How to Bug a Bluegill

By Larry R. Beckett | April 21, 2015
From Missouri Conservationist: May 2015

The bluegill is undoubtedly one of Missouri’s most popular game fish. They are found throughout the state, usually bite willingly, and put up a decent fight for their body size and shape. Chances are, your first experience chasing underwater game involved pursuing bluegill with a bobber and a hook adorned with a wiggly creature. Earthworms, crickets, and mealworms all become quickly engulfed when strung on a hook and dangled in front of a bluegill. In addition, bluegill’s willingness to eat small bugs opens the door to tempting them with different bait — a foam spider.

Inexpensive and Easy to Make

Foam spiders are simple in design. Most consist of a hook, a piece of foam, and something to represent legs. More complicated designs can include tails, eyes, and multiple segments, but the simple designs are often just as effective on the water. You can get pre-made foam spiders at most sporting goods stores, but catching a bluegill on a lure that you designed and created is a great deal more rewarding. Best of all, they can be made in a few simple steps.

Here’s What You Need:

Creating foam spiders requires only a few materials:

  • Foam bodies
  • Legs
  • Thread
  • #10 Hooks
  • Glue

Foam bodies can be purchased at most sporting goods stores or online. For the body, consider using closed-cell craft foam, which works just as well, is far less expensive, and can yield hundreds of bodies of your own design from a single sheet.  If using craft foam, make sure to get the closed-cell type if you want the lure to float. Cut a piece of foam into a rectangular strip about 3/8 inch wide by about one-and-a-half times the length of the hook. Trim the corners off one end of the foam.

  1. Place the hook in the vice. Starting toward the front of hook, wrap the thread forward five turns, and then wrap toward the bend to lock the thread in place.
  2. Once the thread is locked in place, wrap forward to the hook eye, and then continue wrapping to the bend of the hook. The shank of the hook should have a solid thread base.
  3. Place the trimmed end of the body on top of the hook, and pinch the body around the hook.
  4. Trim the loose end of the thread.
  5. Wrap the thread around the body and hook several times to secure it in place. Pull the thread tight with each wrap.
  6. Wrap the thread to the front of the hook and stop about one hook-eye length behind the eye.
  7. Bend the foam forward so that it lies along the shank of the hook.
  8. Hold the foam and wrap the thread around the body and hook several times. Pull the thread tight with each wrap.
  9. Trim the head of the foam spider just beyond the eye of the hook.
  10. Place one leg on one side of the foam body with the midpoint being at the thread location. Wrap and pull the thread tight two times.
  11. Place the other leg on the other side of the foam body and wrap twice.
  12. Lift the head slightly and wrap the thread forward around the hook shank several times just behind the eye of the hook.
  13. Tie several half-hitch knots behind the eye of the hook.
  14. Place a small amount of waterproof glue on the knots and trim the thread.
  15. Trim the legs so they are even and the desired length.
  16. The foam spider is ready to fish.

Present Your New Spider and Get Ready For Action

Fishing a foam spider is simple and exciting. Since most foam spiders are made to float, the bite will be on top of the water. Watching a bluegill pop your bait can quickly get your heart pumping. The foam-spider method is most effective when bluegills are in shallow water. This can be anytime during the spring or summer. Warm autumn days can also lure bluegill out of deeper water. To fish a foam spider, all you need to do is put it over the top of a bluegill. You can present the lure with a simple cane pole or with a lightweight fly rod. Drop the spider into the area where bluegill are feeding and let it sit for a few seconds. If nothing hits the lure, then twitch it a couple of inches by moving the end of the cane pole or pulling quickly on the fly line. Let it sit again and repeat until a strike occurs. It usually won’t take long if bluegill are feeding in the area.

Pursuing Missouri’s fish doesn’t have to involve a truckload of expensive gear to be enjoyable. A cane pole, a piece of fishing line, and a foam spider can provide a day of fast-paced, fish-catching action and a renewed childhood appreciation for the joy of bugging a bluegill.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler