Spinnerbaits primarily attract predatory fish, which makes the lure successful among bass fishing groups. The combination of flash and vibrations is precisely what makes spinnerbaits so effective as they appeal to both sight and hearing senses. They activate what is called the lateral line system, which is a special sense organ that enables fish to feel objects through the water at a distance. Whether pro anglers or leisure fishers, a spinnerbait is one of the most versatile kits in your bag.
Spinnerbaits have been around for a long time as the first patent was issued in 1964 to John Thomas. Amateur bass anglers can overlook the spinnerbaits for fear that the lure only attracts largemouth bass. In truth, spinnerbaits are versatile aplenty, suitable for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Here’s how to turn spinnerbait fishing for bass into a success.
What is a Spinnerbait?
A spinnerbait is one of the most versatile bass lures throughout history, as it can be fished almost throughout the year as long as the water doesn’t fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use this fishing lure in pretty much any body of water, regardless of depth and types of cover, as spinnerbaits are hyper-customizable. Anglers will prefer to keep spinnerbait fishing for shallow cover on warm days. But the multiple sizes, colors, and weight options allow you to find a spinnerbait lure for most situations. Spinnerbaits have great casting abilities because they can be adapted to fit most fishing needs.
The most popular types of spinnerbaits tend to safety pin lures, but you can also come across in-line spinners. In-line models use a metal blade that is attached by a c-shaped clevis to the wire. This model tends to lead to tangles and other line problems. Therefore, the safety-pin spinnerbaits are often preferred by both pros and amateurs. They consist of a lead head of varying weight that is attached to a wire framework, with flash spinner blades and a sharp hook. The spinnerbait imitates smooth and flowing motions and appears like a swimming baitfish to bass. As a contact lure, you’ll need to bump the spinnerbait against the structure to attract the attention of the fish.
Experienced anglers can buy molds and lead to create unique spinnerbait models. However, you can typically find everything you need in stores. There are several designs available for the safety-pin models, including:
- Short-arm design: The top wore arm is shortened in this model, best suited for dropping or off-ledge helicopter techniques;
- Long-arm design: The top arm length is lengthened. It is best used in grass and brushy cover;
- Twinspins design: This shape works best as a drop-bait or along the bottom of the water column.
Best Spinnerbait Setup
Spinnerbaits are highly effective by themselves due to the many variations of setups. Trailers can be helpful to add realism, like a squirmin’ trailer. You will need to tie your spinnerbait at the center of the wireframe, which is the eye of the lure.
These should be the basic spinnerbait setups in every angler’s arsenal.
A single or double Colorado blade spinnerbait: The Colorado blade is recognizable by its round and cupped surface, which can convey the most vibration and lift compared to any blade type. Spinnerbaits with Colorado blades are best suited for low visibility situations or when the bass is lethargic in cold water. Anglers like to cast it around flooded brush or on rover systems.
A tandem willowleaf and Colorado blade spinnerbait: The combination of blades brings together the unique vibration of the Colorado blade and the appealing flash of the willowleaf. Therefore, anglers suggest fishing this type of spinnerbait setup as a starting point when most situations when you are unsure what to use.
A double willowleaf blade spinnerbait: This setup brings the most flash with the least amount of thumbs, making it the perfect choice for clear water, submerged vegetation, and anywhere smallmouths are likely to swim. Paired with a heavy head of 3/4oz or more, the willowleaf blades are an excellent option for windy days.
You’ll typically need a 12 to 14 pounds fluorocarbon or monofilament line for medium to heavy lures. Small spinnerbaits work with a 6 pounds test line. Reel ratio varies depending on distance and retrieve, 5:1 for short distances and 6:1 for open water with fast retrieve. Anglers use a 200 to 300 reel size, depending on the weight. Typically, a medium to heavy action rod set for fast action with a 6’ to 7’ casting will do the trick.
