Perch Lures: A Guide to Lure Fishing Rigs for Big Perch
It’s always a joy to be out on the bank through summer and autumn. Watching the seasons change has always been one of the magical things about being an angler. At the time of writing, we are just starting to move towards winter, and there’s a noticeable drop in temperature.
The rivers look different too. The water is changing in colour, it seems darker, more unforgiving and whilst I know that the fishing is probably going to be more challenging, it’s one of the most fabulous times of year to be out by the water. As we move into winter, there’s only one thing on my mind, and that’s big perch.
Lure fishing for perch has become a bit of an obsession for me. Here I am going to cover the lure rigs I use throughout the winter to try and outwit some of these big old perch including spinners, spinnerbaits, jigs and various other methods. They can be very tricky to catch on lures as the temperatures drop, so it’s essential to have a few methods to fall back on, know when to use them and hopefully get amongst these incredible fish.
A big perch of around 4lb. Winter action as the sun sets behind me. A Fox Spikey Shad on a standard Jig set up doing the business.
Why use lures?
There’s a few reasons why I use lures to target Perch. There was a period about 10 years ago when I tried fly fishing, something that I still do regularly. I immediately fell in love with the simplicity of it. Minimal gear, roving and moving around. Prior to this I was carp fishing but even then, my favourite method was stalking. The truth is that moving around, staying active, hunting with just a rod and a small bag has always appealed to me. Lure fishing for perch is just a natural progression of how I’ve preferred to fish for a very long time now. I also like the convenience it brings to the opportunist angler that squeezes in short sessions around a busy life.
For many anglers, lure fishing is simply a matter of tying on a lure, casting it out and then performing a straight retrieve. As I’ve said before, things have changed over the years. Influences have come across the pond from the USA and the bass fishing circuit. The lures, rigs and methods we use now are infinitely more sophisticated than they were a decade or so ago.
A range of terminal tackle to help me change things up when needed.
The following rigs are all fished on a leader. Generally, I will not use a trace unless I know there is plenty of pike present. The Fluorocarbon I use is typically used for fly fishing and is produced by Fulling Mill. The breaking strain for this is usually between 6lb-10lb depending on the situation. For most of my fishing, I use around 6 to 8 foot of this tied to my mainline, which is typically braid of about 10lb breaking strain.
I should mention that it’s sometimes challenging to try and describe how these rigs are tied in print. Consider taking what I’ve written here and do your research.
Spinners & Spinnerbaits
When to use them: In coloured water, when visibility is poor and vibration is key.
Spinnerbaits typically have one or two blades. You can dress them up with skirts and are fantastic in coloured water as they pump out loads of vibration. I really like using them when perch fishing in stretches of rivers near the sea. You can often pick up token bass or mullet. Chatterbaits are also very popular. A single blade kicks out an insane amount of vibration. The humming sensation can be felt right up through the rod and can drive the fish wild.
Spinners and Spinnerbaits
When to use it: A nice, simple set up that can be used at any time of year when roving around, trying to locate fish.
Jig Heads are used in conjunction with soft lures. You simply feed the rubber lure onto the Jig Head as seen below. It’s important to consider the weight of the jig head that you use, I typically use between 3G – 10G, but it will depend on your situation (depth of water, the flow of water, etc.).
Hook size is important too. You’ll need to think about lure size and the gape of the hook that’s left once you’ve mounted the lure. Generally speaking, I think anglers use weights that are too heavy. Balance the set up nicely, vary your retrieve and don’t forget that perch love to hit lures on the drop, hence experimenting with lighter weights where you can.
Spikey Shad mounted on standard Jig Heads
Went to use it: When weed or debris is present. There’s often still plenty around in late autumn or early winter.
You need a Jig Head with an offset hook. Nip the hook through the nose of the lure, feed this on and then push the hook through the body of the lure as shown below. It’s important to just lightly nip the point into the rubber to make this the perfect weedless set up to cast into areas that would usually snag you up and have you pulling your hair out!
Offset hooks with a ball weight on Shank. These are Rugby Jig Heads by CrazyFish.
The Cheb Rig
Went to use it: Any time of year. Great for when you’re mixing things up and trying a range of weights and patterns.
I’ve probably caught more big perch on this rig than any other. The Cheb Rig gives you extra movement but also the versatility of changing weight and hook size/pattern very quickly.
Simply tie on the clip using a loop knot and be sure to have a range of weights (I tend to carry 3G-12g). I like to fish this with an offset hook also threaded onto the clip and fished weedless, but I can easily change that by mounting a straight hook, or smaller hook if I feel that’s what’s needed.
