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Bassdozer on Spinnerbaits

"Don't you love catching bass on spinnerbaits? From topwater to deep structure, in thick cover and open water, fast or slow, day or night, spinnerbaits can do it all, and bass will bite many spinnerbait combos and colors. Unfortunately, the diverse spinnerbait options that make fishing fun and productive, just aren't available on the market. The entire spinnerbait market can easily be described in this sentence: either a frontrunner Colorado and main Willow or two Willows in white, chartreuse, chartreuse/white, and a few single Colorado in black. That just described most of the market. That's why I make my own because there's no place else or no other way I can get precisely what works best for me - the overall balance, blades, spacing, wire diameter, components and colors I know I can depend on to produce quality bass when all else fails." - Russ Bassdozer

Spinnerbait Blades

Single Blades

Most anglers prefer double blades these days. Few use single blades, and there are even triple and quadruple blades now. But keep in mind that a single blade generates more torque, resistance, lift, feel, beat and vibration screwing through the water than two (or more) blades. Bassdozer's spinnerbaits are available in three proven single blade configurations:

  1. Single Willow. By far the most popular of all blade shapes. The Willow  is faster-moving with relatively more flash, less vibration, less water resistance and a tighter revolution than other blades. A Willow spins at a tight 20-25 degree angle (or less) of rotation. It is truly a  great blade, with a fast, chattering vibration and a large, reflective surface area. The Willow allows for a faster, true-running retrieve with less planing than a Colorado. The Single Willow is preferred for slow-rolling in deep water where it can be kept down a bit more easily than other blades. The streamlined Single Willow also gets through thick weeds and snaggy wood a bit more easily than other blade configurations. it is a good blade for highly active fish and warm water temperatures when fish have their metabolisms amped up
  2. Single Colorado. The Colorado is slower-moving with relatively more vibration, less flash, more water resistance and a wider swing than other blades. The Single Colorado is given the nod for night fishing, for cold water and dark, muddy water. A Colorado spins at a wider arc, a 45-50 degree angle of rotation. Most of all, it generates lots of water resistance, and a strong underwater vibration. The heavy vibration can really be felt in the rod tip, and it is easy to use this feedback to fine tune the lure's speed and depth when slow-rolling over shallower structure. The added resistance as a spinnerbait falls also makes the Colorado a good choice for a lift/drop retrieve over deep bottom or for flipping into cover. This is a particularly important blade in cold water at slow retrieve speeds and at night.
  3. Single Indiana. You rarely see a single Indiana blade. The Indiana is the subtlest blade. It doesn't flash as much as a Willow or vibrate as much as a Colorado. The Single Indiana works on non-aggressive fish, highly-pressured or spooky fish. It outright excels during the dog days of summer when fish are well-fed, often listless, and extremely alert to fishing pressure. It is a good blade for when the water is too hot or for bright, sunny days in clear water. An Indiana spins at a moderate 30-40 degree angle of rotation.

Most manufacturers put no other components on a wire arm with a single blade. They just don't realize that, especially with today's stronger braids and fluorocarbon lines, your knot often moves out of the spinnerbait R-bend while fighting a fish. Your line slides right up to the end of the wire arm. With a single-bladed spinnerbait, the knot can get cut by, slip under (and off) the wire end loop or straighten out the wire end loop. Even the pressure of fighting small fish can do this. Not only do you lose your fish, but your spinnerbait is gone. Bassdozer's unique safety buffer - a stainless coil spring shock absorber capped between two hollow metal beads prevents the risk that your knot will get cut, slip off or open the end loop.

In weeds, Bassdozer's unique safety buffer runs interference to block weeds before they reach the swivel, so weeds can't stop the blade from turning. You often hear people recite a theory about the Willow being a better grass blade because it is more streamlined and therefore more weedless. Quite honestly though, no matter what blade I tie on for grass, they all get mummified in green, including Willows. There is also a second theory that a Colorado emits a stronger vibration that attracts bass better in areas of poor visibility, such as thick grass. You decide, but while you do that, remember only Bassdozer's spinnerbaits have the grass-busting safety buffer to help keep whatever blade you choose turning in thick grass.

Double Blades

Most anglers today prefer to use two blades on spinnerbaits. Indeed the Double Willow and Front Colorado / Back Willow are by far the two most popular of all blade configurations. This preference may be partly based on the premise that if one blade is good, then two must be better - but that is not always true. Single-bladed spinnerbaits often fish truer, more precisely and with more vibration from a single blade than a pair of blades. Two blades can cancel out and weaken the effect of either one. So don't neglect single-bladed spinnerbaits, even though double blades are more popular.

Bassdozer's spinnerbaits can be made in most any combination of double blades. Just using Willow, Colorado and Indiana, there are nine possible combos: 1) Willow/Willow, 2) Indiana/Indiana, 3) Colorado/Colorado, 4) Willow/Colorado, 5) Colorado/Willow, 6) Willow/Indiana, 7) Indiana/Willow, 8) Indiana/Colorado and 9) Colorado/Indiana. Some of these combos are uncommon on tackle shop shelves, but they all appeal to bass.

When buying a double-bladed spinnerbait, make sure you are happy with the front blade that comes on it, and don't ever try to change it. You certainly can (using the split rings) switch the back blade, but opening and re-closing the wire end loop to switch the front blade fatigues the wire. If the knot slides up the arm while fighting a fish, the wire loop can uncurl if it has been weakened by opening and re-closing it.

All Bassdozer's double blade assemblies have at least one hollow metal bead to serve as a safety buffer between your knot and the clevis (U-shaped wire that holds the front blade). A clevis often has sharp, square edges. While fighting a fish, the knot can often slide out of the R-bend and up the wire arm. If your knot is stressed against the sharp clevis edge under pressure of fighting even small fish, that's a heartbreak waiting to happen! So Bassdozer puts a bead for the knot to butt up against. This safety buffer bead protects you from cut-offs on the clevis. Many other manufacturers don't put anything protective in front of the sharp clevis, but Bassdozer does.

Once in a while, we may use plastic parts sparingly to add color on the wire arm. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we prefer to use all metal parts on Bassdozer's spinnerbaits. Plastic parts dampen wire arm vibration. Plus all metal parts add a subtle tinkling sound of their own. Worst of all, often under pressure of fighting fish, unsnagging a lure, hitting something solid on a bad cast, or just dropping it in the parking lot, plastic parts can break or crack or otherwise ruin a perfectly good spinnerbait.

Here is a table with more information on how best to use some of the many different blade combinations that are possible. The ones shown below have been tested and tightly calibrated in terms of blade size, spacing and head weight. Some of the assemblies below you may never have seen or heard of before, but fish will welcome the sight of them all!

