Spinnerbaits are one of the most popular lures in freshwater fishing. From pike to bass, these baits are responsible for putting plenty of trophies in photo collections and payouts in tournament anglers' pockets.
Spinnerbaits are built on a wire form frame, with a weighted, dressed hook at one end and blades connected to the other. The design might sound basic, but each of these parts are customizable, equating to plenty of choice for the angler. In this guide I'll break down each of these categories, while detailing how they contribute to this tried-and-true presentation.
A spinnerbait's skeleton is its wire form. Wire comes in a variety of thicknesses. Thinner wire adds to the underwater hum a bait puts out during the retrieve, while a heavier gauge strand is designed for durability and found in pike or muskie spinnerbaits.
The hook is connected at the bottom end of the safety-pin wire design and a weighed head is moulded on. At the top end, the wire holds clevises and swivels that are attached to blades to give bait flash and vibration. Look for the main blade to be attached with a ball bearing swivel for maximum spin and durability. As with most spinner rigs, beads are used to distance blades. The wire's form creates a snag-resistant bait as the upper arm shields the hook point. This intrinsic protection makes spinnerbaits ideal to cast around various types of cover.
At the front of the bait, in between the hook and the blades, is the line tie. There are two main types of ties. Closed coil and "V" or bent ties. When using leaders with spinnerbaits for toothy fish such as muskie, a closed coil bend is best. It secures the snap-lock in place, minimizing tangles. Leader snaps can slide out of the V-bend wire forms, increasing the odds of fouling a bait on a cast. When not using leaders and targeting other species, V-bends are less of an issue as the line is tied direct to the bend and the taught knot holds the lure in place.
Open line tie vs. closed coil
Once you start to inspect spinnerbaits, you'll see there are plenty of subtle differences in the weighted head of the baits. Lead is the most common material used, although other materials, such as tungsten, are becoming popular. (Bass Pro Shops' XPS Professional Series Tungsten Spinnerbaits are a prime example of this trend.) Weights range from 1/16-ounce crappie spinnerbaits to muskie baits weighting more than 2 ounces.
Head shape is worth considering. Elongated and thin-sided or bullet-shaped heads are designed to help cut through water with minimal resistance. If you're a fan of speed retrieving spinnerbaits for smallmouth bass, look for a streamlined head on a bait. The other main option is curved, thicker-bodied heads, such as those found on Strike King's Kevin VanDam Spinnerbaits. This design is intended to help baits deflect off structure when bumping them into cover. Although these are subtle nuances, they illustrate the finer details in spinnerbait head design.
Holographic eyes add realism and give fish a strike target.
Regardless of the shape, most quality spinnerbait heads feature paint patterns and holographic eyes to give fish a strike target and add realism to lures. Extra detail like gills and scales are found in other high-end baits, like Strike King's Premier Spinnerbaits.
A spinnerbait's skirt is what gives the lure its profile in the water. Skirts come in an array of color patterns. For bass and panfish spinnerbaits, multi-strand, silicone skirts are quite popular. This material is extremely subtle underwater, giving the body a pulsating, swimming action. Different companies tout various skirt shapes which give lures a distinct profile and action during retrieves.
Some spinnerbait bodies, like Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Pro Series, War Eagle's Screamin' Eagle, or Strike King's Premier Plus Tandem Spinnerbaits, feature several longer strands as a trailer tail for extra action and to boost fish-tempting appeal. Another option is threading on a plastic trailer. Bass Pro Shops' Squirmin' Spinnerbait Trailer or Luck 'E' Strike's Clunn Spinnerbait Trailer are two good options to bulk-up and boost the appeal of your spinnerbaits.
Some skirts feature several longer strands, eliminating the need for a soft-plastic trailer.
When it comes to lures for large, toothy predators, like pike, silicone skirts can be effective, but often won't stand up to more than a few fish. To increase the lifespan of your spinnerbaits, buy spinnerbaits featuring hand-dressed hooks made of bucktail, such as Northland's Bionic Bucktail Spinnerbait.
Trailer hooks can increase your catch rate when fish are striking short.
On big muskie baits, multiple hooks are common. Not only does this give the bait a larger profile, it also betters hooking percentages. Trailer hooks are also often used on bass-style spinnerbaits as well. You don't always need a trailer when targeting bass. But when fish strike short, having some trailer hooks in your tackle box can save the day.
You can purchase trailer hooks on their own. Bass Pro Shops' XPS Spinnerbait Trailers with Tubing or Gamakatsu's Spinnerbait Trailer Hook are two options. Also available is Bass Pro Shops' Spinnerbait Trailer Kit featuring a 27-piece mix of hooks, trailers and tubing.
Blades a Plenty
A spinnerbait's blades are a big reason these lures are deadly on so many sport fish. Blades put out flash and vibration. This not only gets the attention of predators, but also mimics the frantic pace of swimming baitfish fleeing danger. There's plenty of blades available, but willow, Colorado and Indiana blades are the most common styles.
Willow blades are long and thin and put out plenty of flash. They create less water resistance than Colorado or Indiana blades, making them well-suited for fast retrieves.
Colorado blades are round and move the most water of the three blade types. This equates to more "thump" and less flash. It also means these bladed baits can be retrieved at a much slower pace. This style is particularly popular for night fishing.
Indiana blades are also used in spinnerbait design. This style offers anglers a half-way point between the flash of a willow blade and the thump of a Colorado.
Blades come in various color patterns. High-end spinnerbaits will feature jeweller's grade gold and nickel-plated blades for the utmost in flash and underwater shine. Blades are also available in a variety of paint patterns. White can be deadly as a bait fish imitation. Black is best for night fishing, with Booyah's Moon Talker a prime example of this style of bait. Hot patterns of chartreuse, red and orange can be good in stained water and have a way of appealing to northern pike.
Spinnerbaits come in various blade combinations. Double willow are deadly for fast retrieves. Some companies even make triple and quadruple willow leaf spinnerbaits for the ultimate in baitfish flash. Booyah's Mini Shad and Super Shad are examples of these baits. Tandem blades of a Colorado and willow are quite popular, mixing the flash and thump traits of these blades. For a subtle difference between this popular combination, a Colorado and Indiana blade combination works well. A single Colorado spinnerbait is a good lure for night fishing or cold-water conditions for bass. Go with a double Colorado bait if you're mainly interested in putting out a lot of vibration.
These are the main features of spinnerbaits and an overview of the choices available in each category. Carrying a few different baits in a variety of weights, blade types and color patterns ensures you're prepared no matter the fishing conditions. Wet these lures often, they're some of the most productive baits out there.