My relationship with panfish borders on the obsessive. While long considered a gateway species for kids just getting into the fishing arena, I can attest that they can be incredibly fun for adults alike, especially with ultralight equipment. I mostly fish a 2 weight for panfish and even the smaller ones can give a pretty good account of themselves on such a diminutive rod. The big ones are downright challenging to muscle away from the sticks and lily pads where you’ll most often encounter them. While panfish are suckers for anything from a San Juan Worm to a Damsel Nymph, the real joy is in fishing small dry flies, poppers and gurglers on the surface.
I’ve been tying and fishing small gurglers for panfish for eons and find them to be very versatile and effective for bluegill, pumpkinseed and crappie along with bass. I have even taken a handful of ambitious trout on these patterns. We featured the Bluegill Gurgler a few years back and while it still catches fish like wildfire, I’ve come to like this more recent version much better. The front end with the extra foam tends to pop a more effectively and keep the fly high floating and visible, while the use of a scud hook allows the tail to sit lower in the water and wiggle seductively. I tie this gurgler in a variety of colors from straight chartreuse to all black, but this fire tiger color scheme has performed lights out on local lakes and ponds over the last several weeks. June is primetime for topwater panfish but this pattern will continue to fish throughout the summer. When your trout lakes and streams get too warm to fish or you’re short on time and just want to sneak away for an evening close to home, whip up a few Fire Tiger Panfish Gurglers and give your 2 weight a serious workout. Few freshwater fish have the pulling power relative to their size as a big angry bluegill.
Firetiger Panfish Gurgler
Hook: #10 Daiichi 1120
Thread: 140 Denier Chartreuse Ultra Thread
Tail: Fl Yellow Marabou/Chartreuse Krystal Fly
Back: Yellow 2mm Foam
Legs: Rainy’s Grizzly Barred Orange Rubber Legs
Confluence Beer Pairing: This month’s beer pairing is anything in this koozy pictured below. Our buddy Winton sent us this photo of a koozy his buddy picked up on a tarpon trip in Mexico and it gave us quite the laugh, misspelling and all. Avid beer drinkers will likely recognize the can as Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, which is a pretty excellent choice for summer refreshment. Among the many other things that are right with this picture are the fact that he’s in a raft on a river and eating a delicious looking fried chicken thigh, presumably a quick snack before proceeding to wrangle another big brown trout on a lovely tailwater.