Spinnerbaits for bass fishing are probably the most versatile fishing lure in your tackle bag. They can be fished any number of ways in any number of conditions. Bass spinnerbaits have been around for a long time, and they have won more bass fishing tournaments than any other bait. Actually, the spinnerbait setup played a big role in the first six Bassmaster Classics. But today most pro anglers, and even weekend bass fishermen, don't use them anymore. To get them back on your line, here is a complete spinnerbait 101 guide.
The Evolution of Spinnerbaits for Bass Fishing
The bass spinnerbait setup has been around for decades. The first patent for a spinnerbait was issued in 1964 to John Thomas according to Bassmaster. It has been a main staple in every angler's tackle bag for years since. However, spinnerbaits for bass fishing have fallen out of sight in recent years. The main reason can be attributed to the explosion of the tackle industry and the almost unlimited styles of hard and soft baits on the market. This has left traditional bass fishing lures by the wayside, only to collect dust in the deep reaches of angler's tackle storage.
Although a spinnerbait setup may be hard to find on most angler's rods, they are not lost as a bass fishing lure. Most of the pro anglers today, undoubtedly, have at least one spinnerbait setup tied on a rod in their boat for certain situations.
Spinnerbaits for Bass
The spinnerbait is a big fish bait. If you want to catch big fish, this is the bass fishing lure you should be throwing. From the beginning, the spinnerbait has always been a largemouth bass lure, but all river smallmouth bass junkies know different. Talk to any seasoned smallie angler and they will tell you if you want to catch big smallmouths, throw a spinnerbait. However, most river anglers seeking smallies don't even have a spinnerbait in their tackle boxes. Many say "they are too big to throw" and that combined with their lack of confidence in catching fish with them means spinnerbaits are rarely fished. If you are one of these anglers, you need to rethink your understanding of how to fish a spinnerbait for bass.
Spinnerbaits, in general, are bass catching machines. It is easy to fish. Just throw it out and reel it in, nothing that complicated. In most situations, a steady retrieve will work. But the seasoned spinnerbait angler knows how to retrieve a spinnerbait multiple different ways to trigger bites. The biggest advantage to using spinnerbaits for bass fishing is that they can be fished shallow or deep and during many different times of the year. The spinnerbait comes in many different sizes and colors, making it a versatile fishing lure. The most popular sizes for bass are 1/8-oz., 1/4-oz. and 1/2-oz. In fact, you can change the color of the skirts and add trailing soft plastics as well to match the color, change the profile and modify the weight for the conditions you are fishing.
Dissecting the Spinnerbait Setup
Spinnerbaits are made of many different parts. This design gives them explosive potential to catch big bass. Here is what makes up some of the best spinnersbaits for bass.
Spinnerbaits come in many different blade configurations. Colorado blades, willow leaf blades, Indiana blades and Oklahoma blades (also known as the turtle back blade) are the most popular blades found on common spinnerbait setups. Each blade type has its purpose for different bass fishing situations. Blades also come in tandem (double blades) and single blades.
Colorado blades are best when you want to slow down your retrieve and provide a lot of vibration. These blades work best in stained or muddy water. They are also good for fishing at night. The willow leaf blades are used when fishing fast and running through thick grass or heavy cover and provide more flash than other blade types. The Indiana blade fishes somewhere in between the Colorado and willow leaf blades. The Oklahoma blades fish somewhere between the Colorado and Indiana Blades. The size of the blades can make all the difference at times as well. Stick with #4 or #5 blades for most bass fishing situations. Tandem (or double blades) are used when more flash is required to entice bass. Knowing how each blade performs can mean the difference between catching a few and catching a lot.
Blades also vary in color. Standard colors include gold and silver, but they also come in colors. Colored blades are used in clear water on clear sunny days when you don’t need or want a lot of flash.
The most popular spinnerbaits for bass fishing have a wire bend of 90 degrees, with a lead head embedded at its base on a single hook. These are called safety pin baits. The most common size wire is .035. The most popular spinnerbaits and the most durable spinnerbaits are constructed using titanium instead of general wire. Titanium wire will not bend and will run truer than standard wire spinnerbaits, which eliminates the need to adjust the wire after landing a few fish. If you do use standard wire spinnerbaits, you will need to re-tune your bait by bending the wire to match your hook after catching a few bass. The key is to make sure your spinnerbait tracks straight in the water. It must run straight without wobbling to be effective. If the bait wobbles back and forth, the wire will need to be adjusted back to its original shape.
