The first time I discovered this, I was amazed at how many fish I had must have missed in my youth, by not knowing how to fish a spinnerbait here in the Northeast.
When it was October here in Delaware, I went hunting until the end of Quail season. Soon after 1976, I read my first issue of Basssmaster magazine, and saw that people were using this bait year round and catching bass. Soon after, in late December in Delaware, I caught my first bass on a “Stan Sloan” single nickel colorado blade,(with a purple skirt, with rattles on the arm,) by letting it flutter into a sunken tree, in ten foot deep, thirty-six degree water. I soon felt that sluggish pull on the line, “like a pile of leaves or grass”, not until then, did I realize that I could catch bass year round on the right lures, with the right presentation, sound and color. It was well over six pounds, and was a different fight when she got close to the boat and saw the trolling motor. Since that time I have fished all over the United States, from New York to California, and found the right spinnerbait and the right technique produces big bass from all sorts of waters all year long. They key is to keep it in the strike zone, and most lures are made so that you can work them as slowly as you want to, while still keeping them in the zone.
I like to use the spinnerbait as a search tool, and kind of a depth finder, and bottom contour device also. What I do is check out the structure of the lake by bumping objects, and increasing my chance for a reaction strike right then. The spinnerbait will make a different sound bumping off different objects such as stumps, rocks, sand, and pea gravel.I also vary the speed often, and even shake the rod if necessary, trying to give the bass a different look, which is important in highly pressured waters. I work buzzbaits in a different manner also, which I believe is what accounts for some real lunkers that I might have otherwise missed. There are times when a spinnerbait is the most effective tool to use. When fishing the bait in heavy cover such as pads, I employ a technique that I now know is called fluttering by some anglers.
Basically what you do is to cast the spinnerbait out into the pads, and by moving your rod tip, and other parts of your body positioning, you maneuver the bait through the pads, and when it comes to an opening, stop it, and let it flutter down. Many strikes comes as a lure sinks.You should make a lot of casts to the areas where you really believe the bass are, or have seen them, as they can be irritated into striking if the bait is presented in enough variations and positions. Slow rolling can be extremely effective in deep water as it designed to imitate a crawfish on the bottom, or another type of bass forage. The trick to it is rolling it down the side of a sloping bank, a rock bar, a hump, or any underwater structure, and then slowly pumping it back to the boat. I employ the almost identical technique with a lipless crankbait with great success. There are also better types of spinnerbaits for different types of cover. C shaped baits tend to work better through heavy pads and grass, while a V shaped bait gets hung up more easily.
Riprap is another good area to slow roll spinnnerbaits. Sometimes there is debris mixed in with the rocks, and many times large bass are waiting to attack prey that come along, and are primes areas to slow-roll spinnerbaits. The spinnerbaits should be slow rolled over the rocks and such, and extra action is not really necessary. It should crawl over the bottom, and sometimes I give it a little twitch. All you have to do is raise the rod a slightly, lightly shake it, and then continue slowrolling it back to the boat.
When the bass are really deep I employ a technique I call deep pulling; its like a yo-yo method but a little different. I let the bait flutter all the way down, and then let it sit, then I pull it hard and way up near the surface and do it again. I use real heavy baits with Colorado blades for this, usually in a chartreuse, or a chartreuse and white skirt when I fish in places that have dying shad in the winter, but anywhere else, I use black, or black/purple combinations. I always add a little Megastrike to the baits.
I like to use a 6 1/2 foot rod for this but sometimes I use a 7 foot rod, on different occasions. Many times situations come up when a 7 foot rod suits the situation better that a 6 or 6 1/2 foot rod for distance and control. Most of my rods I use for this technique are in a medium heavy action. I really like a Fiberglass rod for these baits, but there are many new rods that are very good for spinnerbaits and crankbaits, made by G.Loomis, St.Croix, Kistler,and Shimano. Sometimes on the smaller baits I use a spinning rod with Stren Super Braid,or Power Pro, but the rest of the time I use a baitcasting rod with a Shimano Chronarch, with fourteen to twenty pound P-Line or Bass Pro Shops line.
WHAT COLORS FOR WHAT BAIT
When I choose a color for a spinnerbait, a lot of factors come in to play. The first thing I do is pick a shad pattern, or whatever is the dominate species in the lake. I usually double up the skirts, to give them more bulk. I use blue and white, black and white, and chartreuse and white. Sometimes I use red, depending on the location. All of these colors give a good range of visibility under water.
In muddy water, I have always used the same colors, black and blue and red. The same goes for the nighttime. I like to use the forage in the lake if I can, such as rainbow trout or shad, and to make it appear injured to trigger that genetic response, but only if the water isn’t muddy. In muddy water I stick to black almost exclusively.
I like to use big spinnerbaits in the spring, when I’m in big fish waters, some right here in Delaware or Maryland, or others such as Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Mexico. When fishing strictly for big bass with spinnerbaits I add on a double or triple skirt for bulk and lift, and use really big blades. Terminator makes some big blades that I really like on our spinnerbaits. This year here in Delaware, I landed three bass in one day on big spinnerbaits, that went seven and eight pounds. Sometimes we even break off the tails of worms for trailers, and many times in the spring, I have caught some huge bass from ten inches of muddy water with a big spinnerbait with a trailer. The new Skeet Reese Redemption is another great spinnerbait and I use that with a Colorado blade in cold and/or muddy water.
I have had a great response from bass in the Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania areas, using a double golden shiner skirt. The bluegill and shad patterns top the list overall though. Sometimes reversing the skirts on the baits presents a different profile, and will also trigger hard to get strikes. The spinnerbait isn’t just a bait for beginners, although it is a great bait to break in a novice or child to the sport of bass fishing. But in the hands of an expert, it is a versatile year round bait, that can catch “HUGE” bass.
More advanced tactics and videos are available at my website for serious tournament anglers. All the tackle mentioned is available with free shipping and up to 50% off at times at World Record Trophy Bass Tackle Store.