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In this article we discuss how to fish with a the different types of spinner lures, and how they work. From Spinner baits to weight forward spinners, we’ve got all the information you need to learn how to use these classic lures.
Most anglers are lucky enough to live in an age where lure fishing is extremely easy. Most lures, like crankbaits, you don’t have to do anything other than cast and retrieve. There are certainly tips and tricks we’ll let you in on that can improve your catch rates with each lure but none are absolutely required to catch fish. Stick around for our tips and suggestions on how you can hook into a trophy fish.
Step 1: Cast
Step 2: Reel
Its really that easy. Like we said before. Some lures aren’t complicated. Most fish will hook themselves on your spinner lures. You don’t even have to do anything…. but if you’re looking for something a little more advanced, we’ve got you covered too.
The appeal of spinner lures is multifaceted. In clear water, fish can spot the flash of the revolving blade from large distances. In cloudy or murky waters, the flash of the revolving blade isn’t as visible but the disturbance and “sound” generated by the blade is quite noticeable to predatory fish. In those situations, the fish use their lateral line senses(link) to track and attack your typical spinner lures.
Spinner lures come in four basic designs. Standard spinners have a blade which rotates around a straight wire shaft. Most standard spinners have some type of weight behind the blade to make the lure heavy enough to cast. Weight-forward spinners are similar to standard spinners but, as the name states, the weight sits in front of the blade. Spinnerbaits have a shaft similar to an open safety pin. They have a lead head on the lower arm and a spinner blade on the upper arm. Buzzbaits resemble standard spinners or spinnerbaits, but differ in their specially designed propeller rather than your typical spinning blade.
The spinner bait has universal appeal. Gamefish all over the world will strike your spinner type lures. They will work at any time of year. However, they tend to work best in extremely cold or extremely warm water. Fish are typically extremely lethargic in those situations, making them reluctant to chase prey. Spinner types have the unparalleled ability to invoke a bite or chase with their flash and disturbance, and this is the important part, at an extremely slow retrieval speed. They don’t have to be retrieved at great speeds to be effective. They can be retrieved extremely slowly and allow you to provoke a bite, even when the fish might pass up a quicker moving crankbait.
There are lots of different blades available on spinners. Different blades produce different levels or types of water resistance. A broad blade rotates at a greater angle to the shaft and creates more resistance than a narrow blad. A large blade has more resistance than a small one of the same shape. Resistance matters when you want to run lures at higher speeds. The higher the level of resistance means the lure will run more shallow than a spinner with less resistance. Wide blades run best with slow retrieves with slow currents. Narrow blades are more suited to fast retrieves and fast currents.
Your tackle makes a difference. Super heavy tackle will make it difficult to sense the vibration and action of your spinner. Light tackle will help you feel the drum. Retrieves that are too slow might produce choppy, erratic, or no beat on your line and rod. It also might be clogged with weeds, so make sure to check it. You’ll want to use a stiff rod when using spinnerbaits as it will give you the leverage to yank the rod and set your hooks deep into a fish jaw.
Rigging or tying a spinner bait is relatively easy. Any normal Clinch or Palomar Knot will do just fine. The most common question we receive at Tackle Reports is How to tie a spinner bait, or where to attach the line. Every spinner bait has either a metal loop in the front, which is true of standard spinners, inline spinners, weight forward spinners, and buzzbaits, or they have a bent arm. Spinner with a metal loop in the front of the lure are obvious, tie your spinner, or attach your snap, into that from eye loop at the top or tip of the lure. Spinnerbait are a little less obvious. Obvious enough to produce a common question among new anglers. For a spinnerbait, tie your line, or attach your snap swivel, on to the U-shaped bend that lay between the spinner, skirt, and hook and the spinning blades
Standard spinners are a classic lure with the general concept unchanged for generations for good reason. They produce a wide range of fish, reliably. Standard spinner really come in two basic types, which don’t look all that different to one another but function a bit differently. The clevis type has a blade attached to a U-shaped metal clevis that rotates around the shaft. The sonic type of spinner has a body behind the blade and consists of an elongated piece of metal, or of metal or plastic beads. These spinners have a separate bead head behind the blade to reduce friction. Sonic spinners are less water resistant and allow the lure to glide through the water better. This means sonic spinners are meant to fish fast water, compared to the standard U-shape style that are designed for calm slow water.
Standard sinkers are slow sinking spinners to they are more effective at shallow or medium depths. The spinning blade gives these lures a protection against fishing in weeds. The spinning blade will deflect some weeds if you must retrieve through them. Spinners certainly work best in open water. They are not nearly as weed resistant as safety-pin spinners.
