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Complete Guide to Spinnerbaits

By: Nick and FishingwithNat Updated: November 21, 2021

Spinnerbaits are one of the oldest and most successful bass lures of all time. They were first created in the 1930s and have continually been improved over the years. They are popular among beginners and pros.

Their success comes from their unique design, which despite not resembling a fish, is great at drawing in and triggering bass. Spinnerbaits resemble a swimg jig with blades attached above by a v-shaped wire.

As you reel in a spinnerbait, the blades rotate, creating flashes of light and vibrations in the water. This with the added benefit of the moving skirt and trailer creates an irresistible bait that mimics a school of baitfish.

Northern Pike caught with a spinnerbait

When to Fish a Spinnerbait

The spring and fall are the best times to use spinnerbaits. During these times bass are moving up shallow, aggressively feeding, and easy to trigger.

Cloudy, rainy, or windy conditions are the ideal conditions for spinnerbaits. The flash and vibrations will help draw in the bass as the water visibility drops or becomes murky.

Where to Fish a Spinnerbait

Spinnerbaits can be fished virtually anywhere, making them an incredibly versatile lure. They excel when fished over the top of vegetation, dragged across rocky bottoms, bounced off laydowns, and around docks.

During the early spring, when the water is rising you want to fish spinnerbaits as shallow as you can. Bass will cruise the water’s edge and hunt the new ground that is flooding and washing prey in.

How to Fish a Spinnerbait

Spinnerbaits are really easy to fish and are great for beginners. You can cast them out and start reeling with a consistent retrieve. This will catch fish but with a slight modification, they can be even more effective.

By adding short pauses to your retrieve ever few seconds, you with create a stop-go movement that imitates a wounded or bait fish trying to get away. This movement triggers a bass’s instinct to strike.

You can also try giving your reel a quick extra turn when your bait is near cover. This will make the blades speed up and flutter. Doing this by cover is a great way to get fish hiding in cover to commit and strike.

When fishing in vegetation, allowing the spinnerbait to get slightly hung up can be advantageous. A quick rod jerk to to pop it free will often triggers aggressive strikes from nearby fish.

For spinnerbait recommendations read our spinnerbait buyers guide.

Types of Spinnerbait Blades

There are three types of spinnerbait blades: willow leaf, colorado, and indiana. Each are unique in their shape and have their advantages. Matching your blade type to the water clarity and conditions can significantly increase your chances of success.

1. Colorado Blades

Colorado blades are round and displace the most amount of water. This design generates less flash, more lift, and 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 others. Colorado blades excel in cold or dirty water.

2. Willow Blades

Willow blades are long and tapered, this shape produces the most flash, minimal lift, and effortlessly maneuver through the water and vegetation.

This allows them to be fished deeper and are better around vegetation than the other two blades. Willow blades are very effective in clear water where bass rely on sight for their hunting.

For most situations willow leaf blades will be your best bet.

3. Indiana Blades

Indiana blades are long like a willow blade but wider and rounder like a colorado blade. They strike a balance, offering moderate lift, flash, and vibration.

Choosing a Spinnerbait

a double willow blade is typically your best bet. There are situations where Colorado and Indiana blades shine but double willow will be the best in most situations. The vibration a double willow blade puts off is the closest match to the vibration sound a school of threadfin shade. 90% of the time I use a spinnerbait its a willow blade.

Spinnerbaits are designed to mimic a small school of baitfish.

Customization and Trailers for Even More Bites

One of the beauties of spinnerbaits is their adaptability and customization options. You can easily create the perfect spinnerbait for your situation by changing the skirts, trailer, or blades.

In clear water I like to use a more natural skirt that resembles the local bait fish. For murkier water I go with brighter and bolder colors like chartreuse in order to stick out.

By adding a trailer you can gain more realism, movement, or bulk to your bait. With spinnerbaits it’s really important to put your trailer on straight. If you put it on even a little off center it can cause your lure to roll and get hung up more frequently. Try some of our recommended spinnerbait trailers or try experimenting on your own until you find what works best for your fishing conditions.

The color and type of your blades can also make a difference. I like silver blades for clear water or sunny days and gold blades in stained water or during overcast skies.

The size of your blades also play a role in how much lift the bait has. Larger blades can help keep your spinnerbait shallower due to the added lift. Smaller blades can allow you to get the bait deeper.

Spinnerbait vs Chatterbait

There is a time and place for both. Spinnerbaits are perfect for shad spawn because 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.

Final Thoughts

Spinnerbaits are a reliable and versatile lure that every angler should have in their tackle box. Their ability to produce flash, vibrations, and mimic schools of prey is unmatched. Another a great thing 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.

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