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.

“Get in me belly” … tasty morsel 22nd Century Bluegill. Very nice universal paint job, profile, tail and swim. Don’t fish bluegill baits, I want it all to myself.


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 is from the Triple Trout family of baits. The influence is clearly there, including the pauses, turnarounds, and cutbacks, but the bait swims so fluid on the straight grind, it’s a nice ‘chunking and winding’ style bait because it just swims fluidly for days.

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.

“Six Foot Peaks!” … the 22nd Century Bluegill is part of a wave of energy known as the “bluegill eaters”, that I’ve been working on and off for years, but quite a bit in 2012 along with the 3:16 Sunfish. “So you wanna fish pretty good, yeah? ‘Trow da bluegill baits brah”

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.

“Neener neener neener…..catch me if you can”

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.

Scott’s bluegill has a killer paint job. I love purple in my baits, and this ‘sunny’ has plenty of purple, and a great scale pattern. It’s realistic and looks great in clear or off colored water.


The gratuitous profile shot, giving you a good feel for the bait. 5″ Long and 1 and 5/8″ tall at the tallest point. You’ve got Scott’s rotating hook hangers, and of course I rig with Owner Hyper Wire Split Rings (#4), and a #2 ST-56 Owner Treble up front, and #4 in the back.


The Owner ST-56 are a compromise between the ST-36 and ST-66. More on this all later, but I recommend this hook when you need small hooks ,< 1/0 and are fishing with 8 foot rods, big line and tend to get into bigguns.
8 inch triple trout
The 8 inch Triple Trout, showed its strength in the Ozarks section of Southern Trout Eaters. Good bait for covering water and seeing what happens when you are on a lake where 20 pounds is a good sack. How about those Owner ST-36 Stinger Trebles? That fish is punk rock with all those piercings.

The 8” Triple Trout is probably the most universal of the Triple Trout family in that it is a bigbait, and able to get big bites, but at 8 inches long, this is a good search and destroy bait in lakes that aren’t known for big fish.  But the 2-5 pounders will attack the 8” Triple Trout, given the right circumstances.

triple trout fishing on lake murray
The 8" Triple Trout is not just for 'trout eaters'. The bait is the standard for chasing the elusive blueback herring eaters of the South. Lake Murray, South Carolina, and a May stud off a point, fishing with Chris Koon.

The 8” Triple Trout is part of our ‘trout eater’ toolbox, and was featured in Southern Trout Eaters in the Ozark section, where we were documenting our first attempts at bigbait fishing in the Ozarks.  We were fishing a lake not known for double digit fish, had never fished the lake much and needed to cover water and see how the fish would react.  We ended up with multiple 15-20 pound sacks and we were able to document most of it on film and in photos.

Before Brad Rutherford could drive, he was throwing the 8" Triple Trout, a testament to Brad's fishing and where he is going in this sport.

The 8” Triple Trout is also a staple in the blue back herring assault we have been exploring for years.   Clarks Hill, Lake Lanier, Lake Murray and Lake Hartwell have all seen plenty of 8” Triple Trouts courtesy of our crew (Chris Koon, Brad&Bob Rutherford, Robert Malcom, and myself).   There is no question the 8” Triple Trout is gets bit when you get around blue back herring chasers.

clarks hill swimbait fishing
Clarks Hill, Fall of 2008. Working on the blueback herring bite around long sloping red clay points.


Bait: The 8” Triple Trout
Rod:  G-Loomis 965 BBR
Reel:  Shimano Calcutta 400 TE
Line:  P-Line CXX Green Coplymer, 25 pound
Hooks:  Owner ST-36 Treble Hooks (1/0 front and back)
Split Rings:  Owner Hyper Wire #6s

Strengths:  The 8” Triple Trout can be fished fast or fished at a steady grind, but you can  cover water with the bait and get a feel for how the fish are reacting.  The Triple Trout excels in warm water.  Anything above 60 degrees, and especially as the water gets into the 70s and low 80s, the Triple Trout is a good call in warm water.   Since you can start and stop the bait and make it do 180 degree turns and pauses, you can create a bite with your retrieve, so its a good bait for making fish that only follow a swimbait actually eat.   The 8” Triple Trout only weighs approx 2.5 ounces and is far less a workout to fish than the 10” Triple Trout.  It’s a good ‘starter’ bait for those just getting into the Triple Trout family of swimbaits.

triple trout fishing on lake guntersville
Lake Guntersville, 8 inch Triple Trout fished over shallow grass.


Ideal Conditions:  Anytime you can fish a bait with hanging trebles over submerged grass, we recommend the Triple Trout.  Anytime you are fishing a blue back herring lake, we recommend the Triple Trout fished around docks, off points, around brushpiles, off man made structure like breakwaters, rip rap, barge tie ups, etc, and certainly around laydown trees.   Lakes with that are trout fed are a no brainer for the Triple Trout, and as the water temps warm up, use the 8” Triple Trout to call up active fish and get them to eat even in the summer swelter.  You don’t need trout or blue backs to catch fish on the 8” Triple Trout, anywhere you are targeting 3-5 pound fish and know where they live, put on an 8” Triple Trout and see what happens.

brad rutherford swimbait fishing
Brad Rutherford, the first day we met, Clarks Hill, a little more grown up, giving me his "Matt Peters" pose...damn kids. Brad throwing a custom painted 8" Triple Trout blue back herring color.


Notes:  Tie directly to the bait.  Don’t use a snap to tie to.  Just tie directly to the bait and make sure you retie often.  The weight of the bait combined with big casts and repetitive casting make this a classic example of the physics of bigbait fishing we touched on in Southern Trout Eaters.  Carry spare tails, because if you get onto a good bite, there’s a chance a fish can rip or wreck your tail so don’t be unprepared.

ozark triple trout fishing
8" Triple Trout, light trout and an Ozark Trout Eater in bronze. When you are on a new lake, warm weather and water, need to cover water and have the highest odds of getting a bite, bust out your 8" Triple Trout in light trout and go to work.


Chartruese bass 8" Triple Trout. Lake Seminole sand bar fishing, the mouth of Spring Creek.