Join Date: Feb 2004
Year Round Spinnerbait Tactics
"Year Round Spinnerbait Tactics"
By Steve VonBrandt
Spinnerbaits are not just a tool for the spring and fall. Spinnerbaits can be deadly, if the right ones are fished in a variety of situations whether it be the East Coast or the West. The trick is to be able to distinguish, which is the right one for the right situation?
Spinnerbaits can fished in so many different ways, all of which, produce BIG BASS from north to south, east to west. They can be fished through the water column top to bottom. They are really a versatile bait if you know the little tricks it takes to fish them effectively. They can be fished many ways by varying the retrieve, weight of the bait, blade size, and the trailer. You have a bait here that can work a water column and can catch fish from 1-25 feet, and because it is so versatile, you can fish it fast, slow, and in all seasons of the year.
The first time I discovered this, I was amazed at how many fish I had must have missed in my youth, by not knowing how to fish a spinnerbait here in the Northeast.
When it was October here in Delaware, I went hunting until the end of Quail season. Soon after 1976, I read my first issue of Basssmaster magazine, and I decided that if they could do it, then I could too! Soon after, in late December in Delaware, I caught my first bass on a "Stan Sloan" single nickel colorado blade,(with a purple skirt, with rattles on the arm,) by letting it flutter into a sunken tree, in 10 foot deep, 36 degree water, I soon felt that sluggish pull on the line ;" like a pile of leaves or grass", not until then, did I realize that I could catch bass year round on the right spinnerbaits with a little patience! That first spinnerbait bass was well over 6 pounds, and it was a different fight when she got close to the boat. It was not sluggish at all when she saw me and the trolling motor. The key is to keep it in the strike zone, and most lures are made so that you can work them as slowly as you want to, while still keeping them in the strike zone.
Although all spinnerbaits catch some fish, over the years, through extensive testing of over 30 brands and combinations of blades, in different water conditions, and different times of the year, we have come to the realization, that the Terminator Titanium, and the new Tungsten baits, along with the ZAP spinnerbaits that are designed for us, are one of the few spinnerbaits that don't roll ! This is very important in catching bass! When the baits don't run true, and roll on their sides, they are nothing more that some blades on a line in our opinion. Tracking true is an important factor when considering what brand to use.
Different blades, different diameter wires, and the material, all play a factor in how the baits function, good or bad! The sound the baits make can either catch more bass or turn them off! It is more important than most imagine. This year we are testing a new spinnerbait made by B&DCustom Lures, that so far as shown great promise. It is called an Evolution V.
I like to use the spinnerbait as a search tool, and kind of a depth finder and bottom contour device also. What I do is check out the structure of the lake by bumping objects, and increasing my chance for a reaction strike right then. The spinnerbait will make a different sound bumping off different objects such as, stumps, rocks, sand, pea gravel, etc.I also vary the speed a lot, and even shake the rod if necessary, trying to give the bass a different look, which is important in highly pressured waters at times. I work buzzbaits in a different manner also, which I believe is what accounts for some real lunkers that I might have otherwise missed. There are times when using the spinnerbait is the most effective way to catch a limit of bass. When fishing the bait in heavy cover such as pads, I employ a technique that I now know is called "fluttering" by some anglers. Basically what you do is to cast the spinnerbait out into the pads, and by moving your rod tip, and other parts of your body and positioning, you maneuver the bait through the pads, and when it comes to an opening, stop it, and let it flutter down. Many strikes come as the lure sinks, be it a spinnerbait or soft plastic, or a jig. You should make a lot of casts to the areas where you really believe the bass are, or see them, as they CAN be irritated into striking, if the bait is presented in enough variations and angles. You can not reel the bait fast enough for a bass to be outrun by it, no matter what the blade configuration is, or what the speed of the reel is! They can catch any spinnerbait if they want to with ease. Slow rolling can be extremely effective in deep water as it is designed to imitate a a crawfish on the bottom, or another type of bass forage. The trick to it is rolling it down the side of a sloping bank, a rock bar, a hump, or any underwater structure, and then slowly pumping it back to the boat. We employ the almost identical technique with a lipless crankbait with great success. There are also better types of spinnerbaits for different types of cover. C shaped baits tend to work better in heavy pads and grass, while a V shaped bait gets hung up more easily. Never work the spinnerbait in and around logs or laydowns without bumping it into them, and hesiatating for a split second when they hit. Many times this triggers a strike! There is way more to working this bait in laydowns and other cover, than just throwing it in and reeling.
