July 30, 2016

How To Fishing: Spinnerbaits

How To Fishing: Spinnerbaits

How To Fishing: SpinnerbaitsMany people have asked me “How To” use various lures. And so I’m going to explain just that in this series of posts. Today’s entry is: “How To Fishing: Spinnerbaits.”

Now I’m not saying the following is ALL there is to know about spinnerbait fishing, and if YOU have any further tips, techniques, or advice; OR if you flat out disagree with anything you read here, just let us all know via the comments in the section below.

What’s So Great About Spinnerbaits?

Bass and grass!
Bass and grass!

It’s no secret, I LOVE spinnerbaits. A lot of the bass I caught while living in San Francisco, California, were on spinnerbaits. The only bait I caught more bass on while there were on plastic worms.

Naturally, people ask me why I love a spinnerbait so much.

Here are a few reasons:

  • Fool Proof

You can simply cast out a spinnerbait, crank it back, and catch fish. It’s a very easy lure to use.

However, there are some techniques you can employ to increase the spinnerbait’s effectiveness, which I’ll discuss below.

  • Coverage

Swamp Bass revealed!
Swamp Bass revealed!

A spinnerbait can cover any part of the water column.


Crank it back fast, and the spinnerbait will stay up on top.

Crank it just a bit faster (“burn it”), and you can “wake” the spinnerbait, meaning the blades will spin just under the water, and create a “wake.”


Let the spinnerbait sink after you throw it out. Use a count so you can duplicate the depth once you start to have success (that is, you catch a bass!). Then retrieve slowly.


You can even let the spinnerbait sink all the way to the bottom. Watch your line as the spinnerbait falls. When the line stops moving and goes limp, it’s on the bottom.

Then slowly lift the rod tip up. When rod tip is vertical, lower the tip and let the spinnerbait fall, while you reel in the slack. This retrieve is very similar to how you would drag a Carolina Rig across the bottom.

And be ready at all time for:

  • The Strike!

Another spinnerbait bass!
Another spinnerbait bass!

I just love the hit on a spinnerbait! You’re reeling it in, and, SMACK! Fish on!

OK, I admit: the savage strike IS my favorite thing about the spinnerbait.

I believe it shows the real nature of a tough predator.

The speed you retrieve matters. So, if you throw a few times and get no strikes, feel free to slow down, or speed up, or

Selecting A Spinnerbait

There are many factors to consider in choosing the perfect spinnerbait.

For example, if you’re fishing in muddy water, a Colorado blade with a dark skirt would be a good choice. But if the water is “gin clear,” as it usually is here in New Hampshire, then a willow blade with a light skirt is a good pick.

Here are some elements to consider:


Use different sizes for different seasons and water clarity.

During spring, or in clear water, use smaller sizes, such as 1/8 ounce.

In the fall, or in muddy water, choose larger sizes, such as 1 ounce.

The 3/8 ounce size is considered an all purpose size; it’s in The Goldilocks Zone, meaning it’s just right for many types of conditions.

Skirt Color

Like most bass lures, spinnerbaits come in a bewildering variety of colors. Some of the specialty colors may be perfect for your needs, depending on the conditions and what bait fish are in the waters you are fishing. For example, one of spinnerbait’s skirts has green, orange, yellow, and black, which is a great match for the perch where I fish.

Otherwise, here are some guidelines for choosing colors.

  • Clear water or Sunny Days: White

White is always an awesome color! It’s my favorite, though I do like some specks of black and especially a splash of red as well.

  • Dirty water or Cloudy Days: Black / Blue (darker)

Blade Type / Color

A spinnerbait is sometimes referred to (by us OLD BassHoles) as a “safety pin” due to their resemblance to a safety pin. A spinnerbait has a few extra parts:

  • Hook
  • Head (weighted)
  • Skirt
  • Blades

How To Fishing: Select the right spinnerbait


The blades come in a variety of shapes, most commonly:

  • Colorado (mostly round)

Colorado Blade
Colorado Blade

Lift: The Colorado blade offers the highest level of lift (more water being pushed), making it great for fishing in shallow water.

Vibration: It also generates greater vibration, which is sensed by the bass via its lateral line. So a Colorado blade is a good choice when fishing in muddy water.

  • Willow Leaf (long and thin)

Willow Blade
Willow Blade

The Willow blade is much narrower than Colorado, and offers different features.

Flash: The Willow blades length makes it produce much more flash, and less vibration, making it the spinnerbait of choice for clear water, where the bass is using sight as its primary sense (as opposed to its lateral line).

Depth: The Willow blade will also run deeper, as it has less lift. You can fish it higher up in the water column (even near the top) just by speeding up your retrieve.

Weedless: Those thin blades make it easier to drag the spinnerbait right through heavy vegetation. You’ll be amazed at how well a spinnerbait will run through weeds and grass!

TIP: If you do catch some weeds, stop and let the spinnerbait sink. Sometimes it will get off the grass. Then give it a “tug.” And sometimes THAT will persuade a bass to bite!


