Spinnerbait fishing is an import from American bass fishermen. They needed a snagless lure for fishing the recently impounded reservoirs in the early 1960s. These lakes were full of wood from all the trees that were present when the land was flooded. Inline spinner baits were known to catch fish but would get constantly hung up in trees or grass. Based on a safety pin, the first spinnerbait was invented and it’s still one of the staples of lure fishing decades later.
In Europe, spinnerbaits were initially used by bass anglers but they quickly realized that pike and perch ate them quite well. The first word that comes to mind with spinnerbait fishing is versatility. Indeed, few lures can catch fish in so many varied conditions.
Clearwater, muddy water, summer, winter, lakes, ponds, rivers, spinnerbait will produce just about everywhere. The reason is that they come in a wide variety of sizes, blade combinations, skirt colors, and so on. It means they can be custom adjusted to precisely match the current condition.
Spinnerbaits are contact lures. Even though they can be fished in open water, they are at their best when fished around some kind of cover. It can be grass, wood, or other man-made covers. Whenever possible, make sure you come in contact with the cover as often as you can.
The deflection of a spinnerbait is what triggers fish to strike. The typical scenario looks like a sunken tree, you cast beyond it and as you retrieve your lure, you hit the wood. The fish hidden under the tree will come out and strike it.
More than how to retrieve it, the most important aspect of spinnerbait fishing is selecting the right lure for the conditions. Before talking about more detailed strategies, let’s just get the question of color out the way. The skirt color is very simple and is only depending on water clarity. Clearwater: natural baitfish pattern; stained water: white and chartreuse skirt; muddy water: fire tiger or plain chartreuse skirt.
The spinner blade color is not as clear-cut as the skirt. You will find all sorts of opinions on this matter, some linking it to cloudy or sunny skies, or baitfish species. I don’t think it matters very much, to be honest. I try to match it to the dominant color of the water.
If the water is clear in the blueish greenish tint, I will choose a silver blade. If the water is browner I will pick a gold blade. Once in the water, it must “feel right”!
In very clear water, the key element is wind. If there’s none, I will not be fishing a spinnerbait but a jerkbait. It doesn’t have to be a strong wind, just enough to ripple the surface. Rain could be just as good if not even better. In clear water, it’s important to be able to fish fast.
Depending on the water depth, I would choose a fairly heavy spinnerbait, maybe 21gr (3/4oz). Blade selection would have to be willow leaf, either single blade or double willow. I want to have minimal drag so I can make long casts and fast-paced retrieves. The fish shouldn’t have time to get a good look at the lure. It goes for pike, bass, and perch.
Depending on how deep I want to fish will determine the head weight. But around grass, I will always choose a single willow leaf blade with a long upper wire arm. That way I can tick the grass with my lure without getting the blade fouled with grass. Again, the wind is key for this pattern.
This is probably the best time to throw a spinnerbait. On sunny days I prefer a single Indiana blade. These blades are seldom sold by manufacturers and you probably need to buy them separately and rig them yourself. If it’s cloudy or rainy, tandem Colorado/willow leaves are a good option. As previously stated, make sure your lure hits limbs as much as possible.
Spinnerbaits are some of the best muddy water lures. Choose a lure with bright chartreuse or fire orange skirt and a big Colorado blade. Fish tend to position themselves in very shallow water and will hit a big slow spinnerbait.
You can use a straight retrieve with occasional twitch with the rod tip to break the rhythm. Another alternative is to pump the lure over about half a meter and let it drop and resume. The straight retrieve is probably better for pike, while the pumping action works well with bass and perch.
Spinnerbait fishing is also a good deepwater solution. It’s relative of course but you can fish down to about 4 or 5 meters deep. Find a heavy, 25gr, and more spinnerbait and swap out the blade for a smaller blade to minimize lift. A single blade or tandem blade combination is good for deep water. Make a long cast and let the lure reach the bottom. Start a slow steady retrieve keeping the lure on or close to the bottom. This is a great technique for winter cold water.
Using a soft plastic trailer helps with the overall silhouette of the bait and increases buoyancy. Don’t use too big a trailer to avoid overpowering the lure. I use either a small curly tail grub or a good old split tail trailer.
Fishing with spinnerbaits requires a large assortment of lures, in sizes, blade configuration, color, and skirt. It’s a good idea to build also a box with spare skirts and blades so you can custom build your lure for the condition. In a nutshell, spinnerbait is the best lure for fishing in windy nasty conditions. Stay tuned for more advice on fishing with spinnerbaits.