The Best Perch Rigs: 7 Great Set-Ups to Boost Your Catch

Updated on:

The Best Perch Rigs: 7 Great Set-Ups to Boost Your Catch

Updated on:

Perch can be a great species to focus on during your next fishing trip. They are somewhat shy and can be elusive which makes them fish that requires some skill to catch. 

When fishing for these fish, you may wonder what the best rig is to use. While there are several options, a few may be better than most to ensure you have good success when fishing for perch.

About Perch Fishing

Distribution

Perch can be found in a wide range of areas around Canada and the United States, including the Great Lakes area, the Atlantic region, and the Mississippi River basin.

The Northwest Territories, Quebec and Nova Scotia are all excellent places to look for these fish, as well as the southern areas of Nebraska, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Habitat

When searching for perch in both large rivers and lakes, looking for clear water should be your first step. While this species can be found in heavily stained water, they will normally try to school in clear water areas.

They will be most active in temperate water that is somewhat warm at the surface and moderately cool as you get deeper. However, throughout the winter, perch can make a great target when ice fishing as they will be relatively active even in extremely cold water.

Size Range

Perch can reach massive sizes reaching 5 pounds or more, however the most common sizes will be around 1 pound. Anything over 2 pounds should be considered a trophy catch.

When measuring your catch, maximum sizes are normally around 20 inches, with anything above 16 inches being a trophy size. Average sizes you will catch will be around 12 inches.

Eating Quality

Perch is said by most to have a great flavor when it comes to freshwater panfish. Their flesh is firm, but juicy and can taste sweet and mild. When preparing these fish, you can cook them in a variety of ways including grilling, baking, poaching, and more.

How Do You Rig for Trophy Perch?

Jig Rig for Big Perch

How to Make it

This rig will be highly effective with either monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing main line. You will be using a small egg float which will suspend your leader at the top of the water. From there, attach a 1/4oz colored jig head (get one here) to the opposite end of the leader and add a worm with a reasonable-sized grub tail.

How to Fish it

This rig does well with your hook in the midwater range. Since you are using an egg float, the bait will not be able to fall deep into the water. For perch and other species that are staying towards the top of the water, this rig can deliver your presentation in a reasonable location for them to strike.

Slip Bobber Live Bait Rig for Perch

How to Make it

Select your chosen fishing line and add a bobber stopper onto it. From there, slide on an in-line float and thread a bobber bead to allow it to slip up and down your line a small amount. This is an extremely simple and beginner-friendly rig to use for any angler that doesn’t mind using a float.

How to Fish it

Since perch don’t like using a lot of force to attach to a bait, the slip bobber will eliminate resistance and give them a chance to get a good grip. Ensure your bait is suspended around 6-8 inches above the bottom of the lake since perch love to strike low.

It’s a perfect rig to use from the shore, but works equally well on a boat that is not trolling or drifting. Start by casting the rig out into the water and let it sink, give it a bit of time to get through the mid water range and see if you get any bites or nibbles before moving to a new location.

Drop Shot Rig for Perch

How to Make it

This rig makes use of drop shot hooks in size 3 – 5, but smaller or larger hooks work fine as well.  Attach a ⅛ ounce sinker under the hook to help drag your floating worm or other lure down low. You want the worm to be presented low, but naturally, so the sinker can be adjusted to suit your preferences in that regard.

How to Fish it

This is a very simple rig that only needs to be cast into the area and allowed to sink through the mid-water range. A few subtle jerking motions on your rod can help entice fish to the movement of your bait or lure. Give this rig a few minutes in each fishing spot to elicit bites before you move on and try elsewhere.

Ned Rig for Perch

How to Make it

The Ned is almost identical to the Jig aside from the head. Instead of using a standard jig head, you will be using a mushroom jig head on the Ned rig. Your bait or lure choice should be one that floats on the top of the water rather than sinks, since you want it suspended high and not down at the muddy or sandy floor of the lake.

How to Fish it

The Ned rig is great for patient anglers as you will be retrieving it slowly. When retrieving, you will also be doing a lot of starts and stops to make it look like your bait is skipping around in the midwater areas.

If you’re having trouble getting perch to bite on other rigs regardless of the depth you are using them at, the Ned is normally a great way to present your bait at a shallow depth so perch can’t resist.

Carolina Rig for Perch

How to Make it

This rig is extremely popular and highly versatile. It’s a great rig for beginners and experienced anglers alike. Start by adding a bullet weight to your line and adding a bead before tying on a swivel.

From here, you will be using a 2-foot leader, normally done in a fluorocarbon line though other lines can be used. This line will hold your standard hook in size 2 – 4, as well as your chosen artificial soft plastic bait. These can be in either worm or minnow styles depending on what the perch in your area seem to prefer.

How to Fish it

The Carolina works down at the bottom of the water, as most of the other rigs, so give it time to sink down before you start reeling it back in. Once you do start reeling, bring it a short distance then let it sit for around 20 seconds before reeling again.

This lets the bait slowly sink back down to the bottom where perch are hanging out. Once they see the bait, they may nibble at it before making a strike so patience is key. This rig allows for some good transmission of vibrations, so if your rod is sensitive you’ll feel them testing it out.

Perch Pounder Rig

How to Make it

The Perch Pounder is exactly like you would think with the name, it’s a perfect choice when specifically targeting perch. Start by selecting a heavy fluorocarbon line for your leader. This should be around a 20 pound test for stiffness.

Attach a sinker to the end of the leader where a hook will normally go. You will then have two much shorter hook lines coming off the line about 6-8 inches apart. These will hold your hooks and be where your bait goes making this a double-hook perch magnet.

How to Fish it

This rig is great when perch are staying near cover in deep water and won’t come into the shallows regardless of the weather or the season. It’s great for dropping into an area where perch heavily school as it is specifically rigged to be used vertically.

This is also the rig you want to use when ice fishing for perch throughout the majority of the winter months. Since it is a double hook, you can potentially reel in two fish at once making this one of the best choices for perch fishing in open water.

Running Rig

How to Make it

The Running rig is a very simple rig to set up. It makes use of a freely sliding weight on your main line, with your leader and hook attached to a small barrel swivel. This simple rig can be used in a variety of ways, but works exceptionally well for bottom-feeding fish or perch that are staying very deep in the water column.

How to Fish it

This rig performs best in water with some form of current. Whether you are fishing in a river or at the mouth of a connecting body of water, if the water has some movement, the Running rig will be great there. Your weight will keep the bait down low, while the freedom of movement on your main line means your bait can flow with the current or be restricted to one spot.

What is the Best Perch Rig?

Most anglers will agree, when fishing for perch the Drop Shot rig will be your best option when you want to catch perch fast. While other rigs can be effective and bring you plenty of success when perch fishing, the drop shot is ideal for any anglers that love using a lightweight presentation overall.

The drop shot is versatile enough to be used for a wide variety of fish species, but shines with perch fishing. It can also be successfully fished right off the edge of a boat, or from shore to suit a wide range of beginning and experienced anglers’ preferences. 

For simplicity and beginner friendliness, it’s hard to go wrong with the Ned rig. This rig can also work as a fish finding rig because it is easy and fast to cast, and works well in finding those elusive small schools of perch somewhere in the lake.

Photo of author
AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village.