By Derek Benoit August 20th, 2021
1.) Baby Crankbaits
I’ve seen micro cranks as small as 1/8oz, but 1/4 is more common. As long as the length is around 1-1/2 to 2″ and the weight is manageable for your UL rod’s rating, you’ll be okay. The 1/4oz sizes are more efficiently fished on L gear, but we’re splitting hairs here.
Best presentations are cast-and-retrieve and slow trolling ones. If targeting panfish, be sure that your retrieve speed is S-L-O-W. Slower than bass speed, for any given water temperature. Stop-and-go retrieves with long pauses can be deadly. The colder the water, the longer the pause is necessary.
- Rapala Ultralight Crank
- Rapala Mini Fat Rap
- Strike King Bitsy Pond Minnow
- Rebel Craw-watch the size vs rod rating
- Bagley Small Fry 1
- Ultralight or light insect imitations
The classic trout lure is just as effective on pan fish and bass, so long as the fish are fairly active. 1/8oz or less sizes can be very versatile and allow you to cover multiple parts of the water column fast OR slow speed. Such a lure is very underrated for bass on small waters! Anything 1/8oz or less is ideal for lighter duties!
The treble hooks limit utility of this lure in thicker areas of cover. Hence, open water OR along edges of cover are your best bets. Don’t ever be afraid to experiment with sizes, counting down after the cast, or fishing it right near the surface, depending on weather and water conditions.
- Blue Fox
- Panther Martin
3.) Maribou Jigs
In cool to cold waters (relative to each species) a maribou jig can be deadly. It’s another versatile tool for cold season presentations. To add to this, tip the jig with some kind of bait or attractant makes this even more deadly.
Superlight versions suspended below a slip bobber help fine tune presentations. As a result of this rig, the tube can be floated literally right above or on a fish’s nose. Consequently the bait stays in the strike zone longer. Additionally, deeper presentations can be managed with vertical jigging without the slip bobber rig.
4.) Microtube Jigs
Both crappie addicts and bass hounds alike are familiar with these. With that being said, the smallest versions are saviors on those difficult days targeting either species. These tubes are most often fished vertically. Additionally, a cast and retrieve approach is warranted in better conditions. Especially worth noting is that these are ideal for the slip bobber right. Also, these does well with deep jigging brush piles and other cover. Even sight fishing is a possible-and fun! However, this technique is less effective the more stained the water or cloudy the weather.
You guessed it, this little gem is another option for slip bobber and vertical jigging. The action of the tail makes these better suited to cast and retrieve techniques than either tube jigs or maribou jigs. Focus on the 1-2″ sizes. Keep a few colors for various water clarities. Moreover, white, chartreuse, a minnow-like option, green pumpkin, and a darker color cover your bases.
7.) Minnow Baits
Mini jerk baits are gems. They will take anything and everything in fresh water. Moreover, many presentations will work with these, including slow speed trolling from a kayak or small boat. Additionally, stop-and-go presentations are standard fare. Vary the length of the pause to to suit the fish’s mood.
- Yo Zuri Pins Minnow-deadly
- Rapala Ultralight Minnow
- Rebel Original Floating Minnow
- Rapala Original Jointed Floating Minnow (F03, F05)
8.) Trout Magnet
Trout bums straying beyond the fly rod love these things with good reason. Interestingly, some also throw these on heavier fly gear given the tiny jig heads (1/64oz or less). However, I find ultralight or the slip bobber rigs to be very, very effective with these.
Cast and retrieve works with these. However, the jig heads are so light that a pure ultralight spinning setup is required. Consequently practice casting such light weights is required. Thus it’s best to stick to the 1/64oz head, or use the slip bobber method.
9.) Crappie Magnet
Everything said about the Trout Magnet applies here, with one exception: a small split shot or two might be useful to convert this critter into a vertical presentation bait.
While there are many different types of spoons, they all have their place. Having said that, I personally prefer spoons with a great deal of action and a cast-and-retrieve approach. Some will undoubtedly do well with vertical jigging, I feel that the small sizes required for ultralight will hamper deep jigging. Specifically, the baits simple become too large, in my opinion, to target pan fish in terms of size. Moreover, the heavier weights take you out of even the light range of tackle, let alone ultralight. The heavier ones are great for vertical fishing for cold water bass, though!
- smallest sizes of Acme Kastmaster
- LIttle Cleo
- Acme Phoebe
There are many, many other small spoons available that will fit the bill!