Spinner size is important when targeting your fish species. Large bucktail spinners account for more trophy muskies than any other lure. Big spinners work equally well for Northern. Smaller versions are suited well for big pickerel, salmonids (trout or salmon), or bass. When targeting small to medium sized trout, spinners should measure 1 to 3 inches. When targeting small mouth and other medium sized fish, spinners should be from 2 to 4 inches long. Fishing for pike or northerns is most productive with larger than 4 inch spinners.
Standard spinners don’t rotate when the blade and lure sink. Which means standard spinners are better designed to be steadily retrieved than when jigged erratically. In some cases, you may have to twitch the lure to start the blade spinner. Reeling at a constant speed will result in fish tracking the lure but won’t provide a strike. Steady retrieves with short slows or bursts of speed will trick the fish into thinking the imitation fish is attempting to escape, provoking an attack.
When fishing in deep current, you may have to angle your casts upstream to prevent snagging. Like a thin spoon, a standard spinner works well when drifted into hard to reach spots and allowed to hang in the current. A major problem in fishing with standard spinners is keeping the blade turning freely. If the lure or any part of the lure becomes bent, it may produce erratic spinning or prevent spinning in general.
Line twist matters with spinners. The shaft of a spinner tends to revolve in the direction the blade spins. To minimize twisting, attach the spinner with a ball-bearing swivel. A clevis or body that is bent or fouled causes line twist because pressure against the fixed blade make the entire lure spin, not just the blade.
The Mepps Comet Mino spinner is a classic spinner. Its extremely reliable and has been a tackle box staple for quite a while. The Comet Mino is deadly on medium sized game species including panfish trout and bass. The comet spinner is especially great for smallmouth but don’t be surprised if you pick up a catfish or two. Because the Comet Mino features an interchangeable hook two or more blades can be connected in tandem for additional flash weight vibration and casting distance. Comet Minos are all airbrushed which give added realism and elevate the level of quality. These classic spinners possess an erratic swimming action that imitates wounded bait fish pretty well. The lure comes in either Gold or Brass spinners, which are interchangeable. It’s a spinner that runs at mid depth.
The Yakima Original Rooster Tail Spinner Lure is another classic spinner. One of the best things about this spinner is the variability. You can order the lure in about 20 different patterns and colors as well as 10 different weights, from as light as 1/32nd ounces to 1 whole ounce. Like other classic spinners, the inline weight keeps the lure streamline with a predictable retrieve. You can order the lure in silver, brass, or copper blades. This lure will catch perch and bluegill just as much as largemouth and pike.
If you’re looking for a specific suggestion We would suggest the chrome-gold-chartreuse combination. That’s a great combination to catch a variety of species in generally any kind of water.
The third suggestion is the Blisswill Spinner Collection more of a shotgun approach. This is a 30-piece collection of classic spinners. This collection comes from Blisswill. They are designed for either saltwater or freshwater fishing, though they likely may succumb to the same rust that most lures fall prey to in salt water. There is a wide variety of colors available that will suit most any occasion. The variation in size, anywhere from 1.5 inches to 3 inches, give you the ability to target fish of any size. Like most other classic spinners, you can expect to catch a variety of panfish, trout, and bass.
Most weight forward spinners work well for fishing in deep water or fast current. They have narrow bodies which cause them to sink rapidly and hold their depth. Others are better suited to shallower water because their wider bodies give them a planning effect. Some models have a long wire shaft in front of the head to reduce the chanced of a bite off when fishing northern pike or muskies.
The lead body on a weight-forward spinner makes it easy to cast. The body is molded to the shaft and acts as a keep, preventing line twist. Because of the weight, the lure sinks head first. The blade spins while the lure is dropping, differing from the action of a standard spinner, attractive fish and tempting a strike.
Weight forward spinners are usually tipped with some type of live bait, so most come with a single hook. The hook is attached to ride with the point up, making the lure relatively snag less. Fishermen who use nightcrawlers often replace the single hook with a treble. The worm stays on the hook better and you will lose fewer fish.
The fast sinking nature and design makes the weight forward spinner a natural choice for bottom hugging fish like walleyes. Don’t let that stop you from using these for other fish. They work great targeting bass, pike, or trout. Weight forward spinners can be cast quite a long distance, so they work well for reaching surface schools of bass and striper.
If cast improperly, weight-forward spinners tangle easily. The lure sails through the air headfirst, so the hook tends to catch on the line. To avoid this problem, use a soft lob cast rather than a snap cast. Stop the lure just before it hits the water. This will turn is around and prevent the hook from catching the line as the lure sinks.
