Spinnerbaits 101: Session #1 of 3

During the next several installments I'll try to give you a basic knowledge on the uses of spinnerbaits.


I hope you enjoy the text and that just possibly you'll pick up one or two things about spinnerbaits that you didn't know or hadn't thought of before.

Many years ago back in "The good old days" remember them?

When 12 to 16-foot tri-hull boats with 35 HP Johnson were real Bass-Boats!

When "Fishing-Derbys" we now refer to them as BASS-TOURNAMENTS weren't considered fair unless they were started by someone firing off a round from a shotgun when it was time to go.

And Professional Bass Tournaments were held for a "grand-Prize of $1,000".

Most were won by people who had never been heard of before like some guy named Roland Martin from down in Florida!

Way back in those "almost-prehistoric" fishing days before the invention of the 'Bionic-Minnow', Tubes, 'Jerk-Baits', the 'Frenzy' crank-baits and yes even before 'Spider Wire' was invented...

Ten of the top-ranked touring-professionals on the then brand-new professional bass-fishing circuits, were asked this question in a national magazine article:

If you were to be limited to using one single lure on a body of water that you had never fished before what would it be and why?

Eight of the ten replied: A Spinnerbait.

One said a "jig & pig" and the last said a rubber worm.

Water coverage & success rates were given as the reasons why back then.

Just last year I asked the same question to 1,485 tournament Bass-anglers (both professional & amateurs).

1,214 (over 80% of those questioned) replied: Spinnerbaits.

2nd-place went to the old 'jig & pig' again and a very-distant 3rd-place went to various combined brands of lipless crank-baits and jerk-baits.

Exactly the same reasons as given in the previous magazine article, were again the dominant reasons why they would be used.

Spinnerbaits 101: WHAT THEY ARE

Spinnerbaits originally began as a bent safety-pin spinner with a rear-weighted hook made more attractive by the addition of a skirting material of some sort or the other (originally feathers or squirrel-hair).

The first spinnerbaits could be obtained in your choice of size & color.

As long as your choice was close to ¼ ounce and the color you wanted was either: Black, Brown, Chartreuse or White.

Over the years Spinnerbaits have evolved and been improved on in every conceivable way.

Changes have been made in action, balance, vibration, wire types & sizes available, color-options, weight-options, blade-options, hook-options and skirting-color & material-options.

It has been recently estimated that there are currently over 4.5 million possible Spinnerbait combinations available for sale to the general public.

Spinnerbaits are definitely NOT a fad!

Basically, Spinnerbaits are purchased by their weight with color & blade-type being the determining factor.

They are generally available in weights ranging from a small of approximately 1⁄16 ounce with 1⁄32-ounce increments, up to approximately 2 ounces in weight.

Blade sizes run from a small of size 00 to a large of a size 12.

Spinnerbaits are available in any number & style of blades imaginable (generally from 1 to 3).

Blade colors, types and styles (nearly 1,500 colors, styles & types are currently in common use in the United States) as well as Body colors (more than 300 options are now commonly available in the U.S.) & Body styles (hundreds) are limited only to your own imagination.

Skirting materials differ nearly as much as the color options for each style & type of material used.

They accomplish their intended fish-catching task in basically every part of the world today.

While some 'gimmick-baits' are designed more "to catch more fishermen than fish", most spinnerbaits are still being made for the day-to-day task of putting fish in the boat, PERIOD!

How any self-respecting fish would mistake a spinnerbait as food is beyond me!



Reflex strikes?


Territorial instinct?


But food?

I don't think so!

It is totally without a doubt that Spinnerbaits DO catch a lot of fish!

The flash, vibration, colors and action of a spinnerbait (properly used) seems irresistible to a lot of different species of fish!

No tournament Bass-angler 'worth his salt' or even an avid weekend angler would ever consider his lure arsenal complete without at least a small selection of spinnerbaits on hand.

The style, color and size of the lures in your arsenal are of course a strictly personal thing.

Your spinnerbait preferences will probably change over time depending more on your style of fishing and the waters that you fish more than any other factor.

Spinnerbaits 101: WHEN & WHERE TO USE THEM

Spinnerbaits can be fished throughout the water-column from just below the surface, to the structure at the very bottom of a lake or impoundment.

They can be equally effective in the springtime, summer, fall and even in the winter (if you're lucky enough to live where the water doesn't get hard in the winter).

They can be successfully fished from the crack of dawn, through the longest night!

Crystal-clear water or the muddiest floodwater you can imagine.

They can be 'ripped' through the water at the surface or so slowly that the blades barely turn.

They are an excellent choice for eliminating unproductive water and also for locating productive sites with aggressive fish present.

They can be fished in the 'scummiest backwaters', the thickest brush, rock piles, beaches, break-walls, piers, docks, weed-beds and even in open water.

There's really no place that a Spinnerbait cannot be fished effectively.

Spinnerbait Best Bets

"Pick your own poison"!

Spinnerbaits are a "Bank-Beater's" key lure.

They can be effectively fished in that 0' to 5' deep area that produces so many of the 'limit-filler' fish.

Fished at a medium retrieve rate through this type of an area, gives an angler the opportunity to 'hit' every nook & cranny in the shoreline.

Fished parallel to the shore they produce amazing numbers of fish.

Fished alongside and below docks and the boats tied up to the docks they shine.

Fishing the near-shore weed-beds and grassy areas they are about the best bet for covering an area thoroughly and in the least amount of time.

A fantastic way to pick out the most aggressive fish in the neighborhood!

Spinnerbaits are a "Junk-Fisherman's" key lure.

The back end of that cove where all the flotsam builds up on top of 3' of empty, weedless, water in the springtime is a good spot for a spinnerbait.

Through the top of and alongside that willow tree that just fell over at the side of a channel is another great spot for a spinnerbait to work its' magic.

What about that weed-bed that has only one or two openings in it?

Another good spot!

And how about that weed-choked channel that you passed on your way out of the last cut?

That's right!

Another good spot!

The list goes on & on!

Spinnerbaits are a "Structure-Fisherman's"key lure.

What better way to cover a stump-field, a rock-pile or old rotted-out dock pilings?

How about fishing that old creek channel or submerged roadbed in that reservoir?

'Slow-Rolling' a spinnerbait there is a great idea!

That 3' deep heavily weeded area that runs between those docks over there is another good bet.

Don't forget about that break-wall at the mouth of the marina!

Summary of Spinnerbaits 101

Did I miss any?

Probably only about a hundred or so!

But, you get the idea.

Spinnerbaits are also an "Open-Water Fisherman's" key lure.

After working the shoreline for a stretch, did you ever get the urge to turn around in your boat and throw that spinnerbait as far as you could just to straighten out the line a bit?

Think about it!

When was the last time that you eased your boat over that area and graphed it?

Probably never did!

You might be pleasantly surprised when a 5 or 6 pounder tries to take that rod out of your hands as you're straightening your line!

Maybe there's a dip or hump or isolated small weed patch out there that you've never noticed.

Maybe it's where the big guys take their noon siesta waiting for the PWCs to quit buzzing them.

It's worked for me more than one time!

Maybe it's worth a shot or two for you too!

Look for Spinnerbaits 101: Session #2 of 3 - How to Fish Spinnerbaits - Coming Next.

Dennis Bryant
The Fishing Professor

Look for other articles written by Dennis Bryant in The Fishin Professor's Pro Staff Angler Profile