Thumpin’ Blades: put some Spin in your Fishing

Recently, I was looking through several of my many compact tackle boxes that I carry on my small water angling outings, and it was surprising the number of lures that have a blade or spinner as part of their make up. They range in sizes as small as 1/32-ounce up to large, tandem-bladed spinnerbaits in the 5/8-ounce class.

A recent trip to a local farm pond proved how effective a bait with a blade can be. I started off fishing for bluegills using a small jig tipped with a piece of nightcrawler. After managing to land only a couple of ‘gills with this method, I opened my pocket tackle kit and decided to tie on a 1/8-ounce Beetle Spin. Under most conditions, this would seem like too large of a bait for bluegills, but it proved to be a good choice. In a little over a half an hour, I landed five really nice sized bluegills that were suspended near the middle of the one-acre pond.

My method was to let the lure drop for a few seconds and then retrieve in a reel-and-pause routine. By doing so, most of the strikes would come on the drop when I would feel a slight tap followed by a quick hook set of the ultra-light rod. Then I’d feel a brief tussle as the feisty ‘gills would cut a wide half circle in the water before being landed. I stopped to think that under most conditions, I wouldn’t expect a lure of this size to be effective for bluegills, but stranger things have happened over the years when in quest of various species.

On many of my panfishing trips in the past, the very tiny 1/32-ounce Beetle Spins has been productive. One size that I’ve seldom used but fills the gap between the 1/32- and 1/8-ounce model is the 1/16-ounce lure.

On the recent outing when I connected with the large bluegills, I was using a Beetle Spin with a black body and instead of the standard Colorado blade. I replaced it with a hammered finish blade, which puts out much more flash that seems to add to the bait’s appeal. Subsequently, I have added hammered blades to other Beetle Spins. Besides black bodies, other good color choices in Beetle Spins are white with a red dot and crawdad.

Some lures that incorporate blades and that are effective are the good old Blakemore Road Runners. One that I use a lot is the 1/16- or 1/8-ounce Road Runner in either a white or chartreuse head with a two-inch twister tail body. This is my first choice for white bass angling on both the Rock and Mississippi rivers in my area. The action with the scrappy white bass starts to turn on in about mid-April and can last all of the way through May. You might get action even into early June depending on the water levels of the rivers. With higher levels, the white bass tend to stay longer in the backwaters and near shorelines until the waters drop. The smaller sized Road Runners, 1/32- and 1/16-ounce can be top-notch lures for both bluegills and crappies. Any size Road Runner can often be the answer to turning on both large and smallmouth bass when conditions are tough.

Small in-line spinners are another category of spinner-type lures that I have often relied on. Over the last several decades of pursuing many species of fish, one lure in particular that has been effective is the Vibric in line spinner under the Rooster Tail brand.

What makes the Vibric Spinner effective is the fact that the blade is set out on an angle that starts the blade spinning immediately upon being retrieved, even when fishing in current. Not only have I landed nice sized panfish on the Vibric Spinner, but also good-sized smallmouth bass from local rivers. The 1/8-ounce size is my favorite, with a gold blade, a black body and a black-feathered treble hook. On occasion, I’ll drop down to the 1/16-ounce size when the panfish or other species desire a smaller lure.

At this time, I should mention my preferred rods and reels combos when targeting panfish and also bass under finesse type, down sized situations. For shorter casts, I often use a six-foot ultra-light Duck Commander rod, teamed with either a Pflueger Trion or Supreme ultra-light spinning reel spooled with four-pound Gamma PollyFlex mono.

For longer casts, I’ll opt for a seven-foot Sam’s Super Sensitive ultra-light rod. If conditions call for a little more “muscle” to pull fish out of heavier cover, I’ll switch to a Sam’s super Sensitive rod in medium-light action. Another choice would be the seven-foot, six-inch Crappie Wizard spin rod. On either of these rods, I’ll go with a Pflueger Arbor reel spooled with either six-pound test Stren Crappie mono or six-pound Gamma PolyFlex. All of the aforementioned rods are of the B ‘n’ M Pole Company which offers a complete line of both panfish and catfish rods that are of the highest quality.

When I’m out on the water in quest of both large and smallmouth bass, I often turn to spinnerbaits. I’m referring to either single- or double-bladed baits on a wire shaft, sometimes referred to as the “safety pin” configuration. This type of lure became popular in the early 1970s when many of the bass tournaments in the South were won using these types of lures. Subsequently, this lure’s popularity spread across the country.

Some of my favorite spinnerbaits for bass are those under the Booyah label, which is owned by Pradco, and these baits are of the highest quality and have accounted for some really nice bass or many outings. I like either the 1/4- or 3/8-ounce sizes with tandem blades, with a willow leaf blade on top and a Colorado underneath. Good choices in skirt colors would be all white or white/chartreuse.

I usually fish spinnerbaits with a medium-action, 6-foot, 6-inch casting or combined with an Abu Garcia Revo SX bait-casting reel spooled with either 10- or 12-pound-test Trilene XL mono.

Whether your preferences in fishing are for panfish, bass or both, be sure to include some type of spinner or bladed bait in your tackle line up. I know that any of these lures will open up some great angling opportunities as you add “some spin to your fishing.”