Spinnerbaits are a great way to catch bass. However there are thousands of combinations out there between colors, sizes and blades it’s hard to pick which to use. I seen someone ask the other day on the forum, “what size blades do you put on a 3/8 ounce spinnerbait?” Well that’s a good question and there are a lot of options, so I thought I’d cover a few. I’ll stick with just the 3/8 ounce because it’s the most popular and the ideas behind the blades and what it does to the bait apply to any size for the most part.
Let’s get the position of the blades down first. Now this is how I describe them and by no means is it an industry standard. If your holding the spinnerbait by the line tie (as if you were tying it to your line) you will have the head on one side (made of lead or tungsten or some other heavy material) and a or multiple of blades on the other side. If there are multiple blades the smaller of the blades is always on top of the larger blade (or blades). So I always refer to this smaller blade as the top blade, unless of course you’re using a spinnerbait where the blades are the same size and then it doesn’t matter unless you’re using a color difference. Confused yet.
Blade size is a way to fine tune three major presentations in a spinnerbait; change the amount of flash, change the depth a bait runs, change the vibration a spinnerbait puts out. All three of these presentations adjustments are can be dramatically changed by simply changing the style of blade but to do minor tweaking, simply changing the blade size may be the better choice. For example, an Indiana bladed spinnerbait. A #4 Indiana blade on the bottom and a #2 on the top. This is a good stained water spinnerbait. You’ve been using it and catching fish but today there is a little bit extra cloud cover and the bites haven’t been as aggressive or your missing strikes. Water color hasn’t changed but light penetration has. It may not be dark enough to go to a Colorado spinnerbait but stepping up a size with the Indiana blade to get just a little extra thump might work well. This is twofold however, stepping up in size means that the bait is going to lift higher in the water column on the same speed retrieve, so you will have to slow your retrieve slightly to maintain the same depth. This gives the fish just that split second longer to inhale the bait. So did it improve hook ups because of the vibration or the slower speed?
When buying spinnerbaits I recommend to most folks starting out that a 3/8 ounce is a good comfortable place to start. With this size you can easily work all water columns with varied retrieve speeds, it’s easy to cast in the wind, and can handle most vegetation. The most common blade sizes you will see on a 3/8 ounce spinnerbait are #4’s in willow leaf, Indiana, and Colorado styles. With this blade size a 3/8 ounce spinnerbait will run straight and not roll to either side on retrieve. So if your custom building a spinnerbait start with size #4 and then decide what application you’re going to use it for and adjust from there. Here are some things to consider. How deep are you going to be fishing? Shallow water with lots of cover call for larger blades to help lift the bait and protect the hook. When working deeper water columns with less cover smaller blades will allow the bait to sink further.
If I am fishing in clear water I like smaller blades as they are a little more natural. A smaller silver blade will give off enough flash and again because it’s smaller will allow the bait to get a little deeper on retrieve. With clearer water, I have learned that bass will strike a spinnerbait best when retrieved where it just falls out of visibility to us from the boat. This could be in 1 foot of water or 10 foot of water depending on the visibility [this is not a hard fast rule, as there are times when burning a spinnerbait is best]. You can use blade size and retrieve speed to help you obtain this. You might be thinking why not just use a giant blade for the flash and get it deeper by winding slowly. Well, there comes a point where the blade won’t spin. You have to pull it at least so fast or it won’t spin at all. Smaller blades can allow you to slow down and still keep the blades spinning.
I like to down size my vibration in colder water and increase my vibration in muddy water. What if you have cold muddy water? Well you’re in trouble… This is a situation where I will try a double willow leaf that are the same size. Using both #4’s I keep a fairly tame vibration but generate a ton of flash. Doesn’t always work but is something I have built confidence in. Another options is to go with a single Indiana blade, gives a medium thump, start with a #4 and go up one or down one to see if you can generate a strike.
Thinner profile blades generate less lift. So a willow leaf blade will not lift a spinnerbait as well as a Indiana blade which won’t lift a spinnerbait as well as a Colorado Blade. In this order a Willow leaf generates less vibration but more flash towards the Colorado with the most vibration and least flash. I personally use the Indiana blade a lot as it’s a good mix of both.
If I have small balls of bait fish on the surface I’ll use a double willow leaf spinnerbait to generate a bunch of flash trying to mimic that small ball of bait fish. When night fishing or in low light or muddy water conditions I’ll use the Colorado blade to get the max vibration. However in day to day fishing I’ll use the Indiana blade with a smaller Colorado on top to cover water.
You can adjust the wire on a spinnerbait to help dial in the water column the fish want the bait. If you pull the wire that the blades are on away from the hook this will allow the bait to ride higher in the water column at a slower speed. If you pinch the blade wire closer to the hook it will allow the spinnerbait to ride lower in the water column. This does not work with titanium wired spinnerbaits as this type of wire will always return to its original shape.
When vegetation is your target, willow leaf blades are the most weedless. Indiana blades are okay and Colorado blades will drive you crazy with vegetation balling up on the blade bearing. The narrow profile of the willow leaf blade allows it to come through most vegetation and the extra flash it puts out really helps fish find it. When custom ordering a spinnerbait try to stay at #4 or below for a 3/8 ounce. Anything higher will cause most spinnerbaits in this size to start to roll on faster retrieves. Now if you are planning to use this bait to slow roll it along deep ledges or drop offs I wouldn’t be afraid to go up in size, just know that you won’t be able to wind it very fast. For each size increment you go up or down from here you can pretty much go up or down in blade size. Example, going to a 1/2 ounce spinnerbait allows you to safely go to #5 blades and to a 5/8 ounce spinnerbait to #6 blades.