Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spinnerbaits Simplified

One of the most tried and true “old school” bass lures is the spinner bait. It’s a pretty simple setup with a blade, attached to a bent wire which is attached to a head with a skirt and hook. Many long-time fishermen swear by a spinnerbait, even in light of some of the modern variations of bladed baits. For a lot of new kayak fishermen however, nothing is more vexing than understanding when and how to effectively fish a spinnerbait. 

BOOYAH Vibra-Flx spinner bait in Foxy Shad.
To help yak anglers get more out of this technique, I asked Arkansas Kayak Anglers members and spinnerbait users Jeff Malott and Tim Hotchkin to participate in a round-table conversation.


What type of conditions (weather or lake situation) do you look for when turning to a spinnerbait?
Malott: Most guys that have fished with me enough know that when the wind starts blowing, they will find me on the windiest bank slinging "the blade". Wind, rain, cloudy skies or a mix of all three are my favorite conditions to throw a spinnerbait. Basically any condition that will affect the fish’s ability to get a really good look at the bait and make them react as it comes by.
Hotchkin: I normally use a spinnerbait when the wind is blowing and pushing bait fish.  I also love using them in the spring.
Kincy: The most success I’ve had has been on windy banks and points, on mostly cloudy days.
Do you have thoughts on when to use the various types of blades? (Willow, Colorado, etc.?)
Malott: When I'm faced with sunny skies and clear water I opt for chrome double willows, these put off plenty of flash and have a smaller profile. Cloudy skies or stained water I go with gold blades, with a Colorado/willow blade combo. If the water is muddy or I am night fishing I switch to a larger bait with a single Colorado blade for the added vibration it puts off.
Hotchkin: I like using a tandem combination of a willow and Colorado blade.  I have a certain soft spot for a single Colorado blade and really like the single Colorado when water is slightly stained.
What about skirt or blade colors, how do you choose?
Malott: Sunny skies or clear water I go with chrome blades and more natural looking skirt colors. Cloudy skies, muddy water, or other low visibility conditions I go with gold or painted blades and solid/dark colored skirts.
Hotchkin: I use white skirts or even some chartreuse and white.  Typically I like silver blades but sometimes it is good to go with other color options.  Gold has some good days for me in the past when that was the only difference between the baits.
Kincy: I’ve experimented with black/red and purple colors in very low light or night, but typically standard whites and chartreuse in daylight hours.
Any particular brands or specific spinnerbaits you prefer?
Malott: I use Terminator T-1 Titanium spinnerbaits almost exclusively. The wire is virtually indestructible and the vibration these baits put off is different from any other spinnerbait out there.
Hotchkin: I like to support the small guys and am a big fan of Bleeding Hart spinnerbaits, and I’ve had some great success with Destroyer Bait company’s spinner baits.
Kincy: I prefer using BOOYAH brand, including their Vibra-Flx for more vibration when needed. For some nuanced colors, War Eagle has some great options for clear water.
Any special customization or tips you want to share?
Malott: In tournament situations I always use a trailer hook unless casting into heavy cover. I keep my skirt selections pretty simple matching them up to the baitfish in the area and water clarity.
Hotchkin: Trailer hooks are very beneficial but sometimes when I am fishing shallow grass flats where the grass gets hung up a lot I will lose the trailer hook.  It never hurts trying different looks.  I will throw on a fluke Jr at times as a trailer.
What about using spinnerbaits from a kayak, or any other advice you would like to share?
Malott - I was taught to bass fish in a power boat and my mentor was a big time spinnerbait fisherman. The only real adjustment I made was switching to a shorter rod (6'6" or less). I throw the bait to some pretty small targets some times and making an accurate sidearm or roll cast is easier with a shorter rod when sitting low to the water like we do in our kayaks. I feel like the spinnerbait is a forgotten bait sometimes, with all the new fancy swimbaits, crankbaits, etc., that hit the market it doesn't seem to get as much play as it used to. But when the conditions are right and you have confidence in it, it’s hard to beat. My kayak will always have a box of my favorites in it ... just in case.
Hotchkin - Don't limit yourself to only using them on lakes.  River fish will really kill a spinnerbait.  Also don't forget to cover shallow grass flats with a spinnerbait.  Some of my best days with a spinnerbait have come making fan casts on shallow flats getting aggressive fish.
Malott - One more thing to add in there. The retrieve is maybe the most important thing. Baitfish don't swim in a straight line or at a steady pace. So as you are retrieving the bait add in some jerks, pauses, and change speeds to see what the fish want that day. This will increase your strike ratio dramatically.

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