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.

How To Setup a Bluegill Fishing Rig (Plus Tips)

If you’re a seasoned angler, you’re probably laughing at the prospect of pursuing bluegill. After all, most fishermen regard them as pesky pests. They steal bait when you’re fishing for large catfish, and they distract bass when you’re trying to fool them with your most expensive crankbaits.

They are, however, more than just an annoyance. There is an entire fishing community that regards them as prized game fish. One of them is me. They’re tenacious, plentiful, and, believe it or not, can grow quite large. We’ll get into their potential size later in the article, but for now, let’s cover the fundamentals.

So if bluegill is a fish that you want to go after, then you’ll need to know how to setup a bluegill rig.

In this article we’ll take a look at my favorite, and what I consider, the best bluegill fishing rigs and how to set them up on your own rod and reel.

how to setup bluegill rig

Related: What Are Bluegill Attracted To?

How To Setup a Bluegill Rig

Here are two bluegill fishing rig setups for standard rods as well as two bluegill setups for cane poles. That’s because bluegill behave very differently depending on whether you’re using lures or bait.

How To Setup a Bluegill Rig For Bait

This rig is most likely how you learned to catch bluegill. Thread a worm or a kernel of corn onto a J-hook, add a bobber and a sinker, and wait for a bite.

Truth is, you won’t have to wait long because bluegill are such voracious eaters. This is the simplest method for catching bluegill, but experts will prefer a more difficult method.

For this bluegill rig, I recommend using an ultralight rod and reel for bait. Most people are familiar with rods and reels, and bluegill will feel like bass on the end of your line if you use ultra-light equipment. It really can be a lot of fun!

If you want to catch bluegill to use as bait for catfish, you should use a cane pole. I recommend a B&M Black Widow. They’re long-lasting, inexpensive, and extremely effective. If you’ve never used a cane pole before, I’ve put together an entire guide on cane pole fishing.

For catching bait fish, I recommend using a cane pole because you can simply point the rod at the sky and pull the bluegill out. They’re light, and if you just lift them out of the water, they’re unlikely to break your pole.

After you set the hook, the fish will swing right into your hands if you use this technique. This eliminates the fighting process, allowing you to return your line to the water much faster to catch the next bluegill.

How To Setup a Bluegill Rig For Lures

When it comes to bluegill, experts will find that lures are the best option. Many people believe that bluegill aren’t attracted to lures, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve caught so many bluegill on 1-inch grubs that I can’t even guess how many there are in total.

However, using lures can be difficult for fishermen. To get the fish to bite, you must use deceptive rod movements. They don’t simply swim up and eat the bait.

For this technique, I recommend using an ultra-light rod and reel combo, but you can also use a cane pole and some trout flies like the copper john and get great results.

The use of lures for bluegill is similar to the use of lures for bass. You simply need to find the movement pattern that the bluegill prefers. I recommend that you use BeetleSpins, 1-inch grubs, and small inline spinners. They’re the bluegill lures I’ve had the most success with, and they’re dirt cheap.

Tips For Your Bluegill Rig Setup

1. Use Light Fishing Line

Most bluegill are very small, and the lures you’ll use to catch them are lightweight. Using your standard bass fishing line will make it nearly impossible to cast your tiny bluegill lures where you want them. I suggest 2-pound or 4-pound line.

2. Use An Ultra-light Rod

You can use medium rods or even heavy rods, but you won’t notice weaker bites, and you’ll practically rip the fish out of the water. That’s not fun, and it’s kind of messed up. An ultra-light rod is the tool that a pro uses to catch bluegill.

3. Learn To Read The Water 

You can tell where bluegill are by simply looking at the water if you learn how to read the water properly. Look for things such as weeds and bugs. Those are the spots that bluegill like to feed in or hide in. If you can actually spot the bluegill themselves, you’ll have an even easier time catching them. A good pair of polarized sunglasses will help a lot with sight fishing.

4. Don’t Set The Hook Hard

Bluegill have paper-thin mouths. If you jerk your rod like a mad man, you’ll probably rip the hook right through their lip. Not only is that cruel, but you won’t be able to catch the fish. A quick twitch of your rod will set the hook.

5. Use Small Hooks

Bluegill are built in a weird way. Their mouth is right next to their face, and they’re short. When you use a long hook, that’s a recipe for disaster. Instead of piercing the lip of the bluegill, you’ll probably send a barbed hook through its brains or eyes, and there is no saving the fish after that. Sure, you can eat the fish, but it’ll still be floating around in your fish bucket until you get home to clean it.

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

best bait for bluegill

What Are Bluegill Attracted To? (Best Bait For Bluegill)

recommended salmon fishing rods

Your Guide To The Best Salmon Fishing Rods