Double Willow. The Willow is the fastest-moving, has the tightest arc, relatively more flash, relatively less vibration, less water resistance, less torque, less lift and gets deeper than other blades. The Double Willow is the most popular of all blade configurations.
Double Colorado. The Colorado is the slowest-moving, has the widest arc, more vibration, less flash, more water resistance. more torque, more lift and rides shallower than other blades.
Front Colorado / Back Willow. This popular blade configuration can be fished more slowly and deeper than most other blade pairs (except the special Slow Roller blades).
Slow Rollers. These special Slow Roller blades are designed to spin at slower retrieve speeds. Both the Slow Colorado and Slow Willow are lighter, smaller, thinner and flatter with less concave cup than standard blades. Slow Rollers come in the two most popular blade configurations used today - the Double Willow Slow Roller (not shown) and Front Colorado / Back Willow Slow Roller (shown)
Front Indiana / Back Willow. The front Indiana creates a water flow that seems to prevent the Willow from rotating normally. Instead, the Willow exhibits a lazier, faltering and errant type of spin in the wake of the Indiana blade. This creates a more lifelike blade action than the typical mechanical spin of a Willow blade. Bass rarely see this blade pair.
Front Willow / Back Indiana. It's unlikely you may have come across this pairing. It is uncommon but nevertheless one of Bassdozer's favorite configurations. It's absolutely ideal for moderate to fast retrieves. This blade pair blurs into each other, giving a very smooth, fluid, blended appearance. Non-intrusive and non-alarming see-through effect on both blades. There's something different about this blade combination that the bass can sense. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Reverse Double Willow. Rarely seen reversed blade pair has a large front and small back blade. With steady reeling, blades present a combined look almost as if one blade instead of two. But at slow speed, on the fall, pause or any momentary hesitation, the blades kick each other. You can feel the blades kick, stop, then start turning again. Feels like a live shiner on the end at times - an unpredictable pulling and tugging effect.
Reverse Colorado / Willow. Anglers and bass rarely see this blade pair. Instead of a small front blade and large back blade, this configuration is the reverse - a large front and small back blade. At a slow to moderate retrieve, the large front blade gets a good grip on the water, rotating and vibrating powerfully. Yet the back blade is almost starved for water to turn it. Instead, the back blade just flops and gasps and flutters weakly, creating an overall look of an injured baitfish.

Other Blade Shapes, Sizes and Colors

The blade configurations you see on Bassdozer's spinnerbaits have been calibrated to the point where there are certain blade sizes spaced specific distances apart on certain head weights and wire arms that work best together. They look best when they revolve together, and tend to catch fish best. Fact is, the blade pairings you see on Bassdozer's spinnerbaits are tightly calibrated to perform best. Just to go up or down one size on one of the blades can wreck the harmony of a perfect blade pair, making it merely ordinary. In some pairings, spacing is critical. A certain blade pair that fish relish when spaced one inch apart, becomes only average when spaced one-half inch apart. The blades you see are matched to the mass and weight of the spinnerbait heads and matched to the wire arm specifications. When it comes to colored blades that Bassdozer uses, there are certain blade colors (some uncommon) that go well with each other, and complement certain skirt colors. We take pride in that, after many hours of side-to-side, cast-to-cast comparisons of an infinite number of possible blade combinations, the blade pairs you see offered on Bassdozer's spinnerbaits have proven to be the best possible configurations we can offer you. So if you stick with Bassdozer's pre-built spinnerbait blade assemblies, you are getting our best.

Some other points to keep in mind about blades are:

  • Size numbers vary by style and brand. There are three major manufacturers of premium spinnerbait blades in the USA. Their blades are approximately but not exactly numbered the same. There can be a full size difference in some blades. Even two different styles of say a Willow blade made by the same company are not exactly numbered and sized the same. Also, many private brands of spinnerbaits get their own custom blades stamped with their own shape and size variations. So keep in mind, there is only loose uniformity to blade size numbering across the tackle industry.

  • Picking the right blade size. There's no magic involved here. Recognizing that blade sizes may vary slightly, you can't go wrong if you simply match the spinnerbait blade size to the pound weight of the fish you expect to catch. If you plan to catch mostly 2 to 4 pound bass, then stick to blade sizes from 2 to 4 for best results. If you are hoping for 5 to 6 pound fish, try size 5 to 6 blades. Use size 7 to 8 blades for trophies in that size range. If you honestly need bigger blades than that, please take me fishing with you.

  • Too small a blade. Relative to the head (weight) and wire arm, can become too dead-looking, too mechanical and lifeless. You take away flash, vibration and can lose everything that makes a spinnerbait good when you undersize the blades too small. Front or back, 3-1/2 is about the smallest you can go on a Willow and still get it to turn. A front Indiana smaller than size 3 tends not to be practical. A front Colorado can be used down to size 2 for small fish or small spinnerbaits.

  • Too big a blade. Can generate more torque to one side than the head (weight) may be able to counterbalance. The spinnerbait may tend to go up on its side when retrieved fast or even loop-the-loop with too big a blade. If you want to reel super slow, a larger blade may work okay, but otherwise it can be problematic.

  • Front blade. Action of the back blade is always weakened by the front blade. For this reason, too large a front blade is usually not good. Choose a front blade to add a small shot of contrasting flash, or use a small painted blade to serve as an attention-attracting color accent spot.

Blade Finishes

Painted Blades. Emit the least flash of all and appear smallest of all. At the same time, painted blades present the most solid appearance, and offer marked contrast against the broken-up background of a strong chop or wind-smeared surface. Yet there are calm, still days when the surface is flat as glass that painted blades work better than metallic finishes. Who knows why? I do know most anglers don't fish painted blades as often as they should. That's their mistake.

Which Blade to Use When?

What I usually find is that bass will hit several, sometimes many different blade patterns on any given day. And at the same time, I do indeed find distinct combinations of blades that seem to be more productive at the moment than other blade combos! All armchair theories aside, no one really knows what a bass thinks when it hits a spinnerbait, so who's to say. That is the problem with all the bass fishing advice in the world. On any given day, bass can blow the best theories ever concocted by anglers. I don't always try to figure it out or understand why. If I am doing better with one spinnerbait than another, I stick to it as long as it produces fish. Heaven forbid my fishing buddy is doing better than I am, then I am going to tie on whatever spinnerbait he is using too! It's that simple.

Spinnerbait Swivels

Bassdozer uses genuine Worth ball bearing swivels made in USA. Worth swivels are one of the two (Sampo is the other) best spinnerbait swivels on the market. Worth swivels keep blades turning even at slow speeds, and have extra large split rings to make blade changes easy. It sets the new standard for all other spinnerbait swivels, claims Worth.

Bassdozer says: "In the spinnerbait industry, ball bearing swivels are assessed in subjective terms of their failure rate. One measure of this is to gauge how many brand new swivels straight out of the package don't spin as freely as expected. In the case of this model Worth spinnerbait swivel, the failure rate is one of the lowest of all swivels, and after assessing tens of thousands of this Worth swivel, I'd say practically zero. It's certainly one of the best spinnerbait swivels you can buy, and most economical."

The Worth swivel is developed exclusively just for spinnerbaits in one size only. Worth put this superior quality American-made ball bearing swivel through years of research and testing for use on spinnerbaits.

It features high polished, precision stainless steel ball bearings, in conjunction with tapered bearing surfaces, combine for a smooth, almost effortless spinning action.

Even a special oversized split ring was designed to accommodate this ball bearing swivel for perfect balance and performance on a spinnerbait. These special spinnerbait split rings are made from thinner wire for free-swinging movement and action - plus an oversized ring diameter that makes it much easier to change spinnerbait blades.

Swivel Switch

On any ball bearing spinnerbait swivel, there's just one rotating post that spins freely on one end only. The other end of a spinnerbait swivel has a fixed post that does not spin. Bassdozer's (and most all other) spinnerbaits have the blade attached to the rotating post. This may let the blade rotate more easily, since it only has to spin the tiny post, not the entire swivel. More free spin, especially at slower speeds or on the fall, may be gotten when the blade is attached to the rotating post. By reattaching the blade to the fixed post, the blade must rotate the whole swivel now. Some say this produces more vibration - especially with a light wire arm. You may adjust this yourself if you desire to try it. To adjust this, always change your swivel or blade using the split rings. Never open the end loop of the wire arm, since this weakens the end loop.

Bassdozer's Hidden Head Spinnerbaits

Hidden Head Spinnerbaits. This design is not traditional. Actually, very few spinnerbait brands possess this design. Yet the Hidden Head provides advantages over traditional spinnerbaits in several situations. Unlike most other spinnerbaits on the market today, much of the weight and mass of this design is hidden under the skirt. It presents fish with a strike-inducing baitfish silhouette under the skirt. The baitfish silhouette hidden under the skirt serves the same purpose as adding a soft plastic trailer, except the Hidden Head is more compact.

