Spring is prime time for sunfish and crappies, and central Minnesota panfish fanatic Paul Fournier expects the next week to provide particularly fast action.

“With the warm weather in the forecast, we’re on the cusp of some of the best panfish action of the spring,” he predicted. “The next five to seven days should be great.”

Lindy’s Little Nipper is one of Fournier’s favorite lures for the spring fling. He fishes the hand-tied, feather-dressed jig deep, shallow and everywhere in between.

“A Little Nipper is deadly along the bank,” he said. “Fish it a foot to 18 inches below a small Thill Wobble Bobber or Crappie Cork. I prefer the 1/64-ounce option in shallow water, for the soft, natural fall it produces both when you jig it and when it first hits the water.”

For sluggish panzers in cool water, Fournier recommends a slow presentation. “Twitch the jig, then let it sit with long pauses, just like a jerkbait,” he said. “As the water warms, you can get away with more aggressive, slow-rolling retrieves.”

When cold fronts force panfish from the shallows, Fournier uses sonar to locate schools of fish hovering along the deep weedline or first break. “Then I vertically fish a Little Nipper or twitch it below a float for a slight jigging motion,” he said.

Deep or shallow, he advises using fresh, light line that won’t kink or coil. “Using a small swivel a short distance above the jig helps keep the lure from spinning, which panfish don’t like,” he added.

As for colors, Fournier likes bright patterns on bright days and dark colors under cloudy skies. “All Little Nipper colors catch fish,” he said. “But the fluorescents are top all-around picks for crappies and bluegills, while white, pink and black are solid pure-crappie choices. Orange and chartreuse is usually a strong sunfish color. If you’re fishing with a couple other people, have everyone try a different color until you dial in what the fish prefer.”

While Little Nippers can be killers solo, Fournier often sweetens the pot with live bait or soft-plastic tippings. “A lot of times I tip with a waxworm, chunk of ‘crawler or a small crappie minnow,” he said. “Threading a small plastic on the hook is another great way to add bulk and slow the fall rate.”