Lindy’s Darter is deadly on walleyes. But lifelong iceman and veteran guide Jon Thelen says the legendary darting, rattling hardbait is equally lethal on a variety of other species, including bluegills.

In fact, Darters are star performers in one of his wintertime strategies for quickly catching the biggest, baddest ’gills on the block.

“People tend to think small when it comes to bluegill baits,” he said. “It makes sense, given the relatively small size of a sunfish’s mouth compared to other predators. However, larger lures have their place in your presentations, too.”

Thelen, who crisscrosses the icepacks of Lindy Land filming Fish Ed TV each winter, reports that a 1 1/3-inch Lindy Darter is one of his top picks for putting big bluegills on ice.

“Color selection hinges on water clarity,” he said. “But flashy chromes and golds are good all-around choices.”

When darting bull bluegills, Thelen ties direct to 3- or 4-pound monofilament mainline, which is tough enough to handle the occasional accidental bass, pike or walleye. “Tip the trebles with waxworms or Eurolarvae, and drop the bait just above the level of the fish,” he advised.

Darter in the strike zone, Thelen executes a subtle lift-fall-pause-jiggle routine. “Curious sunfish slide in for a closer look,” he said. While the orneriest bulls may attack the lure itself, most fish are taken in by the secondary attraction of live bait jiggling seductively on the hooks.

“It’s a simple yet effective way to fish,” he added. “Just lift the lure about six feet, then let it swim back down on a slack line. Let the bait come to rest a little higher than the fish, hold the lure still a few seconds, and then jiggle the hooks with a back-and-forth motion of the rodtip — with slight up-and-down quiver for good measure.”

While Thelen’s bull-darting program may be the farthest thing from finesse, he said it’s hard to beat for busting the biggest sunfish in any given system.

Soft-Water Secrets Revealed

Lindy Rigging is one of the easiest, deadliest and most versatile ways ever devised to catch open-water walleyes. This weekend on Lindy’s acclaimed Fish Ed TV, host Jon Thelen reveals a boatload of guide-tested tips for using live bait and Lindy Rigs to trip the triggers of hungry walleyes cruising deep-water structure.

As a bonus, Jon also shares his favorite patterns for reeling in slab-sized, early summer bluegills after the fish leave their shallow-water spawning grounds.

Catch all the action this Saturday morning at 8:30 on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin.