I love fishing with a spinnerbait. They are some of my all-time favorite lures. Their versatility and action-grabbing presence in the water is out of this world. They attract bass to strike like no other.

An 18-inch bass caught on my first ever large spinnerbait.
The bass I caught with my first spinnerbait. It’s 18-inches long. Caught at Lake Mendota, IL shortly before sunset.

My daughter and I get so many heart-pounding strikes on them that she insists that we name each one that we get. Our first one was a small-sized white-skirted lure that she named Lily the Largemouth Lure.

You can see Lily in the far left of the featured image above. That’s our bass fishing tackle tray. We have four trays that we take with us, and each one has a specific purpose and organization.

After we had such great luck with Lily, we got Lexi, Lucy, Lex and Lionel. She chose Lex because it is kryptonite for monster bass. Lionel is Lex Luthor’s father in the comics.

The feel of a bass striking your lure is one of the most exhilarating experiences in all of fishing. It gets your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping. There’s just no feeling like it. In the paragraphs above, I probably sound like a giddy schoolchild naming my lures. But I promise, once you snare a bass or two, you’ll feel the same way.

Pro Tip: Naming your favorite lures is just one of many silly things you can do to make fishing more exciting for your children. For more on this, be sure to check out 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Make Fishing Fun For Kids.

Why are spinnerbaits so effective?

Spinnerbaits are amazing lures for so many reasons. They can be fished at different depths. They can be retrieved in many different methods and speeds. The flashing blades are amazing at attracting attention. And they come in so many colors that you can always find the perfect lure to draw the bass out.

Gold Spinnerbait with gold willow blades.

Spinnerbaits aren’t your average lure. They aren’t designed to look like normal fish food. Spinnerbaits don’t look like crayfish or bait fish. They definitely aren’t shaped like nightcrawlers. They’re very unnatural.

Yet despite they’re very non-food appearance, they get aquatic predators like bass and pike to strike with incredible violence.

Spinnerbaits use vibrations and the flash of their blades to attract the attention of bass with incredible success.

As you read on, you’ll learn how the different kinds of blades, fishing techniques, and colors can affect the depth, the flash, the speed, and the overall attention grabbing power of the lure.

What’s the difference between the various types of spinnerbait blades?

Spinnerbaits have three different kinds of blades: the Willow, the Colorado, and the Indiana. The size and shape of the blades displace water very differently. This primarily affects two things about the lure’s action: the amount of vibrations it produces and the depth at which the lure swims through the water.

Reminder: The vibrations produced by the blades are one of the two power factors that grab their attention, rile them up and attract the bass to strike.

With this information in mind, it should be clear that it is the blades that really make the magic for the spinnerbait.

Colorado Blade

Spinnerbait with Colorado Blades
A Spinnerbait with gold and nickel Colorado blades

Colorado blades are the widest of the blades and pack the most punch. As they are dragged through the water, they create the most vibrations. In fact, it may better be described as a thumping.

You might describe this blade as the most noisy or disruptive of the three. It is often used when the water is not very clear. When the water is muddy and murky, and the fish may not have a long line of sight, a louder, more aggressive action can be used to attract their attention and draw them in.

The high level of water displacement also impacts the lure depth, and by extension, it’s speed. The increased surface area means increased drag. This can cause it to rise towards the top of the water column if you real it in too quickly. You’ll need to slow the retrieve to avoid this rising action.

Willow Blade

A spinnerbait with gold and nickel willow blades.
A spinnerbait with gold and nickel willow blades.

Willow blades are pretty much the opposite of Colorado blades. Instead of being wide and round, they are long and thin. They have a pointy end. They slip through the water much more easily and displace much less water.

This results in a few things. You can retrieve willow blades much more quickly without them rising to the top of the water column. This means faster and deeper retrieval.

This also means that they are making much less of a raucous than their Colorado counterparts. They aren’t thumping or vibrating nearly as much. As such, it may be better to use these in clear water when the vibrations aren’t as important as the flash.

Indiana Blade

A spinnerbait with nickel and gold Indiana blades.
A spinnerbait with nickel and gold Indiana blades.

The Indiana blade is basically the best of both worlds. It’s a blade designed to be half Colorado and half Willow. It’s halfway in between the two in just about every regard including width, roundness, water displacement and vibrations.

A lot of anglers simply throw the Indiana blade instead of taking the time to analyze the lighting conditions, water clarity, temperature, and other factors. Just cast with Indiana blades and you’ll probably be pretty close to what you need for any given condition.

How do you select the right spinnerbait color?

As we mentioned above, spinners don’t replicate natural food for gamefish. They use their flash and their vibrations to drive them nuts compelling them to strike.

The VanDam School of Thought

Kevin VanDam is one of the greatest anglers in the world, and just about any online search related to lure colors will bring up his name. He focuses exclusively on three main factors: lighting and sky conditions, dominate forage, and water clarity. We’ll be exploring the VanDam philosophy of lure colors in the sections below.