The Hidden Head presents fish with a smaller profile within a heavier spinnerbait. A 3/8 to 5/8 oz Hidden Head has the appearance of the 1/4 oz size of traditional spinnerbait brands. The smaller profile makes it ideal for clear water or for cold front conditions. The small size makes it extremely attractive for smaller bass species (spotted bass or smallmouth), but chunky largemouth love it too. Especially heavily-pressured largemouth. Any time fish have been heavily-pressured, you can do better with a smaller spinnerbait presentation such as the Hidden Head.

Due to its compact, concentrated construction and its horizontal weight distribution, the Hidden Head runs truer (more stable), deeper and faster than traditional spinnerbaits. Despite its small size, the hook is big.

Bass often have trouble accurately hitting traditional spinnerbaits. They often miss it - some days more than others. The more compact profile of the hidden head requires bass to be more exact during the strike. You present a smaller strike point thereby forcing the fish to make more focused strikes. This results in higher hook-up ratios without having to downsize to a lighter weight spinnerbait. You continue to get all the merits of a heavier weight spinnerbait - but with a smaller, more specific strike point.

The horizontal weight distribution spread across the length of the hook shank, gives the Hidden Head one of the best "vertical falls" in the spinnerbait business. A single round Colorado blade is best for a vertical presentation to "helicopter" down bluff walls, tight to bridge structures, alongside dock pilings, dropping through standing timber and so on.

Suddenly "killing" a spinnerbait by briefly pausing the retrieve is an awesome triggering mechanism. I've seen many situations where, if you did not kill a spinnerbait, you would not get hit. It is similar to getting hit when you pause a jerkbait. With the Hidden Head, due to its horizontal weight distribution, it falls better, more horizontally and more lifelike when suddenly "killed" during the retrieve.

Coming through thick grass or heavy cover is another situation where the Hidden Head can do better than traditional spinnerbaits. Traditional spinnerbaits have a bulky, snag-prone lump of a head. However, the short section of the Hidden Head exposed to snags is identical in size, shape and as snagless as a 1/4 oz bullet sinker. Most of the Hidden Head weight is streamlined, spread out down the length of the hook, so there is nothing to snag.

The silicone skirt stays in place better than traditional spinnerbaits. A fish will have a hard time pulling the skirt off a Hidden Head. Because the baitfish-shaped silhouette of the weight is under the skirt, you can often use less strands in the skirt. Sometimes fish prefer a sparse skirt. So don't be afraid to pluck 10, 15 or more strands out of the skirt to make a more subtle presentation, especially in clear water

Bassdozer's Spinnerbait Skirts

Bassdozer has customized these silicone skirt colors to provide you with a truly great lure skirt! They are super soft for pulsating breathing skirt action.

Silicone skirts are approximately 5-1/4" long and manufactured in "tabs" of twenty or twenty-two strands each. The typical skirt is made with two tabs. Additional color accent strands are usually added in five or ten strand increments. So all the custom Bassdozer skirts below have 44 to 50 full-length, double-facing skirt strands, meaning 88 to 100 strand ends per skirt. The retainer band is placed off-center to create one short side and one long side. Usually, the long side is put on facing forward so that when the long side bends and folds back over the short side, then they both end up actually being about the same length when folded over.

Think of a spinnerbait straight off the factory floor as if you are buying a pair of dress slacks. You are certainly encouraged to tailor the waist (too full) and the hem (too long) before you can wear a pair of dress slacks. Likewise, you may feel spinnerbait skirts come too full or too long at times. You are certainly encouraged to tailor them to suit your individual needs. Think nothing of plucking strands out of the spinnerbait skirt to make it appear sparser. Don't feel uneasy to pluck out ten or more strands. At times, fish do seem to desire these sparser skirts.

Every so often you will read that some super-sharpies trim the skirts on their spinnerbaits. You may wonder whether you should do that too? For many years I religiously trimmed all my skirts on all my spinnerbaits. However to summarize over three decades of trimming skirts, I can't say that a trimmed skirt ever made much difference to bass. I tend to catch just as many fish on untrimmed skirts nowadays. Other expert anglers I fish with catch at least as many fish as me - and I've never yet fished with another angler who trims their skirts. So I can't say it seriously matters, and it's certainly not something an angler should worry about.

Wit that being said, I may still take some time to trim a few key spinnerbaits that I may depend on during a fishing day to produce fish. Here are four looks I like:

  • Standard. On many skirts, there is one short end. The other end is longer. Bassdozer's (and the majority of other) spinnerbaits have the long end put facing forward (top in photo) so it folds back and ends even with the shorter end. This provides a  bulkier look whereby the skirt ends closer to the business end - the single hook. This is how 90% of spinnerbait are made.

  • Reversed. By reattaching the skirt with the short end facing forward (bottom in photo), this produces a double layered look. It has a shorter collar and longer tail. You may carefully remove and reattach the skirt yourself if you desire to try it. When reversed, the short side bends and folds back to create a short outer layer (like an umbrella), and the long side of the skirt trails out further like a tail.
    This gives a bigger profile, and it is how I routinely dress 3/4 and 1 ounce spinnerbaits, with the short end of the skirt forward, the long end trailing. Everything about a 3/4 or 1 ounce spinnerbait - the head, the blades, the hook, the wire - tends to be bigger. So elongating a skirt (reversing it) is not a bad thing to do with a big spinnerbait for big bass. Big fish are going to engulf the whole bait, so a longer skirt is not a problem.
    For small fish, making the skirt appear longer and more tail-like on a small spinnerbait may encourage small fish to strike short at the longer tail. So you may need to add a trailer hook.

  • Willow Leaf. With a standard skirt (long end facing forward), use a dinner fork to comb straight and separate all the strands and let them hang straight down. Then use a small sharp scissors to shape the skirt into more of a willow leaf shape. Slice downward and inward with the scissors all around the skirt. This matches the profile of baitfish better than the square-cut factory skirt. Most everything a bass eats, baitfish and crawdads included, have this elliptical body shape. So I often shape my spinnerbaits to fit in with the menu. For this look, I usually donít want too much of the skirt to extend past the hook bend.

  • Joe Dirt Mullet Haircut. In this case, Iíll leave the long end facing forward as usual. I'll separate out the rear-facing from the forward-facing strands, and hold the forward-facing strands out of the way. Next cut the rear-facing strands as short as the hook bend. As with the Willow Leaf look, I often give a more natural-looking layer or feather cut to these inner strands, clipping them close to the hook bend. Leave the forward-facing strands uncut so when they flare backward, they stream out longer than the underlying short-cut strands. This presents the same concept as a hidden head spinnerbait, where there is a smaller fish-shaped profile appearing underneath the wider umbrella of the outside skirt strands.

Bassdozer says: "When fish are hitting your spinnerbait but don't get hooked, they're telling you your spinnerbait is pretty close to what they want - but something's still not quite right. One of the easiest things you can do is turn the skirt upside down. Bass may be striking from an angle that puts the wire blade arm directly in their path, blocking the hook point. Turning the skirt upside down may change the attack angle so that bass do not hit the wire blade arm first. I have seen this simple trick pay off big, and even win tournaments!"

New Skirt Style for 2006

Silicone skirts for spinnerbaits have improved in design lately. One skirt manufacturer has recently perfected a center hub that locks seventy skirt strands (each 2-1/2" long) in place that all billow backward. Chances are, you are not yet using this new skirt style for 2006, but you certainly should be.

It's customary that skirts strands lay parallel to a spinnerbait's or jig's direction of pull. In this new skirt, the strands are perpendicular (at a right angle) to the lure, and that causes a billowy, puffed out, hyperactive skirt. There is a lot of wiggle, and since it's so puffy, more see-through effect than usual. It has a light, airy, "full yet sparse" look.

Most anglers and lure manufacturers are not yet using these. Although it is available, this new skirt type has not really gotten onto the market yet, except that manufacturer Strike King and top pro Kevin Van Dam use it. It's really a skirt to watch. Fish favor it.

In their marketing ads, Strike King tends to point out the wide, symmetrical "bloom" of this new skirt type, meaning the way the strands puff up off the center hub.

The center hub locks the strands in place and postures the strands at more of a right angle instead of laying flat parallel to the spinnerbait. The strands are locked permanently in place by a small rubber center hub that creates a perfect "umbrella" profile. This "bloom" effect causes more skirt action, and because strands are locked in place, more of a natural baitfish effect is possible.

Because the strands are locked in place, the different colors (affixed in swatches of five strands per swatch) do not move out of place or get mixed into each other. So if a skirt has different back, side and belly colors, the colors are permanently locked in position. Say you have ten blue strands on top, ten flashy silver strands on each side, and ten pearly white belly strands. On conventional skirts, it's only a short time until the blue, silver and white wiggle around and all mix together, looking chaotic. But on this new skirt type, the strands don't move out of place. They preserve whatever baitfish design or color separation was originally intended.

So skirts can be built with clearly defined back, side and belly colors locked in place.

The skirt shape - the square cut ends - out of the water are deceptive. The skirt looks square cut in the back, but when used on a jig or spinnerbait, the end of the skirt tips come together when pulled through the water, into a point like the tapered tip of an artist's paintbrush. Because the "bloom" or bend where the strands come off the hub puffs out so much, it is not thin like an artists paintbrush at the shoulder - the skirt "bloom" is quite wide at the shoulder, but the tips of the skirt all come together into a pointed tip end to the skirt in the water. So whereas the end of the skirt looks square cut in the hand, the square cut ends come together into a pointed tip in the water - when the lure is being retrieved. When the lure is retrieved, each strand of the skirt constantly flexes backward, making the strands wriggle actively. It's a very lively action skirt, and due to its sparse billowy appearance, it is ideal for clear water. There is a lot more see-through effect on this skirt style, which breaks it up more and blends more naturally into the background.

It goes nicely on a hidden head spinnerbait since fish get a great glimpse of the baitfish-shaped body hidden beneath the billowy skirt. This skirt lets fish more clearly view the attractive fish-shaped hidden weight belly. However, it has to be a small size (1/4 or 3/8 oz) hidden head since the center hub cannot stretch wide enough without ripping to go over a 1/2 oz or larger hidden head belly.

On a swimming jig or any clear water or finesse type jig with a soft plastic trailer, the sparseness of this new skirt style really shows off the soft trailer body underneath, letting fish get a good peek-a-boo glimpse of the full trailer shape beneath the billowing skirt.

When the skirt is retrieve it has the wide "bloom" at the shoulder - and the tips touch each other coming into a point on the retrieve. When paused, since the strands come off the center hub at a ninety degree angle to the spinnerbait (or jig), the strands open up like unfurling a picnic blanket. When at rest on the bottom, the strands stand straight out (like spreading out a picnic blanket) in a 360 degree circle of strands radiating all around the spinnerbait or jig in a perfect circle.

You probably have not tried this new skirt style yet, but you should. It's that good.

Which Skirt Color to Use When?

The spinnerbait is a versatile and complex lure. The choice of skirt color can be as important as the choice of blade shapes, sizes and colors. A chartreuse/white skirt is by far the most popular choice. A solid white skirt (with optional color accent strands or various flakes) is popular too. A solid black skirt (optionally with blue, red, purple or chartreuse accent strands) can work anywhere, any time from gin clear to jet black water. I like fire tiger skirts when water is muddier than usual or in grass beds with limited visibility due to dense vegetation. Fire tiger also works well in early spring and late fall when bass are up shallow and aggressive. Lots of people use solid chartreuse, but I personally don't like it. I have seen a few too many fish bolt and run from solid chartreuse spinnerbaits, only to circle back and smoke something more natural like a jig/pig or tubebait. However, I do like half chartreuse skirts, with half another color. At night, I consistently use a solid white or solid black skirt (optionally with blue, red, purple or chartreuse accent strands in it).

Fact is, you can use any color on a spinnerbait skirt that matches whatever you would use on a rubber jig, a soft plastic bait or crankbait. If there is some lure of a certain color that you have been doing well with, match the color on a spinnerbait. Chances are you will do well with that color spinnerbait too.

And yes indeed, you can use any crawdad colors on a spinnerbait and do well - blacks, browns, greens - with orange, red or blue accent strands. After all, a spinnerbait is just a bass jig wearing a flashy earring or two on it. Try black/red, black/blue, brown/orange, brown/purple, watermelon/red, green pumpkin - whatever works best on jig type lures or soft plastics will also work great on spinnerbaits.

Spinnerbait colors for clear water. A question I am often asked is, "What are some good color spinnerbaits for clear water situations?" They ALL are good colors! I fish in clear water with visibility to 30 feet in the main lake basins, and slightly less visibility the further back you go into side creeks, coves and canyons. All spinnerbait colors work in clear water, and it is often unpredictable which color will be better or worse at one time or another. From clear sparkle skirts to jet black and everything in between. In general, it is always a good idea to match lure colors to water color, bottom color, surrounding shoreline color, prevalent bait color - but overall, spinnerbait color hasn't much to do with water clarity. It is a myth, erroneous thinking to say there are certain color spinnerbaits for clear water. What is true is there are certain colors that work better in one season than another, and based on the moods of the fish.

Is it a whole school of baitfish? Probably because of the shape of willow leaf blades, many people proclaim that spinnerbaits look like a whole school of small baitfish to a bass. That may be true at times, and some spinnerbaits come armed with three or four miniature blades to increase the "whole school of  'em" effect. On the other hand, you can definitely dress spinnerbaits in baitfish patterns that imitate a singular large shad,  shiner, or large minnow. You can use fire tiger to imitate a single adult perch or a sunfish - or to resemble a whole school or cluster of smaller-sized perch or panfish. No one truly knows what bass see in a spinnerbait.

Or is it a crayfish? Now comes an insight: One daybreak on Boston's Charles River, I'm casting to some man-made shoreline structure. I've caught seven bass to four pounds on smoke grubs so far. Well, these two guys run n' gun down the shoreline quickly casting all visible cover as they go. They pull right into casting distance and ask if they can toss a few into my spot, being that they are in a tournament that day. I say okay, and they started whizzing spinnerbaits right by me, peppering the entire area all around me. Now here comes the interesting part. I have a front row seat to watch their spinnerbaits clearly and closely as they slow-roll them off the shore and pull them right past me back out to deeper water. They have black/red skirts with twin black/red blades. The lures throw up puffs of silt as they bounce off sandy bottom ridges. The lures stutter and start as they slam and deflect off rocks. Those spinnerbaits look exactly like crayfish skittering across the bottom. If it had been my own spinnerbait on my own rod, I probably would not have been so impressed, but since I was totally disconnected from the baits, it really hit me how much the illusion of a live, crawling/scooting, start/stop kind of crayfish effect the slow-rolled spinnerbait made. And by the way, it only looked like one crayfish, not a whole school of 'em.

Bassdozer's Spinnerbait Trailers

There are two types of trailers for spinnerbaits. First, trailer hooks, and second, trailer baits.

