By Bonita Staples
Probably the most universal artificial bait used by both tournament anglers and the weekend fisherman is the spinnerbait. You can flip it like a jig into heavy cover or work it along laydowns and in treetops like a Texas-rigged worm. It can be waked across the top of the water like a buzzbait or run it one to three feet deep like a Rat-L-Trap. You can let it fall down deeper like a medium- to deep-diving crankbait or slow roll it across the bottom. This is just about the most versatile lure you can carry in your boat.
Let's go over the parts that make up a spinnerbait, the sizes or weight and the color choices of blades and skirts. Most of the wire frames use an R-bend eye instead of an enclosed eye or twisted wire eye, which gave the lure its nickname of safety pin bait. The enclosed eye and V-shape looks like an open safety pin. The wires range in diameter from a small size of .028 to a heavy size of .045. The .040 and .045 are used for larger spinnerbaits, like for Muskie. The lighter or smaller the wire, the more vibration in the bait. Also the lighter wires gets bent easier and will wear out faster. Most spinnerbaits are made with .035 wire. It holds its shape better and will last longer. We can't forget the newest wire out, titanium. Titanium holds its shape and instead of bending out of shape, it springs back and is less likely to break.
The blades come in four basic styles with variations of each. The Colorado, Indiana, willow leaf, and wide willow leaf (which is a shortened, fat willow leaf blade). Standard blade colors are nickel, brass, and copper, with a variety of painted colors. The blades also come in hammered finish and in fluted variations. The darker the day the darker the blade, the brighter the day the brighter the blade. These are used in varying combination of blade style and colors or as just single blades. Typically you find double willow leaf, willow leaf and Colorado, double Colorado or single willow leaf and single Indiana. The Indiana is also referred to as a thumper blade and is great for a slow moving or drop-type presentation. When you need vibration or flash a double Colorado or a willow leaf and Colorado combination is a good choice. Single or double willow leaf blade comes through grass or hydrilla better than the other combinations. Make sure the bait has a good ball bearing swivel on the blade for free spinning.
The skirts come in the original rubber, silicone, and lumaflex materials or in combinations of the materials. There are unlimited colors and combinations of colors with the new scale looking type skirt material available from most of the manufacturers. The scale gives the spinnerbait more of a baitfish-like appearance. The spinnerbait should have quality, sharp wide gap hooks. Look for a spinnerbait where the top wire comes back to the area of the neck of the spinnerbait head where the skirt slides onto it. Any longer will cause the spinnerbait to roll and will also interfere with the bass getting to the hook for a good hook set. Making your own spinnerbaits is a lot of work, more expensive overall and is not practical for the average fisherman, when you can modify any of the spinnerbaits available off the shelf at Academy, if you feel the need.
Spinnerbaits come in 1/8-ounce through 2-1/2-ounce weights, with 1/4-, 3/8 and 1/2-ounce sizes the most commonly used.
I prefer staying with basic baitfish or crawfish colors most of the time with the exception of early morning or late evening or night fishing, then I use a black spinnerbait. White, chartreuse, and white and chartreuse combinations are good starting points. If you add a wand of orange, red, or blue, it will give you the advantage of difference to your bait over the other white spinnerbaits bass see. Fire tiger is a good color in stained or muddy water. Red or orange is a good color when the crawfish are active, like in the spring.
Everyone throws a spinnerbait up toward shore and reels it back, so be different, get out of the rut. The spinnerbait is as weedless as a jig or a Texas-rigged worm if it is balanced. Try throwing the bait up at the waters edge so that it seems as though something is jumping into the water. Flipping the spinnerbait like a jig or Texas-rigged worm is also a very good technique. Don't be afraid to be different, try new techniques, colors, the change could give you the edge.
For added bulk, you can put on two skirts or add a trailer of pork or plastic. A large pork frog will slow down the spinnerbait fall and keep it more buoyant as you retrieve it back in to the boat.
Be different, think outside the standard, be versatile and learn to use this bait all year round!
Bonita is sponsored by Cobra Boats, Mercury Motors, Bowie Marine, Hamby's Protectors, Solargizer, Falcon Rods, Bob's Machine Shop, Minn Kota, OutdoorTexas.com and Tournament Chasers.