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Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple
The classic design makes this fluttering lure a proven fish catcher.
Best for Perch and Walleye
Salmo Chubby Darter
The original wobble lure for perch and walleye, it gives a wide-ranging, erratic action under the ice.
Best for Yellow Perch
Rapala Jigging Rap
The bait has a cool flutter action that can dart erratically around under the ice to create a larger strike zone.
While there are a lot of different baits that work well for catching perch in the winter, if you want the best shot at catching your limit, you’ll need some quality ice fishing lures for perch in your tackle box. One of the most targeted species, perch are a fun fish to catch and one of, if not the best-tasting fish to have on the table at the end of the day. And as an added bonus, many of these lures also work pretty well for catching the perch’s cousin, walleye. Winner, winner, fried fish dinner! Below are the best ice fishing lures for perch that any ice angler should stock up on this season.
Best Overall: Bay de Noc Swedish PimpleBest for Perch and Walleye: Salmo Chubby Darter Best for Yellow Perch: Rapala Jigging RapBest for Jumbo Perch: Acme Google Eye Hyper Rip Jig Best for Live Bait: Lindy Perch TalkerBest for Overcast Days: Clam Leech Flutter SpoonBest for Night Fishing: Northland Fishing Tackle Glo-Shot Stick
The author is from northern Michigan and has been ice fishing for decades on water across much of North America, so he started this article from a position of experience having tested and reviewed many of the ice fishing lures for perch and other fish.
We also took into account user reviews on consumer sites like Amazon, Cabela’s, and more. These are important because we realize that not everyone uses equipment the same way we do. Not everyone fishes the same way as others, so picking the best reel is quite subjective. Pick the best features for you and what just looks like it’ll catch a perch to you, set your budget, and go from there. Good fishing!
Best Ice Fishing Lures for Perch: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple
Why It Made the Cut: The classic design makes this fluttering lure a proven fish catcher.
Style: Jigging spoonSeason: Year roundLive Bait: Can be tipped with minnow
Catches perch, walleye, pike, and moreFluttering actionCan be tipped with a minnowWorks anywhere
Takes some practice
The Swedish Pimple is a classic bait developed by old-school ice anglers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and it is widely considered to be one of the best baits ever developed for fishing. The Pimple has a sweet, fluttering action that mimics wounded bait fish. Perch and walleye find it irresistible and if the bite is slow, you can tip it with a minnow. This is a go-to bait for so many anglers, and if you want to catch your limit, you will likely end up with a Pimple on your rod at some point. Getting the flutter just right takes a little practice, but it’s a very easy lure to master. Get some of the shiny metallic colors, as well as the glow for night fishing. Keep in mind that the bigger Swedish Pimples can work well for catching bigger perch, and they are killer on walleye, too.
Best for Perch and Walleye: Salmo Chubby Darter
Why It Made the Cut: The original wobble lure for perch and walleye, it gives a wide-ranging, erratic action under the ice.
Style: Wobble jigSeason: WinterLive Bait: No
Erratic actionCovers a wide swath under the iceWorks for all aggressive fish
Takes some practice
The Salmo Chubby Darter is a classic bait that works out into a wide path under your hole to cover more water. The wobbling action gives off a disoriented baitfish vibe to any hungry predator swimming around. While these are a classic walleye lure, they are extremely effective for perch, too, especially in the smaller lure sizes. They are made from a sealed foam body that gives it a very slow drop and the body shape gives it the action that is hard to beat for slow bites. It has a strong kick-out when you lift your rod tip, which can result in a strike from a predator. These are a lot of fun to fish when you have fish under you, but the bite may be slower than you’d like.
Best for Yellow Perch: Rapala Jigging Rap
Why It Made the Cut: The bait has a cool flutter action that can dart erratically around under the ice to create a larger strike zone.
Style: Jigging minnowSeason: Year roundLive Bait: Can be tipped with minnow
Erratic actionFront hook for head-on strikesWide range of patterns
Can be overfished
The Rapala Jigging Rap is another of those classic baits that every angler should have with them when they venture out onto the ice after perch. These lures work really well when you have active fish under your hole, thanks to the flutter action. There is a front hook off the nose of the bait that helps with hooksets from a front strike, which is something perch and walleye are known for. You can grab these lures in a wide range of sizes and colors, with the smaller being just over an inch, up to over three inches for chasing bigger fish species. For perch, I am a big fan of the 1-½ inch size in natural patterns for clear water. I have found that if you get too aggressive with the jigging, these lures can slow down the bite, so be aware of that.
Best for Jumbo Perch: Acme Google Eye Hyper Rip Jig
Why It Made the Cut: The Acme is a bigger bait, but with a cool action on the drop.
Style: Wiggle jigSeason: WinterLive Bait: Can be tipped with a minnow
Designed for a flutter on the drop downLots of vibrationRocking action when jigged
Larger size can spook smaller fish
The Google Eye has a hole in the tail area that makes this bait really flutter when dropped down. This can bring in strikes from fish based on instinct alone. When you add in the rocking motion from jigging and the vibration levels, you’ve got a bait that will catch fish when the bite is slow. The only real downside to this lure is the size. It is two inches long, so smaller perch might be a little intimidated by it. But with perch being the gluttons they are, it is just the right size for the bigger perch you want for the frying pan. This is a good bait to have with you when the changing weather conditions screw with the bite.
Best for Live Bait: Lindy Perch Talker
Why It Made the Cut: Turn on the bite fast with this rig, which will help you get on the biggest perch in the school.