Let's talk about trailer hooks first. Some pros who are written about say you should always use a trailer hook on a spinnerbait. Yet some other pros say they never use a trailer hook. What should you do?  Always use a trailer hook whenever you can. You will simply catch more fish, and it is surprisingly snagless. Even with a trailer hook, that big wire arm in front of the spinnerbait makes it one of the most snagless lures you can throw.

Now let's talk about trailer baits. A trailer bait is a completely second bait you add to a spinnerbait. It can be pork rind or soft plastic. There are days when bass prefer if not downright require spinnerbaits to be dressed with soft plastic or pork trailer baits.

Two styles of soft plastic trailers I favor are single tail grubs and skirted double tail hula grubs. I tend to use the single tail grub on lighter spinnerbaits on steady retrieves. I use the skirted double tail grub grub more for slow-rolling or bouncing bottom with heavier spinnerbaits. I often use a chunky natural pork frog as a trailer.

However, itís a pain to constantly tend to trailers. With soft plastic, fish are constantly tugging the tails off and pulling the delicate trailers down the hook. A rare few spinnerbaits come with a trailer keeper color molded in, making glue unnecessary. Most spinnerbaits donít come with keeper colors, so you may have to carefully glue trailer baits onto them. Then a fish rips the tail off. Thatís a bummer because now you have to stop fishing to affix a new trailer. Pork trailers have problems with drying out. Yet there are days when the extra time to attend to trailer baits may enhance catch results. So donít be lazy. Soft plastic or pork trailers can pay off big some days.

But my favorite type of trailer to add on spinnerbaits is a feather sweetened with reflective mylar flash to stimulate more strikes. The feathers undulate like the tail of a baitfish and provide you the benefits of a trailer bait and a trailer hook both in one add-on.

Our flyfishing brethren have always known the powerful attraction that feathers and mylar material holds over trout. Ditto for bass. By using a feather teaser as a trailer you are adding a second completely separate lure to a spinnerbait. Definitely treat the feather as if it a separate second lure, and sometimes you may get the notion that all a bass wants is the feather add-on, not the spinnerbait itself.. Of all the tips you may ever come across in magazines, articles, TV or on the water, this is one tip that can really pay off for you. Try it!

It's a wonder the major spinnerbait manufacturers don't market these things yet? Fortunately, they are easy to do-it-yourself. The only caveat is you can't just slip a feather teaser on without some sort of retainer, or it will fly off the hook when you cast. To keep it in place, I slide clear plastic tubing over the hook eye. The tubing helps keep your feather teaser from flying off the hook when you cast.

For largemouth, I favor a single hook trailer, at least 3/0 or 4/0. A decent largemouth tends to try to engulf the trailer, not slash at it. I like the extra strength of a single hook trailer in largemouth country. Please note that you may not be able to get feathered single hook spinnerbait trailers anywhere. You may have to make them.

Feathered treble hooks are available. For smallmouth and spotted bass that often slash at a spinnerbait, I find a size #2 feather treble to have the correct weight, presence and drag in the water so that it tends to lay straight back most of the time. I find a smaller feather treble usually does not have the chutzpah to lay straight and therefore fouls the primary hook more. Besides, the #2 treble has a stronger hook wire for holding bass. You will amaze yourself at how many bass (most of them) come in only pinned on the feathers. And while some fishing spots are too snaggy or weedy for a treble trailer, these spots are in the minority. There are far more places you can sling a feather treble than you can't.

So pin a sweet feather teaser to the tail of your spinnerbaits. It's one of Bassdozer's proven tactics to enhance your bass-catching success.

There are times the fish become more interested in selectively striking the feather trailer as an independent bait. That is, fish will move their strike point to hit the feather trailer only, to pluck that out of the bait ball, without wanting to hit the skirt at all. When that's the case, I often trim the silicone skirt shorter in order to separate the feather treble and make it even more independent from the skirt.

This creates a bait ball. By that, I mean you may have two blades (often different hues); third, the painted head; fourth, the multi-strand skirt; and finally, the feathered trailer hook failing to keep up with the others in the bait ball which signals it is easy pickings to bass.

All of these discrete components move in unison since they are all connected - the blades, the painted head, the skirt strands, the feather trailer. They swim synchronously in the instinctively recognized, often unbreakable defense motion of a prey school, which is to move in perfect unison. Yet the feather trailer is last in line - and most vulnerable.

So when your strike ratio goes up by adding a feather trailer to a spinnerbait, the bass are not always trying to strike the spinnerbait itself any more. They're trying to snatch the laggard, trying to pick off "Tail End Charlie"... the one who's dawdling behind the rest of the bait ball.

That's all for now folks. Thanks for reading and hope you will enjoy using some of this information (and some of Bassdozer's spinnerbaits) when you're on the water.

Click here to Buy Spinnerbaits at Bassdozer's Store. Thank you.

Spinnerbait Rattles

A worthy and little-used type of spinnerbait trailer or attractor accessory, is to add rattles to a spinnerbait. Many anglers use rattles on jigs, but virtually no one uses them on spinnerbaits. That's puzzling because rattles do seem to increase strikes at times with spinnerbaits. Best of all, spinnerbaits never stop shaking due to the blade vibration, so rattles on a spinnerbait shake constantly. This is not the case on jigs. Jigs don't shake constantly like spinnerbaits. Rattles are much less noisy when used on jigs than on spinnerbaits.

Some of Bassdozer's skirts (not all) have two rubber "ears" on the skirt band that lets you plug rattle pods securely into the ear sockets. So you can plug two rattle pods right into the skirt itself. But not all skirts have such ears. Fortunately there are rattle "nunchakus" which are flexible rubber straps with two rattle pods, one on each end. There is a center hub on the strap, so you can slip it over any spinnerbait hook shank. With spinnerbaits that have a trailer keeper collar (not all do), you can snug the nunchakus up onto the keeper collar right behind the skirt. Otherwise, simply swinging freely on the hook bend is a perfectly fine place for rattle nunchakus too.

The two arms wave around and have some wiggling motion, but its main feature is it rattles and creates noise.

There's no problem (and an advantage at times), to plug two rattle pods into a skirt that has ears and slip nunchakus onto the hook shank too. That makes four rattle pods in use. Sounds like a lot (pun intended). Yet it's still far less rattles than lipless crankbaits have inside them.

Keep in mind, rattles are at their very best (on jigs or spinnerbaits) when the hard rattle pods bounce off rocks, wood, bottom and other underwater obstructions. So if your spinnerbait is making frequent contact with stuff, that's an ideal time to slip rattle nunchakus on the hook shank. Then again, burning a spinnerbait as fast as possible just beneath the surface in open water, that's a great time for chattering rattle nunchakus too. In fact, it only takes an instant to add or remove rattles any time, and it may surprise you with increased strikes!

Click here to Buy Spinnerbaits at Bassdozer's Store. Thank you.

Bassdozer's Spinnerbait Tactics

In sunny Arizona where I reside, bass season lasts twelve months. I tie a spinnerbait on shortly after New Years, and a spinnerbait will usually catch fish for me on every fishing trip I take throughout the year. Now when I say "spinnerbait" I collectively mean about thirty different skirt colors, dozens of head shapes, weights, and blade combos. Collectively, spinnerbaits aren't always the absolutely best bait every day, but I do catch at least one to many good bass on spinnerbaits almost every fishing trip throughout the year.

We often get so much pabulum passed along to us as the inside dope. Prescriptions such as "Oh, you use a spinnerbait under such-and-such conditions."

Well, I use a spinnerbait one way or another under every type of condition imaginable throughout the twelve calendar months with satisfactory results.