To find the best depth, many fisherman use the countdown technique. That simply involves casting your lure out and counting from the time your lure hits the water, paying out line, until it touches bottom, known by your line becoming slack. If you count to 10 seconds before your lure hits the waterway bottom the first time, the next cast you take, subtract two seconds from your initial count and begin reeling exactly 8 seconds after your lure hits the water. If you catch a fish, repeat the process. If you don’t catch a fish you can cast again at the 8 second mark a few times, then subtract another second or two and reel in, repeating the process at the 7 or 6 second mark.
When you begin your retrieve with weight-forward pinners, lift the rod tip sharply to start the blade turning. Begin reeling when you feel the resistance of the blade and continue reeling just fast enough to keep the blade turning. Weight-forward spinners work well when reeled steadily, but a darting retrieve may produce more fish. Periodically make a long sideways sweep with your rod, then bring your rod forward while reeling rapidly to keep the blade turning. Fish often strike just as the lure begins to accelerate.
Tie a weight-forward spinner directly to your line. Because the lure will not twist your line, you do not need a swivel. A snap or swivel increases the chances of fouling, because the lure can whip around on the cost. Walleye and trout fishermen often tip weight-forward spinners with nightcrawlers. Pike anglers generally use minnows. Pork rind and soft plastic tails also work well for tipping.
When selecting spinners, consider the length of the upper arm, the thickness of the shaft and the shape of the head. In most situations, use a spinnerbait with an upper arm long enough so that the blade rides above the hook point. Models with a shorter arm work best for helicoptering. But is the arm is too short, it will not protect the hook from snags or provide enough stability to keep the lure from rolling. If the arm is too long, it will reduce your hooking percentage because fish often strike at the blade.
Spinnerbaits come in single-blade, tandem-blade, and twin-blade models. Single-blade types produce the strongest beat, and helicopter well, making them a good all-around choice. Tandems have more water resistance, so they run shallower at a given retrieve speed and are effective for bulging the surface. Twin-blade types are best in heavy cover the dual upper shafts protect the hook better than a single shaft.
Most lures have skirts of vinyl, rubber, buck tail, or marabou. Some called spin-rigs, come with skirts and are intended for use with live bait or pork strips.
The Carlson Erie Dearie Weight Forward spinners are large lures, that are sometimes hard to find. With various options in weight, these lures work great when cast and as trolling lures as well. You’re guaranteed to catch walleye, pike, muskie, or perch with these lures. Make sure you cast deep and work slow with these lures. For even more luck, tip the hook with a work or curly tail grub.
These lures were designed to solve the problems encountered by southern bass anglers in trying to fish reservoirs strewn with timber and brush. Standard or weight forward spinners snag too easily under these conditions. The shaft of a spinner is bent in the shape of an open safety pin. The bent shaft prevents weeds and branches from fouling the hook and blade. Yet spinners hook fish better than most other weed less lures because the entire hook is exposed.
Many fishermen use spinner baits to locate fish in shallow water. You can cover a lot of water quickly and the flash and vibration draw strikes from the most aggressive fish. Even if a fish does not take the lure, it may follow and reveal its location. If you are the type of angler who carries a second rod and rig with you, then you can use a slower or less flashy lure to catch it.
The versatility of these lures make them a good choice for a broad range of fishing. They can be fished with different retrieves. Slow retrieves along the bottom, quickly just under the surface, or moderately a few feet under the surface, or you can jig it.
Properly tied, spinners do not twist when retrieved, so you should tie your line to your actual lure. Snaps and swivels aren’t prohibited but they certainly are likely to tangle your line.
Fisherman often fail to feel strikes on spinner baits. Fish don’t hook themselves on spinners like they do on crankbaits. Often, the best indication of a bite on a spinner will be a nudge. So, in order to make sure you don’t miss a strike, whenever you feel the drum of the blade stop or pause, set the hook.
The BOOYAH Spinneris one of the biggest names in fishing lures. The Booyah Blade, double willow blade, spinner baits prevents the problems with lesser lures. Booyah spinners won’t have the same bent wires, cheap skirts, dull hooks, and flimsy components others might have. The main frame of the lure is stronger than others. That strength produces stronger blade vibrations which draw more fish. With a variety of sizes, blade combinations and colors, the Booyah Blade spinner is at home in a variety of fishing situations. With or without a trailer this spinner catches bass for the best anglers on the water.
Buzzbaits get their name from the double- or triple-winged propeller, called a buzz blade. Buzzblades are different than your typical spinnerbait. The purpose of a buzz blade is to operate half in the water and half outside the water. Buzzbaits aren’t as versatile as spinners or other spinner types mainly because they’re limited to surface fishing.
