In the northern half of the US, spring and fall signal prime perch fishing, attracting legions of anglers to the water. And while not as popular as crappie or bluegill where the water warms quickly in spring, in colder climates, the yellow perch is the undisputed king of panfish.
We’ve written about perch fishing before, offering tips and tricks to help you fill your cooler. If you want to know more, check out this article:
In this article, we’ll be focusing on the best lures to use when you want to catch your limit, so keep reading!
Quick glance at the best lures for perch:
- Mepps Aglia
- Bandit Series 300 Crankbait
- Acme Kastmaster
- Berkley Gulp Alive Minnows
- Z-MAN TRD Tubez
- Marabou Jigs
Table of Contents (clickable)
Best Lures for Perch Reviewed
Keeping their habitat and diet in mind, here are some of the best lures to catch perch.
Spinners like the Mepps Aglia are lethal on perch, and the ⅛-ounce offering is just perfect.
The solid body on the Aglia allows for long casts, and the placement and design of the blade means that it spins well, even when the retrieve is slow. It offers plenty of flash, as well as colors that look and shine like the scales on minnows and other small fish.
A sharp treble hook at the rear makes it tough for perch to miss your lure, and lock up will be solid and tight.
I like to run my spinners parallel to weed beds, reeds, and lines of pilings around docks. In the late spring and early fall, when water temperatures are ideal for perch, I’ll cast a Mepps Aglia up under docks and work it back out or target a row of bridge columns with a long cast.
Don’t forget the many options available in the Mepps line-up, including dressed options.
A short-stubby crankbait with a tight wiggle is almost irresistible for perch, provided you know how to fish it.
The Bandit Series 300 is an ideal finesse option, weighing in at just ¼ ounce. Its big lip pulls it down to as deep as 12 feet, allowing you to strike the bottom, a sure-fire perch attractant. And when run through grass and weeds, bumped into pilings, branches, and stumps, I’m not sure there’s a deadlier perch lure out there.
Another great option is the SPRO Little John 50. 2 inches, and 1⁄2 ounce, the Little John has the tight, wriggling action you want, as well as the stubby body shape that perch are looking for. It casts like a dream, allowing you to cover a lot of water quickly, too.
But don’t be afraid to throw larger crankbaits, too, as sizing up - especially once the water hits 60 degrees, will yield larger perch.
Acme’s Kastmaster has won devoted fans everywhere perch are caught.
It’s available in a range of sizes and colors, but I generally prefer the ⅛-, ¼, and ½-ounce sizes. Gold, silver, and chrome/neon blue are probably the best colors for perch fishing.
As its name suggests, the Kastmaster’s aerodynamic shape allows for awesome distance and accuracy, even on breezy days.
The Kastmaster is versatile, too, and whether you choose to jig it into the tops of weed beds or run this spoon along their sides, it’s going to ring the dinner bell for big perch.
Yellow perch can’t resist a small minnow. A small soft plastic like Berkley’s Gulp Alive minnow is an awesome choice when paired with a 1/16-ounce jig head, allowing you to work cover like thick grass, as well as vertical structure like pilings in a slow, methodical approach that drives perch wild.
At just 1 inch, the Gulp Alive Minnow will flutter on the descent, and it can be slowed down by switching to an even lighter jig head. That can trigger strikes, as can swimming this soft bait across the tops of weed beds, through thick grass, or over and around branches and blow downs.
I prefer “watermelon pearl” and “chartreuse shad,” both of which are proven performers.
My primary technique with a tiny fluke like this is to swim it behind a light jig head. I want to buzz the tops of grass or weeds, let it sink right next to them, and then pop it back into the water column.
Small tubes like the Z-man TRD are a secret weapon that far too few perch anglers throw.
The short, streamlined body and wriggling tentacles imitate everything from crawfish to the tail flutter of minnows, drawing perch in for a closer look. And nothing beats a tube for a slow, fluttering fall to the bottom.
At 2 ¾ inches, the TRD tube is way too effective to skip.
I use these in three different ways.
When crawfish are a hit prey item, I rig my tube with a ⅛-ounce jig head. I want my tube to stick to the bottom, and I’ll slowly creep it across by moving my rod tip in sweeping motions or retrieving it with methodical, slow turns of my crank. I’ll occasionally pop it off the bottom, pick up my slack, and let it flutter to rest again.
When the perch are thick on vertical structure, I rig my tube with a 1/32-ounce jig head. I’m looking for an extremely slow fall to stay in the strike zone for as long as possible. I’ll cast these next to piling and support columns, letting them fall on their own in a spiraling descent that triggers reaction strikes like crazy.
Finally, I use a 1/16-ounce jig head to fish my tubes through grass, weed beds, and other cover, keeping it moving like a swim jig. When the water is warm, swimming a tube can deliver fish when nothing else will.
Finally, while Marabou jigs under a slip float are more common for crappie than perch, don’t underestimate their effectiveness.
Crappie and perch share a lot of similarities, including a piscivorous diet, a role as both predator and prey, and a love for thick cover in shallow water.
And light Marabous, rigged under the right slip float, are amazingly productive.
In slightly deeper water, say 10 - 20 feet, I’ll use my fishing electronics to find a school of perch, set my Marabou’s depth to suspend above them, and let the fun begin. Just the tiniest twitch of my rod tip will set the jig dancing, and the perch aren’t going to leave it alone.
In shallower water, I’ll cast my jigs near vertical structure and cover, just as I would for crappie. Stamps, trees, pilings, and support columns are all kinds of productive, and the perch can’t seem to resist a tiny, fluffy jig.
Perch Habitat: Where to Find Them
Perch, known to biologists as Perca flavescens, are a lynchpin of the aquatic food chain in cooler climates, providing prey for pike, walleye, and largemouth bass across much of the northern US.
They naturally school for protection, seeking safety in numbers, and they stick close to heavy cover like live weed beds and reeds, as well as vertical structure like pilings, docks, and support columns.
As a common prey species, they’ll avoid open water where there’s nowhere to run or hide, and they prefer low-visibility conditions where sight-oriented predators can spot them from a long way off.
When you’re looking for perch in the spring and summer, look shallow, identify live weed beds, and fish areas with lots of grass, reeds, or other thick cover.
Perch Diet: Know What They Eat
Yellow perch begin life by feeding on zooplankton and other microorganisms. As they grow, they’ll transition to tiny insects like mosquitoes and midges, but by maturity, they switch to a diet rich in small fish, crawfish, leeches, mysid shrimp, and other aquatic invertebrates.
As much as 20 percent of their diet consists of small fish and minnows, and it’s not unheard of for perch to turn cannibalistic if given the chance.
Lures that mimic these prey items are ideal.
The best perch lures reflect their diet and habitat. Minnow imitators and crawfish mimics are among your best choices, and it's important to remember that schooling yellow perch tend to stick close to the thick stuff or cluster around vertical cover.
And while some of these choices might seem unconventional if you’re new to perch fishing, I can promise you that they’ll all catch fish, especially if you learn to work them well.
We hope that you’ve learned something from this article today, and we’d love to hear from you if you have!
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