is small enough to fit in a bluegill’s mouth, you can use it pretty effectively. These aren’t as common as the big spoons that are used for bass, but you can usually find them online or in the panfish section of a bait shop. 

To use them, just use them the same way that you would for bass. Bounce them around on the bottom, and vary your retrieval pattern until you get a bite. I recommend getting one that’s really shiny. Bluegill tend to like the bright lights that bounce off of shiny spoons. 

5. Tiny Cranks

Strike King Bitsy Minnow Bait (Baby Bass, 0.125-Ounce)

Bitsy Minnow Tiny Crankbait

Tiny crankbaits are what I like to use for big bluegill. The Strike King Bitsy Minnow is the perfect example of a tiny crankbait, but you can also find off-brand models that are a bit cheaper. Those usually aren’t as good as the Bitsy Minnow, though.

These work for big bluegill because they mimic the small minnows that you would use if you were using live bait. 

The only bad thing about these lures is that they’re difficult to cast effectively without an ultra-light rod and reel. They also tend to attract smaller bass fairly frequently. 

To use one, just use it like you would a large crankbait.

My Favorite Bluegill Fishing Tips

Here’s a short and sweet list of my favorite bluegill fishing tips. If you’d like a more in-depth list of tips and tricks, check out one of my other articles.

Final Thoughts

You can catch bluegill by simply smacking the water with a small hook sometimes, but if you use the lures and baits that I talked about in this article, you’ll get much more consistent results. 

The best part about the lures and baits that I listed is that they’re all affordable. Nothing on this list should cost you more than six bucks. So, you can probably afford to stock an entire tackle box with the best bluegill lures, and you’ll still have some money left over for a few beers or sodas to make your next fishing trip extra enjoyable. How often can you say that for other forms of fishing. 

Must Have Fishing Tool
(NEW REVIEW!) Piscifun III Aluminum Fishing Pliers
21.99

Check out my newest hands-on review. I used and abused these Piscifun pliers. Read all about it here!

Lasso Brag