"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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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
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.
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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
Hidden Head Spinnerbaits
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Well, I use a
spinnerbait one way or another under every type of condition
imaginable throughout the twelve calendar months with
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
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
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
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
Anatomy of a
Multidimensional Spinnerbait Bite
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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
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 variables...so
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I use these ďwhite on whitesĒ
for two different topwater (yes, that's right) tactics:
- 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.
- 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
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