Most of my flyfishing has been on trout streams (in fact, all my successful flyfishing has been for trout in streams) My dad just moved into an area where there are plenty of warmwater lakes, though, and we've been trying to catch bluegill and other warmwater species on a flyrod, but it hasn't been going too well. The last time we were out, I managed to hook a little sunfish on a #18 prince nymph, but it threw the hook before I could land it and I never got any more bites on that fly. I really don't know what flies would be ideal for warmwater lakes because the water is relatively really muddy compared to trout water. Do fish see small flies in these lakes, or should I be using big flashy streamers, or what?
What are some essential flies for sunfish and bluegill and what are some techniques for fishing warmwater lakes that a person who fishes coldwater streams may not know? I have no idea how to read a lake, but I think I could figure it out...
When it comes to pan fish, i.e. blue gills, red ears, etc., I have always used small poppers, usually yellow or light green. I have not had much luck with with dry flies, nymphs or streamers. Occasionally, a small red or orange San Juan worm would do the trick.
When it comes to fishing for bass, usually large mouth in my case, I will normally use larger poppers, frog patterns or small mice. Believe it or not, the largest bass I ever caught was in late evening using a mouse/rat top water fly. I used it around a series of boat docks that had a rather serious rat/mouse problem.
For warmwater fishing I have found structure is the best place to drop your hook. Tree stumps, fallen timber that lays in the water, lilly pads, docks and rocks are your best bet. Most of my bass and pan fish fishing is in man made ponds and lakes. One does not often see cliffs or overhangs underwater. The lands has been rearranged by a bulldozer when the pond or lake was made, so all these structures were bulldozed away.
That's what I do for what it is worth. Good luck and good fishing.
I have caught several on poppers, but I generally do best for bluegills on size 8-12 nymphs. Just cast to the structure, and retieve the nymph actively. Some of the farmponds that I fish have larger bluegill and we also catch those on small streamers. I fish larger streamers, mostly Clauser Minnows or Seaducers, for bass, and generally do pretty good with them. If you can find some bluegill beds in the next few weeks tie on a nymph ... keep a tight line ... and get ready for the fun.
You will have a ball on these waters. I went through the exact same transition about 3 yrs. ago when I moved.
All the advice given so far is very good. Nymphs are always a favorite for pan fish. The foam body bugs are great on the surface and you can tie lots of different colors. I find that pan fish also like brightly colored wet flys. I have taken some traditional patterns and added some flash and color like using hot pink or chartreuse hackle on woolly buggers. I also like fluorescent antron in muddy water. I have just tied a few micro Clausen's on #10 2x long shank hooks and bet they will work.
Clausen minnows (#2 hook) and poppers have worked the best for me on bass.
Look for cover as stated above, buy a float tube (unique and fun way to fish), try different depths and take a thermometer with you to check water temperature (55-75 deg good top water early or late in the day, above or below go deeper). Take a large brightly colored wet fly and check to see how deep you can see it. If you can see it 2 ft. deep or more you should be OK to use just about any color. < 2 ft. and you need to make noise on the surface or go bright colors deeper.
Have a ball, but also have a plan. Systematically use the process of elimination on flys, depths and locations until you find a pattern that will work.
On lakes, I usually get good results with Muddler Minnows, Woolly Buggers,
and small deer hair popper. I've been reducing the size of my hooks lately,
and the biggest MM's and WB's I fish are #10 right now. I've also begun to
use some of the zillion Green Weenies I tied a few years ago, and they work
great for bass and smaller sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, etc). In fact, the
Green Weenies have been working when all else fails!
I tie mine with a gold or black bead, and add a bit of green ice dubbing
just behind the bead. No other weight is used. I use #12 and#14 2X long
hooks. The couple beadless weenies I've tied produced zero results. I've also
tried red weenies with zero results.
I simply cast them to a likely-looking spot, wait a few seconds (I often
get an immediate strike), and then give it a few small twitches. If nothing
strikes, I'll retrieve a little line and repeat the procedure. I'm not much of
a nymph fisherman, and I don't use an indicator. The other day, I was
fishing a stream where I was forced to roll cast. I was using a green weenie,
and several of my roll casts felt like snags, but they turned out to be fish !
Chartruse Woolly Buggers, Chartruse Woolly Buggers, brown Woolly Buggers, black Woolly Buggers size 8 thru 12 try some with bead heads and lead and some with out chartruse works very well 2" strip 2" strip 2" strip pause 2" strip 2" strip pause repeat works very well for crappie and gills in the spring when the water gets over 68 degrees try surface stuff. Dont be afraid to lose a few in cover.