  • Indiana (in-between, sort of tear shaped)

Indiana Blade
Indiana Blade

Runs Deeper: The Indiana blade is more oblong than the Colorado, so it will run deeper with less vibration. However, it does offer MORE vibration than the Willow blade.

Flash: With its longer silhouette, the Indiana blade produces more flash than Colorado.

“Goldilocks”: The Indiana blade is another example of a medium between the 2 extremes. It offers some of the benefits of each of the other 2 types of blades.

  • Combos

Finally, you can get 2 blades on each spinnerbait, and so can “mix and match” the different shapes (and colors, see below). So you could have a Willow and a Colorado blade combo, as shown on the spinnerbait pictured at the top of this post.


Blades also come in a variety of colors.

  • Copper
  • Silver
  • Painted (all colors!)

Again, you choose different colors for different conditions.

Silver: Clear water or sunny days

Copper or Painted: Dirty water or cloudy days


How To Fishing: How to fish a Spinnerbait

There are a variety of ways to fish your spinnerbait, including simply chucking it out and pulling it back.

In my video, I explain a couple of other ways to fish the spinnerbait, as well as how to “tune” the bait so it runs true (with the blades directly above the hook).

So please watch, listen, and fish!

Be sure and let me know how you do, come back and leave a comment about your spinnerbait success!

Tight lines!

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

Catch-Big-Bass http://catch-big-bass.com/ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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The Smiling BassHole

I'm a BassHole!Kickin' Bass and lettin' them go.

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hey Roger, not sure how much experience you have with the lakes in Iowa. THat’s where I live. The water is a little murky around where I usually go fishing with my dad. What’s the best kind of Spinnerbait you could recommend for that?

    • Thanks Ryan!

      For murky water (which I see very little of here in New Hampshire), I would recommend a larger size (3/4 ounce or 1 ounce) with a dark blue or black skirt spinnerbait with a copper or painted Colorado or Indiana blade. You probably don’t need a tandem, the vibration is going to be the main attractor. And a little red in the skirt (or the hook / trailer hook) is always good too!

      I’ve never fished in Iowa, so let me know how that works for you. It’s a real kick when the bass take them! You’ll be addicted fast!

      Tight lines, and remember to have fun out there!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Just excellent Roger. I feel like a spinnerbait expert after your article. I love the in-depth description for every shape. That will go a long way when I buy one. And as always your anecdotes are just fun to to read about. I’m interested in combos; how do the different attributes of the types affect each other. Because the different shapes counter each other in various aspects. What is your view Roger? Thanks for the great lesson! And keep up the great video work!

    • Thanks Mohammad Makki!

      I do like the combos, because you get a bit of both worlds. My favorite combo is a willow leaf blade and a small Colorado blade. The Colorado blade offers a lot of vibration, but since it’s small, it doesn’t lift the spinnerbait as much so I can fish it a bit beneath the water. That’s what I’m using how!

      I also like a tandem (2 blade) willow leaf combo. Our waters are pretty clear, so willow leaf blades are good for flash.

      Tight lines, and remember to have fun out there!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi Roger,

    I am a beginner and doesn’t have a lot of experience in fishing. There are times that when I hear a fishing term, I get so clueless. I just have a question with this spinning baits, what kind of fish can I catch with these? Can i use it to all kinds?

    And where is the best place to get it? Preferably cheap.


    • Thanks Von!

      Spinnerbaits are primarily used to catch predatory fish, such as bass, pickerel, pike, perch, and so on. They are seldom (maybe never?) used on trout, salmon, steelhead, etc.

      You can get very inexpensive spinnerbaits (about $1!) at Walmart. I have no idea how good they are — it would mostly be a matter of how long they last. Bass hit spinnerbaits hard, and eventually the wires wear out.

      You can also buy them on Amazon. Here’s a link to a page with spinnerbaits.

      Let me know what you get, and how it works!

      Tight lines, and remember to have fun out there!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Roger, interesting post to say the least. I like the way you have explained everything in great detail.

    For a newbie like me, it certainly does help knowing the different features and why certain things should be considered. Having said that, what sort of bait would you suggest for a newbie?

  • I’m not a fishing person but both my father and brother are. I’m sure that they would find this Post useful. I’m not sure whether they do have spinnerbaits. But you make it should easy that I am sure they would like this as a present. Thanks for the videos. They will be very helpful to my father and brother.

    • Thanks Owain!

      Spinnerbaits are used mostly for bass fishing, so if your father and brother fish for other species, they may use other lures. I’d love to hear what they do fish for, and have them share some of their “fish tales”!

      Thanks for sharing.

      Tight lines, and remember to have fun out there!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi Roger
    Thanks for the great post. You’ve got me thinking that I’ll give my spinnerbaits some exercise the next time I go fishing. I will let you know how I do.

    • Thanks Amateur Angler (and I assume the “Amateur” refers to the precise meaning of the word: one who engages in a pursuit for pleasure”)!

      I’ve been reading up on spinnerbaits, and plan to learn more about them, since I do love them so much!

      Keep me posted!

      Tight lines!
      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

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