Spinner Baits Lost In the Shuffle
With all the different manufactures of baits available these days, the knowledge to throw a spinner bait seems to be lost in the shuffle. Ten years ago many good fisherman would have said a spinner bait was a go-to bait, but today we have so many different techniques and baits. The spinner bait sometimes gets over looked.
Even though I know the versatility of the blades, I look for those prime areas for spinner bait action. This means I look for windy conditions. Nasty weather can be very productive; so a good way to remember to throw a spinner bait is when you realize itís getting too nasty to stay on the water.†
Clouds means more roaming fish. You can cover lots of water on a cloudy day with a spinner bait. You can catch fish on this bait when itís nice and sunny, too, as long as you have wind to chop up the surface.
†During May and June, a spinner bait is my first choice for the Shad spawn. This is an early morning, low-light situation and you usually have about two hours each day before the sun gets too hot and the shad go back down. Now I am in real competition with my knowledge of the early morning bite. Do I throw the Spook or go with the Spinner Bait?
Even the Shad will relate to your spinner bait; by bumping the blades and running with the bait on the rocks and retaining walls. If the Shad are liking the bait and blades; you can count on the Bass striking the bait if you are using it right.
I fish the Ĺ-ounce Custom Bait on a 6.5 foot, Mud Hole Blank built by Kevin Smith. I still have the pistol grips in 5.5 ft. for the Extremely heavy bushes. The shorter the rod the more accurate you can cast; laying the spinner bait down and into the smallest cracks between bushes. Sorry I canít help you on the reels. All of mine are Old School 5500c3ís which will never ware out and server me well in close quarters.
Fishing the EDGE of LIGHT is the key here. †I fish a lot of shallow, dense cover where Iím usually flipping or punching soft plastics. In between these weed mats I like to have a spinner bait to target isolated wood like lay-down logs and fallen green trees. I use the same rod and reel as I do for the shad spawn, but for isolated wood go to a 3/8 oz.†Custom spinner bait with a Colorado blade and a willow leaf blade. I slow roll it along so it ticks the vegetation.
On a good Spinner Bait Day, I will have 5 out on the deck. The combination of blade styles gives me a good mix of vibration and flash. In water with good visibility I like silver blades, but in slightly stained water, I go with gold and nickel blades. When the water is really stained, I go all gold single spins.
Spinner baits can be retrieved in many different ways, which is what makes them such a great bait. Spinner baits are extremely versatile, but not many realize all the things these baits can do.
I credit John Hilderbrandt with building the first one in 1893 with the use of his wife;s hairpins and drilling a hole in a dime for the blade. With a fashioned eye he could tie line to it and attach a hook. Thus came the wobble, flash and vibration that a spinner bait is noted for. I love the hilderbrant blades today and many of my custom baits carry these blades that are one grade above all the others.
Spinner bait fishing is a lost art in my opinion. Few lures have the versatility of spinner baits, which can catch fish at all depths. Most anglers barely tap into the full potential of these baits. They simply reel them steadily the way they fished for decades; or might slow-roll them over the bottom, wake them across the surface or just under the surface. The bottom line is; they still just chunk and wind which puts the fish to sleep. HA...
Pray fish don't just swim in a straight line. They flurry, flutter and hide. Big Bass are not noted for expelling energy chasing itís pray. They are looking for injured bait; so add erratic movements to your presentation for the best results. An erratic presentation with a jerk, twist, and flare; like bait jumping with the skirt pulsing catches Big Bass at all levels. I configure the spinner bait with the blades for different condition of water clarity and weather conditions. Colorado blades sink much faster and I like at least one of those to be on my deep water baits. It will give off the vibrations that I am looking for in deep water and dingy water conditions when fishing shallow. Willow blades create lift; so I am going to downsize for that deep water spinner bait with willows.
Willow blades cut through the grass better and are better for shallow water with good visibility around shallow heavy cover. I like the flash of the willows making them my first choice when the Bass are after the bait fish. Get in the thick of it or go home.
Many only fish the outer edges. Big Bass bury up in the thickest cover there and will never see a bait running the edges. I will sacrifice a spinner bait or two to probe every bit of the cover possible. The bait is designed to deflect off objects, change speeds, flaring of the skirt and banging into the cover that is there. The pause allowing the bait to sink has fooled many a big Bass with the blades turning and flashing on the fall. I am persistent on making the bait stand out and throwing several times on all sides of the cover that is being targeted. Bass are not always feeding aggressively and you must find that combination of actions that will provoke a strike.
