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How To Choose A Spinnerbait

Jan 29th, 2009 by Lucky BASStard

Spinnerbait Basics.

The spinnerbait is a must-have lure for bass fishermen and while most know of its successful design as a lure, not all know the differences in spinnerbait designs or how to tell when specific designs are more appropriate than others.  To become comfortable with the spinnerbait you must understand how it functions and what variables can alter its performance to best suit your needs.  Here is a rundown on some spinnerbait basics and how to choose a spinnerbait.

Spinner Bait Blades

Today’s market offers a large variety of spinnerbaits with multiple variations and quantities of blades.  There is no need to overcomplicate your fishing but knowing a few basic differences can greatly improve your performance on the water. 

There are three basic blade designs to know: Willow, Colorado, and Indiana.  In order of vibration, the Colorado blade generates the most, the Indiana blade generates less, and the Willow blade generates the least.  In terms of flash, the Willow blade generates the most, the Indiana blade again generates less, and the Colorado blade generates the least.  Here is a recap (because some of us need recaps):


Vibration: 1. Colorado, 2. Indiana, 3. Willow

Flash: 1. Willow, 2. Indiana, 3. Colorado


Got it?  Now, with this information you can evaluate how much flash or vibration you need.  More vibration for darker, stained waters would require Colorado or Indiana blades, while Willow blades may be insufficient.  For a highly clear water condition, something less intimidating may be required, like an Indiana or Willow blade.  But what about the color of the blades?  Here is what I recommend:


Silver & Nickel: sunny skies and clear water

Gold: partly cloudy and slightly stained water

Copper & Painted: heavily stained waters or low visibility


Now, it is up to you to work the variables but don’t make it too confusing.  Simplify your choices by limiting yourself to a few key combinations.

Spinnerbait Skirts

In addition to blades you can choose different skirt colors as well.  Try trimming the skirt to just past the bend in the hook.  This prevents tangling and will increase your odds of a solid hook-set.  For colors, I like to use natural tones for clear water such as browns and greens.  For darker lighting conditions or lightly stained water I use brighter colors such as chartreuse or white.  I also enjoy a few strands of red in my spinnerbait skirt to capture the appearance of an injury.  Because the spinnerbait is designed to look like a school of fish, or a larger fish (skirt) chasing minnow fish (blades) we can come to the conclusion that a black colored skirt with black painted blades would be ideal for heavily stained water or dark lighting conditions, as the profile is best preserved.  Remember, for low lighting, vibration is key as bass will detect it using their lateral lines.  Large Colorado blades are ideal because they displace more water and create the most vibration.

In-Line Spinners

The in-line spinner should never be overlooked.  It was one of the first lures in my tackle box and I made the mistake of setting it aside when I was introduced to Bass fishing.  However, in the past few years I have increasingly turned to it to search for both largemouths and smallmouths because it is so deadly.  Its blade creates a 360 degree rotation that creates high levels of turbulence, vibration, and flash.  It often has natural hair-hooks that flutter in response to the flick of a wrist upon retrieve.  I have caught more species on an in-line spinnerbait than perhaps any other lure.  It simply appeals to them all.

Spinnerbait Retrieval

After all of this information you may wonder how to use a spinnerbait.  Well fortunately the spinnerbait does most of the work for you when it is in the water.  Here are two methods that will fill your livewells:

Steady Retrieve: 

A steady retrieve is often the method that is most productive.  Because of the quickness of the method of retrieval, it often sparks a reaction bite from the fish.  Using different weight spinnerbaits will help you quickly locate where the bass are suspending in the water column.  Find out the depth to retrieve at and use the appropriate weight so that your retrieval is suspended in the strike zone.  In fact, the spinnerbait is most often used as a search-lure because it is so effective in causing strikes and is also a quick lure to work over the water.  Also, the wire of the spinnerbait protects the hook and makes it more-or-less weedless.

Reel-Pause-Reel Retrieve:

If a constant retrieve is not proving productive, try the reel-pause-reel method.  This approach is similar to jigging but does not necessitate that the bait hit the ground.  You will find that on the pause the spinnerbait will flutter downward and often draw a strike on the fall.  Some smaller, rounder blades even tend to generate a helicopter effect.  Try short pauses by flicking the rod during a retrieve.  I often times flick to the beat of a song I have in my head.

Parting Tip

    An important detail you should pay attention to for spinnerbait retrieval is speed.  As this is true for all baits, if you find that you keep hooking fish in the front of their lips and not solidly or if you keep missing hits, you may be retrieving too quickly for a hook-set.  The ideal location for a hook to set is the side of the mouth.

-Come chat with me, the Lucky BASStard, on the BASStard Forum.

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BASStard Bassin' Pro Shops Results

                         Booyah Double Willow Blade Spinnerbait - 3/8 oz - Snow White              Booyah Tandem Blade Spinnerbait - 3/16 oz. - Snow White              Booyah Tux and Tails Tandem Spinnerbait - 3/8 oz - Chartreuse Gold
                     Booyah! Willow Blade      Booyah! Tandem      Booyah! Colorado Blade

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