The additional movement between the weight and hook makes the lure look fantastic in the water. The Cheb is definitely not a rig to ignore if you’re moving around, encountering lots of different swims and fishing situations.
The awesome Cheb Rig allows you to adjust your fishing quickly depending on the situation. The above is mounted with a small EgoGear Bug Ant.
The Texas Rig
Went to use it: Again, when moving around trying to search out fish.
I don’t actually use this rig very much, but it is extremely popular. It’s great to use with creature bait style lures and skirts. Tie feed on the Texas weight before tying onto your hook.
I tend to use an offset shot and fish weedless when using the Texas Rig. Some anglers often put a stopper on the line before threading on the weight to prevent it from flying up the leader.
The classic Texas Rig. Great for a mobile approach to moving around the river.
Went to use it: When you’ve located fish.
The Dropshot is excellent for exploring specific features or structures. It can be devastating when used in the right situation. If you have located the fish and you know they’re there, then you should consider going in with the Dropshot.
You’ve established ‘the zone’, and you now want to milk it dry. You want to keep the lure in that strike zone for as long as possible. You don’t want to cast a Jig into the strike zone just to retrieve it out again straight away!
Another excellent application for the Dropshot is to really explore structures such as overhanging trees, snags, lock gates or around boats. It allows you to do this in more intricate detail. For me, this is in complete contrast to roaming with the previous rigs mentioned. When Dropshotting I’m creeping around very slowly, exploring every little feature in an area that I’m sure holds fish.
The Dropshot Rig, great for exploring features and structures.
The Ned Rig
Went to use it: When the temperatures drops, and the going gets tough!
The Ned is a rig that will work at any time of year, but I tend to reach for it when things are not going my way. It’s probably freezing cold, and the fish just are not chasing lures any more.
Generally speaking, the colder it gets the slower I want to fish. The Ned Rig allows me to do this perfectly. It consists of a buoyant worm-shaped lure fished on a small standard Jig Head. Rounded Jig Heads are also sold to help the buoyant worm move into an erect position more easily.
Cast the Ned Rig out, raise it off the bottom and then let it drop back onto the deck and pause, I wait for a while (anywhere between 10 – 30 seconds, maybe longer) before then raising it off the bottom to then repeat the process until it’s fully retrieved. I like to use this in deep winter as it’s not a rig that works well if there’s still lots of weed around.
Korum Snapper and Squirmz are bringing Ned Rigging to the masses. They feel it’s the best Perch catching technique that they know of, and it’s easy to for people to try.
The Jika Rig
Went to use it: On a river or lake with a clean bottom. Light silt will only make it work even better!
A fantastic rig when used in conjunction with creature baits. You will need a split ring, dropshot weight and an offset hook to use this lure effectively. Tie the split ring to the leader and feed into this the dropshot and offset hook. Mount the creature bait onto the offset hook in a weedless style.
You need a clear river or lake bed for one, as you are generally dragging it along the bottom. The Dropshot weight keeps it close to the deck, causing it to kick up lots of silt to attract the attention of perch. In my opinion, this rig more closely imitates the natural movement of crayfish. You are moving the lure along the lake slowly, causing silt and debris to puff up around it. It really can be devastating when used in the right situation.
Unusual looking but the Jika Rig can be highly effective.
Went to use it: Again, best on a clear bottom. This lure is a big fish magnet.
There are several realistic fish imitations out on the market (3D and 4D roach are two good examples). These can pick up really big fish if they are mounted in a side hooked fashion.
Cast this out, let it fall to the bottom and then pause for a few seconds before raising it in water to repeat the process. Often perch will hit it either on the drop or when it is completely static.
The Savage Gear 3d roach can produce clonking Perch!
Went to use it: When the going gets tough.
Another excellent finesse rig, inspired by the bass anglers from the States. The Wacky Rig tends to be a worm style lure hooked through the centre with a relatively small hook. There are several configurations of the same rig, but generally, it can be fished either weightless or with a jig head. I’ve had some very nice perch fishing Squirrel Tails, Wacky style on the Dropshot.
A very big perch taken on a worm style lure fished Wacky style! Part of a big brace.
Whenever I go fishing, I carefully assess the situation in front of me. As an angler your approach should consider factors such as climate, stock levels, time of year, scale and depth of water, characteristics of the lake bed, clarity and movement of the water, all of which are physically in front of you. Perch fishing is no different, and it’s essential to choose the best rig given what’s actually in front of you on any given day.
I hope this article encourages you to get out on the bank and give some of these rigs a go. Choosing the right rig on the right day can often be the difference between a blank and a result. Enjoy!
A 4lb+ Perch is a very special fish indeed. A Cheb Rig bounced slowly along the bottom was the downfall for this monster.