Bream Fishing & How to Catch Them | Great Days Outdoors

For the most fun when bream fishing, light artificial gear just can’t be beat


My ultralight spinning rod is bent in a deep bow. The big dark bream on the end of the line just doesn’t seem eager to come in to my hand. He uses his broad sides and tail to fight hard against the line pressure.

When I finally get the big spawning bluegill within reach, I drop the heavy fish into the bucket of previously caught bream. There’s a fish fry in my immediate future.

I put down the spinning gear and pick up my 4-weight fly rod with a ragged, scarred, totally beat up looking popping bug tied to the end of the leader. I false cast a couple of times and then let the fly line shoot out over the water to the vicinity where I know plenty of aggressive bream are bedding.

When the bug lands on the smooth surface, I let the poor beat up bug rest for a few moments. I decide to start the slow retrieve, but someone else decides to move the bug for me. There’s a small disruption below the bug. Then, my line suddenly goes very tight as another big bream protests against the sting of the hook.


If there’s anything much more fun than catching big, mean bream on light tackle, I’ve never found it yet. When those bream are cleaned, rolled in cornmeal and fried right, there’s not much better eating, either.


Easy to Use and Ultra-Effective

The one fishing rig that never is left behind when I drive off in my truck is a 5.5-foot ultralight spinning rod. A good quality ultralight reel loaded with 6-pound-test monofilament line completes the rig.

With this little lightweight rig, I’m ready to fish small waters at any time. This lightweight rig that always goes with me can cast a tiny lure intended for bream a long way. Casts of 30 to 40 yards are needed quite often.

Although bream lures can be used on heavy gear, the tiny lures work so much better on line and rigs suited for the lightweight baits. It’s hard to cast a lightweight lure a long way if the line is too heavy.

By the way, one of the most common comments made by anglers concerning lightweight rods and reels for bream concerns what happens when a big bass takes an ultralight lure intended for bream. If the 6-pound-test is solid, surprisingly large bass can be landed – with luck, of course. Last spring on one of my favorite big bream lakes, I hooked and caught a 6-pound bass that took my tiny little bream lure. I had to play this old girl carefully, but my ultralight rig did its work well.


Another advantage of gearing down for better bream fishing – the cost! An angler can put together a really good top-of-the-line ultralight spinning rod and reel for less than $75.


Photo by Ed Mashburn


A Wide Range of Fish Catchers


One of my favorite lures for big bluegills and redear sunfish, better known as shellcrackers, is a tiny crankbait. Many lure makers have started to produce ultralight crankbaits in a wide range of colors, designs and depth of run that are made to catch bream.

Rebel Lures makes a range of ultralight lures in minnow, insect, and my favorite, crawfish patterns that are deadly on big bream. These little lures have a very seductive wiggle on retrieve. The best retrieve for big bream in most cases is just to reel very slowly and steadily.

The thing I like best about these little crankbaits is that they can be used in a wide range of applications. Since they float at rest, these little crankbaits are very effective topwater lures. When a good bream bed is located, a tiny crankbait should be cast over the bed. Then, just allow it to sit motionless. There’s something about a tiny floating object that tempts big bream to slowly rise up and smash it. When a big bluegill rolls up on a floating crankbait, it’s just a whole lot of fun.



Bass anglers often have bluegills strike their big bass spinners. Although this can be frustrating for the bass anglers, it helps point us bream folks in a good direction.

Big bream love to eat spinners that are slowly retrieved near them. Bream are not particularly selective as to type. Both in-line and safety-pin spinners are good bream medicine. If these spinners are small enough, the bream have no trouble getting the lures into their little mouths.

Also, pulling a spinner along the bottom just fast enough to make the blade flicker is a great way to come in close contact with some massive redear bream. The biggest redear bream I ever caught came on a bass-sized spinnerbait that I was working for bedding bass. This redear was well over two pounds and gave me a better fight than the 5-pound bass I later caught on the same lure.


Soft plastics

Now, we’re getting serious about catching some big bream. Bream cannot resist a tiny soft plastic grub pinned to a 1/8- to 1/16-ounce jighead. Pitch this little rig into a bream bed and hold on tight. Even this lightweight lure casts well on a properly sized ultralight rod and reel and 6-pound-test line. Bream will absolutely devour a little grub or worm on a jighead.

A new “soft plastic” lure that is deadly on big bream is a product made by Berkley, the Powerbait Honey Worm. Originally intended for trout, these lures are not plastic, but they are very soft and infused with scent. Thread one of these little worm-shaped scented lures on a bream hook and fish it like a real red worm. The bream will swarm on the fake worm. These fake worms are very tough and the worms last a long time for multiple fish.


The Ultimate Bream Fun

My favorite way to catch big bream is with the long rod. Fly fishing for big bream is just about the most fun way to catch a mess for supper.

I use my old 5-weight, 9-foot long fly rod for most bream fishing situations. With a 9-foot long leader of straight 6-pound monofilament, I can put a popping bug or underwater fly pretty close to where I want it.

There’s no reason to spend a great deal of money on a bream fly rod setup. For well less than $100, an angler can buy a perfectly suitable fly rod, fly line and reel combination. Some very good fly rig combinations can be found at Bass Pro Shops and other major fishing tackle outlets. Smaller local bait and tackle stores often have bream-sized fly rigs to offer at very good prices.


Photo by Ed Mashburn



The classic bream fly is a small popping bug. Tons of big bream have been taken on poppers. Day in day out, there’s no more effective way to catch big bream.

Colors for big bream aren’t important in most cases. I use any popper color as long as it is yellow. For whatever reason, yellow poppers are deadly on big bedding bream. I have had good results on cloudy days or very early or late with black poppers, too.

Bream respond eagerly to a wide range of underwater flies, too. Sinking flies don’t have to be perfectly made. As long as they look “buggy,” bream will gladly eat them.

The best way to fish either popper or sinking flies is the simplest. Cast the fly out and let it rest. The popper will sit there and the sinking fly will slowly drift toward the bottom. There will be no doubt when a big bream takes a popper, but anglers will need to watch the leader for sinking flies taken by bream. If the leader twitches even a little bit, set the hook. Quite often, the biggest bream will show the gentlest bite on sinking flies.


Time to Go Light for Heavyweight Bream

Whether we choose to use a light spinning rig or a fly rod, there’s just no better way to catch a mess of bream. Along with producing lots of bream, using this lightweight gear also is very good training and skill development for heavier gear and bigger fish.

There’s no better way to get ready for lunker bass fishing or even coastal saltwater fishing for big redfish than a few trips to the local bream pond. If we can catch bream on properly sized gear, we can almost always use the same skills on bigger game fish.

Of course, there’s just simply no better way to spend a great day outdoors than catching bream. It’s big time fun.

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