If you’re content to grab any old spinnerbait, throw it out, and reel it back, you’re not catching as many bass as you could be. That’s because you’re not taking full advantage of the bait that many pros consider the most multi-dimensional in their tackleboxes.
You can fish it under the surface or on the bottom. You can pitch it and also let it flutter to the bottom.
But just making your spinnerbait go faster or slower isn’t enough to take full advantage. One weight is not suitable for all situations, contrary to what some believe. You should choose a spinnerbait based on what best corresponds to conditions and how you want to fish it.
The same wisdom applies to sizes, shapes, and colors of blades, as well as skirts. For example, you want a double willow if you're running the bait fast in clear or slightly stained water and a Colorado if you are fishing muddy water.
And whether you’re buying your spinnerbaits or making your own, you will be a better angler if you also understand the role of other components, such as wire arms, clevises, beads, and swivels.
Let’s look at the anatomy of a spinnerbait and some of the variations possible on this most versatile of baits.
In general, choose a body weight according to how deep you want to fish.
Most anglers prefer a 3/8-ounce as their “go to” bait, but a ¼-ounce is easier to handle in shallow water and is less likely to hang up. A ¾-ounce bait, or larger, is a good choice when you want to creep it along the bottom in deeper water or when you want it to sink quickly to entice suspended fish.
A heavier bait also will perform better in windy conditions and/or heavy current.
A spinnerbait can carry one blade or two. If the two, are similar, then the bait is a “double.” If the two are different in shape or size, then the bait is a “tandem.”
Choose shapes, sizes, and colors of blades based on weather and water conditions, as well as how deep and aggressive the fish are. Smaller blades, for example, are better for fishing in current and for fast retrieves because they create less drag.
The willowleaf blade probably is the most popular, although not always the correct one to use. Its slender shape means it gives off more flash than vibration, making it a good choice for clear water. It also cuts through grass easier than wider blades.
The Colorado creates more “thump,” with less flash, making it a good choice for stained water, where vibration is more important to attract bass.
The Indiana is a blend of the two, offering a combination of vibration and flash.
Silver, chrome, and nickel generally are preferred for clear water and sunny days, while gold, copper, and brass are best on cloudy days and stained water. Painted blades also are good choices under low-light conditions, when less light is reflected off the metallic blades.
Skirts are made of a variety of materials, with silicone probably the most popular because it can be produced in a variety of natural-looking colors. Also silicone strands don’t melt and, thus, are less likely to stick together, a common problem with living rubber. The latter still is preferred by some anglers because of its fluid motion in water.
In general, choose the lifelike colors for clear water, where visibility is high. Go with the more traditional chartreuse and white for darker water.
And The Rest
The thinner and lighter the wire on your spinnerbait, the more the bait will vibrate. On the minus side, it also will be more likely to bend or break if it is stainless steel. Some anglers think the trade-off is worth it to attract bass. Others believe prefer to go with thicker heavier wire because they believe that the flash and vibration of the blades are enough to draw fish. Titanium is reputed to offer both strength and lightness.
The length of the wire determines whether the bait is a “long arm” or “short arm.” A short arm is best for vertical presentations, such as along rock walls, when you want to blade to “helicopter” as it sinks. The long arm is better for horizontal fishing and when you want a fast retrieve.
The all-important swivel, meanwhile, can be either a ball bearing or a barrel. Ball bearing generally is better. To make certain that you are getting a good one, flick the blade. It should rotate consistently and slowly come to a stop.
The clevis attaches the forward blade of a tandem or double spinnerbait. The stirrup usually is more durable and reliable than the folded metal variety.
Beads or tubes are used to keep the blades spaced properly. Beads are preferred because tubes can cause more friction on the clevis and reduce rotation.
Put all of these parts together and you have that most versatile of bass catchers, the spinnerbait. But the variations don’t end with the basics.
You can add a plastic trailer to better attract reluctant fish. Or you can attach a “stinger” or trailer hook to catch those short-striking fish.