Riprap is another good area to slow roll spinnnerbaits. In the rocks and debris, and grass mixed in, many large bass are waiting in ambush for prey to come along, and are prime areas to slow-roll spinnerbaits. The spinnerbaits should be slowrolled over the rocks and such, and extra action imparted to the bait is not really necessary. It should crawl over the bottom, and sometimes I give it a little twitch. All you have to do is raise the rod a slight bit, lightly shake it, and then continue slowrolling it back to the boat.
When the bass are really deep I employ a technique I call deep pulling; its like a yo-yo method but a little different. I let the bait flutter all the way down, and then let it sit, then I pull it hard and way up near the surface and do it again. I use real heavy baits with colorado blades for this, usually in a chartruese, or a chartruese and white skirt when I fish in places that have dying shad in the winter. Anywhere else, I always use black, or black/purple combinations. I always add a little Yum or Bang in shad or crawfish scent. The only time I may change these color patterns is when i find that the primary forage of the lake or particular body of water we are on, is something else. There are places where the dominant species of forage may be Bluegill or Perch, and I adjust the colors for this accordingly. There are also a few places where the dominant species of baitfish are milroach, or Golden shiners. Then i switch to a Golden shiner skirt and Gold Blades.
I like to use a 6 1/2 or a 7 foot rod for most situations. Most of my rods I use for this technique are in a medium heavy action. I really like a Fiberglass rod for these baits, but there are many new rods that are very good for spinnerbaits and crankbaits, made by G.Loomis, St.Croix, and Bass Pro Shops. Sometimes on the smaller baits I use a spinning rod with P-Line in the 10-15 rating. When the water is very clear, I use a Pline Flurocarbon. The majority of the time I use a baitcast rod with a Shimano Chronarch, with 17-20 pound line, in either the P-Line, or Berkley XL or XT, depending on the cover.
When I choose a color for a spinnerbait, a lot of factors come in to play. The first thing I do is pick a Shad pattern, or whatever is the dominate species in the lake. In many situations, to give the bait more lift, and create a different vibration and appearance, I double up the skirts. I use blue and white, black and white, and chartreuse and white. Sometimes I use red also, depending on the location. All of these colors give a good range of visibility under water.
In muddy water, I have always use the same colors, Black and Blue and Red, the same goes for the nighttime. I like to use the forage in the lake if I can, such as Rainbow trout, shad, whatever, and to make it appear injured to trigger that genetic response.
I like to use BIG spinnerbaits in the spring, when I'm in big fish waters, some right here in Delaware, and others in Maryland, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Mexico. When fishing strictly for big bass with spinnerbaits I add on a double or triple skirt for bulk and lift, and use really big blades. Terminator makes some big blades that I really like on our spinnerbaits, as well as ZAP.
This year here in Delaware, we landed 3 bass in one day on big spinnerbaits, that went seven and eight pounds. Sometimes we even break off the tails of worms for trailers, and many times in the spring, I have caught some huge bass from 10 inches of muddy water with a big spinnerbait with a plastic trailer. Bearpawsnadpouredbaits, in Walden, Ny, makes some good baits that we also use for trailers on our spinnerbaits. We have had a great response from bass in the Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania areas using a double Golden Shiner skirt. The bluegill, and Shad patterns top the list overall though. Sometimes, reversing the skirts on the baits presents a different profile, and will also trigger hard to get strikes. The spinnerbait isn't just a bait for beginners, although it is a great bait to break in a novice or child to the sport of bass fishing. But in the hands of an expert, it is a versatile year round bait, that can catch "HUGE" bass.