Most of all, bass are programmed to bite at things - any things. It's what bass do, just like dogs are programmed to bark at things and cats are programmed to pounce on things. It's what cats and dogs do. They aren't all that hung up about what they are biting, barking or pouncing at. Don't get so hung up on whether conditions make it a textbook spinnerbait day. Just remember, most of the time, under most any and all conditions, bass do really want to bite something, anything. A spinnerbait is as good a bait as any, most any day.

The best conditions for spinnerbaits are when bass are biting them. There is just no way I - or anyone - can stand on the shoreline or boat dock before the start of a fishing trip and predict whether or not conditions are correct for spinnerbaits that day. Don't try to outguess yourself. You - or anyone - will guess wrong as often as right. Just try them. It does not take much to throw a few casts with a spinnerbait for a few minutes during every trip. That's what I do. If I get bit, I throw a few more casts with the spinnerbait. If I get bit again, it could mean the beginning of a good spinnerbait session on the water. I throw a spinnerbait almost every day, and I have caught bass - had good spinnerbait days - under every imaginable condition of wind, water and weather, every time of day and time of season. But there is no way I can ever predict exactly when spinnerbaits will or will not work. I throw it, and if it is working, those are the best conditions for using it.

A spinnerbait will usually work - more often than not. Versatility is key. If you only use it one way - chuck it out, engage the reel and wind it in - that one way will not always work. If that's all you do, there will be days you say, "The spinnerbait bite is not on," but if you had varied your tactics, you may have stumbled across, by trial and error, a spinnerbait tactic that may have enabled you to have a pretty good spinnerbait day.

Unfortunately, what I find is that many anglers use spinnerbaits in the same single way. They basically chuck it out, engage the reel and wind it back. This does work well, but it is what I call "one dimensional" spinnerbait usage. Most anglers never get past it. When that one method doesn't work, they don't get bit.

Many guys may get on a spinnerbait bite, and then say it died. Maybe they say the spinnerbait bite ended after the morning, or it did not turn on until the afternoon or until the wind came up. Or it may be a good spinnerbait bite for them one day, but be non-existent the next day, and so on.

No lure works every day all the time, but the spinnerbait can come close if it is used in versatile ways. Often it is not that the spinnerbait bite died - it is still there but the fish changed, yet the angler's one dimensional approach did not change. Few anglers use the full range of color and blade styles that are possible. Indeed, most spinnerbait manufacturers, the entire spinnerbait market itself, is very one dimensional itself and limited in colors and blade options.

So sticking to a spinnerbait - but changing models and how you fish it - can be challenging. You will be "on virgin territory" since few other anglers venture past that one dimension with spinnerbaits. It requires you put in the time, effort and expand the versatility of the spinnerbaits you use. Fortunately, Bassdozer provides the spinnerbait lure options and the information for you to become a multidimensional spinnerbait expert.

Anatomy of a Multidimensional Spinnerbait Bite

I put three days on the water recently from dawn to dusk. It was a Friday, Saturday and Sunday in late autumn, the peak of the fall bite. A strong cold front was scheduled to hit on Saturday. It added an interesting angle to be able to see what happened with the spinnerbait bite as the cold front conditions changed drastically daily. The cold front hit with some severe windy, rainy weather Saturday evening and early night. By Sunday, the weather effect was moderate wind Sunday followed by strong thunder and rain late Sunday night all through Monday.

I fished a spinnerbait most of the three days, which turned out to be a challenge but also terrifically rewarding.

Day One. On Friday, I did best and really whacked them on a 1/2 oz chartreuse white spinnerbait with pale blue and chartreuse Willow blades. Just winding it in at a typical steady spinnerbait pace, bass would whack it during the steady retrieve. Bass were in the backs of creeks where dense shad schools infested shallow grassy areas. Aggressive bass were staged along the creek channels and outside grass lines from where they could ambush the plentiful shad. By using the brightly colored chartreuse white and blue painted spinnerbait, it stood out in noticeable contrast to the many shad, attracting attention from more and bigger bass than the subtler soft plastics my fishing partner used that day. My spinnerbait boldly stood out in the crowd of shad, thereby making a difference that day.

Day Two. By Saturday, the cold front was filtering in all day and finally hit after I returned home that evening. First thing we noticed was most all of the shad were gone from the backs of the creeks overnight, and many of the bass had gone also. We never did encounter the dense shad schools from Day One again. We pulled back to ledges outside the creek mouths. I could not get anywhere near the same quantity of hits with the chartreuse white spinnerbait that did so well the day before. I wanted my spinnerbait to stand out and be noticed amidst the shad on Friday. But with the total lack of shad on Saturday, I decided to make my spinnerbait appear more like a shad pod, meaning a plain white skirt with a small gold Colorado and nickel Willow blade. I also went to a heavier 5/8 oz spinnerbait fished more slowly in order to get it deeper down off the outside ledges. The small Colorado blade up front also helped me fish more slowly and deeper than two Willows. Once the switch was made, the catch ratio rose the rest of the Day Two. I felt this did not look as aggressive or bold as the chartreuse white. It more closely resembled the missing shad that bass were still hanging around the outsides of the creeks hoping to encounter. I had more depth, more flash and a more natural shad appearance on Day Two.

Day Three. By Sunday, the first day after the cold front arrival, the bass would hardly bite either of the spinnerbaits that worked so well the prior two days. The backs of the creeks from day one, and the creek mouths from day two did not hold many bass any longer. Day three, we did best on brushy rocky points. The spinnerbait bite turned into a struggle, yet I stuck to it. I started to scramble through a few other colors, and eventually found success with a light green (monkey shine) skirt with a small red Colorado and less flashy copper Willow blade. This more closely resembled panfish and crawfish. With no shad in the area, bass may have been staging on these brushy rocky points to eat panfish and crawfish. I also downsized to a 3/8 of size to fish it super slow, rolling it along bottom. The requirement was to slow roll and kill it and pump it along the bottom. It became a good idea to let it sink to bottom before starting a retrieve, and whenever it bounced through any bottom debris, it was a good bet to get hit as soon as the spinnerbait pulled clear of that stuff. Most of the strikes came during a pause in the retrieve.

This "anatomy of a spinnerbait bite" is a good example of different dimensions that are possible with spinnerbaits. I had to tone the spinnerbait down and slow it down each day due to the weather front passage. It just shows how quickly things can change. Most guys would have given up on the spinnerbait, not made the changes day by day. Most guys would have said the spinnerbait bite died out, but it didn't. It just changed. Unfortunately, many guys lack the versatile experience, the confidence or the spinnerbait lure options to stay with the spinnerbait when the "bite is not on" as they say.

More Multidimensions with Spinnerbaits

Bass have a weakness for hitting spinnerbaits as they are falling - or paused. In fact, it is what I call a high percentage move, meaning a disproportionately high percentage of strikes will come during the times when a spinnerbait is falling or paused.

Killing it. There is a term used especially for pausing a spinnerbait, called "killing" it, and there are days when most all your hits with a spinnerbait are going to come only when you "kill" it. There is an art to killing a spinnerbait. Just like there is an art to jerking and pausing a jerkbait or popping and pausing a topwater popper. Key point with all these baits - jerkbaits, poppers, and spinnerbaits - is the pause is the high percentage move when many strikes happen.

I will always remember one evening while casting elbow-to-elbow with a fishing partner and studying every move he made, I just about blanked on the bass while he was getting struck almost every time he killed his spinnerbait. This is not uncommon, it is an art, and it is the technique and art of killing it - more than the lure itself that triggers the reaction strike.

