How to Fish a Spinnerbait for Bass: 3 Unique Techniques

The spinnerbait is very much regarded as an ‘old lure'. This wire bait was developed in the 1980s but remains very prominent in today’s bass fishing industry. It’s a bait that elicits some of the most aggressive reaction bites and it'll catch bass in almost any circumstance. Let’s dive into the process of fishing a spinnerbait for bass.

How to Fish a Spinnerbait for Bass: 3 Unique Techniques

What is a Spinnerbait?

A spinnerbait is considered a power fishing technique that can cover plenty of water and is also suitable to be thrown in various zones and forms of cover.

It’s wire bait consisting of a skirt, a wire arm, a weighted head, and a set of blades. The spinnerbait makes a considerable noise (vibration) in the water and has plenty of flash, making it hard to be unnoticed. This noise and flash can be imposing, but it can also be a reason for this lures crazy success.

The spinnerbait is an exceptional lure in muddy water because of its flash and noise. Bass will use their lateral line to pick up on bait when they can’t see well, so having a bit of noise and flash will definitely help with getting noticed.

Spinnerbaits are also very good imitators of baitfish. Rather than just one baitfish, the spinnerbait can imitate a small shoal of shad or other baitfish species, especially in more stained water.

Another reason why the spinnerbait is so popular is because it’s pretty weedless. The lure was designed to bounce off any submerged cover, meaning you can throw it right in the thick stuff.

The spinnerbait is often confused with a buzzbait and a chatterbait, but it is in fact very different in operation on overall presentation.

How to Fish a Spinnerbait for Bass
A double-willow leaf blade spinnerbait

Choosing a Spinnerbait for Bass

The spinnerbait is an incredibly versatile bait. It can be thrown in open, deeper water scenarios, but it can also be thrown in shallow water in amongst isolated cover.

Spinnerbait choice is absolutely key and this must be based on the cover you’re fishing. It’s always good to have a wide variety of spinnerbaits on the boat, as this will give you versatility when trying to reach different water columns.

We’re going to talk about four of the most important features of a spinnerbait and which ones to choose when out on the water. These features are blades, style, color, and weight.

1. Blade Selection for the Spinnerbait

There are 3 main blade types for a spinnerbait. These are Colorado blades, Willow blades, and Indiana blades. We’ll run through what each blade specializes in.

Colorado blade

The colorado blade has a slightly bigger surface area than its compatriots. It has a slower rotation and it generally creates the most vibration.

This blade is a great choice in cold water conditions, as well as more stained water. The bigger vibrations will bring about more attention from bass that are relying less on their vision.

This blade is less suited for fishing around grassy cover as it tends to grab onto vegetation because of its greater surface area. It is however great around harder cover like logs and rocks.

Colorado blade for spinnerbaits
This thicker Colorado blade in a silver

Willow leaf blade

The willow blade has a taller but narrower profile to it. This means it’ll rotate faster when retrieved but will create a lot fewer vibrations than the colorado blade.

This blade will however create more flash and can imitate small shoals of baitfish very well. This blade is versatile and can be thrown around many forms of cover. I personally love throwing willow blades around grassy cover.

Mike Iaconelli prefers the willow blade in warmer conditions. He feels the general rule with spinnerbaits is that the warmer the water, the greater flash you want.

Willow leaf blade for Spinnerbaits
The narrow willow leaf blade

Indiana blade

The Indiana blade fits in the middle between the colorado and the willow blade. It is slightly thinner than the colorado, but also slightly thicker than the willow.

This makes the Indiana a pretty versatile option and it’ll do the job in most cover areas. It has slightly less vibration than the colorado with added flash, but also less flash than the willow with more vibration.

Indiana blade for spinnerbaits
The man in the middle - the Indiana blade in white

2. Spinnerbait Style Selection

There are various styles of spinnerbaits and this refers to the blade application on each lure. Spinnerbaits may have 1, 2, or even 3 blades, and different blades can be applied on each spinnerbait. 

1 blade

This style has less flash but more of a helicopter effect and therefore moves more water. This means there’ll be a slightly bigger thump of vibration with one blade, making it better for more stained water.

