Disguise your spinnerbaits

Seigo Saito
2011 Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam

We're approaching the season when bass start chasing shad around wood and bushes in the backs of creeks and the spinnerbait comes into play.

Flashy blades and thumping vibrations can trigger some awesome strikes in stained water when the fish can't see well and are in an ambush mode.

In clear water, the lure is more visible, so lure selections and presentations have to be more deceptive to trigger strikes. That doesn't mean that bladed lures aren't good choices; they are.

All I want the bass to see of my spinnerbait is the flash and movement — not the blades, wire, skirt or the head. The flash and movement, or image of the spinnerbait, is what attracts the strikes. If they're seeing too much of the other stuff, they know something isn't right.

Lure speed, color, blade flash and even the surface of the water will help break up the lure's outline and create more natural appeal.

That's why I prefer to use a high-speed Quantum KVD reel and fish the lure high in the water column. I slow down in cooler water, but I'll still fish it high.

If there is just a ripple on the water, I fish the lure an inch or two beneath the surface so it blends in and the ripple breaks up the background.

If fishing a spinnerbait in 3-foot waves, it's the same thing; I want the lure up in the waves, not beneath them where the fish see it better. Even though waves reduce light penetration, you must always be conscious of the visibility of the lure.

Blade combination is important, too. Most of the time when I'm using a fast presentation, I use a tandem willowleaf combination and heavy lures with smaller blades.

One of my favorite clear-water combinations is a 3/4-ounce bait with No. 4 and No. 4 1/2 willowleaf blades. That allows me to reel the bait fast without the blades lifting the lure out of the water like smaller spinnerbaits do.

If the water is below 55 degrees, I still keep it high in the water column, but I'll use a Colorado/willowleaf combination on a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce bait. I may use a No. 2 Colorado with a No. 4 1/2 or No. 5 willowleaf blade and "wake" the bait, allowing it to bulge the surface of the water during the fast retrieve.

I select natural colors that blend in with the background of the surface, so it's critical to choose a lure that is as natural as possible.

The key is to create as much flash as possible so the fish can't get a good look at the bait. When it's sunny, the metallic blades emit enough flash to disguise the lure. In clear water, I stick with the silver blades, but if there is some stain to the water, I'll add some gold blades or go to painted blades on cloudy days.

Keep those factors in mind the next time you tie on a spinnerbait. Allow it to flash and vibrate, but keep its appearance under disguise.

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