During extreme temperatures both hot and cold big fish go deep. One of my 5 spinner baits on the deck is a Stroller for dragging and slow crawling along the bottom. This is just like dragging a Crig.. Every point gets this technique before I leave the area. I move to the point and drag or stroll the heavy 1 oz. Spinner bait off the point to deep water. This has been a super effective technique for both Summer and Winter fishing.
You cannot work a spinner bait too slow; especially in the Spring before the spawn. Cold water requires slow turning of the blades. Move the bait a few feet and let it flutter to the bottom. I use the rod sweep for this and not the reel. Slow hop the bait off the bottom and let it drop. The blades are turning like helicopters. Again this imitates the Dying Quiver of bait fish. Bass that are not running bait will pay attention to this erratic behavior and strike.
I have learned to bring this same technique to the shallows and work the heavy bushes with the drop technique. I build a custom spinner bait just for this technique with counter rotating thin line buzz blades. It is patterned after the Billy Phillips Do-Drop-In from the 70ís out of Tennessee. This has also proven to work on vertical objects like bridge pylons when fish are suspended in the shade and off vertical deep water walls on lake Amistad. It all depends on where the fish are holding which is determined by where the bait fish are in the water table. SKIRT MATERIAL:
When selecting your colors of skirts keep it simple and natural. I like living rubber for the life like action when it is at rest. Use the white and chartreuse combinations. I will throw a scale pattern into the mix to imitate the pray fish that the Bass may be targeting instead of the bait fish. The black scale pattern in 1/4 of the skirt just makes it look real. When the weather turns bad, I am going with the Orange Spinner Bait. Big Bass hate Orange during extreme weather conditions.
Natural Shad patterns work really well when BASS are feeding on Threadfins. Experimenting with colors will absolutely work on heavily pressured lakes; as fish grow a custom to seeing the same old colors. I throw the soft shad color that I call Smoke with a little chartreuse, white, silver/black stripe or blue striped living rubber. I bring in the chartreuse when the lake is stained. BLADE KNOWLEDGE:
Staying with silver, nickel, gold or some combinations of such will drastically limit the spinner baits potential to be your bread winner on every body of water you go to. My colored blades work in many different situations; but in general use bright colors under sunny skies. Under low light or cloudy condition the gold reflects better in the water. If that water is very clear then I am going with the Gold Designer Blades.
Work with your blade sizes, shapes and colors as not to go overboard with an outrageous combination. It only takes one of the blades on a spinner bait to make that difference around the forage in a clear water lake. Go after the Crayfish colors showing the orange/black with hologram glitter in the Spring. Work the Chartreuse blades during the Summer to mimic the Bluegill colors. In the Fall months throw in that one white blade while working the Shad population. There are no magic bullets; you must determine, and configure the combinations that the Bass want, periodÖ My blades mimic what the Bass are feeding on and your blade size is just as important as the color or combinations of blades.
Now in my opinion this is where the lost part comes in. Fisherman are not wanting to take the time to learn the Old School methods; thus it has become a lost art. I spent well over 50 years building blades and combinations of blades. I had hundreds of Spinner Baits ready to go for what I thought were specific occasions that they would work. The fact is we never know what works in our lakes. Many times we catch a super stringer of fish then never repeat that same day ever again. You will never know; was it the bait, color, blades, area fished or did we just get into a bunch of feeding fish. Getting on the average of 10 bites per day in our lakes will not help confirm much of anything. My baits and techniques were confirmed when I started going to Mexico with these combinations. With the potential of catching over 100 Big Bass per day south of the boarder, you will find out quickly what works and what doesnít during the seasons, water conditions and weather conditions on these Mexico lakes.
This is one of the most helpful tips that I can give for fishing any bait. Be ready at all times to give a missed fish strike a second chance. Just throwing back to the same spot with the same bait very seldom will work to produce another strike. Always follow up with something completely different that will mimic a dying bait fish. The key is being prepared to do it on a regular basis. I keep the Fluke rigged to spiral downward for that imitation; as a big Bass would rather take something injured.
I have to say that the spinner bait is the most versatile lure in my tackle bag. In my opinion it is the best ever; but expect those that worship the plastics to differ. It is so versatile that I have custom built a 1/2 oz. Short Arm that will penetrate the GRASS. I am talking about tall grass and this bait will catch big Bass. Pair this bait with Braid line and you have a winner.