SPINNER BAIT BASICS FOR LARGEMOUTH BASS
By Ken Poor
Spinnerbaits can be bulged just below the surface, worked slowly on the bottom or slow-rolled down a deep weed edge to cover the in-between depths. They are a great lure for flipping or pitching into tight cover and they can be used to make long cast to cover lots of water when trying to locate active fish. Spinnerbaits are equally effective in both clear and muddy water.
The basic spinnerbait is a lead-head jig hook with a length of wire sticking out of the top of the lead-head. A plastic skirt is attached to the base of the lead head and hangs over the shaft of the hook. The wire and hook forms a “V” that looks somewhat like a large open safety pin. Rotating blades are attached to the wire (arm) for flash and vibration.
Good spinnerbaits are manufactured with quality components and with blades matched to the lure weight to insure proper balance. A properly constructed and tuned spinnerbait will run straight and provide maximum action even when retrieved slowly.
When a spinnerbait rolls onto its side it is out of tune. Bend the arm very slightly in the opposite direction that it rolls to correct the problem. With little practice tuning a spinnerbait will become second nature. Avoid buying cheap spinnerbaits built with low quality components.
Spinnerbaits are made in a wide variety of weights, sizes and colors. The weight of the spinnerbait for largemouth bass is primarily determined by the lead-head and varies from 3/16-ounce to ¾-ounce. On most lakes, a 3/8-ounce to ½-ounce spinnerbait is a good choice for largemouth bass. In comparison, muskie fishermen will often start with a ¾-ounce or larger spinnerbait, while smallmouth bass fishermen will downsize to smaller spinnerbaits or a straight shaft spinnerbait, especially in clear water.
When selecting a spinnerbait for largemouth bass there are several factors that should be considered including depth, water clarity, types of forage, cover and weather conditions. Start with the depth you will be fishing. Spinnerbaits weighing a 1/2-ounce or more are most effective for deeper water and smaller spinners are best for shallow depths.
Keep in mind that this is a starting point. Sometimes a lightweight, small profile, spinnerbait may be what the bass want, even at deeper depths. Heavy spinnerbaits (1/2-ounce or more) are also easier to cast during windy conditions. Always let a combination of the conditions and the fish tell you what to use.
The size, number and style of blade can be an important consideration when selecting a spinnerbait. Most spinnerbaits are built with one or two (tandem) blades. The three most common types of blades are the willow-leaf, Colorado and Indiana in silver or gold colors. Several manufacturers produce spinnerbaits with variations in blade shape and colors. Each one is touted as the best spinnerbait bait on the market and some are better at catching fishermen than largemouth bass.
Tandem spinnerbaits are constructed with a variety of blade combinations. Two good combinations are the small Colorado blade in front of a bigger Colorado blade or a small Colorado blade in front of a bigger willow-leaf blade. The size of the blades used is related to the weight of the lead-head to insure proper balance. Blade size is indicated by a number corresponding to blade size with small blades having low numbers.
Stay with the basic color rules as a starting point when selecting color, white in clear water and dark colors in murky or muddy water. If you are using a dressing on your spinnerbait use a split-tail plastic grub and match it to the color of the skirt. On clear days in clear water use silver blades and on overcast days or in murky water use a copper blade. Black is normally your best choice when fishing at night. It will provide the best silhouette under low light conditions.
Most fishermen limit their use of spinnerbaits to shallow areas with cover such as piers, weed beds, trees and stumps. Remember spinnerbaits can be worked effectively deep, shallow and all depths in between. Any lure you use must be in – or at least close to the fish’s strike zone.
Try letting your spinnerbait helicopter down the deep weed edge or work it slowly close to the bottom in 12 to 20-feet of water. Often times a successful fishing trip will be the result of a minor adjustment to your presentation such as the speed of your retrieve or triggering strikes by allowing your lure to make contact with the cover.