Fishing a spinnerbait for bass effectively takes a lot more than throwing it out and reeling it in. While the location of the cast is very important, the retrieve is the key to tempting the bass into “taking the bait”. Spinnerbaits can be effective all year long and in most every condition. I have a spinnerbait tied on and the rod lying on the deck every time I go fishing. The size spinnerbait I most often use is 1/4 or 3/8 ounce, but don’t limit your tackle box to those sizes. Keep spinnerbaits in sizes from 1/8 to 1 ounce available for those occasions when it might be necessary. About 90% of the time I include a trailer on my spinnerbaits. The trailer that works best for me is a curly twin tail grub, because of the way the twin tails flutter in the water and gives more action. I almost always match the trailer to the bait.
Spinnerbaits provide versatility to your fishing pattern. The retrieve can be varied from burning just under the surface to make a wake to slow rolling it just fast enough to keep the blades turning. When starting out the day, you have to vary the retrieve until you find just what the bass want.
Grass and Lily Pads
Spinnerbaits are especially good in grassy areas that are not completely matted. With the single hook, they are more weedless that some other baits. While it is not totally weedless, the retrieve is the key to getting it through the weeds without bringing the weeds back to the boat. A slow retrieve allows the bait to move through the weeds more effectively. When you do hit the grass, stop your retrieve and use the rod tip to gently pull the bait through the grass. Hold your rod tip up and lightly pull while twitching the rod tip. Using this method will allow you to keep the bait free of grass and a better chance of getting bit. Once free of the grass, start back with the slow retrieve. If you do pick up a piece of grass, shake or jerk your rod tip to get the grass off. For areas that have grass under the surface, the spinnerbait can be retrieved fast enough to keep the bait above the grass. You can burn the spinnerbait in areas like this similar to a buzzbait. It allows you to wake the surface or to keep it just above the grass.
Fishing the spinnerbait in scattered lily pads is also productive. While you can’t always pull your spinnerbait through the pads, you can use your rod tip to direct the bait around the stems and keep if from getting hung up. Slow rolling is the best method for fishing lily pads because it allows you more control over the spinnerbait path.
Bass love to hang around cypress trees. The spinnerbait can be very effective for suspended bass on cypress trees. This structure really begins with the cast. The bait needs to be cast beyond the tree so the retrieve can bring the bait through the strike zone. Most cypress trees have low hanging limps so an underhand cast or pitching needs to be used to get the bait beyond the tree. Slow rolling is also a very good retrieve for fishing cypress trees. Since the bass often suspend along side the tree, this allows you to get the bait to the best depth for getting bit. Use your rod tip to direct the path of the spinnerbait so it bounces off the side of the tree. Once clear of the tree, do give up and burn your bait back to the boat. Bass will often come off the tree and attack the spinnerbait.
As with cypress trees, bass often suspend around boat docks. Pulling a spinnerbait around and through boat docks can be very productive for catching fish. You can cast the bait toward the bank and slow roll it allow side the dock, passing each set of pilings. My preference is to use an underhand cast or pitch when fishing the walkways to get the bait under the dock to the other side. When the bait hits the water, I will allow the bait to sink a foot or so then give the rod tip a twitch to get the blades turning. Then I slow roll it past the pilings. I will work each set of pilings on the docks walkway. Once again, when you clear the dock do not burn the bait back to the boat. Maintain the slow roll retrieve for those fish that are coming off the dock to attack the bait. The underhand cast or pitch will also allow you to get the bait under the end of the dock where bass may be hanging in the summertime.
Seawalls, Rock Banks, and Bare Banks
Just because there is no grass or trees or docks does not mean that there are no bass. You can catch fish on bank lines as effectively as you do around structure. Casting a spinnerbait to a seawall, rock bank, or even a bare bank will often find bass hanging in the area. Whether the bass are just patrolling the area or there is structure that is not visible, a spinnerbait is great for fishing these areas. The retrieve that has been most effective is slow rolling. You want to get the bait as close to “dry land” as possible and begin the slow retrieve. If you do spot some underwater structure, be sure to bring the bait through this cover. That might be where the bass are hanging.
Not all bass are going to attack the spinnerbait, giving you a jolt when it hits. Those are the easy ones to detect. You have to be aware of the feel of the spinnerbait as it moves through the water. Sometimes the hit will be detected by no more than the feel of the blades not turning. Bass tend to just suck the spinnerbait in and it can feel like the bait has hit grass or some other structure, or you might just get a heavy feeling. Fishing the spinnerbait more will give you the feel of a normal retrieve and anytime that retrieve changes, set the hook. If it isn’t a bass, the hook set doesn’t hurt anything; but if the bait has been sucked into the fish’s mouth, the fight is on.
For my vote, the spinnerbait wins the “best all around” award. Fishing it regularly will sharpen your skills and enhance the “feel” of the bait, resulting in more fish ending up in the boat.