During spring the number one lure for bass caught during tournaments has got to be a spinnerbait. There's not a better, more productive, lure this time of year that will catch more and bigger fish.
Over all my years of guiding I have been surprised at the number of anglers that have no confidence in a spinnerbait. I'm a firm believer that you must have confidence in the lure you're using, but you have to realize that the spinnerbait is without question the primary weapon in your arsenal whether you are competing in a tournament or pleasure fishing.
If you do not hone your skills with this bait you will be left behind at weigh-in. A spinnerbait can be fished from top to bottom, in clear or muddy water, in thick brush or on a slick bank. There is no other lure as versatile as the spinnerbait, especially for anyone fishing a tournament.
It isn't necessary that you spend 200 plus days a year on the water to become proficient with a spinnerbait. On practice days for any tournament it is my first lure of choice for finding fish. It is one bait that you can effectively use without the hook to pre-fish for active fish. You do not want to catch your fish on practice day anyway. They will be far easier to catch when you return on tournament day if you did not hook them the day before.
Bass are generally shallow this time of year and you can either see or feel most strikes. Having pre-fished with the spinnerbait you may use another lure to catch the fish the next day, but the spinnerbait will give you confidence that the fish are there. I don't know how many times over the years I've caught a bass during a tournament that went for a spinnerbait with no hook the day before.
There are so many things you can do to spinnerbaits that can add to your weight at the scales. My number one alteration is to use a trailer hook. Even in thick cover I have found that I don't lose many lures to hang-ups.
Another thing that helps all spinnerbaits is to add a trailer. This is limited only by your imagination. One trick I sometimes use with trailers is to add a rattle or two to them. Normally a spinnerbait is a vibration lure, but adding a little noise can add strikes, especially in muddy water conditions.
Something that has given me a great deal of success the last few years is the use of outrageous colors. If fish have been getting a lot of fishing pressure that's when I don't hesitate to try a bright color or a color combination they may not have seen.
During a team tournament on Ray Roberts my partner and I weighed in four bass that went over 23 pounds. They were caught on orange and chartreuse-bladed spinnerbaits with orange and chartreuse skirts. You would normally think this would work well in muddy water, but the water was clear. Nonetheless it worked very well.
During another event at Sam Rayburn I weighed in 10 bass in two days that went over 36 pounds. Almost every one of them was caught on a chartreuse and white-bladed spinnerbait. The flat I was fishing was getting a lot of pressure, but I was catching far more fish than the others were. I've had tremendous success with that same combination across the country, but usually only in the spring.
Another technique I like to use is to wake a big-bladed spinnerbait, especially in deep water. I've had bass strike when the lure was in over 30 feet of water. This will only work if the water is clear and the temperatures are in the 60's. I just retrieve the bait as fast as I can without the blades breaking the surface of the water. If the bass seem to short strike or just make a pass at the lure, then once in a while I'll pause it for just a second. This can usually get you a couple of extra bass for your weigh-bag.
There are many little tricks that will make a spinnerbait the most productive lure you can use this time of the year. The variations are limited only by your imagination.
If the spinnerbait isn't the number one lure in your spring arsenal, it really should be. See you at the scales. Good luck and God bless.