Fall Bluegill Fly Fishing Tips

By Andy Whitcomb

Sep 02, 2020

Bluegill are easy to find and easy to catch! They are one of the most popular fish species in the U.S. Why not try fly fishing for bluegill this fall? 

The bluegill is one of the most popular fish species in the U.S. It is widely distributed and commonly stocked as forage for largemouth bass but it is a respectable sport fish itself. In fact, it probably was the first freshwater fish you or your kids caught. Although they may be overlooked this time of year, fall bluegill fly fishing is fun and relatively easy.

Some identification confusion with other sunfish can occur. Depending on spawning activity, these fish often are pale, silvery green or even purplish colors. And despite their name, bluegill don’t display blue on their gills or gill covering like say, the green sunfish. If anything, a light blue appears along the lower jaw region, so perhaps a more appropriate name could be the “bluejaw.”

Bluegill fishing tips

Bluegill fishing tips for fall are similar to spring and summer. Start by looking for them in clearer water without current such as lakes and ponds, near cover such as aquatic vegetation. They have relatively tiny mouths so require small lures like used when fly fishing. And when you find one bluegill, you’re probably going to be around a pile of them.

If you are rusty, fly fishing for bluegill is a great way to prepare for fly fishing for other species such as trout. Because they are located in calm water, you don’t have to worry about current or the exact drift of your fly. These fish are hover feeders, so fall bluegill fly fishing polishes reaction times because a quick hookset is needed immediately after detecting a bite that can be a very light tap.

Bluegill diet consists of insects, invertebrates, and small fish. While fly fishing for bluegill, you will find that they are almost always feeding on something and probably will overlook any misplaced, sloppy cast that might spook a trout. Kids often learn how to fish by catching bluegill with bait, but a fly lowered off a dock can be just as fun, and without the need to rebait.

Fall bluegill fly fishing can be accomplished with almost any small fly. The trick may be discovering any hatch they are focused on. Cast a dry fly if you hear them pecking at the surface in the vegetation. Quickly moving wakes may indicate that they are chasing underwater prey such as minnows so a fast-sinking nymph or bright minnow pattern may trigger a reaction bite. Finding the right fly size is important with fall bluegill fly fishing but it may take working through different colors and sinking rates too.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.