Counting down is also important, and this is often done at the start of the cast. As soon as the spinnerbait hits the water, leave line slack coming off the reel, and start counting, one thousand and one, one thousand and two, then begin the retrieve at the count you want to try. If you are fishing over a point say twenty feet deep, you may want to start some casts right away, some casts after a five count, and others after a ten count, for example.

Lift and drop can be deadly, and is hardly used by spinnerbait anglers. This retrieve is nothing more than a series of lifts and drops, done slowly. It does not necessarily need to be done near the bottom. Simply let the spinnerbait drop, lowering your rod tip until it touches the water. When you feel the weight of the spinnerbait on the end of the line, slowly lift the rod tip to about the one o'clock position. This can be a steady slow lift, or you can put a faltering shake or two into the lift. Once your rod tip reaches the highest point, drop it slowly back down, never letting the line go too slack, yet letting the spinnerbait fall freely. You may detect some strikes as soon as you start the drop, but strikes often go undetected until you begin raising the rod up for the next lift, when you'll discover a bass will be on!

Working a spinnerbait good begins with the cast. Tumbling in mid-air is common on a sloppy cast and that can tangle the line in the blade. That is fairly common, and a pain in the butt to have to reel in and "redo" the cast. So there's an inherent need to to make perfect smooth, fluid casts with spinnerbaits more so than other lure types.

Yet with the tactics we just went over, killing, counting down and lift and fall, I can't recall any issue with tangling or tumbling when a spinnerbait falls through the water on slack line. Now with underwater tumbling and tangling, I'm not saying it's not possible, yet I never noticed a chronic problem.

As anglers, we always want to maintain a sense of what is happening on the end of the line, so following a lure fall on a semi-slack line or "tight line slide" is how we tend to prefer to do it. Yet I would not go so far to say it is a mistake to let a killed spinnerbait fall with slack line after suddenly pausing. I never really noticed it tangles in the line when that's done, and positively should not tumble. If it does tumble, the spinnerbait may be badly out of proper alignment.

Nor do I feel you miss some subtle bites when a spinnerbait is allowed to fall. True, you may not feel the bite, but the bass tend to hold onto a spinnerbait. We have all been "book taught" how bass can spit out a lure as quickly as they inhale it. However, my experience with spinnerbaits self-taught me just the opposite - when a bass mouths (as opposed to nips or flashes on) a spinnerbait, it's usually not inclined to let go of it too soon, giving an angler plenty of time to detect a fish on the line.

A spinnerbait does not always look so pretty as it falls. The skirt blows straight up over its head, like an umbrella turned inside out by a strong gust of wind, and the front blade can stop turning properly on the fall, or even lock up under the wire arm, but bass don't seem to mind. If it reaches the bottom and just lays there all disheveled, they'll often sidle over and scrape it up off the bottom to boot. Spinnerbaits are good stuff!

Windy Days

Windy fishing days and spinnerbaits go together. On windy days, the waves break up the water's surface, which disperses the rays of the sun, effectively putting a dimmer control on the sun penetration. Often there's a cloudy sky when windy, but even if it's sunny, the surface commotion creates a kind of barrier to light penetration or so it seems. At the same time, the wind and wave action creates currents, mixes the water, which attracts and disorients baitfish. All of this makes perfect spinnerbiat conditions.

Wind presents ideal conditions for a chartreuse white skirt with chartreuse and white painted blades. Retrieved moderate-to-fast and kept up high within a few feet of the surface... and killing them dead every so often which is when the bite comes. On a real choppy day with a lot of refracted surface light, I love to launch those big bright and gaudy painted blades across wind-swept points and shoals. Those blades throw color flashes out for several feet in all directions! That's why I keep them a few feet under - to "super-size" the flash zone all around this bait in that choppy water. The water surface is like shards of a broken mirror, and each piece reflects back the blade colors. They're like little "quiet riots", like little cop cars speeding along under the surface with the sirens and cherry-tops turned up high! In clear water, bass will rocket up from rubble beds thirty feet deep to obliterate these baits! Key here is to kill the retrieve for a moment when you feel the bait is passing over a fish-holding spot on the bottom - a barely-visible rock, dark edge of a shelf, any gray crack or rubble spot, or where deep water lightens up off a point. Intentionally kill the blades as they come into the clear just past these places. Sometimes they'll smack it hard enough to knock the back blade off the wire. Often, you'll have a wind belly in your line, and the line just jumps or gets a mushy feeling, just a bit more tension than the wind was making in the line belly. You can't even be sure it's a bass until you strike - and they're on!

Now about this line belly thing, it is an important point to ponder briefly. I often "fish the line" in the wind rather than fish the spinnerbait! "Fishing the line" means I have the rod held up at a particular angle to keep a certain amount of desirable belly in my line. Neither a slack, billowy belly nor a tight tense belly, but an "equilibrium point" where the line's not loose, not tight - just right. As the wind gusts and makes the belly bigger, I'm reeling the line in, removing the belly at the same rate it's being made by the wind. The rod tip's up, my body, rod, line and wind are all postured at angles complementing each other so I can "fish the line" properly.  In this way, the "speed" of the retrieve is merely a function of these combined that the spinnerbait just keeps up in the water tagging along behind all this orchestration like an innocent bystander... until you kill it.  Sometimes you just turn to ask your partner, "What'd you say?" or pause to toe the electric trolling motor... and KER-SMACK! You've got one at that instant!

Hot and Cold Aggressive Spinnerbaits

Most anglers toss white, chartreuse white or baitfish-colored spinnerbaits, and retrieve them at a slow to moderate pace. That's the norm, and it can be productive.

There are times however, when a more aggressive spinnerbait will catch many more fish. Color is easiest to talk about as a way to make a spinnerbait more aggressive, because we can use the example of the matador and the bull. The color of the red cape is used to stimulate an aggressive reaction from the bull! Who knows why? I surely don't, but it gets the bull to strike, and that's all that matters to the matador.

Now getting back to spinnerbaits, fire tiger is one example of an aggressive color for bass. Who knows why it but bass will smack it with a vengeance they do not show toward standard colors, especially in cool water. You can use white, chartreuse white or baitfish-colored spinnerbaits and retrieve them at a normal presentation speed. Then slip on a fire tiger spinnerbait, and like a matador's red cape, you've just upgraded to a more aggressive spinnerbait even though you continue to reel it in at the same slow to moderate pace in cool water.

Take Bassdozer's Table Rock Shad spinnerbait with its purple, white and yellow skirt. Simply add a bold bright pink bubblegum grub trailer, and you've just made it a much more aggressive bait that bass crush in springtime.

Cooler water temperatures and early in the season are when I like to use color (fire tiger, bubblegum, red craw) to make an aggressive spinnerbait. From right after ice out (where it occurs) straight through pre-spawn, the spawn and early post-spawn. In other words, use aggressive color in cool water during spring.

In hot water, instead of color I use speed as an aggressive spinnerbait tactic in hot water. At high noon on hot summer days, slow to moderate retrieves with light or medium weight spinnerbaits may go unnoticed by bass in the heat of summer, whereas a much faster retrieve with a heavy spinnerbait can evoke savage strikes.

So it can be color (like the matador's red cape) or frantic spare otherwise not as interested in your spinnerbait. Use color in cool water and haste in hot.

