Bluegill, brim, sunfish, shellcrackers—-and whatever other derivatives of a panfish, are excellent swimbaits. They are relatively new to me. I haven’t spent near the time chasing ‘bluegill eaters’ as I have chasing trout eaters. Why? Because trout eaters are the biggest bass you’ll ever catch in your life. But bluegill eaters are very important because they are more universal and more common in more waterways across the country and globe. Which also means they have more of a tournament implication and can be part of the tournament swimbait/bigbait conversation better than trout baits.
The 22nd Century Blugill is a beautiful little bait. It’s not a huge swimbait. In fact, it’s only 5 inches long, 1 and 5/8ths inches tall, and weighs approx 1.75 ounces total, so it isn’t a magnum bait in size, profile and vibration. There is something to be said about the size of a bluegill bait. Bass instinctively seem to have a threshold based on their own size, as to how big of a bluegill they will eat. Why? Perhaps it’s because a big bluegill will get lodged in the bass’s throat, and suffocate/kill the bass. In any event, small and compact bluegill baits in the 5″ range seem to be ‘right’. You probably aren’t going to catch lots of double digit bass on bluegill swimbaits. Feel free to prove me wrong and provide as much photo and video evidence as possible. But, you are going to catch a lot of 3-8 pounders, which are good fish anywhere, and are excellent tournament fish.
The 22nd Century Bluegill swimbait is a standard sinking hardbait from the Scott Whitmer/Triple Trout family of swimbaits. It has the same 3 piece make up and has the same swim signature, to an extent of the the Triple Trout. The bait fishes excellent on the straight reel. Just buzzing it along like you would a spinnerbait or swim jig. Just reel the thing. But of course, you can throw the cut backs, the 180 degree turn arounds, stalls, and pauses into the bait, which give it advanced swimming and fish appealing action to anglers with the skills to make the bait work for them. The swim is rather tight, because the joints and pieces of the bait are small and compact. The swim doesn’t have the wide carving S-turn swagger that the Triple Trout does, but you can see the relationship and family ties. In the very last few seconds of the above video, the music stops and you can hear the noise of the 22nd Century Bluegill. With the tight compact swim, you get a lot of clicking and clacking out of the bait. It’s a loud bait underwater. I am totally unqualified and unprepared to measure audio levels and decibels and things about underwater sound, but just from my experience doing underwater video work, the 22nd Century Bluegill is a noisy and clanky bait.
The 22nd Century Bluegill is a perfect example of a swimbait that I rig with the Owner ST-56 Treble hooks. The ST-56 Treble hooks are needle point hooks, 3X strong, and a good fit for baits where I cannot get away with using the Owner ST-36 Stinger Trebles for fear of bending out the lighter wire hooks on the swimbait gear (rod/reel/line) I’m throwing it on. So, my advice is use Owner Hyper Wire Split Rings (#4s front and back) and change the hooks to a number #2 up front and #4 in the rear. That way, you’ll catch the < 4 pounders well, but when you get into the > 5 pounders, you won’t be bending out a hook leaning on a good fish to get control of her, which will likely cause the fish to pull off and get away. You probably want to invest in a pack or two of replacement tails for your 22nd Century Bluegill. You need the Small Triple Trout replacement tails, they are the ones that fit the 22nd Century Bluegill. Color is up to you.
2012 has been a year where I’ve gotten back in touch with line thru swimbaits and bluegill baits. I’ve spent a good amount of time exploring the bluegill bait bite on places like Okeechobee, Seminole, and in the Ozarks. Bass eat bluegill really well, and when you add spawning time into the mix, the bluegill creates a territorial/adversarial bite factor you don’t get with other baits. Bass will quite simply instinctively bite a bluegill that gets around their bed/nursing area, because bluegill tend to be thieves who survive on eating bass eggs or bass fry. Bluegill work in packs, in schools, where the sheer numbers of them overwhelm the lone male and female bass. There is a lot to be explored and documented when it comes to bluegill swimbaits, but let me be clear and say I think they are awesome and absolutely worthy of your time and money to invest in. They get bit, they catch big ones (not teen sized fish, usually, but still, bigguns), and since bluegill are so prevalent in places with bass, they are a good universal alternative to trout baits, the world over.