Hackney: Whatever happened to spinnerbaits?

Mel Troha from Painesville, Ohio, posed a question about spinnerbaits. He wanted to know why they’re becoming less popular. They’re becoming less popular on some waters, Mel, and for some styles of fishing but that doesn’t mean they won’t catch fish.

Here’s my theory on why you don’t hear so much about them anymore:

Our reservoirs are aging. A part of that process is that the water is clearer than it was years ago. Way back when I first started fishing competitively I fished a lot of water that was anywhere from stained to downright muddy. That’s rare these days.  

The reasons for that are complex but one of the basic ones it that the creeks and drainage systems have now lost a lot of the runoff that stains the water. There’s only so much loose soil and other stuff on top of the ground that’ll run into the lake when it rains.

That creates problems for spinnerbait fishing. Spinnerbaits work best when the water has at least a little stain to it. Low light and a chop of the surface helps, too. Those conditions are pretty specific. We (pros) don’t see them very often so we don’t throw spinnerbaits very often.

When we’re not fishing with a bait we don’t talk about it much. In turn, the press doesn’t cover it much.

Another thing is that with clear water conditions swimbaits do a better job of imitating baitfish. The flash and thump from a spinnerbait is sometimes too much when the water’s clear. Swimbaits are more subtle. They catch more bass.

I say that knowing that not every angler out there will agree with me. All I can say is what I believe and what works for me. Take it for what it’s worth.

Another problem is the lack of timber and wood in our lakes and reservoirs. Most of it has rotted away. Spinnerbaits are great lures around timber, laydowns and stumps. They do a really good job of drawing the bass out of their hiding spots. The flash and thump is a real positive here.

All of what I’ve just said notwithstanding, however, I still have one tied on most of the time. There are certain situations that call for a spinnerbait. It’s best to always be prepared.

Rivers are a totally different story. They tend to have much darker water and there is almost always a laydown or two around. A spinnerbait will excel under those conditions. When I’m fishing a river I almost always throw a spinnerbait off-and-on during the day.

My advice to most anglers is to keep a few of them around, and be ready to tie it on when the conditions call for it. Like we said last week when we were talking about worms, the fish liked them in the past, and they’ll like them in the future.

Next week we’ll start a two part series on what to do if you’re not catching fish. Hopefully, both tournament and recreational anglers will get something out of it.