When it comes to bass fishing, there’s little argument spinnerbaits are the most versatile lure in any tackle box, maybe the best ever, although you’d get some pushback from the folks who worship at the altar of soft-plastic baits.
That’s because spinnerbaits can be big or small, retrieved fast or slow and speeds in between, worked on the surface or at depths, even on the bottom, and can be modified to fish through grass, around timber and rip-rap.
Any number of species will attack them. Need a list? OK, bluegills, sac-a-lait, white bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, choupique, bullheads, all catfishes, buffalo, gaspergoo, and sort of unique to south Louisiana, redfish, speckled trout and, believe it or not, there are reports of flounder inhaling a skirted bait cast into a run-out for a waiting redfish.
What makes it such a winner is that the same spinnerbait frame can be changed to suit location.
Willowleaf spinner blades are preferred by most anglers across south Louisiana because willowleafs plow through mats of native coontail grass) and invasive hydrilla (a nonnative grass). But find water temperatures in the low 50s, and switch to a large round Colorado blade, work the bait slowly, dropping it off ledges and then along to the depths, and it’s common to find bottom-dwelling 4-, 5- and 6-pound largemouths like the presentation.
The idea behind the blades is to move water, to put a vibration in the water, a vibration that mimicks the movement of a baitfish or a crawfish. The bigger the blade, the more water it moves.
Change blades colors from gold to silver or copper blades and you’ve adapted the lure to cloudy or sunny conditions. Light reflecting off the blades attracts reaction bites from aggressive predator fish.
Then, when considering the color of a spinnerbait’s skirt — for the uninitiated, the skirt is the attachment that bulks up the lure — and there’s a set of combinations a PhD in math would wear out a couple of pencils trying to figure out.
Chartreuse and chartreuse/white usually are can’t-miss skirt colors in murky south Louisiana waters. But add blue to those colors and you can fool old Mr. Largemouth into thinking he’s ready to gorge on a bluegill. Remove that color and add a clear skirt with a black “pepper” flake and tinged in pink and it’s easy to see why bass and redfish occupying the same waters think they’re seeing a shrimp, maybe a crab, fleeing at high speed.
In the world of spinnerbaits, using heavy wire on a honed 4/0 or 5/0 hook and fixed with a soft-plastic minnow imitation is a recent phenomenon for catching redfish.
Again, gold blades are preferred, and large blades work in muddy water, and the minnow imitations (black /pearl, black/chartreuse and black/green are preferred colors) can be changed to suit the angler, and the fish.
Today, with winter on the wane and spring on the doorstop, it’s a good idea to have a variety on hand. Find cold water, and use the big blades. Find prespawn off a point or dropoff, and a single round blade works. Fish in the shallows and around grassbeds, or fish feeding on minnows will jump on willowleaf-bladed lures just because the action imitates a wary, fidgety morsel.