Kevin VanDam with a monster bass.
Kevin VanDam

Before we dive in, let’s revisit and sort of walk back something that we said earlier. We mentioned that spinnerbaits don’t look like food to fish. This is true in regard to how we get the fish’s attention via the light flashes and vibrations of the blades.

The head and skirt of the lure, however, are another story entirely. In fact, some of the details here can really make or break a bass’s decision to strike. Once we have their attention, this is what they hone in on and strike at.

“In clear water, I also pay attention to the head design and color. The blades become a blur and the skirt wavers, but the head stays still, with just a bit of vibration from the arm above.

“I feel that bass focus on the head, so the more lifelike, the better. Eyes are important, and even small details like gill slits and red highlights can draw extra strikes. Attention to detail is most important in clear water, as you’d guess.”

Kevin VanDam

Water Clarity

When the water is crystal clear, the fish will be able to see the lure far more clearly. Shiny blades can often give off far too much flash. As such, you’ll want to use painted blades with a skirt and jig head that match the local forage. This is when little details like the eye and painted on gill slits can really matter.

A bass and a spinnerbait underwater.

When the water is muddy and the line-of-sight is much shorter, you’ll want to use shiny blades like silver or gold. This way when they feel or hear the vibrations, they’ll be able to spot the lure more easily. You’ll also want to use a skirt that will create some contrast like a bright chartreuse.

Lighting Conditions

The general rule of thumb is that brighter lures work better during the brightness of day and darker lures work better at night or during thick cloud cover.

Additionally, you’ll want more subdued blades when the sun is shining. The color of a painted blade can be seen much farther off and can be a terrific attention grabber. Save those shiny blades for when it’s dark when more reflective light is needed.

Local Forage

“The final factor is dominant preyfish, and I consider three basic categories. Most preyfish are similar, with silver, some green and blue, and a touch of yellow, including shad, shiners, alewives, and others. Sunfish species, primarily bluegill, greens, pumpkinseed, and shellcracker, can be important prey, along with yellow perch.

“Spinnerbaits with a mix of blue, green, and chartreuse in the skirt imitate sunfish well. For perch, green with a bit of black and a touch of red and white works. For crayfish, browns and greens are good, as well as reds and oranges. These colors give a general crawfish pattern, though I still retrieve the lure so it’s above the bass, not a natural crawfish position, of course. But those colors still can be the best choice in spring and fall when bass rely on crawfish.”

What fishing techniques do you use when fishing with a spinnerbait?

Fishing with Spinnerbaits is about as easy as it gets. Simply cast it out and then reel it in. It’s that simple.

Okay, so there is a bit more to it than that, but you’d be surprised how much you can catch while doing nothing more than cast and retrieve. Here’s a few factors that can help you get more strikes.

Retrieval Speed

The speed at which you retrieve the lure will impact the depth at which it runs and the fish’s ability to strike at it. A fast retrieve will draw the lure’s running depth towards the top of the water column. A slow retrieve allows it to run deeper including dragging it across the bottom.

If you run it too fast, the fish might hear the vibrations but fail to find the lure before it leaves it’s zone. If you run it too slow, the blades won’t move much if at all. This results in little to no vibrations or flash.

So what’s the key? Experiment. Try different retrieval speeds until you find the one that really works. You can literally look down at the water and see your spinner bait to see if you have good blade activity to help gauge it.

The Five-Finger Shore Fishing Method

One of the keys to spinnerbait fishing is to cover a lot of territory. If there are fish in the zone where you’re fishing, they’re either going to strike at it or not. Continually casting in the same zone generally won’t change their minds. As such, the key is to cover as much water as possible until you find the fish that want to strike.

My daughter and I go shore fishing a lot. If you’re shore fishing and trying to cover a lot of water, that means constantly moving and hiking around. And when we stop to probe an area, we want to get as much bang for our buck as possible. As such, we use the five-finger method. I came up with the name to make it as simple as possible to illustrate the method for my daughter.

Approach the shore and hold out your hand with your fingers spread wide open. Those are the five directions you should cast. Cast down the shoreline to the left and to the right. Cast straight out. And cast at fourty-five degrees to the left and the right.

Fish often come up to the shallow shorelines to feed at sunset and sunrise so those are often the best times for us. Casting to the left and the right throws the lure right into that zone. The others are designed to cast out past the strike zone and then to bring the lure through it.

We’ll cast out 3 to 5 times using those directions as guides, and then hike along the shore to try a new spot.

Final Thoughts

As with any bass fishing, make sure you’re looking for logs, cover, grass and other areas where bass like to hideout. Spinnerbaits are pretty much (but not quite 100%) snag proof so you can drag them along the bottom, over and through logs, and just about anywhere. You can fish both in those zones or along side them trying to draw them out.

Do you use Spinnerbaits in your bass fishing? If so what tips or tricks would you recommend that maybe weren’t covered in this article? What’s the best fish you’ve ever caught on a spinnerbait?

Nicholas Cardot

Nicholas Cardot

I'm an outdoor enthusiast just taking in what this beautiful world has to offer. I hike, fish, and wander off into nature whenever I can. I also try to make it as fun for my children as possible.