Spinnerbait for summertime bass
Last week, I discussed buzzbaits, a popular surface lure for bass.
This week I’ll turn the attention to spinnerbaits, a similar wire-frame lure with its hook molded into a lead head and features a spinner blade or two to attract fish with flash and vibration. Spinnerbaits are versatile lures designed to be fished below the surface for either lake-dwelling largemouths or river smallmouths and can be an exciting way to catch bass throughout the summer and well into fall.
Like most bass lures, spinnerbaits come in an endless array of sizes and color combinations. I have been making many of my own spinnerbaits for the past couple of seasons, which has allowed me to experiment with all sorts of different combinations. Most spinnerbaits for targeting bass come in sizes from ™ ounce to ¢ ounce. For smallmouths, ™- and 3/8-ounce sizes work best, while 3/8- and ¢ are generally most useful for largemouths. Regardless of the size spinnerbait, make sure it has high-quality, razor-sharp hooks.
Most spinnerbaits are fitted with either long, slender willowleaf blades or the wider, egg-shaped Colorado blades, in either a single or double configuration, with gold and silver being the most popular on most brands of factory spinnerbaits, but spinner blades come in every color imaginable. Willowleaf blades spin faster and give off more flash, which sometimes makes them more effective in clear water, while Colorado blades produce greater vibration, which can help attract bass in deeper or off-colored water. I tend to fish spinner baits with two blades most of the time. A combination that has worked quite well for me lately, especially for river smallmouths, is one I have been making u myself. It’s a silver willowleaf for the main blade with a smaller, bright red Colorado blade for the second blade.
Spinnerbaits are usually finished with a skirt, usually made from strands of silicone rubber that move attractively in the water. White, chartreuse, black and firetiger are among the most popular colors offer by many manufacturers, but I have recently had good success with many of the more subtle, multi-colored skirts designed to mimic bluegills, shad, perch and other baitfish. While somewhat optional, many anglers will attach some kind of trailer as an extra bit of attraction on a spinnerbait. For years, I found a simple, soft-plastic twister tail to be an effective trailer. Recently, however, I’ve become partial to the 3-inch boot-tail swimbaits that have become popular as my spinnerbait trailers. They come in all sorts of wonderful colors to complement any spinnerbait color scheme.
When shopping for spinnerbaits, start with a basic assortment of six to 10 different sizes and styles. Once you have a few spinnerbaits in your tackle bag, it’s simple to switch blades and skirts on a particular lure, even out on the water, to experiment even further. One big plus for spinnerbaits is the rarely get snagged on the bottom or other obstructions because of the way they are designed.
I have always preferred throwing spinnerbaits on bait-casting tackle. I use 10- or 20-pound braid on most of my baitcasting outfits with a 10- or 12-pound test monofilament leader. Of course, if you are not proficient with casting tackle, you can fish spinnerbaits on spinning tackle as well.
Fishing a spinnerbait is not difficult. Cast it where there should be some bass and reel it back. In a lake, target the edges of weed beds or other structure in water two to eight feet deep. About the only variable to consider most days will be the speed of your retrieve. When the bass are in an aggressive mood, a relatively fast retrieve will draw some crushing strikes. If quick retrieves don’t bring results, slow things down until you find the correct rhythm for the day. Because of their design, spinnerbaits rarely hang up so don’t be afraid to fish them over or around heavy cover that just might be the sanctuary for your biggest bass of the season.
For river smallmouths, I hold my rod at about a 45-degree angle with the rod tip high and reel fast enough to keep the spinnerbait just below the surface. Even in deeper pools, this tactic draws violent strikes from larger-than-average smallmouths many days. Just be ready to start cranking the reel as soon as the bait hits the water. On occasion, a fish will hammer the lure almost the instant it hits the water or with the first turn or two of the reel handle, so it pays to be ready. And for my money, the most ferocious strike in freshwater fishing is a smallmouth crushing a spinnerbait.