The sky was overcast, and the air was muggy and hot. A light summer breeze hit the turbid water and slop edge I was working. I slowly worked my way down the edge whipping low trajectory casts into its pockets. Largemouth, smallmouth, pike, walleye, and bowfin had been responding well to my spinnerbait offerings all day. The program was simple, quickly, and accurately covered as much water as possible. A good fish of some type was destroying the lure every 20 minutes. It was nearing midafternoon and I was fishing my way back to the landing before heading home and seeing to the inevitable responsibilities diehard fishermen must schedule around. Within 30 yards of the landing, a bowfin rivaling the state records of both WI and MN inhaled my entire spinnerbait (blades and all) in an explosive boat-side strike. The battle was spectacular and was a great end to the day. The fish was documented and released to become even more of a beast. 

The Appeal of Erratic Lures for Triggering Fish Strikes

For most of my fishing career, I loved and relied heavily on the virtues of erratic lures. I have always been drawn to any presentation that requires my personal touch to impart a unique fish-triggering action. I have a personality type that I tend to get fixated on, and I don’t particularly appreciate deviating from what I like the best. Part of my struggle to become a more effective, productive, well-rounded fisherman is getting out of my way.

size the fish

Expanding My Repertoire with Steady Retrieve Fishing Lures

Until roughly 6 or 7 years ago, steady retrieve lures (a critical component of my effective arsenal) were sorely missing from my repertoire. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that in the past most of the water bodies I fished were those on which erratic lures were typically most effective. It turns out I needed to be more well-rounded in terms of the types of water bodies I fished as well. 

When Spinnerbaits Shine in Stained Water Bass Fishing

I think the spinnerbait is a great lure in some waters but not all. Years back, I mostly fished in clear water, and I don’t think spinnerbaits are usually the best option in clear water. However, they often shine brighter than all others in turbid and stained water. The flash and vibration really get it done when visibility is low. In the waters I fish in WI and MN, I also prefer to use spinner baits in those with high volume, schooling baitfish such as shad, shiners, or juvenile bluegill. Prime feeding areas where the before-mentioned forage is dense are absolutely ideal. When I encounter such a volume of forage (the location of these schools often changes daily and drastically), I almost always take the opportunity to throw some spinnerbaits. 

The Perfect Weedless Snagless Fish-Hooking Lure Combination

The spinner bait is the most efficient combination of the following characteristics: weedless, snagless, and effective at hooking. Its ability to fish through weeds and heavy timber without snagging while still converting a high percentage of strikes is unmatched by any lure. No other lure comes even close.

My Preferred Single Blade vs Tandem Spinnerbait Configurations

The beauty of the lure is in its simplicity, and I only use one of two classic configurations of the spinnerbait. A single-blade configuration includes one swivel blade and a single fixed hook or a tandem configuration with one swivel blade, a clevis blade, and a single fixed hook. I never use a spinner bait with more than two blades, trailer hooks, or treble hooks. To add more bulk and action and/or create more lift, I will add a paddle tail swimbait to the single fixed hook, but not always. What I mean by “fixed hook” is a standard spinner bait configuration where the weighted head of the lure is poured around the joint between the wire body and the eye of the hook, creating a hook that is stiff and stationary in relation to the wire body of the lure. I do not use clip-style wire bodies that allow the head and hook to be swapped out and allow for movement of the head in relation to the wire body of the lure. That configuration does not move nearly as snag-free through weeds and wood as the traditional configuration.

Matching Spinnerbait Weights and Sizes to Fishing Conditions

Within the two classic configurations, I utilize a variety of sizes and weights, ranging from ½ oz down to 1/8 oz. Typically, within the same brand and model, the blade size(s) and bait size between ½ oz and 3/8 oz are going to be similar, if not identical. Therefore, I use the ½ oz if I want the lure to run deeper, if I am fishing in current, or if I want to utilize more speed, I will use the 3/8 oz if I want the lure to run higher at slow to moderate speed. This means I usually use lighter lures when the water is below 70F and “float” them at a much slower pace just above the cover/structure, right in the strike zone. As the water warms beyond 70 F, I utilize speed more (with heavier spinnerbaits) to cover a greater amount of water more efficiently and trigger more strikes.

holding a fish next to my face

Slow Rolling vs Burning Spinnerbaits: Retrieve Speeds

If I am fishing slowly, the clevis blade of a tandem configuration would provide additional lift. However, there is a speed threshold below which the clevis blade will not spin, and when I am slow rolling, I am well below that speed. On a single-blade configuration, there is also a speed threshold below which the swivel blade will not spin, but this is a much lower speed threshold than that of a clevis blade. When the water is 56-68F, and I am slowly rolling, I use a low stretch braid or fused line so I can feel if the single blade is turning or not. I keep my rod tip high to keep the bait above the shallow cover/structure, and I reel just fast enough to keep the blade turning. As the water warms, I love the added flash and lift of the tandem. The only exception is if the filamentous algae (dreaded green slime) is thick. It tends to tangle in the clevis blade of a tandem configuration, and at this point, I will switch to single. 

Bass Fishing Rods, Reels and Lines for Spinnerbaits

I use a casting crankbait action rod (these have a softer tip) to allow the fish to have as little resistance as possible when inhaling the business end of the spinner bait. I pair this with a Piscifun Alloy M baitcasting reel and a 30lb. braid. The Alloy M casts smooth and far, and its high speed line recovery allows me to get the blades and lure moving at the end of a long cast, keeping the lure above the cover/structure, making my fishing more efficient and effective. If I am using a 1/8 oz spinnerbait, I find a medium-weight spinning rod paired with any high-quality Piscifun spinning reel and 10 lb fused line is the most efficient and effective.

How Spinnerbaits Elevated My Bass Fishing Success

Adding spinner baits to my arsenal has greatly improved my quality of fishing for largemouth, smallmouth, walleye, pike, crappie, and bowfin. I suspect it will do the same for anyone who takes the time to recognize when and where they shine and the subtle intricacies of their variations.


author:Adam Glickman

Adam Glickman

I am a field editor with MUSKIE Magazine, and have put hundreds of muskies in the bottom of the net. 

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June 06, 2024 — Adam Glickman
Tags: Fishing tips

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