Spring Spinnerbaits for Bass Fishing
Spring is the season of the spinnerbait for bass. I would characterize spring season by surface water temperatures of 58 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. All types of spinners are popular because of ease of casting, simple performance and the high likelihood of connecting with a fish make it a staple in the tackle box of most kayak anglers. The draw of the whirling spinners is the ability to consistently convince game fish to bite. All species of bass will readily hit them, but many more of our finny friends chase em’ down too, walleye, northern pike, musky and even panfish gulp the downsized versions.
• Versatility of the waters they work in makes them popular, shallow to deep spinnerbaits are effective. Spring time fish in less than a foot of water will slug em during the pre-spawn months and slow roll the same lure during the summer in 30 feet and you get hits. An artificial bait that can be worked in every water column, spinners are most versatile in their performance. In new waters the use of a spinner makes a perfect search bait to help locate fish.
• For those who like to customize and play “create a bait” endless combinations of blade configurations also lend themselves to changing spinners and this increases the versatility in the look and performance. The three most common blades being Colorado, willow leaf and Indiana and the ability to mix and match is staggering. Generally the willow leaf blade is best in stained to muddy water, the Colorado in clear colder waters and Indiana in places that receive heavy fishing pressure. Normal for me is slinging a size 3 ½ gold willow back blade with a small nickel Colorado in front on a 3/8 ounce head. Using this model bait I’ve caught everything everywhere. In dirty, muddy, dark water a double willow leaf combination provides maximum flash. With the advent of a group of dedicated bait painters I enlisted the services of a friend to paint some blades blue, I then replaced the standard blades on a few of my spinners and experienced some success. The blue flash is a great imitation of the flash coming from shad, a bass’s frequent food source.
• The optimum times that shine for fishing spinners of all types are windy days, spring pre-spawn bass, aggressive fish, areas with scattered cover, open water, high water and bass feeing throughout the fall. The windier days change the light penetration limiting the vision of the bass and make it easier to not be detected by the fish and also give the momentary flash to a fish looking for a meal in the form of forage and various types of baitfish. When the wind blows pick up the spinnerbait! Aggressive fish will pound spinners, cover like submerged wood is great, spinnerbaits being a single hook lure make it easier to move in and through the wet woody hideouts. Cast past the perceived holding object and “bounce” the bait off any type of cover to draw the deflection bite. Open water fish are seeking schools of bait and the spinner simulates that look and movement, try punctuating the retrieve with an occasional pause. Pre-spawn fish are looking for easy meals and lots of it much like fish loading up later in the year in preparation for winter prior to the spawn fish build up their fat reserves. They do not feed during the spawn which might last 10 days to two weeks.
• Almost any retrieve will catch fish when using spinners. On any given day one will be better than another and their preference switch as the day goes and on and the weather and water conditions change. Slow and steady is automatically what the majority of people use and that will catch fish. Speeding up or slowing down during the retrieve in many instances will incite fish, especially bass, to strike, much like topwater fishing there is a certain cadence that will out produce at certain times. Stop and go as well as “stop and drop” imitates a fleeing or dying baitfish, both of these looks will trigger hits. Experiment and more importantly watch the reaction of the fish, be flexible and change. When the rod tip goes down, you know you got it right. One of my biggest bass ever, 10 ¼ pounds, was caught in mid December on a spinnerbait cast out over a long point. The bait was allowed to flutter down and the trophy bass nailed it immediately.
• Equipment for spinnerbaits is equally critical, more for catching than for casting. For accuracy, ease of casting, hours of retrieval and playing the hooked fish my money is on baitcasting outfits. My preference is a reel geared to about 6:3 to 1 retrieve ratio. That keeps the bait coming back and allows you to resist the temptation to “burn” it back to the boat like some of the high speed reels. If something gives the appearance of being injured, frightened or easier to catch it is more like to get bit. If you fish spinnerbaits for a long time, hours at a time it can become tedious, the baitcasting reel as opposed to spinning or a closed face reel, makes it less of a chore. The rod should be medium action, about seven feet in length and have a limber tip. This set up allows for a good seeping hook set, critical in spinnerbait fishing and also allows you to play a big fish down with the rod and tip working in concert to wear the fish out. It took me a while to realize that the medium heavy rod I had been using was consistently costing me fish. You can use an open faced spinning rods and reels but you sacrifice control of the fish and the retrieve of the lure, especially the heavier ones, is much more work. My preference for line is 12 pound test monofilament. The “mono” has a little give to it and allows the fish to full take the bait before your side sweeping hook set.
Versatile and relatively easy to use spinnerbaits are popular with bass and bass fisherman. Spinners are a go to bait and work year around almost anywhere on almost any fish. Consider the waters you are fishing, the current conditions, stock a few of each blade configuration, weight and skirt color in your bass box. Spinners work almost any time of year but spring is special. Launch that kayak, sling that spinner and you too can turn your spinnerbait to a spinner bite.