First Tuesday Tips

Tip 10: Meet the Basses and Panfish

(This is Tip 2 in Skip's book 365 Fly-Fishing Tips for Trout, Bass, and Panfish)

This First Tuesday Tip Applies to Largemouth Bass in Lakes, Smallmouth Bass in Lakes, Smallmouth Bass in Streams, Panfish in Lakes

The basses and panfish (with a very few exceptions) prefer warmer to much warmer water than trout can tolerate. And don't think that warmwater fishes are just misshapen trout—you can be a fine trout fisher yet fail to catch many, or any, bass and panfish.


Found in every state but Alaska, also in Mexico and Canada. Loves warm water but does fine up north thanks to summer water temperatures. Leaps and fights hard (though briefly). Tolerates only very slow currents—a true lake fish. Has a smudgy black horizontal stripe along each flank.

First Tuesday Tips: Tip 10, Meet the Basses and Panfish, Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass
(photo ©Carol Ann Morris)


Looks something like a largemouth, but has vertical stripes (if it has stripes at all) in place of the largemouth’s horizontal band. Likes quick, rocky streams but does just as well in slow, weedy ones, and in lakes. Needs warm water at least a fair chunk of the year but can’t handle largemouth’s upper limit. Fights hard and long, and sometimes leaps. All over the US and well up into Canada.

First Tuesday Tips: Tip 10, Meet the Basses and Panfish, Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass
(photo ©Carol Ann Morris)



The most common and beloved panfish in North America. Fights hard for its small size (a 10-incher’s a dandy), rarely jumps. Prefers lakes but does fine in lazy currents. Needs warm water. Often schools. Does have powder-blue gill covers.

First Tuesday Tips: Tip 10: Meet the Basses and Panfish, Bluegill

(photo ©Carol Ann Morris)


Crappies, both black and white, really bunch up (especially black crappies) for mating in spring, run large for sunfishes (sometimes a pound and a half, even two pounds). Crappies are rounded and flat-sided like other panfish, but silvery with dark markings.

First Tuesday Tips: Tip 10, Meet the Basses and Panfish, Crappie

(photo ©Carol Ann Morris)

Other panfish

The list is long: redear, pumpkinseed, warmouth, green sunfish . . . They’re all well worth knowing and seeking. Use the bluegill as your model, or at least your starting point, for exploring most of the panfish. A few (yellow perch, rock bass. . .) don't follow the bluegill model.

First Tuesday Tips: Tip 10, Meet the Basses and Panfish, Yellow Perch

Yellow Perch
(photo ©Carol Ann Morris)

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Skip's latest books:

Top 12 Nymphs for Trout Streams, 2nd Edition, originally published as an e-book only, is now available on Amazon as a paperback...check it out! Click on the links below to go to the information page on Top 12 Nymphs (the link to Amazon is at the bottom of the page...)

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Top 12 Nymphs for Trout Streams: How, When, and Where to Fish Them (2nd Edition)...

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500 Trout Streams...

Skip's latest PAPERBACK BOOK:

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365 Tips for Trout, Bass, and Panfish...

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Skip Morris's Trout-Fly Proportion Chart

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Skip's Predator...this popular Fly Now Available!

The Predator is now available to buy...

Skip's ultra-popular Predator—a hit fly for bluegills and other panfishes and largemouth bass (also catches smallmouth bass and trout)—is being tied commercially by the Solitude Fly Company.

Skip Morris's Predator

The Predator

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Skip Morris's Predator

Tying the Predator

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