Fishing Grassy Waters

Spinnerbaits are very popular lures. Almost every issue of every freshwater fishing magazine has articles that describe spinnerbait tactics. So, we're not going to make you read through the same old things here, we hope. How about good spinnerbait tactics for smaller, weed-infested lakes and ponds? I fish a lot of these salad bowls. The easy answer is to fish them in spring & fall when there is still open water. In very early spring, start to fish the largest clumps of last year's dead grass that you can find in or near deep water (10-20 feet). Start right after ice-out and use short arm Colorado blade spinnerbaits with chunky pork frogs. Cast them right next to the clumps & let them 'copter down to the bottom. Expect pick-ups as it falls. Let it lay there for 30 seconds, then yo-yo it up and down slowly. Raise the rod tip a few feet and let it 'copter down, then wait for a pick-up. Swing over to sunny coves and arms of the lake when thin strands of new grass start to bloom over the sunnier bottoms. Use the spinnerbaits with the pork frogs and slow roll over the top of the new grass beds in these protected and sun-warmed coves. Soon after that, the main lake shorelines will start to warm up and you'll have swell fishing on sunny days by casting spinnerbaits far across shallow flats on the main lake shoreline. Cast far and wide across these flats, and don't be afraid to use the big Colorado blades with bright, gaudy patterns. At this point, you don't necessarily need to embellish them with pork frogs any more as in the earlier, cooler weeks before. As spring progresses, keep fishing the edge of new green growth, but keep moving deeper. Keep using the spinnerbait, but start to mix it up with a buzzbait too. Most of the fish will be close to the surface or close to the bottom, sometimes hidden back into the weeds, sometimes out in the open near the edge. You have to keep the lure both in and out of the weeds. Keep this up until you find yourself far offshore by summer, fishing spinnerbaits and buzzbaits over the last remaining open areas on a weed-infested lake.

In summer, the lake may get completely topped off with weeds. But by early fall, these green expanses start to recede back into clumps. Same routine for fall, spinnerbaits & buzzbaits for fish near the surface and at the bottom of the clumps. Start where you left off, far offshore at the outermost weed beds. Look for a heavy rain to come through, it may raise the water level an inch or two. This gives you a thin layer of water to burn your spinnerbait back over the weed tops. You'll have bass blasting you whenever your spinnerbait approaches any heavier than usual growth or weed ridges. Also, look for weed bowls, which are slight depressions in the tops of the weeds that provide fishable bowls of water in the weedy expanses. Cast up onto the far side of the weed bowl, engage your reel and start cranking the handle before the spinnerbait even hits the water. If you don't, your spinnerbait will bury right into the weed canopy, and you are wasting your time. But if you did it right, your bait will land a few feet back into the weed canopy, and you just burn it over the weed rim, into the slightly deeper bowl. Expect to see a bass materialize out of nowhere and slam your spinnerbait as it clears the weed rim. If not, expect to get hit again just as the spinnerbait reaches the near side of the bowl's perimeter. Just an instant before the spinnerbait plows head-first into the thick rim, expect a bass to come dashing out and trounce it!

Burning Summer Spinnerbaits

Is there one time of the bass season that I look forward to most? Yes, it is the heat of summer. The reason why is I canít wait to burn heavy "white on white" spinnerbaits Ėand midsummer is the best time for that. By "white on white" I mean two white Willow blades on a white spinnerbait head with a white skirt. Who knows why white works so well for this tactic, but it does.

I use these ďwhite on whitesĒ for two different topwater (yes, that's right) tactics:

  1. I burn it so fast about a foot under the surface that I have to take a break to catch my breath in between every few casts. This tactic can work any day, but especially on those calm, flat, still days when nothing else works. Common thinking for such conditions is to slow down, go deep, do finesse. However, burning the "white on white" debunks that myth. It's just not true. Don't slow down on those days - speed up - as fast as you possibly can. Many of these "bluebird" days, I've gone down a bank doing everything you read in the books and articles that advise what you are "supposed" to do with nary a bite. I'd slow down, fish teeny soft baits hardly stirring them, dropshot with ultralight line and so on - with no takers. You'd think no bass were on the bank. But come back down the same section - not a cloud in the sky, not a ripple of wind - and burn a spinnerbait. Not just any spinnerbait, but a heavy 3/4 to 1 oz. "white on white" burned just under the surface as fast as you can reel it! Suddenly, it will seem like a miracle as the "barren" bank now seems filled with aggressive bass that materialize out of every spot of cover, every crack and shade spot on the bottom to smack down these whites on whites with a vengeance. Reel so fast that the bass have to race as fast as they can behind the bait for 10-15 feet just to catch up to it. And if they swipe at it and miss - they'll not catch up to it again! You'll collapse on the deck gasping for air after a few minutes of doing this - but you'll be smiling.
  2. Here's an even more exhausting tactic. You'll need to work out in the gym before you attempt this. Don't try it with any less than 50 lb braid since you'll snap any lighter line. Cast the heavy "white on white" as far as possible. Before it hits the water, engage the reel and as the line comes taut, start reeling like there's no tomorrow as you sweep and keep the rod tip high overhead. The white on white will bulge the surface all the way back to you. Every 20 to 25 feet, lift the rod tip so the blades come out of the water. When they come out, they will clack together - and it will appear as if your spinnerbait is exploding. The clacking blades will flail water, the blades will fly every which way, and the jig (spinnerbait head/skirt) will jerk over on its side, swerve sideways and then wobble back as it rights itself. Don't stop reeling. Just keep bulging the surface. Never let it under the surface. Ever 20-25 feet, detonate it. The explosion, the two blades clacking, going two different directions at once as the jig/skirt goes a third direction - it looks just like a trio of shad hightailing the heck out of there, blasting through the surface when a bass pursues them. You will raise some monster, monster bass doing this, and the forces are so extreme, you can easily snap an ordinary line on the hookset. This tactic can work anywhere, but especially over submerged grass beds, underwater wood piles and rock jumbles.

Slow Rolling Under Deep Docks

Another effective use of the 1 oz spinnerbait, any time of the season, is slow rolling it under deep docks. On many lakes, there are long rows of docks lined up one after another. When the shallow bite ends in late morning or on days when the wind isn't blowing and stirring up feeding activity, the outer tee ends of longer, deeper dock rows can be great spots to fall back on. The first and last docks in a deep water row are high percentage spots and may have bigger bass anywhere along their outward sides, especially the shoreline pockets adjacent to nearby reeds or under the walkways. Deep docks in the middle of a row tend to have bigger bass mainly under the outer tee-ends in 12 to 25 feet of water. You'll tend to catch relatively smaller bass in the open water between docks or the open water in front of docks.

As mentioned above, heavy 1 oz blades work equally well in shallow or deep water. However, tight-line sliding the 1 oz blades out from under the deeper dock tees can be especially deadly. Constant bottom contact can be essential. If your blade isn't on bottom all the time, it may not get a bass. It helps to forget you even have a blade and just slide the one ouncer out from under the dock as if you had a jig. That slow. At times (usually when the spinnerbait is getting closer to the boat), you can feel the blades stop turning and a flick of the rod tip may be required to get the blades rolling again. It rebels against everything ever written a bout spinnerbaits to just bump and crawl them out from under docks like jigs.

In deeper water like this, a small Colorado and a #5 Willow seem to better able to stay deeper more slowly than other blade configurations.

At times with this big, slow presentation, I like to stuff a full size twin tail skirted hula grub underneath the spinnerbait skirt. This is to big it up a bit and get that twirly twin tail motion, but deep dock bass will whack a spinnerbait as well without the hula.

Staggered Sizes in Early Autumn

Shad are prolific spawners. Under favorable conditions, some shad may spawn approximately each month in late spring through early summer. By early autumn, there can be three sizes of young shad, say 1", 2" and 2-1/2" that were spawned one month apart, plus adult shad. Wind, gamefish pressure plus their own dietary needs can stack all these sizes of shad into the same areas come early autumn. This time of year, when fishing over mixed size shad schools, I deliberately use two distinctly different sizes of blades, one slightly smaller blade, one mid-sized blade plus the larger skirt (trimmed shorter) to match three mixed sizes of shad swimming together.

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