Trails: February 2007

Trails: February 2007
Safety pin type spinners with Colorado blade.
Each year, along with everyone else, I sit down and make my New Year's resolutions. I have several that are related to my family and some for work. Then I also have a couple of special resolutions, ones that are related to fishing, and ones that I actually may keep. Last year one thing I resolved to do was to use spinnerbaits more consistently and in more situations such that they would become a permanent weapon in my tournament arsenal versus a "fun" bait to use when I was in Louisiana. Spinnerbaits have been gaining fans along the coast based on their success and use in other states and from the freshwater world, but they still are not one of the top baits that most anglers would think of using day to day. So for 2007, I am proposing that everyone give a spinnerbait a try during your fishing forays. 

There are two main types of spinnerbaits used in saltwater angling, the "in-line" spinner and the "safety pin" type spinnerbait. The in-line spinnerbait is basically a straight wire frame with a treble hook or single worm hook at one end and several beads, a weight and a spinning blade at the other end. For saltwater applications, the most common and useful setup has a worm hook rigged weedless with a paddle or curly tail soft plastic. The safety pin type spinnerbait is the more common style bait and is designed with a wire frame that is bent 90 degrees with the line tied at the point of the bend. At the bend, there can either be just an offset or an actual loop on to which one ties their line. One end of the wire is rigged with a standard jighead and soft plastic worm and the other end is rigged with the spinner blade. The designs normally have one or two blades. Just to make a point on the wire size, there are many sizes and types. When fishing for big redfish, don't skimp on wire size. BOOYAH makes a heavy duty spinner (Samurai Blade spinnerbait) with thick wire and a jighead that is securely attached to the wire frame. Another good choice is a titanium wire spinnerbait such as the TERMINATOR Watts Brother's spinnerbait which is heavy duty and does not bend after catching more than a few fish. 

Spinnerbait blades come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors and are designed to produce vibration and flash.  Colorado blades are the most common blade used in saltwater applications. The Colorado is a round spoon-shaped blade that is designed for heavy vibration. The blade rotates in a slow wide arc and runs the shallowest and loudest of the spinnerbait blades. When throwing a spinnerbait with a Colorado blade, it is very easy to feel the vibration through the rod, especially with braided line. This blade is a good choice for murky or off color water where you want the fish to feel the bait. 

A second type of blade is the willowleaf design. This blade is less common for saltwater spinnerbaits and more common to freshwater. The willowleaf blade is long and narrow with a flat cross section and has very little vibration and lots of flash. It rotates the fastest, in the smallest arc, has the least vibration and runs the deepest of the blades. This type blade is mainly used in clear water situations where the fish are going to see the flash and react. Some setups will use a Colorado with a willowleaf mounted behind it in a tandem configuration.

The Indiana blade is a cross between the willowleaf and Colorado blades. It features the narrow width of the willowleaf and the round shape of the Colorado blade. The Indiana blade rotates faster and in a smaller arc than a Colorado blade and its shape makes it more weedless than other blades. This blade is a good cross between the two extremes of vibration and flash. Most inline spinners will have this type blade. 

Last is the Oklahoma (turtleback) blade which is less rounded than the Colorado blade and resembles a turtleback. It rotates faster and in a tighter arc than the Colorado blade and makes a slapping sound. 

As far as colors run, the big three are copper, gold and silver blades. More often than not, I will go with a gold color when searching out redfish in almost all water conditions. I have also had good success with a copper color, especially when the water is a little "fresh" and tea colored. 

Ok, so enough of the pieces and parts of spinnerbaits, when can I use them and how? Well that is the good thing, spinners can be used in almost all situations that you are using any other artificial bait. For shallow water applications (1-2 foot) you can use a safety pin spinner or an in-line spinner. The in-line spinner rigged weedless is a good choice when working grassy or matted grass areas. For deeper waters, normally safety pin type spinners are the choice with different sized jigheads. Waters less than 3 foot, I will normally rig up the spinnerbait with a 1/8 oz. jighead and waters deeper than that use a 1/4 or 1/2 oz jighead. 

If I had to have one spinnerbait for all around use, it would be a safety pin type rigged with a gold Colorado blade, 1/8 oz. jighead and a purple/chartreuse (LSU) Texas Red Killer. I have had good luck with this combination over the last year and it seems to work well in all water conditions. 

As far as retrieves, the simplest technique is to simply cast out and retrieve the bait. Move the bait at a moderate pace to keep the blades vibrating and just under the water surface. This retrieve is great for covering a lot of water when searching for fish. It is also good for beginners and kids as it easy for them to just reel in the bait while it provides plenty of action to attract fish. 

Slow rolling is most often used to fish deeper water or when working shallow water when wanting to barely keep the bait moving. For deeper applications, cast out, let the bait sink and slowly reel in the bait to keep it along the bottom. Using this technique is where braided line shines because you can feel the blade starting to spin. Many times a quick jerk is needed to get the blade spinning at the beginning of a retrieve. For shallower applications, you cast out and retrieve the bait with just enough speed to keep the blades spinning. 

When you and the redfish are in the mood for some pseudo topwater action, waking the bait will fill the bill. Waking is where you cast out and start your retrieve with the bait and keep it moving fast enough to run just under the surface creating a wake or bulge with the bait. This works best when the fish are actively feeding. 

Last, an effective tactic can be to stop the bait and let it fall and flutter. The spinner creates plenty of action when falling and this technique can be used with a traditional jigging motion while retrieving or letting the bait sit on the bottom and popping it off the bottom when a fish is nearby. Popping it off the bottom works great when reds are cruising shallow. Throw the bait ahead of the fish and when it gets close, give it a gently jerk. The spinner looks like a crab jumping out of cover and not many spottails can resist that easy meal. 

Spinnerbaits may seem like "something those crazy bass guys use," but I guarantee if you give it a try, you will be hooked. For 2007 make a resolution to purchase a few spinnerbaits and give them a whirl. Especially when the water is off color, the vibration and slow speed will draw strikes. It is an easy bait to use and once you land a couple and gain confidence, new techniques and tactics will not be far behind.