How to Fish a Spinnerbait: Tips and Tricks for Bass

Updated on December 8, 2022 by
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Spinnerbaits are fishing lures that use movement and vibration to attract fish from far away by mimicking an injured baitfish. They are best used when casting across wide areas and tempting fish to leave their hiding spots, such as at the edge of structure, weed banks, and deep drop offs.

Spinnerbaits are one of the most versatile lures an angler can have in their tackle box. These unique lures are known to effectively catch fish throughout the year from winter into summer and can be one of the only things that will produce bites on certain days when the fish are very picky. Today, there are huge varieties of spinnerbaits in the fishing industry and being able to select the right one for your next fishing trip can make a significant difference in your overall success. 

The spinnerbait was first invented in the 1950’s after other companies had begun creating improved versions of the crankbait and other lures that utilized technology and design to look and sound more like a real baitfish underwater. Spinnerbaits can literally be used anywhere on lakes and rivers with success as it very closely looks and sounds like a small bait fish swimming through the water. 

In this article, I will discuss the basics of spinnerbaits, including how to rig them, as well as when and where to use them. If you don’t have a sizable collection of spinnerbaits in your tackle box, now is a good time to invest in these outstanding lures and maximize your chances for success on the water. 

This article is part of my Complete Guide to Bass Fishing series that you might be interested in.

What is a Spinnerbait?

Spinnerbaits were first conceived by a group of anglers who set out to design a lure that would capture the attention of fish both from a visual standpoint, as well as the vibrational aspect of a bait fish’s movement. After years of testing and working on the overall design, the spinnerbait was born. Since then, it has become one of the most universally popular fishing lures of all time. 

A spinnerbait consists of a weighted ‘head’ that has a hook attached to it. This head portion is typically fitted with a specialized ‘skirt’ that can vary widely in color and texture. The skirt and head can often feature colors that offer a bit of a sparkling appearance that is meant to enhance the lure and make it look like the scales of a small fish glittering in the water as it swims. Attached to the head is a metal wire that extends outward and features one or more ‘spoons.’ 

These spoons are what make the spinnerbait as effective as any other lure on the market today. They are specially designed to flutter as you retrieve the bait and the rotating spoons look very much like a small fish swimming through the water. In addition to enhancing the lure’s appearance, the spoons also give off a distinct vibration that fish can naturally detect in the water. This vibration makes the lure ‘feel’ or ‘sound’ like an actual fish to the predatory fish that you’re trying to catch. 

How to Rig a Spinnerbait

One of the main reasons why spinnerbaits are so popular with anglers of all skill levels is the fact that they are incredibly easy to rig and use. There is no need for specialized weights, leaders, or other tackle items in using a spinnerbait. You’ll simply need to tie this lure onto your fishing line with the knot of your choice and cast it into your chosen target location. 

There are varying sizes of spinnerbaits and it’s important to know the different advantages of each one. A spinnerbait’s spoons can also differ and will have certain effects as the lure is being retrieved through the water. Colorado style blades are more rounded and will produce a much greater level of vibration than willow style blades, which are designed to be a bit more subtle. 

Spinnerbait Fishing Techniques 

In addition to the spinnerbait being extremely easy to rig, it’s also very straightforward in terms of where you can effectively use the lure. Many anglers have found that spinnerbaits are effective in virtually any environment across a lake or river. It’s also highly effective when fishing in coastal inlets or along the surf for saltwater fish species. 

Many professional bass anglers will use spinnerbaits as an ‘exploratory’ lure. This essentially means that the anglers will cast the spinnerbait across a wide swath of water and use it in a fan-like pattern to probe the area and find any fish that are willing to bite. This technique is highly effective and is a great way for novice anglers to get the hang of fishing with a spinnerbait. 

Spinnerbaits are also very effective because they are capable of being used in very deep water, or shallow. Most spinnerbaits are fairly heavy and will sink more rapidly than other types of lures like crankbaits or Rat-L-Traps. You can use a spinnerbait to fish along a deepwater channel or submerged structure that might hold fish by simply letting the lure sink down to the bottom before you begin to retrieve it. 

In some cases, you can get a bite on the spinnerbait as you let the lure fall in the water column. It’s very important to watch your line or feel for any subtle bumps on the rod that might indicate a strike. Anglers are also known to have a high number of reaction strikes when using spinnerbaits. 

A reaction strike is when a fish strikes at a lure as soon as it hits the water. Spinnerbaits are able to bring out more reaction strikes because of the metallic spoons that often shimmer like a fish, quickly gaining the attention of any nearby fish that will strike out of sheer instinct. 

Finally, there are many different ways that you can retrieve a spinnerbait successfully. Some anglers prefer to use a simple, steady retrieve in which they allow the lure to fall as far as they want before reeling it in without any pauses or jerking motions. This is very effective, but there are a few other adjustments you can make to your retrieve that are proven to attract fish. 

Professional anglers will often pause during their retrieve and allow the spinnerbait to fall before either reeling up very quickly, or simply continuing their retrieve at the same speed. You can lift up on your rod as your reel a spinnerbait in and allow it to fall in order to cover more of the water column and entice a bite from fish that are suspended at different levels. In any case, you’ll likely feel a fish bite the spinnerbait very suddenly as they will strike with lots of aggression at this type of lure. 

Target Areas 

Spinnerbaits are very similar to other lures in terms of where you’ll want to use it. You can be certain that a spinnerbait is a great option for throwing around fallen trees or brush piles underwater as fish will usually leave their cover and chase after it. Spinnerbaits work very well along areas with standing timber as well, but be careful not to let your lure get snagged as this might result in you having to break the line, causing you to lose your lure. 

A spinnerbait can be an excellent choice for fishing across steep drop offs or ledges. Fish will typically wait along these ledges and look for bait fish to swim overhead where they will then ambush their prey from below. If you know an area has a significant depth change or more than one ledge, a spinnerbait is usually a great choice of lure to bring out any hungry fish. 

You can also flip the spinnerbait around docks or grass and moss beds around the edge of the shoreline. This is a known technique that will usually deliver a few reaction strikes, or will work to bring these fish out of cover where they will chase after your lure. 

Photo of author

Donny Karr

Donny Karr is a Tournament Angler and writer whose work has been featured in magazines for nearly a decade. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He enjoys bass and crappie fishing in the lakes around the south-eastern United States, as well as trout fishing in the streams and rivers of the Appalachian mountains. He enjoys keeping up with the latest news and gear items in the fishing industry and is always looking forward to his next outdoor adventure. Donny has written for Georgia Outdoor News, Paddling Space, Man Can Outdoors, Alabama Outdoor News, and Bassmaster.