Most importantly, remember that not all spinnerbaits are created equal and none are appropriate for all conditions.
The spinnerbait is so versatile that you can “burn” it across the top, as well as crawl it along the bottom. But a variation of the spinnerbait--- the buzzbait--- also will provoke explosive strikes on top.
While the spinnerbait relies on flash and vibration to attract, the buzzbait draws bass with noise. The cupped ends of its blade, or blades, give it a distinctive clacking sound as it is reeled across the surface. Today’s buzzbaits offer a wide variety of blade styles and combinations, with some anglers preferring the more subtle sound of plastic to the louder metal.
The best buzzbaits will work even with slower retrieves and possess a head that will cut through water and ride over vegetation.
Son Of Spinnerbait
The chatterbait is another offspring of the spinnerbait. It consists of a skirted jig with a blade attached to the eye of the hook, either directly or with a split ring. As the lure is retrieved, the blade wobbles back and forth, creating flash and vibration, much like a spinnerbait.
As with the spinnerbait, the chatterbait also is extremely versatile. You can simply throw it out and reel it back. But also you can slow roll it along the bottom, or burn it near or on top of the water. In addition, you can let it sink to the bottom, jerk it up, and allow it to flutter back down.
1. New bass boat--- $50,000
2. New tow vehicle --- $30,000
3. Fishing trip to Mexico's Lake El Salto--- $2,000 plus air fare
Bass aren’t the fastest fish in the world. But no matter how quickly you retrieve that crankbait or topwater, you can’t get it away from them--- if they want it.
That’s because even the fastest reels are capable of retrieving baits at only 3 or 4 miles per hour. A bass, meanwhile, can swim in bursts of 12 to 18 miles per hour.
Most of the time, they don’t, not even when they’re feeding. Three to 4 miles an hour likely is more common. That’s because bass are pot-bellied, ambush predators. Much of the time, they would rather chow down on a slow-moving worm or injured minnow. Walleye are much the same way.
The key to success when you’re out fishing is not to know how fast a bass or other species can swim, but how fast it is willing to swim. Experiment with speed until you find the right one.
Knowing your reel’s “speed” is important for this. One reel can look almost exactly like another but be faster or slower.
“Speed” refers to the amount of line retrieved in one full turn of the handle. A fast reel (7.0:1 gear ratio) can take in 30 to 31 inches of line per turn, while a slower one (5.0:1) only 20 or 22.
If you’re fishing with a crankbait, you might think that you want a faster reel, but probably you don’t, says Jeremy Sweet of Shimano. That’s because fast reels are used mostly when fishing soft plastics, to take up slack line quickly before the hook set or to get the bait back to the boat in a hurry after it is out of the strike zone.
Although not always, slower reels usually are better for faster-moving crankbaits. For one thing, they allow time for the baits to go to their proper depths. For another, they encourage more erratic, lifelike action.
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Here are estimated top speeds of other common freshwater species according to various internet sources: rainbow trout 23 mph, catfish 15 mph, northern pike 11 mph.
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With many salt-water species, you do want a speedy retrieve. That’s because tuna, wahoo, dorado (dolphin), billfish, and others are roving hunters that chase down their prey.
No one knows for certain how fast the fastest fish can swim. But experts estimate that a leaping sailfish can hit 68 miles per hour, based on the fact that it can strip out 100 yards of line in 3 seconds.
Other speed demons include the swordfish (60 mph), marlin (50), and wahoo (47).
Not surprisingly, the flounder is one of the slowest in the ocean, poking along at 2.4 mph, about the same as an eel.
And in case you’re wondering: the flying fish can reach gliding speeds of 35 miles per hour.
As it has with every other aspect of society, Political Correctness insanity brought to us by the Democratic Left has infected natural resources management. As a consequence, fish and wildlife now are becoming tools to use for political gain instead of being managing for public good.
