Bass Basics: Spinnerbaits 101

Ed Nelson

Here recently I’ve received a lot of questions about the “best lure for bass fishing”. Well as most of us know there is no “magic” lure, so I guess the question boils down to versatility and consistency. As far as consistency is concerned the plastic worm is my top pick. Now versatility is another matter. My top pick there would have to be the spinnerbait.


Over the last couple of months we’ve been discussing the basic bass rigs. This month I’d like to take a break from that subject and cover what I consider to be the most versatile bait ever created, the spinnerbait.


I’m sure some of you are asking, why is the spinnerbait my top choice? It's one of the few baits on the market today, that can be fished nearly anywhere, at anytime. It can be fished shallow, deep or anywhere in between by simply changing your rod position and retrieval speed. It’s just as much at home being slow-rolled over offshore humps as it is being bounced down a main lake point, being pitched to isolated structure, tossed under docks or crashed into cover. It can be fished in and around weeds, wood, rocks, docks or even in open water.  It’s as deadly in the hands of a seasoned pro as it is for a kid with his first spincast combo just learning how to fish. To sum it all up, it can be fished in any water condition, any time of year, in any depth of water, through just about any form of cover, by an angler of any skill level and produce fish. “Sounds great I’ll take it”. Well, as with most things in fishing, it’s not that easy. Have you walked down the spinnerbait aisle lately? The choices seem to be endless. 


So how do you choose the proper bait?
Glad you asked; there are two ways to choose a spinnerbait. The first way is the most common, go to your local Bass Pro Shop, pick one and throw it. I promise you that one of these days it will be the perfect bait for the conditions. The second way involves understanding the spinnerbaits individual components and matching each of them to your fishing situation. If you are interested in the first way, not a problem, choose a 3/8oz. white or white/chartreuse spinnerbait with a gold Colorado blade in front (its round) and a silver Willow Leaf blade in the rear (it’s the shape of a Willow Leaf). If you are interested in the second way, that’s going to take a little more explanation.

Lets get started; there are 3 basic components of a spinnerbait to consider. First is the Hoppy's Luresblade or blades, second is the head weight and third is the skirt color. 

There are 3 common styles of spinnerbait blades. The Willow Leaf Blade, named that because it’s shaped like a Willow Leaf. The Indiana Blade, which has a teardrop shape and the Colorado Blade, which has more of a round shape. They also commonly come in 2 colors, chrome and gold.

Now, when to use each one. The Willow Leaf gives off the most flash of the three but gives off the least amount of vibration. It’s best suited for your clearer water conditions. Fish that live in clear water are more sight oriented feeders. The Colorado Blade gives off the least amount of flash but also gives off the most amount of vibration. This makes it well suited for your dirtier water situations. The Indiana Blade falls in the middle. It gives off a good amount of flash and vibration. Its best suited for a stained water situation. As far as color goes, chrome on sunny days and gold on cloudy days. You also need to consider whether to use a single blade or tandem blades. My rule is; if I’m moving the bait with the rod like jigging or hopping it, I use a single blade. If I’m moving the bait with the reel at any speed from slow-rolling to burning it, I use tandem blades.

-Note- In stained water if I’m throwing a single blade I opt for an Indiana blade but if I’m throwing tandem blades in stained water I opt for a Colorado in the front and a Willow Leaf in the rear.

Head Weight

Spinnerbaits come in sizes ranging from 1/4oz. to 1oz. The rule of thumb is the deeper you want to work the bait the bigger the head size.

Here’s a guide that might help:

  • 0ft. to 5ft. use a 1/4oz. to 3/8oz.
  • 5ft. to 10ft. use a 3/8oz. to 5/8oz.
  • 10ft. and deeper use a 5/8oz. to 1oz.

Skirt Color

The most common colors for a spinnerbait are white, chartreuse or some combination of the two. Adding a few red strands to the shirt has also gotten real popular as of late. The best rule for skirt color is to try to match the hatch. For example, in the spring when the bass are on the beds, they are very aggressive towards Bluegill. So, that time of year I like to use a Bluegill colored skirt. If I know the predominate forage is shad then white is a good color, but if I know the kind of shad I’ll take it one step further. If the shad have blue backs or green backs then I’ll opt for a skirt with some blue or green glitter in it. If the water has turned muddy like after a heavy rain I’ll go to a Fire-Tiger pattern. It has some lime, chartreuse and orange in it and shows up real well in poor visibility conditions.


Remember, a 3/8oz., tandem blade, white spinnerbait will work, but if you take the time to match the hatch with your skirt color. Add that to the proper head size for the depth you are fishing and the right blades for the water and sky conditions it will make all the difference, I promise.


What do I throw? Visit to see my top choice in not only spinnerbaits but Buzz-Baits and Jigs as well. Why Hoppy’s? First of all, “Made in America”, I can definitely get behind that. Now keep looking, every spinnerbait is made with a hand tested Sampo ball-bearing swivel. But the best part is the competitive edge. Look closely at the head design, the bottom of the head has been molded flat. That means I can work the bait slower in heavy cover and when it rides over something it won’t roll-over. That equates to less hang-ups and more fish. Check out other brands and compare. I’m sure you will see for yourself the quality and innovation in Hoppy’s Lures that you won’t find in the mass-produced market. When you place your order be sure to tell them “Ed sent you”.


For a more in-depth discussion of spinnerbaits or any other bass fishing questions drop me a comment or feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”

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