Matt Johnson Outdoors
The Panfish Assault - Operation Mepps Spinners
Matt Johnson Outdoors
By: Matt Johnson

Exploding   through   the   water   like  a
torpedo,  the  monster  bluegill  crushes
the shiner minnow and turns away with
a hearty meal that’s fit for a bass. This is
a  common   scenario   that   often  goes
unseen  within   our  favorite  bodies  of
water  that  are  abundant  with  panfish.
See,  panfish  are  kamikazes  and  have
been  known to devour baits  twice their
size, so why do we settle with small-profiled presentations when
attacking these underwater bullies? We’ve been taught that when
thinking about smaller fish, we must throw smaller baits, but that’
s not the case…

Lures that we commonly use to target bass and larger gamefish
also have their place in a panfish angler’s arsenal. Granted, we
might have to downsize slightly, but the common practice of
throwing small baits for panfish does not have to be the norm.
We can, and should be throwing larger baits when targeting open
water panfish. The Mepps line of spinners is one of those lure
choices that I have in mind when thinking “big” when in search
of panfish.

The original Mepps Aglia is an old standby for many anglers
throughout the years, and I’m not talking just one species either.
The Aglia has grabbed hold of countless bass, pike, walleye,
trout, perch, and even panfish, both crappies and sunfish. While
slightly larger than your typical panfish spinner, the Aglia still
triggers panfish into striking its sleek, appealing design when
slow-rolled through the water. With all the flash and profile
needed to entice even the wariest of predators, the Aglia has
proven itself to rank high among my list of upsizing for panfish.

Besides the ever-popular Aglia, Mepps is home to another
spinner that I like to turn to when looking to upsize for panfish:
the Black Fury. The Black Fury is the panfish’s nemesis, because
one, they can’t resist it, and two, one solid strike of the Black
Fury and that panfish is as good as yours. The black blade really
contrasts with the surrounding conditions, and allows the
hungry panfish to seek (and find) it easily within both stained and
clear waters. Contrasting with a light color, namely the other
components of the lure, the Black Fury adds another dimension
to your panfish arsenal and is a versatile tool when looking to put
more panfish in the boat.

Now that we have the obvious upsizing variables out of the way,
it’s now time to focus on the Mepps spinners designed
specifically for our explosive panfish species. The various
panfish-orientated lines of Mepps spinners are created for one
purpose: to help you catch more and bigger panfish.

Both the Aglia and the Black Fury have downsized versions that
are intended for panfish. The Ultra Lites line of Mepps spinners is
fashioned to rank amongst the ultimate in panfish weaponry. The
Ultra Lites are a slower falling lure that are great for finesse
situations. However, don’t limit yourself to only using these
spinners on negative fish, because aggressive fish will be more
than eager to crush the Ultra Lites as well. Whether you work
these lures with a constant retrieve, hop them, jig them, or
whatever, it doesn’t matter because the beauty of the lure is that
it allows the angler to incorporate the desired action. When they
fall, they provide flash and vibration. When they hop, they act like
both an injured and feeding minnow. And when they are
retrieved… well, let’s just say they look like food and you better
hold on!

One of my favorite Ultra Lites models is the Aglia Little Wooly
Worm. The Little Wooly Worm only has one hook which allows
for easy unhooking. It’s also lined with hair and fibers that give it
a most prolific look, which in turn forces panfish to fall victim to
its tasty appearance. The Aglia Little Wooly Worm is a great
presentation for pitching around all the various panfish-holding

Next on my list of panfish artillery is the Mepps Thunder Bug.
This crafty piece is designed to imitate the mighty thunder bug
and after seeing it glide through the water, you might as well
consider part of the insect family! The power of the Thunder Bug
comes from its slender, tapered body, and its wing-shaped blade.
The blade will churn the water differently than the blade of an
Aglia or Black Fury; it will act more erratic, much like its real life
counterpart and it really drives panfish wild. The Thunder Bug is
a very entertaining lure to fish, and both crappies and sunfish
find it very appetizing.

And last (but not least) on my go-to list of panfish spinners, is the
Mepps Spin Flies. Very similar in design to the Aglia Little Wooly
Worm, the Mepps Spin Flies have a single hook and closely
resembles a fly you would grab out of your fly box, but with an
extra little kick of an added in-line blade. The Spin Flies pack a
punch and are an outstanding search lure when looking to target
both aggressive and neutral-natured panfish during the open
water season. I look to the Spin Flies when I need that extra edge
when in hot pursuit of panfish.

As you can see, sticking with tiny baits is not always the best
way to go about landing big panfish. While those smaller plastics
and pieces of live-bait will catch fish, there comes a time when
you need to buck-up and give the fish what they want. The open
water season (especially during the summer months) is an
excellent time to change tactics and target panfish using
spinners. If anything, have one rod rigged with a spinner and
another with a plastic. Staying versatile and aggressive when
chasing open water panfish is the name of the game, and
attacking those kamikaze panfish with a Mepps spinner will allow
you to be more productive the next time you’re called into battle!

Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Horseshoe Chain
Fishing Reports