Perch fishing does not require a wide or expensive collection of fishing gear. Most anglers use basic rod-reel combinations, although light tackle is the most popular. Use a somewhat stiffer 6 to 6 1/2 foot rod with a medium to fast tip for trolling or drift-fishing. Lighter 5 1/2 to 7 foot rods work best for jig-fishing or casting.
Perch are notorious bait robbers; a fast action rod tip works well to notice subtle bites. Fly rods remain the mainstay of some perch anglers, although their popularity has declined with the use of light spinning and spin-casting rods.
Reels, like rods, come in many styles, brands and sizes. Choose the one that best fits your needs. Open and closed-face spinning reels, in ultra-light or medium sizes are used the most. If you like to cast small lures, choose a higher quality and more durable reel.
Monofilament line works best for perch fishing. Use the lightest line possible for the type of fishing you are doing. Lighter lines allow for the sensitive touch or feel, which is useful when perch bite softly. Use 4 to 8 pound-test line, depending upon lure size, for trolling or drift-fishing. For still-fishing or casting, 4 to 6 pound-test line is favored and 2 pound-test line is the choice for the smallest lures.
Bobbers or slip-bobbers help keep the bait in the proper position when fishing in or around submerged vegetation or while dock or shore fishing. Perch are known for their ability to strip bait from a hook without pulling the bobber under or otherwise indicating there is a bite, so a small bobber is recommended.
Artificial lures used for perch include many of the same types used for other panfish. Small lures are best because perch have small mouths and show little interest in a lure that is too large.
One of the most popular types is a lead-head. Made in many sizes and colors, the one sixty-fourth and one thirty-second ounce sizes are most popular. Lead-heads have a number of different names, depending upon if they are tied with feathers, hair, skirted with a plastic lure or chenille wrapped. The skirted lead-head, often called a mini-jig, is one of the most effective. Skirts for lead-heads are made of soft plastic and threaded directly through the hook, so the hook shank is completely covered. Yellow, white, and a combination of yellow-white skirts work best in our natural lakes. Perch can be very specific about which lure they strike, and at almost any time might choose a lure with a red-white, purple, green, or some other colored skirt.
Heavier lead-heads up to one-eighth ounce are best for trolling or drift-fishing, although slip-sinker lures or a small spinner rig are becoming more common. Floating jig heads are excellent lures either with a slip-sinker rig or with a fixed sinker or three-way bottom walker set-up. A floating lure setup lets you suspend the lure at different distances above the bottom, so it will not snag on rocks or vegetation as easily.
Use small, metal jigging spoons, one thirty-second through one-eighth ounce size, during autumn and throughout the winter. Replace the treble hook with a single, 6 or 8 sized long or short shanked hook for easy baiting and handling of fish. A simple way to change to a single hook is to cut two barbs from the treble hook. Drop hooks, made by tying a short piece of line between the hook and lure on these spoons, can sometimes help trigger bites. Lures are usually tied directly to the line, except when using slip-sinkers or bottom-walkers since the goal is to present the "right" size bait to the perch.
Live bait is a stand-by for perch fishing. Small minnows and insect larvae work well year-round. Minnows are the favorite bait for trolling or drift-fishing with spinner rigs and three-way rigs using lead-heads or other jig heads. Small minnows also work well when still-fishing in late autumn and winter. Nightcrawlers and small worms, although not as popular with anglers as minnows, are also effective at times while drift-fishing or trolling. They are usually rigged with a stinger or trailer hook. Insect larvae, mainly silver wigglers or maggots, are the most widely used bait for perch in natural lakes.
Wax worms, mousees and many grubs are also used during certain times. These baits have long shelf life compared to wigglers, which must be stored where it is cool. Crayfish meat is an excellent perch bait, particularly during the mid- and late summer months. Split the tail and roll the flesh out with the thumb to remove the meat.