Bass have been massacring spinnerbaits since people were fishing with a stick and a piece of string. Anglers often sleep on them for a more modern alternative like swimbaits or chatterbaits. But I also see people making huge mistakes with these bladed jigs. A spinnerbait should not be something you can open out of the package and go right to fishing. These bladed jigs are like an antique car; you need to tune them, dial em in, keep em polished, and if you do that you’ll add years of use on to each bait. I will cover technique to use for spinnerbaits in an upcoming blog but use this information to set yourself up for spinnerbait success out on the water.
First thing’s first, a brand new out of the package spinnerbait should run in a straight line. Any imperfections in the wire will cause the bait to tilt or veer off in one direction. Keep a close eye on your wire, check it after snags, bites, and after keeping it in storage. You can also carefully ben the wire to change how the bait acts in the water. I typically recommend changing blades to speed up or slow down your spinnerbait (which we’ll get to in a bit) but if you need an on-the-spot modification you can bend the wire out, which increases drag and slows down retrieval speed, or pinch the wire in, lessening drag and and allowing you to speed up your retrieval without the bait rising up to the surface.
There are also a few things you can do to save you wire from being mangled the first time you swing on a bass. First, always tie your line directly to the wire, any kind of swivel will slide around over time which will royally screw up your action, and significantly shorten the life of your baits. A complaint I get all the time at Bass Pro is fisherman having trouble with their knot slipping up and down the wire due to the fact the majority of spinnerbaits have open eyelets. I can not stress enough the importance of modifying every spinnerbait in your box so it’s impossible for your know to slip. If a bass strikes it while your knot is out of place you will not be able to get a strong enough hookset to penetrate the bass’s mouth, and most likely will completely mangle your lure. There are plenty of cheap and easy ways to do this.
One option is to buy some O-Rings typically used for the Wacky Rig and fasten em to the bottom of the R-shaped bend as seen in the photo. Dental rubber bands used for braces also work perfectly fine. A more secure route is to buy heat-shrink tubing and shrink it to the spinnerbait eye. And in times of deep desperation; bite the top off of a plastic worm and force it over the eye will hold down the fort until you get off the water. Possibly the most polarizing topic in the entire sport of bass fishing is whether or not to fish a spinnerbait with a trailer hook. I know fisherman that put trailer hooks on their trailer hooks that are dragging two treble hooks, and I know guys that would rather never spinnerbait fish again than put on an extra hook. It really is just a preference thing. I can tell you the pros and cons of both as well as what I use, but it’s all preference.
A trailer hook is a round bend hook with eye rotated 90 degrees to run directly behind your normal spinnerbait hook. Once again you’re going to want some sort of tubing to secure the hook doesn’t slide off. Trailer hook enthusiasts will flaunt their incredible hook up ratio in front of their opposition, but in most cases it acts as insurance. The majority of the time you’ll reel a fish in hooked by both hooks. However, I’ve read plenty of stories of fisherman hooking trophy bass only by the trailer- meaning without it they would’ve lost a bass of a lifetime. The big biggest downside to fishing with a trailer hook is you snag on virtually everything that your bait passes. The trailer took is loose, allowing it to swing freely, which is ideal for getting an extra hook into a striking bass, but a nightmare when coming through almost all types of cover.
The biggest benefit to fishing spinnerbaits with their natural hooks is it allows you to work areas that can’t be worked by baits with a trailer hook. This is a massive advantage because you can present spinnerbaits to fish that never see them. The chances are when your blades come whizzing by any bass in that cover will massacre your bait. It won’t guarantee a bass in the boat but it comes damn near close. For that reason alone I never throw trailer hooks. I fish a lot of pads and weedy areas, places where most fisherman wouldn’t think a spinnerbait would come through, but as the blades spin they essentially move potential snags away from the hook making it surprisingly weedless. If you fish around any pads, tie on a spinnerbait, throw to the far side of a patch of lily pads, and bring those blades right through, and prepare to buy another spinnerbait for when it gets annihilated. I see way too many customers walking to check-out with a pile of spinnerbaits spilling out of their arms. You don’t need anything over 4-5 spinnerbaits. Ever. If you are new to spinnerbait fishing or you have a few at home, purchase a few different colors and weights, and then invest in blades. Let’s start with blade colors because they can be the difference between a handful of fish or a boat full. Three colors of blades will cover you for every water clarity you’ll come across; Silver, Gold, and Copper. Silver blades are my go to for clear water, typically around 8 feet or more of visibility is where you see the best results. Silver is the most natural of the three colors and gives off realistic looking flash similar to the sun shining off of baitfish scales. On the opposite end of the spectrum is gold which gives off less flash than silver, but stand out better in murkier waters. Finally, copper is a color I throw the least but is something to keep in mind when fish are a little different, or in stained waters (in the middle between murky and clear). The next choice you have to make is what kind of blade to choose; Willow-Leaf blades or Willow blades, Indiana blades, or Colorado blades.
Willow blades are the longest blades with rounded edges and a pointed tip. Their shape gives off the most flash and the least amount of vibration. They also put the least amount of drag on the spinnerbait which means you can run your spinnerbait the fastest using willow blades. Use these blades in clear water and on sunny days, or when the fish are aggressive and you want to really burn that spinnerbait across the top of the water column (in this instance I do recommend a trailer hook, you will get a lot of short strikes). The last time I would definitively tell you to go with willow blades is if your fishery has a lot of shad, always throw willow blades. For some reason, double willow blades just best imitates the swimming pattern of schooling shad, the other blades seem to be too much vibration.
Colorado blades are completely opposite of willows. They are short and rounded and give off the most vibration. This will keep your bait running a little slower and further down in the water column than if you had used willows. Colorado blades are great in murkier waters or on real windy days, where fish use their lateral lines to find their prey over their vision. A bass’s lateral lines run along the sides of their body and it helps them hone in on baitfish and feel water displacement. Similar to this, a black spinnerbait with Colorado blades is a must-have for night fishing! Rule of thumb: if you think they’re having trouble seeing it; use a Colorado. Indiana blades are supposed to be somewhere in between but I almost never throw them, nor do I throw a spinnerbait that has two types of blades on it. The reason is based on what conditions and water clarity I am faced with, I often find myself wanting lots of flash, or lots of vibration. By using Indiana blades I am getting the both, but I get both with all types of blades. Essentially, the Indiana blade is the best at not specializing in either. Spinnerbaits are one of the oldest, yet one of the most reliable lures in all of bass fishing. They can be fished in virtually all levels of the water column, in all conditions, and in whatever water clarity your lakes have. I’ll get more in depth as to how to fish them and what rods and reels you should be using in a separate blog, but for now just get the baits themselves all locked and loaded for you to yank out piles of fish.