By Paul Reinbold
Spinnerbaits have been among the most popular bass lures for decades, and I have used them for many years. They are probably my most favorite bait to use during a tournament. The reason why I like them so much is simple; they catch fish day in and day out. In this article I am going to give you a crash course on how to select and use your spinnerbait properly.
For starters I would like to talk about choosing the right blade style for the right water condition. There are a number of different types of blade shapes out there on the market but I am going to focus on the three most popular blade shapes. The first one is the willow blade. This type of blade is shaped just like a leaf from a willow tree. This is the most popular blade style used across the country. The willow leaf blade puts out a lot of flash under the water. This mimics a school of shad or other types of bait fish swimming in the water. Even though this blade style puts a lot of flash in the water it doesn’t have a high percentage of vibration output in the water compared to other blades.
When I am fishing ultra clear water lakes I like to use a spinnerbait that has willow leaf shaped blades on it. The reason why is because in clear water lakes bass tend to be more shy and spooky to a lure that puts out a great amount of vibration. Using bigger or smaller willow leaf spinnerbaits can be very important as well. For an example, last spring I was fishing a creek channel where some bedding bass were sitting on some nests. The water was clear and every time I reeled my spinnerbait by the bass they would just swim away from it. So I put on another spinnerbait with smaller blades on it and after the first cast I was able to put many fish in the boat. The reason why this worked was because with the smaller blades the spinnerbait put out less vibration in the water. This didn’t spook the bass as much as the previous spinnerbait. Another benefit that a willow leaf has is that it can be fished slow or fast. These blades don’t have near as much drag to them compared to others. Blades that have a lot of drag to them tend to cause the spinnerbait to rise up.
The next style of blade that is popular for muddy or stained water is the Colorado blade. This blade is rounded and heavily cupped that creates maximum vibration and minimum flash. Bass feel this blade going through the water rather than seeing it, and since muddy water impairs a bass’ vision this type of blade works best. A Spinnerbait with Colorado blades also work great for fishing structures or shorelines that drop into deep water, because they spin when they are dropping. Colorado blades also have a lot of drag to them when they are being pulled in the water. This causes the spinnerbait to rise up to the top. So when you are fishing these types of spinnerbaits you will need to slow down to keep it in the strike zone. This is very important in muddy water because it will take bass a little longer to find the bait in muddy water compared to bait in clear water.
The third and final most popular blade style to use when fishing a spinnerbait is an Indiana blade. They have a willow leaf shape to them on the ends, but a Colorado shape to them in the middle. This gives them a teardrop shape. This type of blade gives the spinnerbait a good combination of thumping vibration and flash. It also is very versatile when fishing it a different speeds. You can reel it a little faster than a Colorado spinnerbait and still get great vibration out of it. The same rules apply to these blades as the other two. If you want to fish the bait slow with a lot of vibration use bigger blades. If the fish are more active and you want to fish it faster towards the top of the water column use smaller blades. Remember each style and size of any of these three blades have different flash, vibration, and drag to them.
One other thing that I would like to cover about using different types of blades is when to use colored blades or metal blades. When I am fishing a clear lake on a sunny day I like to use silver blades. Silver blades in these conditions give out the most flash compared to a gold or colored blade. In stained water I like to use gold blades because they give out a better flash in the water. When I am fishing during low light conditions such as a cloudy gloomy day I like to use a painted blade. Either a white or chartreuse color seems to work best. The reason why is because painted blades don’t flash. Instead they strobe like a blue light on a police car, this gives it a more natural look.
The next important aspect of a spinnerbait that I would like to talk about is the different kinds of skirts. When spinnerbaits were first produced they were made with a rubber skirting around them. This gave the spinnerbait a bouncy and lively look to them when reeled through the water. The only problem with rubber skirts was that they tended to melt to each other and other plastic lures in the tackle box on hot days. So then lure companies came up with a solution that is still the best today. They sell their spinnerbaits with a silicone skirt; these skirts do not melt at all. But, perhaps the most important factor about these skirts is they give a more lively swimming action to the spinnerbait compared to rubber skirts. Another great feature about silicone skirts is they can be produced in translucent colors, which are highly effective in clear water.
Since we are on the topic about skirts, I would like to take the time to share some of most favorite skirt colors among pro fisherman. The first and far most favorite skirt color is a chartreuse and white skirt. Bass love chartreuse colors as well as white colors, and for that reason this is probably the best color to use. It also works well when fishing in lakes where crappies are present. This skirt color will represent a small crappie very well. The next favorite color is a white or shad colored spinnerbait with a few strands of silver mix into them. This represents a school of bait fish very well. It is one of my favorites to use in the spring and fall when bass are primarily feeding on baitfish. Which is another important factor to figure in when choosing the right color? Match your skirt color to the forage in the lake that you are fishing. For an example, if you are fishing a lake with perch being the primary forage using a fire tiger colored skirt would be your best bet.
The next component of a spinnerbait that I would like to talk about is the wire shaft. This isn’t a real big factor for anglers to worry about but if you’re in a tournament and are looking for an edge this next tip is for you. If you want a spinnerbait that can give out extra vibration, use one with a thinner wire. Thin wired spinnerbaits will give out more vibration compare to a spinnerbait with thicker wire. If you are looking for a more quiet approach use a spinnerbait with thicker wire.
When using a spinnerbait there are many different ways that you can retrieve them. My personal favorite is a steady retrieve that keeps the bait about three feet below the water surface. This works well for suspending bass off of structure. When the water warms up in the summer I like to use a faster retrieve that keeps the bait running just under the surface of the water. Basically burning to where the blades are still turning but not coming out and splashing on the water. This technique works great for smallmouth. A stop and go retrieve works real well when the fish are a little sluggish or gun shy of biting. If you are getting a few hits on a spinnerbait but can’t hook them, use this type of retrieve. Bass just love when a lure falls back down towards them; this is usually when they will hit it. Finally a slow roll retrieve works best during the early spring and late fall. It also works real well on a cold spring or summer day.
Well that’s all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed this and learned some new things about these great artificial baits. If you have and questions or comments please feel free to email me.
-Badlands Bass Bandits President