Single blade spinnerbait
Strike King's Mini-King spinnerbait

2 blades

Probably the most common style is having two blades. This creates a lot more flash and can imitate a shoal of baitfish effectively. 

A double willow blade is a great choice for fishing clear water, as the flash will catch the eye on a nearby bass.

Double bladed spinnerbait
Strike King's Tour Grade double willow leaf spinnerbait

Tandem blades

This involves two blades with two different styles such as a colorado and a willow leaf. The beauty of this is having the best of both worlds, combining the features of two different blades. 

This is a very versatile option, and my personal favorite is combining a willow leaf blade and a colorado blade.

Tandem blade spinnerbait
Strike King's KVD Finesse spinnerbait with a tandem blade system

3. Color Selection for Spinnerbaits

Color generally comes in the form of a skirt and this selection should be based on the water clarity you’re fishing as well as the color of the forage.

For murky water, one should look for darker colors such as Junebug, or a shock color like chartreuse. These colors will be more visible in lower light and murky water.

For clear water, the best bet is to match the forage and bait in your system as best as possible. So natural colors will be a lot more appealing. For example, if you have bluegill in your system, try to match those colors within your skirt.

4. Spinnerbait Weight Selection

Weight is another factor that needs to be considered. This should be chosen based on the depth that you’re fishing.

For shallow water, a ¼ ounce or ⅜ ounce is most probably your best bet. This will slowly roll comfortably within the desired depth.

A ½ ounce is probably your most versatile weight. This weight can be fished in several depths with effect.

If you’re looking to target deep water, one can look to a ¾ ounce or even a 1 ounce to ensure the lure reaches the necessary depths and strike zone.

How to Fish a Spinnerbait

The process of fishing a spinnerbait is pretty simple. The hardest part is generally selecting the right spinnerbait to match the cover or water you’re fishing. There are however various techniques when it comes to the cadence and retrieval of a spinnerbait.

Steady retrieve

The steady retrieve is the technique most fishermen will turn to for spinnerbait fishing and it’s very basic. It’s perfect for covering loads of water and it’s ideal for slightly stained water. This method is also known as slow rolling.

The reason it’s good for less clear water is because bass will be trying to track motion and changing direction may cause them to lose track.

The process consists of casting out and simply winding at a rate where you can feel the vibration of the blades turning. There is no need for jerking of the rod, just simply turning the handle of the reel.

This cadence brings out the most consistent action in a spinnerbait and it’s a great option for fishing around actively feeding bass.

Changing direction

This is another form of retrieval for a spinnerbait. Changing the direction that your spinnerbait moves in gives your lure a more realistic action and it’s a good idea to do this in more clear water.

Giving your rod tip the odd firm twitch every now and then while engaging in a steady retrieval will change the direction of your spinnerbait ever so slightly but it can easily entice a bite.

Burning retrieve

The burning technique involves retrieving the lure at an extremely fast pace. This technique works best in very clear water, as the faster retrieve means less time for the bass to identify your lure.

The burning retrieve also requires a slightly heavier weight with smaller blades in order to keep it deeper in the water column. If you use a light weight such as a ¼ ounce, it might sit too close to the surface while you’re burning it.

When Should You Throw a Spinnerbait?

  • Spinnerbaits are incredibly versatile when it comes to where you’re going to throw it. It can be used as a pitching bait around heavy cover, but it can also be used in the most open water scenarios.
  • Personally, I love throwing spinnerbaits in and around ripraps, hard cover, and wooden cover - similar to where you’d throw a crankbait.
  • As mentioned, spinnerbaits will work in almost any form of cover, but what’s key is selecting the right spinnerbait to deal with that cover and present itself as best as possible.
  • Another key time to throw spinnerbaits is in wind or less clear conditions. The vibration and flash brought upon by its design is extremely effective in getting reaction bites when water quality is less clear.
  • Setting the hook when fishing a spinnerbait should be leaning into the fish after a bite rather than an aggressive strike.
Spinnerbait fishing tips
Submerged wood is always a great time to throw a spinnerbait

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