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Successfully Catching Yellow Perch - Part 1 – The Gear!
Last edited on: Jan 18, 2015 11:51:27 AM by Kevin

We have reached another season of leaves changing from the fertile color of sun drenched summer green to dramatic artistic splashes of yellow, browns and reds. Changing seasons in North America also bring with it changing methods for catching the vivacious yellow and green Perca fluvescens (yellow perch).

Part 1 – Putting together the right gear

With Fall upon us and the icy winds of winter fast approaching we need to consider what are perch doing during this transition period as well as what you need to target them successfully.

So you want to catch perch and as many as possible! Well you are in luck as it is tricky but not difficult once you key in on a few “secrets” derived from tears and experience trying to catch this fickle foe. Please note that while these are my personal recommendations they are not set in stone or intended to endorse any particular store or product. Experimenting with your technique will generally improve your skill and ability to catch fish.



Any ultra light action fishing rod will do. Strong preference should be given to ultra light action rods. Some rods come with a built in spring or ultra sensitive tip which provides excellent visual confirmation of even a super light bite. The Frabill pan fish popper with the tiny spring at the end works great to see the often subtle bites. A marmish style rod is the pinnacle of sensitive set ups. Usually the little spring tip hardly moves and more often than not the rod might as well be for Halibut cause sneaky perch can often steal the bait without making a regular ultralight rod waiver. If you are a purist however… hand lining with 2-4 lb test is at times even more effective as long as your hands don’t turn frozen white.

Any fishing reel will do so long as it is sized to the target’s size. As mentioned above, hand lining with just a spool would work as well unless you are a beginner and hook into a larger species like a trout, walleye, bass or pike. The reel drag must be set appropriately should you hook either a larger fish.


This is critical to success. Nothing heavier than supple 6 lb. test. I have a preference on brands but for the most part they all should work. 4 pound is best but difficult for some to use and easier to break on large fish (fine for perch). Sometimes lighter lines are more brittle than thicker versions. The most important aspect of line selection is ensuring there is NO line curl. Line curl or kinks in the line may prevent you from telling if there is a light bite. A 14 inch perch bites just as light as a 4 inch perch therefore a straight line from your rod tip to your hook is critical. If you have line curl…use the twitching of the line curl to indicate a bite. I don’t like the trend towards braid. If I want no challenge I can just shop for fish at the grocery store. What makes fishing most rewarding is knowing getting them to the surface is not a guarantee. Perch also have excellent vision and motion can turn them off. Therefore consider using a very clear line such as a good quality Fluorocarbon brand.


Follow your local regulations and be the great sportsman you know you seek to be. In the areas I fish, I use small (1/16 – 1/32 size) glow in the dark chartreuse or similar ice fishing jigs. There are many different types that can work and in your area be sure to check with what the local tackle store recommends for perch. Don’t be fooled by gimmicky hooks however. Perch are purists that rely on some stealth but key in on color, size and smell and at times to some forms of movement. The hook should sit horizontally on the line and not hang straight down. I prefer small weighted jigs but feather jigs or weighted jigs in either, yellow, white, black or glowing green work.

The better they are weighted (not to heavy but not to light) the easier it is to feel the weight of the hook underwater and any subsequent subtle bites. You should be able to feel the bounce of the hook on the bottom but the hook should still be small enough to fit in a small perch’s mouth. Slip bobber rigs can be deadly during the summer also. Smaller size Genz worms, Lindy Fat boys, Hali Jigs and similar hooks will all work. Using a small weighted jig on the bottom and one or two plain red hooks with bait have also proved very effective. Minimize the weight on the line so that subtle bites are not masked by the weight of the rig’s sinker. It has also been found that a trailer or dropper fly in a small size 12 or smaller scud, chironomid, mayfly, leech or similar lake imitation bug makes for some additional hooking opportunities. When using multiple hooks be careful retrieving the line as to not snagging the bottom of the ice in winter or hands and boat and dock in the summer.


To successfully catch perch most effectively, you must have bait on the hook at all times. I prefer in order of preference either a perch eyeball, 2-3 maggots (black fly larvae) or 1-2 mealworms (beetle larvae). My biggest perch ever bit oh so softly on a handmade leach jig and maggots. If you can legally fish with live minnows you will find that they can really attract the bigger perch. It helps to see the action as you need them to engulf the whole minnow with the hook!

Bobbers etc:

Some people use bobbers. In the summer they can be very effective if they are almost neutrally buoyant. A bobber that is too large will tug back at the perch and that resistance makes the perch spit the hook out faster making hook sets more difficult. In winter a bobber can be handy for kids but if it is too cold out the bobber quickly freezes into the ice and makes it harder to catch perch. Pencil bobbers are my favorite due to less surface resistance.

So this information should get you started on your road to successful perch catching. Good luck and tight lines. Also please remember to practice prudent ice safety at all times.

A great fishing quote. "It is called fishing and not catching for a reason". So step it up and learn something new everyday!

Once you have the gear... then you can move on to technique!

Kevin Egan is an avid angler who never turns down a fishing experience. Life is too short not to fish.

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