Best Bluegill & Panfish Imitation Swimbaits
Bluegill and panfish imitation baits are perfect for bodies of water that don’t have other baitfish like shad or trout. This is most often the case in ponds or smaller bodies of water. Bluegill swimbaits have come a long way over the last few years and there are now many realistic bluegill imitators on the market. Below you will find my favorites and when I like to use them.
Best Soft Body Bluegill Swimbaits
1. Savage Gear Pulse Tail RTF & LB
The Savage Grear Pulse Tail is currently my favorite bluegill swimbait. It comes in two versions, the RTF and LB. The RTF has an exposed jig hook and the LB is the weedless version. The one you choose should be based on how much grass or cover you plan on fishing.
The weedless LB version is great at getting through grass and heavy cover without getting hung up. The bait easily collapses to expose its heavy-duty hook making it easy to get a good hookset.
If you are fishing more open water the RTF with the exposed hook is the way to go. Having an always sharp exposed hook gives you the chance of sticking bass even if you mess up and miss the hookset.
Both versions are 4 inches which is smaller than a typical bluegill swimbait. The biggest issue with most soft bluegill baits on the market is they are too large. Bluegills have a big round profile which makes it hard for bass to eat. So a lot of times with those larger baits a bass will come in and hit them but bounce off the hooks because the large profile makes it tough to eat. The Pulse Tail swimbait’s smaller size and folds up so easily it makes it much easier for bass to fit the whole bait in their mouths.
These baits are super realistic and have a great swim action. The “pulse tail” produces a great kick that works at any speed.
Best Savage Gear Pulse Tail colors: Bluegill, Ghost Gill
2. Little Creeper All American Sunfish
The All American Sunfish is another very realistic panfish swimbait. It is super soft which allows the fins to move a lot in the water. It can be fished super slow so it is a great option when bass aren’t as aggressive.
It is a weedless bait so it is good for fishing in or along grass or cover. But it also works great slow-rolling along the bottom in open water. It doesn’t come with a hook so you will need to pair it with a 4/0 Owner Beast Hook.
Best All American Sun Fish colors: Male Bluegill, Bream
Best Hardbody Jointed Bluegill Swimbaits
1. Mike Bucca’s Bull Gill
The Bull Gill is a higher-end bluegill swimbait designed by swimbait legend Mike Bucca. It is a four-piece multi-jointed bait that should be fished faster than most other bluegill baits. It is great for covering a lot of water while you are searching for a pattern.
Quickly fish this bait by turning your reel 4-5 times then adding a short pause. This retrieve produces a great natural swim action that mimics a bait fish trying to get away. Just like with the Gantarel when you get near cover add the pause and be ready for a strike when you start it back up.
Best Bull Gill bluegill color: Bluegill
2. Megabass Vatalion
The Megabass Vatalion is a single joint slow sinking hard bait. It can be fished on a straight retrieve which will give the bait an S shape swim. You can add occasional rod twitches for a more aggressive response like you would a glidebait.
Another great way to fish it by letting it sink to the bottom and hopping it back like you would a lipless crank. This method is especially good after a cold spell that causes a shad kill off.
Best Megabass Vatalion colors: GG Gill, GG Wild Gill
3. Jackall Gantarel Jr.
The Jackall Gantarel Jr is another great single jointed bluegill bait. It is great when fishing near cover and docks.
Cast slightly past the cover and slowly retrieve until the swimbait is close to the cover. When the bait reaches the cover give your reel two quick turns and then pause right as the bait passes the cover. The quick cranks will accelerate the bait producing a really tight wobble before the pause which will cause the bait to glide out super wide.
This action makes the bass think it has been spotted and the bait is turning to getaway. This kicks in their instincts to strike even if they aren’t hungry. Repeat this retrieve around each piece of cover you find and be ready for strikes on the pause.
Best Jackall Gantarel colors: RT Ghost Gill, RT Spawn Gill
Best Bluegill Glidebait
River2Sea S-Waver 168
The S-Waver 168 is one of my favorite baits to recommend. It is a super affordable glidebait and it catches fish coast to coast. It is always the bait I recommend for anglers looking to try large swimbaits for the first time.
The S-Waver isn’t a bluegill profile but it does come in a bluegill pattern. It is a great option for pond anglers that who throw bluegill profiles a lot and are looking to changing it up.
Best S-Waver bluegill colors: Bluegill, New Bluegill