How to Fish a Spinnerbait
Fishing a spinnerbait involved slow to medium retrieves depending on the preferred technique and the situation. Ideally, you want to experiment with techniques to master the five essential retrieve types.
- Buzz: This technique lets the blades break the surface to create a specific splashing noise. You’ll need to reel quickly while holding the rod tip high to create the effect. It’s best suited for murky and shallow water areas.
- Contact: Here, you should focus on knocking the spinnerbait against the structure, stump, grass or brush to slightly change the action and direction of the lure. To do this, you’ll need to cast past the target and retrieve the lure slowly to trigger a bite. Typically, it’s a technique best suited for vegetation cover, flat with wood targets and shallow creek.
- Helicopter: The helicopter creates a rotation of the blade as you let the spinnerbait sink to the bottom on a tight line. Use it in steep banks and ledges. Be prepared to reel up the slack as soon as the bait hits the bottom and raise the rod tip gently before letting it sink again.
- Slow roll: This technique cast toward shallow water in deep submerged areas and uses a slow retrieve that is just fast enough to let the blade turn. Pair with a heavy jig head to generate enough movements while sinking and swimming the bait.
- Wake: In murky and shallow water, the wake lets the spinnerbait rises to the surface with a slow and controlled retrieve that stops the blade from breaking through the water. You need to cast past a heavy cover with a raised rod tip and reel fast.
For deep bass fishing, anglers recommend experimenting with slow-rolling and fast-rolling while dropping the bait all the way to the bottom.
When to Fish a Spinnerbait
At this stage, it’s essential to understand the main difference between chatterbaits and spinnerbaits, as this will determine when you should use the different fishing lures. You’ll typically rely on spinnerbait fishing when the wind is blowing. Low-light days are great for spinnerbait fishing as the blades can gather all the attention you need. But you can also use spinnerbaits on sunny days as long as you focus on areas with thick covers where the bass hide.
Anglers prefer to use spinnerbaits as the water temperatures start to rise, as it’s when shad are found moving and active. Spring and summer are the best seasons, but you can carry on through fall as long as the water remains above 60 degrees.
Due to the nature of the fishing lure, we recommend focusing your attention on any type of structure where you can maximize contact in both shallow and deep water.
Spinnerbaits can be used in coves alongside main lakes and river areas where bass congregate. Coves can be as small as 10 feet in length and provide plenty of underwater covers. The water temperature is often warmer. Docks, and especially boa docks are a fantastic fishing spot as bass often wait for an ambush. You’ll often find largemouths in docks. Rocky structures, such as rocky shorelines, are one of the preferred habitats for bigger fish. Deeper points offer an excellent spot to practice slow roll.
Best Lure for Spinnerbait fishing
When fishing a spinnerbait, the most popular size range from 1/4oz to 3/4oz. This will depend on the number of blades you are using, the type of blade, the conditions, and the depth of the water.
Single blades work best in deep and clear water but paired with a heavy head, they can create plenty of resistance in murky water too. Tandem blades are best used for murky water or thick cover.
Colorado blades maximize vibrations. They are for sluggish fish in shallow water, in pre-spawn season, and for fishing deep. They can also be used at night.
Indiana blades are pear-shaped and add plenty of flash for little vibration. They’re best suited for active bass in clear to stained water.
Willowleaf blades are long and thin, making them the ideal choice for vegetation fishing. They pack a lot of flash and are a realistic baitfish imitator.
The choice of blade color is connected to the water and sky conditions. For instance, on sunny days, you want white blades for clear water and chartreuse and white for dirty water. Chartreuse blades also work on overcast days. Chartreuse paired with blue is a winning combo on overcast days to clear water. The muddier the water, the brighter your blades regardless of the sky, so you want to use bright yellow and green for low visibility.
We hope this little guide on spinnerbait fishing can help you get started and pick the best lure for your situation. Don’t be afraid to experiment with gaudy colors and techniques as bass can be temperamental too!