Spinnerbaits: Basics, Tips, and Misconceptions

Spinnerbaits: Basics, Tips, and Misconceptions


To the uninformed eye, spinnerbaits may make you ask, how does this wired-skirted-hook thing catch bass? Well, a spinnerbait imitates a small pod or large individual baitfish swimming along even fleeing from bass. A spinnerbait consists of a roughly U-shaped wire with a weighted hook head covered by a skirt and the other end with blades that displaces water and emits flash, which appeals to two of bass’s senses, feeling and sight. Typically, ¼ to ¾ oz. spinnerbaits can cover any instance you would cast one. Blade amount, shape, and size are important. Spinnerbaits may be single bladed, dual bladed, even multiple blades. The more blades, greater water displacement and flash emitted. There are three main shapes of blades: Colorado, Willow, and Indiana. Colorado blades are short and wide blades that usually wobble and rotate slowly, they push a lot of water. These blades are good for cold-water when bass are lethargic but still hungry or very stained, muddy water were bass’s feeling is an important sense to appeal towards. Colorado blades are also ideal for night fishing because they move a lot of water. Willow blades are long and thin much like the leaf of a willow tree. These blades rotate faster and more smoothly, meaning they are good in situations when a flashy, fast moving spinnerbait is needed. These blades are ideal in clear, fast moving water. Such as current and when the water surface is disturbed by wind. Lastly, Indiana blades is somewhat of a hybrid between a Colorado and Willow blade, Indiana blades often have pitting or indentations on the blade surface and are large. These blades are best for times when a spinnerbait is required but maybe something slightly different from what the bass have been exposed to like on a highly pressured lake. The larger the blade the more water it will push and flashier it will be if gold, silver, or any shiny color. The skirt on a spinnerbait is another feature that will attract bass by sight. Usually, the majority or whole skirt is one color matching the weighted hook head. White and chartreuse are common colors with some skirts featuring schemes to look like actual prey such as golden shiners, shad, minnows, crawfish etc. The clearer the water, the louder or brightly colored spinnerbait should be. The darker or more stained the duller or more natural the color the spinnerbait should be. Think, “Match the hatch.” A good rule of thumb is to choose a spinnerbait that resembles the baitfish on the water body you are fishing. A 3/8 oz. tandem blade spinnerbait is a good size spinnerbait to start with. Tandem blade means two different blade shapes are on one spinnerbait.


Since a spinnerbait mimics swimming baitfish it is best to throw this bait when the bass are active if not visually feeding. Spinnerbaits are mostly thrown in 10 feet of water or less, often shallower than that like two to five feet. Spinnerbaits are virtually “weedless” or are not as prone to being caught on cover you are throwing in and around even though they have an exposed hook. Spinnerbaits are good to throw when a water body like a river or reservoir has current or when there is some water movement like wind and waves on a lake. Try to throw at visual or known junk under the water surface like lily pads, hydrilla, docks, maidencaine grass, logs, stumps, lay downs, rocks etc. You want to pull the spinnerbait through, around, and over this type structure and weed. Spinnerbaits are also a great search bait to throw in open water in order to find schooling fish or locate bass. In regards to retrieve and cadence, a spinnerbait is retrieved at normal to burning speeds unless you are slow rolling it in deep or very cold water. Most spinnerbaits run at a few feet underwater with a moderate retrieve but this can be changed with different line diameter, retrieves, and weight. Cadence may be every few reel handle turns you jerk your rod tip or pause reeling, a change in motion is often when a bite comes. However, a steady retrieve works well too. Your rod should be facing downward, close to the water and the rod tip facing the spinnerbait moving in the water. This orientation is so you have plenty of room to set the hook. A hookset is usually to one’s side depending on comfort but straight up is not wrong either. Experiment hooksets to become comfortable. With that, spinnerbaits are not as difficult to set the hook as other lures, it is moving bait that bass bites and tries to swim with. The bite is usually not light or faint. You will likely feel it. Spinnerbaits are best thrown in the springtime before and after bass spawning, windy days in the summer, even the cool days in fall and after. A spinnerbait is typically casted on nothing less than a six-to-seven foot medium to heavy weight fast action rod. No lighter than 10-pound test line, however, the recommendations right on your rod and the weight of the spinnerbait can figure this. In short, throw a spinnerbait in moving water with active bass or as a means to locate the fish. Maybe try putting a trailer such as a swimbait or paddle-tail worm on the hook for extra attraction.


There are a few misconceptions associated with spinnerbaits. For instance, it is strictly shallow water bait. The previous statement is not true. Spinnerbaits are in fact more versatile than one may think. They are underused deep, open water baits that can produce bass catches with practice and locating fish. They are good to throw on deep main lake points, over brush piles, submerged logs, etc. You should try casting a spinnerbait where anglers would likely throw crankbaits, jerk baits, jigs, swimbaits, or worms in that deeper water even at suspended bass. If you can make yourself let a heavy weight spinnerbait sink to the bottom then retrieve in deep water often reserved for other baits, the payoff can be big. You can slow roll the bait on the bottom or work it very violently like a Texas-rigged worm to the point where the blades spin. Another, probably controversial misconception is to have a trailer hook on all of your spinnerbaits. In weedy water, the trailer hook will probably pick up extra weeds that can kill the action of the spinnerbait. Alternatively, it can become stuck easier around wood, brush areas and docks. Bites on spinnerbaits are typically by larger, committed fish that are likely going to really bite the bait so a trailer hook may simply be cheap insurance or not necessary. Granted a trailer hook may be added comfort for you and likely boosts your confidence, it could help you in the mental and opinionated game, bass fishing. Play with different spinnerbaits in varying waters and structures or weeds to see what works for you.

Written by:
Luke Lewis
Team Lunkerbrag angler of Central Florida
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