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Each year, roughly 40-50 million Americans will purchase a fishing license. While a small handful of those anglers are competing on the tournament circuit, the majority are simply fishing for the love of it.
That said, you can almost guarantee that nearly every single one of those anglers started out catching bluegill and other panfish.
Truth be told, whether most of us want to admit it or not, if we’re having a slow day on the water, sinking into a decent sized ‘gill will probably make our day slightly better.
When we hit the water for crappie fishing, it’s not unusual for one of the anglers to throw out some night crawlers, wax worms, meal worms, or maggots when we are targeting coverage near the shore. It gives us an idea if there are any sunfish in the area. We also find out pretty quickly is there are walleye, saugeye, bass, or other predatory fish around.
When you are looking to catch bluegill and sunfish in particular, however, it’s good to make sure you are using the right equipment. Since these species tend to be fairly light, using the correct rods and reels can be especially helpful.
Looking at Some of the Best Reels for Bluegill and Sunfish
For money-minded anglers or novices simply looking to pick up a functional and affordable reels without breaking the bank, Mitchell’s Avocet RZT Spinning Reel is a great choice.
While this certainly isn’t the reel you would take with you on a tournament day (for crappie, trout, or other species), it is going to handle pretty much any sunfish that will strike your line.
In fact, I have an Avocet RZT that I keep strung up with 4 lb. P-Line Fluorocarbon at all times. If we get a new ultra-light rod or I need to move reels around, it makes for a great back-up as well.
While I try to stay pretty neutral about personal preference on Premier Angler, I have regularly stated that the Shimano Sedona Spinning Reel is probably my absolute favorite when it comes to fishing for smaller species.
The reel is smooth and durable. If you pair the 1000 series with a nice ultra-light rod (I recommend the St. Croix Panfish Series Spinning Rod), even light bluegill and sunfish will give you a good fight.
Don’t be deterred by the light weight, though. We have managed to bring in saugeye, crappie, and even some 2-pound smallmouth bass on this combination.
While a lot of anglers identify Lew’s as the brand that produces the neon green and orange fishing rods, they are also responsible for a pretty solid selection of reels.
The Custom Pro Speed Spin Spinning Reel is part of that family.
As a feature-packed mid-range reel, this is also a very highly-rated option from Lew’s. As the brand continues to evolve its line, expect to see more anglers talking about this particular model.
It seems like a lot of anglers have mixed feelings about the Pflueger President Spinning Reel. This is probably because a lot of them have owned one.
A buddy called this the “quintessential big-box store spinning reel,” largely because you can seemingly find it anywhere you shop. Pursuits and elitists generally equate the reel’s ever-presence to mean that it is inferior to higher-end models.
While it certainly isn’t the most expensive of highest-end reel on the market, if you are looking to catch bluegill or sunfish, it’s hard to go wrong with the President.
This particular Regal model by Daiwa falls under the company’s “Light but Tough” line.
If you’re fishing for bluegill and other sunfish, that isn’t a mad thing at all.
Another option that is reasonably priced, the Regal LT could be the prized reel in a casual angler’s arsenal. If panfish are your primary target, you may want to consider this as an option.
For more experienced or active anglers, Daiwa’s model also serves as a nice back-up reel.
Abu Garcia’s products often get lumped into that aforementioned “big-box” category. That said, the Pro Max Spinning Reel is a slightly higher-end model than you will often find as part of the combinations at stores like Wal-Mart.
Not only is this reel durable enough to land crappie, small bass and trout, and even a light channel catfish — it’s also a great option when fishing for bluegill and other sunfish.