Complete Guide to Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits have been one of the most successful bass lures of all time. Their success comes from their unique design. A spinnerbait looks similar to a jig with a wire leading to blades attached above. These blades give the bait the flash and vibration that makes them so successful. One of the great things about spinnerbaits is you can easily swap the blades so you don’t need a lot of them. With a few variations of lures and blades, you are set for almost any condition. Over the years I have tried many different spinnerbaits and have narrowed my selection down to just a few baits in each category. There is a time and place for both full size and finesse spinnerbait and below I break it all down.

Types of Spinnerbait Blades

There are three types of spinnerbait blades: willow leaf, colorado, and indiana. These three blades all spin and flutter to create flash and vibrations. The difference between the different types is the shape of the blade. For most of the country and in most situations willow leaf blades will be your best bet. However, each style does have its own unique function that we will break down further below.

1. Colorado Blades

Colorado blades are round and cause them to displace the most amount of water. All of the water displacement causes this blade to be the slowest and create a distinctive thumping vibration. The thumping vibration can be sensed by bass from greater distances making colorado blades a good choice when visibility is low. Another effect of the round blades is the lift that they create. As a result, these blades run shallower than their counterparts.

2. Indiana Blades

Indiana blades look like a combination of a willow leaf and colorado blade. They are long like a willow blade but wider and rounder like a colorado blade. This design displaces less water and allows the bait to run a little deeper than a colorado blade.

3. Willow Blades

Willow blades are long and skinnier than the other two blades. This design allows the willow blade to move through the water easier, creating less vibration but making more flash. This allows them to be fished deeper than the other two blades. This blade is very effective in clear water where bass rely on sight for their hunting.

Combination Blades for Custom Action

Combining different blade styles allows you to fine-tune your spinnerbaits performance. By experimenting with different combinations of blade styles you can find that perfect mix of flash and vibration for what works best for your body of water.

How to Fish a Spinnerbait

The early spring is the prime time to throw a spinnerbait but the fall can also be excellent. These times are when giant bass are moving up shallow and are aggressive and easy to trigger. During the early spring when the water is rising you want to fish spinnerbaits as shallow as you can. As the water is rising bass will cruise the edge hunting all the new ground that’s coming in.

Spinnerbaits should be fished with a steady retrieve and when the bait gets close to any cover give your reel a quick extra crank. You don’t need to stop or pause just speed up one crank. This will make the blades speed up and flutter. Doing this by cover is a great way to help fish to lash out and commit. If you don’t see any cover then you can still do it periodically spacing it out every 10-15 feet.

Choosing the Best Size & Weight Spinnerbait

When choosing the size of a spinnerbait it depends on the depth you are fishing and how thick the cover is. If you are fishing shallow or trying to stay above cover ⅜ oz is a good choice. On the other hand, if you intend to fish deeper than 15 feet then I would go ¾ oz. If you are looking for a do-everything standard spinnerbait then ½ oz is the go-to size. You can fish it shallow by speeding it up or slow roll it to get it deep.

These factors include the depth at which you will be targeting and the speed of your retrieve. A heavier spinnerbait will sink faster allowing you to fish deeper while still being fished at a moderate retrieval speed. You can still fish shallow with a heavier bait by speeding up your retrieve. Likewise, you can fish a lighter spinnerbait deeper by slowing down your retrieve. If you are primarily targeting shallow then ⅜ oz is a good weight choice. Overall ½ oz is the most universal spinnerbait weight and the one I would choose if I could only have one. You can fish it just about anywhere by adjusting your retrieval speed.

For spinnerbait recommendations read our spinnerbait buyers guide.

Choosing the Best Spinnerbait Color

When choosing the best color it is important to understand what bass in the body of water eat and water clarity. In clear water, I tend to stick with more ghosty natural colors. In murky water, I like to use bolder colors like white or chartreuse to help the bass find the bait.

If you are fishing in a pond or a small body of water it is likely that the main forage will be bluegill. If you know this is the case for your fishery choose bluegill colors. For the rest of us targeting bodies of water where bluegill isn’t the main source of food, you need to match the hatch. If I had to choose one color it would be white/silver. There are however three color varieties that I keep stocked in my tacklebox to cover every condition. They are Chartreuse, white/silver, and gold.

For blade colors, I like matching painted blades during low light conditions and on sunny days I swap to either silver or gold to get more flash.

Spinnerbait vs Chatterbait

There is a time and place for both. Spinnerbaits are perfect for shad spawn beauce they produce a ton of flash and mimic a school of bait fish. Chatterbaits are all about the vibration, which bass can sense so its perfect for stained water.

Spinnerbait Rod & Reel for Every Budget

Best Value: Shimano SLX 7’2″ Medium Heavy paired with a Shimano SLX 150 XT

High End: Shimano Zodias 7’2″ Medium Heavy paired with a Shimano Curado DC HG

Top of the Line: G Loomis GLX 844C MBR paired with a Shimano Chronarch MGL HG


Published on: 11/21/2019

Last Updated: 7/14/2021