Each bass spinnerbait setup has a silicone or rubber skirt. Skirt colors are usually matched to the forage at the time of year and to the water conditions. If fishing muddy or stained water stick with a chartreuse/white, all white or black/blue combination. In clear water, use natural colors like greens, browns or oranges to entice bass.
The spinnerbait design is flexible in that skirts can be changed to modify your presentation without having to buy a bunch more spinnerbaits for bass fishing. Carry skirts in different color combinations so that you can change them as needed on the water. Often times, the skirt color makes all the difference. Anglers even attach the skirt backward sometimes to provide a bigger profile and more flair when fishing for bass with spinnerbaits.
The best spinnerbaits for bass come with top-end hooks. These hooks last and are extremely sharp. You should plan to sharpen your hooks periodically to keep them sharp for better hook-ups when fishing with spinnerbaits. In addition, there are times when a trailer hook, an additional hook attached to the regular hook, is useful to land more fish. These stinger hooks can be attached using a small piece of surgical tubing to the main hook. Although they help with hooking fish, they do impact the action of the spinnerbait, which has to be considered when adding them.
Similar to trailer hooks, you can also add trailing baits to a spinnerbait. Many popular trailers are pork, curly tail grubs, swimbaits and split tail grubs. Some soft plastics are specifically designed as trailing baits for spinnerbaits for bass fishing. For most situations, trailers are not helping you much. Just like trailer hooks, they can impact the action of the spinnerbait without adding many benefits.
Spinnerbait Rod, Reel and Line Combinations
Spinnerbait Rods and Reels
Baitcasting rods and reels are a must for fishing with spinnerbaits. Stick with small rods, those in the six-foot range work best. The reason why is because they provide better casting control and hook setting than larger rods. Remember you aren’t making long casts, you are usually casting to specific targets. Here accuracy is more desired than distance. A quality baitcasting rod has both control and hook setting qualities important in a spinnerbait rod and reel combo.
As for the reel, again a high-quality baitcasting reel like the Shimano Curado baitcasting reel is ideal for spinnerbait fishing. A high-quality baitcasting reel is important because you will be burning these baits fast, slow and everywhere in between and need a reel that can keep up.
Spinnerbait line setup is straightforward. Choose fishing line in 14- to 17-lb test in either monofilament or fluorocarbon. Both have the characteristics needed to fish spinnerbaits effectively.
How to Retrieve a Spinnerbait
The biggest advantage of spinnerbaits for bass fishing is that you can work them many different ways. You can fish them all the way from jigging them to dragging them to burning them through thick vegetation. Any way you slice it they are a versatile bait.
You need to understand what the fish want when thinking about how to retrieve a spinnerbait for bass. Change the retrieve before you change baits. Often a change in retrieve will trigger bites when previously you were getting nothing. Also, do not be afraid to retrieve it through heavy cover. Spinnerbaits are naturally weedless and rarely get hung up.
When to Use Spinnerbaits
The best time to throw spinnerbaits for bass fishing is early spring, just as the water starts to warm up in March and April. As the water approaches the upper 40s, bass start to get active and a chasing bait like the spinnerbait is perfect to catch big bass. There is nothing better than a big bass chasing and crushing a spinnerbait in the river or on the lake in the spring.
The best days to fish spinnerbaits for bass are ones that are cloudy. High sky and sunny days are typically not productive when fishing with spinnerbaits. Also, windy days and muddy water are killer days to fish these bass fishing lures.
Finally, the best place to work a spinnerbait for bass fishing is in shallow water. Areas like muddy shorelines, thick vegetation edges and above and below islands in rivers are ideal places to use a spinnerbait. Additionally, these lures can be fished in deeper water near rocky points and drop-offs where baitfish hangout.
Don't give up on the spinnerbait. If you are an older angler, you know how well it can work and its time to put it back in your tackle box. Maybe you haven't fished one ever for bass. Hopefully, this guide to spinnerbaits for bass fishing should get you excited and help you start casting them. Stick with them and as you catch a few bass, you will gain more confidence in this bait and start to fish it more and more with unbelievable results.