Style: Live bait jigSeason: WinterLive Bait: Yes, minnows
Flash, rattle, and baitBrings in fish from distancesWorks well with walleye, too
Best with minnows
Many anglers consider this to be the secret weapon for bringing fish to their hole. It has the rattle and flash to attract fish, and when tipped with a minnow, offers the food source the perch are looking for. When used right, these set-ups have been known to pull a school of perch away from another angler’s ice hole. The hook is set away from the lure part of the bait. The quick, short jigging action helps with water displacement. When the fish come in, you can expect to catch them as soon as you drop the bait down the hole.
Best for Overcast Days: Clam Leech Flutter Spoon
Why It Made the Cut: With a similar action to the Pimple, the Clam Leech jigging spoon has a bit more flutter.
Style: Jigging spoonSeason: WinterLive Bait: Can be tipped with a minnow
Made from lightweight zinc alloyHas a distinct fluttering action like a moving leechBright colors produce fish on dark days and nights
Takes a little practice to master
These jigging spoons have a slight flutter on the downfall of the drop, but will jut out erratically on the jig, giving them an irresistible, natural action that perch and walleye will find hard to pass up. The light zinc-alloy body gives the lure a different fall rate than other spoons, adding to the attraction. I like the glow colors and find these to be effective perch lures for overcast days when there is a weather system moving in. In fact, I had a particularly great day fishing the green-glow color while a fresh winter storm was working toward my lake from the northwest in February. I was rewarded with a full limit of nice yellow perch in under two hours.
Best for Night Fishing: Northland Fishing Tackle Glo-Shot Stick
Why It Made the Cut: The illumination of this attachment will make the perch see the light—and then the frying pan.
Style: AttractantSeason: AnyLive Bait: N/A
Draws fish in when it is darkWorks with any jig or spoonThree color options
While not a lure in itself, adding a glow stick to your jig can bring fish to you while fishing at night, or under really overcast skies. While these work exceptionally well with the Northland Glo-Shot Spoon, these can be used with just about any jig, spoon, or other ice fishing lure to draw in fish. When perch are holding deep and not really biting all that well, these can make a huge difference and many hard-water anglers consider them to be a secret weapon. The biggest downfall is that they are disposable and will only last for about 8 hours. The plus side, however, is that you should be done catching fish and be ready to go home for dinner well before those 8 hours are up.
Things to Consider Before Buying Ice Fishing Lures for Perch
I’ll be honest and tell you right up front that while you need to have these perch fishing lures in your tackle box this winter, you’re still going to catch more fish with live bait than you will with a lure. It’s a fact of fishing that can’t be overlooked. Live bait will catch more perch every time. So why do you need these ice fishing lures for perch and other game fish? It’s simple: for those times when live bait isn’t working.
We’ve all been there. You drill your hole, check your depth, and can even see fish under you with your electronics. There are a number of factors that can spoil the bite. Maybe there is a front moving in, or perhaps there is just too much commotion up top. Remember that ice acts like a big amplifier for the fish. Or even still, maybe they’re full. Who knows? There are many things that can shut down a bite. That’s when you want to switch to trying the lures we have here. The proper use of a lure can trigger a bite when things are slow. And if you run out of live bait, lures can work then, too. Be subtle and try things slowly at first.
Q: What is the best bait for perch ice fishing?
The best bait for perch fishing will always be live minnows first and foremost. You’re simply going to catch more fish this way. Using live bait combined with the right lures, like a Swedish Pimple, will help produce more and bigger fish. Emergent insects can produce later in the season, too. Things like helgramites can be effective as the ice season tails off.
Q: How do you attract perch while ice fishing?
You can attract perch to your hole with vibration, flash, and water displacement. Sound travels differently under the ice than it does in open water, so a little goes a long way. The right amount of vibration and such can draw fish right to you, especially when there is a hungry school of perch on the move. Light can also be extremely effective at night, so a glow lure can help bring them in.
Q: What color lure is best for perch?
Lure color depends upon the water clarity and time of year. Clear water means natural patterns, so metallics will work better. Cloudy water calls for bright, glowing colors.
Q: What lure should I use for perch?
There are several lures you should have for perch fishing under the ice, but if I had to pick only one, I’d want a Swedish Pimple first.
Q: How do you catch perch in the winter?
Perch move around as the winter progresses. As the weed cover along the bottom dies down, yellow perch move with it, switching forage sources. Minnows and shad are big sources early on, but they switch to insects and invertebrates as the season moves on. Look for deeper water with vegetation in the early weeks and cover areas near mud flats later in the year.
While a flasher or other electronics are a great tool for finding fish, I switched to a Garmin LiveScope Plus last year and haven’t looked back. My wife said it’s almost unfair as I can basically see everything under the water, but I like it that way. (I just hope she never finds out how much I actually paid for it.)
Want to know what bait or lure to use? One trick I learned a few years back is to filet a fish out on the ice early on to see what it was eating. That’ll tell you right away. Just be sure you include it in your total catch for the day. That is a key tip to catching a mess of jumbo perch.
Ice fishing for perch is one of the most fun fishing activities during the winter months. When you get into a mess of perch, the fishing is fast and fun. It may just be my opinion, but I also find that they taste better during the winter months—and that’s saying something, as perch tend to be the best tasting fresh-water fish out there. Don’t be afraid to move around and try new things to stay on the fish, too. You will be rewarded with a limit of tasty table fare and a big smile across your face. The first time I ever really caught perch was through a hole in the ice, and I’ve been hooked ever since.