Using Spinnerbaits, Making Adjustments for Success with Bass

Ask any novice angler what is a good bait to use when targeting bass and chances are spinnerbaits will be part of the conversation. Everything about them makes them a super choice to tie onto the end of your line, as they provide vibration, appear lively, are relatively snag-free and weedless baits and allow you to cover more water to find active fish.

These have been around for ages and are not going away anytime soon. And spinnerbaits and bass go together like a jig and minnow for walleyes. If you want to be versatile and successful, don’t neglect the proven performance of these. And if you want to kick it up a notch, there are definitely tweaks you can make to put the odds even more in your favor.

International Falls bass champion and two-time runner-up Travis Peterson is well versed at tweaking his spinnerbaits and making the adjustments in order to improve his catch rate.

These necessary subtle corrections stem from being observant while on the water.

“You really have to pay attention while on the water and do a little homework before backing the boat in at the landing,” Peterson says. “The adjustments an angler can do are almost limitless, but you certainly don’t want to get overwhelmed.”

He says he likes to know the water’s clarity, the perch population, and other bait that is present, etc.

“Sure, it’s easy to just grab a white spinnerbait and start casting, but that’s not always going to be the best choice.”

Travis keeps an assortment of skirts, blades, trailer hooks, etc., in his boat at all times.

“If I notice smaller baitfish, I’ll try to match the hatch and go to Colorado-style blades in spring or smaller, willow-leaf-style blades in summer. When the fish are keyed on a certain-sized minnow, then matching the profile really puts the odds in your favor.”

He added that he’d even trim up the skirt a little, if necessary.

If you look at the spinnerbait section of your favorite outdoors store, you’ll see plenty of choices. These include numbers of blades, blade colors, shapes and sizes, weights of spinnerbaits, the skirt color and size, head color and a stainless steel or titanium construction. You can also add soft plastic trailers to bulk up the look and add a trailer hook to catch the short biters.    Peterson says it’s best not to get overwhelmed, and to remember there are plenty of tweaks to make your baits more effective for you.

Ben Miller of Rapala uses his Terminator spinnerbaits to catch bass in lakes and rivers.

“In stained water, I add a little flash of color to help fish see the presentation,” Miller said. “But in clear water, I will definitely match the hatch with my skirt color. Lifelike colors are also the key when in clear water. Oftentimes, when I notice lots of bluegills, I will change out skirts on my spinnerbait with a bluegill pattern, or, on lakes with a lot of perch. I’ll put on the perch-colored one.”

His favorite he says has been the Yellow Perch-colored Terminator power-pulse skirt.

“It has the perfect blend of colors, making it so realistic in the water” Miller said. “Having a variety of skirts allows you to get more mileage out of that particular weight of spinnerbait.”

He says polarized sunglasses are also very important when using spinnerbaits, especially in clear-water situations.

“Bass are opportunistic and will use ambush points or structure to make their quest for food more fruitful. I know that it is cliché to say these days, but I really do look for the ‘spot on a spot’ whether it’s a giant boulder along a rocky shore or a big weed patch that sticks out of the main-lake weedline.”

Trailer hooks can also help get more bites by extending the hook farther back, which will help you connect on short strikes. If the fish crush it, the trailer hook won’t hurt it so it is usually a no-brainer unless in heavy cover. And if you’ve ever watched some of the best bass anglers in the world like Kevin VanDam use spinnerbaits, you’ll notice that they seldom do a steady retrieve. They will stop and start, slow down and speed up, jerk and twitch, and then feel their way through cover. They want the lure to mimic the darting action of most baitfish, which is seldom constant.

So, next time you plan to go on the water, make sure to pay attention and make some tweaks to your spinnerbait. By doing so you will definitely breathe new life into a timeless, proven presentation.