By Marc Rogers
The spinnerbait is considered one of the most versatile bass lures made. It can be presented from the surface all the way to the bottom and anywhere in between. They are available in most any color, several blade configuration, and weights from 1/8 to 1 ½ ounce is most the common.
When bass are active and feeding on baitfish a spinnerbait retrieved at of just under the surface is quite effective. While retrieved just under the surface the flash from the blade mimics the flash from a baitfish. When burned at the surface the angler should allow the blades to break the surface to imitate a jumping baitfish. This technique requires a high-speed reel (6:1 gear ratio or higher) to be effective and keep the angler from having to turn the reel handle quickly in order to keep the lure near the surface.
The willow-leaf blade design best imitates the shape of a baitfish but require a faster retrieve to get the blade to break the water’s surface. The Colorado blade has more lift and can be moved slower in the water while breaking the surface but isn’t as good as mimicking the baitfish shape. Most willow-leaf blades and in tandem with a smaller Colorado blade and this will aid in the drag and lift of the spinnerbait.
Spinnerbaits are great lures when bass are chasing baitfish in and around cover like treetops, deadfalls and boat docks. They can be retrieved at any depth in order to be presented at the edges of any such cover. Many times bass will hold under floating boat docks to create an ambush position. Running spinnerbaits parallel with the edges of the docks can cause vicious strikes from a waiting bass. Spinnerbaits are very good at getting through cover without getting hung up due to the safety pin style design. Therefore, don’t be afraid to fish them in heavy cover, as they are seldom lost due to getting snagged on the cover.
During the retrieve it is sometimes effective to stop the lure and allow it to free-fall into the water a few feet. When stopped the lure will fall straight down and the blade(s) will have a helicopter motion with the blade turning slowly. This difference in the retrieve will sometimes trigger a strike from a bass that isn’t aggressive enough to chase a moving lure.
When submerged vegetation is available a spinnerbait is quiet effective being retrieved just above the top of the cover. It should be moved so the lure occasionally makes contact with the vegetation but not so deep to get fouled in the cover. When the lure makes contact with the cover it should be slightly lifted to avoid fouling. This lifting motion will sometimes trigger a vicious strike from a bass as the bass thinks the lure is a baitfish escaping.
There are spinnerbaits designed with a short blade arm and small Colorado blades attached. These lures are most effective when presented on the bottom of the lake similar to a skirted jig. However, the lure must be moved fast enough to keep the blade spinning and create vibration. This is a very effective lure for fishing at night for bass. It allows an angler to fish a little faster than with a skirted jig and still get maximum vibration for the bass to located the lure. A slow lift and fall retrieve making contact with the bottom of the lake allows an angler to cover more water than with the slow presentation needed for plastic worms and jigs.
Experiment with colors to find the most productive for the current conditions. However, a good starting point with color is white skirts and chrome blades for imitating baitfish. In dirty or stained water a chartreuse skirt is more visible to bass. A good standard is chrome blades on sunny days and gold blades on overcast days.
Colorado blades have a more rounded shape and provide the greatest lift while willow-leaf blades are long and slender but provide more flash. Anglers looking for something greater lift than a willow-leaf blade should consider the Indiana blade design. It is a good compromise as it is shaped like a teardrop and has less lift than a Colorado blade but still plenty of flash.
Don’t be afraid to experiment when fishing a spinnerbait. Present them fast and slow, shallow and deep until the bass indicate what they prefer on the particular outing.