B ack when I was a Yonker, I tried my hand at competitive fishing, entering a few tournaments hosted by The Texas Aggie Bass Club. My parents paid for my tuition, as well as room and board, but trips to the Dixie Chicken and fishing tackle were exclusively on my nickel.
My financial resources for discretionary purchases were slim, and I eyeballed a new lure long and hard before making the decision to plunk down several hard-earned George Washingtons.
Spinnerbaits were one of the most affordable lures you could buy back then; and, more often than not, the lure I bought featured a rubber skirt and dangling silver or gold blades.
Spinnerbaits are still one of the most affordable and effective baits. Here are a few tips to help increase your odds of catching more largemouth bass with them:
Often called safety pin lures, spinnerbaits come in a wide assortment of weights and colors, and come adorned with a wide variety of dangling blades. It is conceivable to have 100 different spinnerbaits in your tackle box and not have any duplicates.
Spinnerbaits can be customized in a myriad of ways. If you fish areas that receive a lot of pressure, go for a new look. Buy 20 different colored replacement skirts, take them apart, and then create new skirts with new blends of colors.
Experiment with the size, shape, and color of your blades. I have taken permanent markers and added dots, stripes, and zig zag patterns to my blades. This winter, I bought some doll eyes at the craft store and epoxied them onto the heads of some of my favorite spinnerbaits. The bass will tell you what they like. When you discover that special look the fish like, don’t give away your secret.
So much has been written about Colorado, Willow, and Indiana blades, I will abbreviate my comments on the subject. Colorado blades are more circular, creating more resistance, thereby slowing your retrieve. Colorado blades also put out more vibration.
If visibility is low, anything you can do to advertise—such as maximizing the vibration of your lure or slowing your retrieve down so a bass has time to eyeball your lure—is a good thing.
Regardless which blade type you choose, there is a common denominator that can’t be overlooked if you wish to be successful. The blades on your bait must rotate to be effective.
A shimmering spinnerbait looks deceptively simple as you pull it to and fro through the water with your rod tip, but the blade(s) will stop turning in certain situations. Each shape has hydrodynamic tendencies, and they spin when the lure is retrieved within a certain speed range. If your lure goes too fast or too slow, or is hauled up from the depths at a certain rate, the blade(s) won’t revolve around the shaft as designed.
Keen attention to your lure will help you remedy this problem. Spinnerbaits pulsate as they move through the water, emitting a pleasing vibration that is transmitted all the way to your rod tip.
Any change in the rhythmic pulses signals either a strike, a snag, or the blade has stopped rotating. You can choose to be reactive or proactive dealing with this issue. I prefer the former, twitching my rod tip every 10 seconds or so to ensure the blade is free of possible debris, and to encourage it to rotate freely.
The split second hitch in the lure’s get-along often provokes a strike. If your lure is getting the cold shoulder, change retrieves before you change lures.
Spinnerbaits can be fished at any speed, from dead slow to roadrunner fast. Keeping your bait within eyesight is another of my favorite techniques. It is fun to run the bait up on the surface where it might draw a thunderous strike, but occasionally largemouth bass prefer a more subtle approach.
Retrieving your lure six inches to a foot under the surface, improves its visibility against a morning sky. Keeping the lure within eyesight ensures it is running just under the surface.
The weedless nature of a spinnerbait allows them to be retrieved through all manner of inhospitable tangles and snags. When targeting a likely looking stump or blowdown, cast a few feet past the spot where you think Mr. Bucketmouth is holding. The extra distance allows the blades to start spinning before the spinnerbait enters the strike zone.
My last tip won’t help you find more fish, but it will help you land a few more. Trailer hooks dramatically increase the percentages of a hookup, especially if the fish are “short striking.” If you don’t have all your spinnerbaits rigged with trailers, keep a package of hooks in your tackle box and add them when you hit the water.
Hook technology has improved dramatically over the last several decades; however, as good as new hooks are out of the box, banging them into rocks and against logs will take a toll on a needle-sharp point. If you are fishing heavy cover, test the sharpness of your hook periodically and, when needed, touch up the point with a hone.
Regardless whether you’re a college student watching your pennies or a titan of business, spinnerbaits are still easy on the wallet and produce great results.
Email Greg Berlocher at [email protected]