In the West, Washington and Oregon wildlife agencies have bowed to pressure from the feds and special interest groups, removing creel limits on bass in several rivers and likely destroying world-class fisheries in the process.
The argument is that these fish contribute to the continued demise of native salmon/steelhead/trout fisheries. In fact, evidence is scant. The real reasons are loss of habitat and alteration of their cold-water environment to one that more favors bass, catfish, and walleye.
And bass, even though legally introduced more than a century ago by the feds and/or with government approval, are "nonnative."
For today's PC crowd, nothing makes these fish more offensive and in need of elimination. Never mind the hypocrisy that illegal immigrants are a protected class by these same people.
In Florida, meanwhile, compassionate PC's are readying their torches and pitchforks to go after the state if it should dare to have a second hunt to protect people, pets, and property from an out-of-control bear population.
My vote for the most idiotic PC insanity to date, however, goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, who wants to spend millions of dollars in public funds to perform vasectomies on bucks to control a deer population that has exploded from 24 in 2008 to nearly 1,000 today. Just last year, a deer broke through a strip-mall window and bled to death inside. Others have gored pets and bolted into traffic, colliding with city buses, police cars and private vehicles.
Wildlife biologists say the plan won't work. De Blasio insists that he knows better than the scientists. And, yes, there's hypocrisy here too. Remember "manmade climate change," one of the basic tenets of Leftist ideology? The true believers insist that "the science is settled" and "97 percent of scientists agree" regarding the cause of climate change.
Of course, neither is true. But the point is the PC crazies will use science when it meets their needs and ignore it when it doesn't. (They also intentionally attempt to confuse the issue, making it appear as if their opponents deny climate change is occurring, when that is not the case at all. The argument is over whether manmade activities are contributing, and, if so, how much.)
Here is what wildlife biologist Dr. Paul Curtis of Cornell University told The New York Post about de Blasio's plan:“This proposal has no chance of success whatsoever.”
First, if the local bucks are shooting blanks, does would keep going into heat all through fall and winter, right on up to early spring. That would attract still-potent males from many miles around, with some possibly even crossing the Delaware from New Jersey to get some action.
But “it won’t even get to that point,” Curtis said, “because I think it would be extremely difficult to get even 50 percent of the bucks” in order to sterilize them. Even a few intact bucks can keep the herd growing exponentially.
Also, the Post added, "Snipped bucks would be sterile but still have a strong sex drive. So during an extended rutting season, there would be more perilous encounters with humans as the mad-with-lust bucks heedlessly run around looking for mates."
Of course, the logical solution is to bring in expert archers to cull the population. Backyard Bow Pro in North Carolina provides such services, with the venison donated to local food pantries.
But logic has no place where animal rights activists are concerned, and they are firmly entrenched in the big cities. In 14 of them, they recently celebrated National Animal Rights Day.
These are the people who want to stop us from fishing and hunting. Their tactics and campaigns aren't always aimed directly at our outdoor heritage, but that's where they are leading. Their ultimate goal is to stop use of animals entirely, including for medical research, food, and even as pets.
They aren't yet going after hunting and fishing with a national campaign. But they're trying their best to shut them down, a little at a time, in the states. In Maine they tried, and failed, to stop a bear hunt. Now they're focused on Florida.
That's why it's so important for states to follow the lead of Texas, and guarantee the right to fish and hunt in their constitutions. Nineteen of them now have done so, 18 since 1996.
In November, citizens of Indiana and Kansas will vote on amendments to protect the right to fish and hunt, while a North Carolina proposal still must be approved by the state senate before it becomes a ballot initiative.
Meanwhile in New York City, de Blasio said that performing vasectomies on male deer is the preferred option because it is easy to perform.
"That's absolutely false," said biologist Curtis, who has done buck vasectomies. "They do not respond well to immobilization drugs. It is far more stressful on the animals.
But facts and logic mean little to de Blasio and true believers whose dream is to give legal rights to animals as part of their PC paradise.
And that includes making fishing and hunting illegal.