But a Buzzbaits can work much better than other spinner types when fishing over weeds, grass, or other obstacles. Even in murky water, fish can hear and feel the lure comparatively better than other spinners when the blade creates a disturbance or breaks the water.
Buzzbaits are best in relatively calm water. If there’s too much wave action, fish don’t seem to notice the surface disturbance from the lure. Some fishermen also tip Buzzbaits, like other spinners, with pork strips, worms, or other baits as well. The added buoyancy of these baits helps the buzzbait stay close to the top of the water’s surface.
Buzzbaits are extremely effective for bass fishing in shallow water. They are a secret magnet for pike, pickerel, and muskies as well. When fishing for a bass, reel a buzzbait steady, just fast enough o keep it on the surface. For big predators like pike, faster retrieves are usually more productive. Fishing in slop usually requires a slower retrieve than it does in open conditions. Dense weeds require the slower retrieves as fish struggle to get through them as quickly.
When extremely slow retrieves are required, use a twin-bladed buzzbait. The twin blades will give more lift and allow you to sneak over top of problematic weeds and grass. To keep your lure where it belongs. Stop your cast just before your lure hits the water. That ensures the least amount of slack in your line possible means you can retrieve the lure before it can sink. Hold your rod tip high enough so your lure stays on the surface but not high enough that you cannot set the hook.
Its okay to throw Buzzbaits directly into the heaviest of cover. They can sometimes be the key to drawing fish out of cover on hot days. Use Buzzbaits in the spring when bass are spawning. Throw them over and past weedy flats and provoke bites when retrieving past bass spawning beds. Later in the season, Buzzbaits are great on overcast mornings or evenings when predators patrol shallows and cover
Another BOOYAH baits, this time The BOOYAH Buzzbait. BOOYAH produces a high quality freshwater buzz bait. The simple cast and quick retrieve action ensures proper technique. With a variety of colors, you can buy the Booyah Buzz in single, two, or four packs. Booyahs special construction of a “clacker-style” buzzbait creates tremendous sound to attract bass from a substantial distance.
The Strike King Premier Plus Buzzbait is designed with a stinger already added. In addition to the normal single hook, a trailing hook has been added with a skirt extension. It’s a unique build for certain. Twin counter rotating blades create extra lift, enable slow retrieves, and ensure perfectly straight tracking and spray water outward for a commotion unlike other buzzbaits. It comes in multiple colors and patterns for every occasion.
Be careful not to set the hook too early. Given Spinner and Buzzbait usage in dense cover, fish sometimes struggle to get to your bait and act on a clean bite. You are likely to see them splash or swirl near the missed lure. Wait and be sure you see or feel the fish grab the lure before you set the hook.
Spinnerbait Trailers, called stingers, are extra hooks added to their buzzbait in order to ensure higher percentage of hook ups. In open water, treble hooks are more effective stingers than single hooks. You can add multiple types of spinnerbait trailers. There are treble hook stingers. There are single hook stingers. You can add a spinnerbait trailer with any normal hook by simply hooking your spinnerbait hook through the eye of your new stinger hook.
The key to ensuring your spinnerbait trailer stays on your hook, is by:
1. Keeping your line tight at all times
2. Add a plastic hook holder (to prevent the hook from sliding around)
We’ve made plenty of suggestions about the best spinnerbaits of their category. These are good suggestions for all around general fishing scenarios. We’d like to make some suggestions for the best spinnerbaits for specific types of fish. While our earlier suggestions are great spinners, you may need something a bit more targeted when fish are being extra finicky.
The KeelTail Weighted Bucktail is a larger lure than the Carlson Dearie spinners. This weight forward spinner is designed with big pike and muskies in mind. The lure allows for depth control, just adjust your retrieve accordingly, slower to allow it to sink and quicker to ascend. Stainless steel treble hooks ensure this lure won’t lose your trophy pike when it strikes your spinner. KeelTails are handcrafted by SUM Outdoors so you can count on quality, even after multiple attacks by big muskie. These are just some of the reasons we think the KeelTail Weighted Bucktail is the best musky spinnerbait
These great bass spinners come in multiple variations of color and pattern. An aggressive bass spinnerbait tactic is to attach a spinner trailer of the same type and color as the spinnerbait you purchase. The illusion of multiple bait fish, or one larger bait fish, could be the deciding factor between a trophy bass and disappointing day on the water.
If you haven’t read our article on How to Fish with Lures where we cover the important fundamentals of fishing with lure, make sure to check it out. If you’re looking for guides on how to catch specific fish like Pike or Walleye, check out our guides. We have gear reviews and gear suggestions if you’re looking for a new rod, reel, or kayak. We’ve got plenty of general articles if you’re looking for lure help or tricks.