11 Killer Spinnerbait Tips for Bass
Spinnerbaits are, without a doubt, the most versatile bait in bass fishing. The spinnerbait is a lure characterized by a weighted head adorned with a rubber skirt, similar to a jig. The spinnerbait differs because the hook is connected to an angled wire arm that holds one or two metal blades.
Spinnerbaits attract bass in three ways. Firstly, the skirt attracts fish; this skirt is removable and can be tailored to match forage species like crayfish or shad.
Secondly, the blades reflect light; this mimics a school of panicked or wounded baitfish, prompting a strike.
Lastly, and perhaps the most significant advantage to the spinnerbait, is the ability the blades have to create vibrations in the water. This calls the bass to seek out the nuisance vibration and strike, especially when used in murky waters or at night. When these factors are combined, the result is a highly enticing lure.
Below we have compiled our top spinnerbait bass fishing tips.
1. Match the Skirt to the Forage
A fisherman can easily change the rubber skirt on the spinnerbait to match water condition or forage. Generally speaking, white is the go-to skirt color because it will catch fish in many different conditions, as it mimicks common prey species like shiners or shad. When choosing colors, it’s essential to consider the water visibility and forage. Darker colors like black or “Junebug” stand out by creating a good profile in stained water, whereas lighter shades work well for extra realism in clear water.
While white does catch fish, it’s often selected because of the perception that “it always works”. However, the truth is that big bass will shy away from unnatural offerings in pressured waters. If it’s springtime and the crayfish are molting, choosing a red/brown skirt will resemble a jumping bug. Suppose bluegill are common on your water, you may want to choose a green and blue skirt. You get the idea.
Check out our guide for selecting that killer lure color for more information.
A shad colored skirt compared to an all-black spinner for night fishing
2. Select the Right Blades
Just as the spinnerbait skirt can be changed to match the forage or conditions, so can the blades. There are three types of blades most commonly found on spinnerbaits: the willow, Colorado, and the Indiana blade.
Willow blades are long and mimic baitfish well. In bright conditions and in water with lots of minnows, opt for a willow. Colorado blades are less flashy but boast a lot of vibration. If fishing at night or in murky water, the Colorado is the blade to use.
The Indiana blade sits somewhere between the other two options, with not as much flash or vibration. While it’s easy to discount the Indiana style, it represents a solid option when exploring a lake or when conditions don’t justify throwing the other two extremes.
3. Choose the Right Wire
Aim to find and use the correct wire thickness for your fishing style. The wire arm of the spinnerbait is a paradox. It needs to be thick enough to hold the blades but thin enough to compress, should a bass try and swallow the whole lure.
A great way to get the best of both worlds is to use a bait with a tapered wire arm. These baits have more flex at the tip and more rigidity at the safety pin elbow.
4. Pick the Right Reel
As with any other type of bass fishing, be it pitching or frog fishing, it’s crucial to pick a reel with a gear ratio that works with the retrieves you’re going to be using. A 6:4:1 ratio casting reel is about the best you can get for spinnerbaits. It can handle the slower retrieves of swimming your spinner just off the bottom or blistering fast retrieves to cover open water.
A fresh baitcaster ready to put the work in with a new spinnerbait
5. Slow-Roll a Spinnerbait
As we teased in our last spinnerbait tip, reducing your retrieval speed and “slow-rolling” your spinnerbait is a great option, particularly when targeting lethargic bass. As you would imagine, slow-rolling involves cranking your spinnerbait back at slow speeds, so the blades are just barely turning or rolling. The slow thump of the blades is easy for fish to hone in on and just as triggering for strikes.
Slow rolling spinnerbaits can provide great action at night, especially when the water is choppy
6. Speed Up in Clear Water
When fishing in clear water, speed up your retrieve. On bright days with good water clarity, the bass will be attracted to the flash of the blades first and the vibration second.
Choosing a silver willow leaf blade would work very well in these conditions. The flash and low drag draws fish in from a distance with the sun glinting off the bait, just as it would off a school of shad.
Clear water makes the lure’s flash more important for attracting bass. Speeding up your retrieve will increase the flash of your blades.
7. Use Your Spinner as a Contact Bait
The spinnerbait is a phenomenal bait to use in and around heavy cover. With the wire arm acting as a bumper, you can bounce the lure slowly off stumps or rocks during your retrieve. The change in direction, while minor, is enough to elicit a reaction strike from bass that are holding close to these pieces of cover.
8. Add a Trailer Hook
If you are missing fish from short strikes, add a trailer hook. Short strikes are when bass grab the lure but miss the hook, either grabbing the skirt or just bouncing off completely.
A trailer hook is a second straight shanked hook that connects to the main hook and extends the total area on which a fish can be hooked. Adding a trailer hook will alter the lure’s action slightly, so practice with it to understand how it will changes your retrieve.
9. Tie on a Trailer Lure
Add a trailer if the bass needs an extra “something” to commit to your spinner, especially in clear water. Not to be confused with a trailer hook, a trailer is a soft plastic lure that will give your spinner more realism and flutter.
Many soft plastic trailers have additional benefits, like adding scent or buoyancy to your setup. Adding buoyancy to your spinnerbait will allow you to retrieve it at a slower speed; by adjusting your speed, you can target fish holding at different depths.
An added curly tail gives this spinnerbait more movement, a significant advantage in clear water
10. Feel Your Lure
This spinnerbait tip is crucial when fishing at night but is something to work to regardless of the time you’re fishing. Understanding how your lure feels when it’s being retrieved will help you get the speed right and understand if the blades are behaving as intended.
You will be able to detect the vibrations from your spinner as you reel. If you feel the blades stop vibrating while retrieving, set the hook. Stopped blades indicate that a bass has hit your lure and is swimming at you.
11. Target the Windward Side of Cover
Unlike worms or jigs, the spinnerbait works well regardless of water currents or wave action. Targeting the windward side of cover draws fish out of their ambush zone, where they sit waiting for forage to be pushed to them. Add some contact if straight retrieves don’t seal the deal, just as we mentioned with tip number six.
Hopefully, after reading these spinnerbait bass fishing tips, you now know how to better put these lures to work. The only way to figure out where this versatile lure will work best for you is to head to the lake and take them for a ‘spin’. Try them at night, on overcast days, on bright days, and play with the presentation and speed. It won’t take long for you to find a combination that reliably brings in the bass.