Fluorescent red spinnerbait blades for springtime bass

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Alan McGuckin
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland shows off his red blade.

Scorched fields lined the highway to the lake, as the sounds of Sturgill Simpson bounced between the walls of the Tundra’s cab with boat in tow.

The smell of smoke still lingered in the sunrise air from prairie fires. Some of them intentional burns set by ranchers. Others accidental. In either case, a unique sign of early spring on the Southern Plains.

But amid the blackened acreage came a fishing tip. Beautiful pink-colored redbud trees in blossom, signal not only new growth in the wake of fire, but also the perfect time of year to tie on a spinnerbait with a fluorescent red front ‘kicker’ blade.

No Longer a Secret

“The red/orange front blade was pretty much a secret around Oklahoma and Arkansas in the early 1990s when I started throwing it at Grand Lake,” says top regional spinnerbait assaultant Ron Shaw of Moore, Okla. 

Shaw shared the secret with his mentor, Ken Cook, and soon the 1991 Bassmaster Classic Champion made it a major part of the offerings from his sponsor Hart Tackle Company.

“Ken always said it was an all or nothing lure; either they’d hardly hit the red/orange kicker blade, or you’d wear ‘em out on it. I agree with him, but when the water temps are in the low 50s, I lean on it hard. It’s always a go-to bait for me in stained to dirty water in early spring,” says Shaw, a retired firefighter, who has qualified for numerous BFL Regional tournaments.

Why it Works

Honestly, there’s no proven theory on why the uniquely colored front blade seems to get more bites in the stained to dirty waters of early spring.

But top pro Mike McClelland who has eight B.A.S.S. wins to his credit offers a qualified opinion.

“I feel like in off colored water, the fluorescent red blade gives the fish a target to eat once they feel the vibration of the bait,” says McClelland.

Fisheries biologist, avid angler and B.A.S.S. Director of Conservation Gene Gilliland supports McClelland’s theory.

“There’s been a lot of talk over the years about bass eating red crawfish in the springtime, and hence the reason they eat red-colored lures – but I don’t buy that theory,” says Gilliland. “The water is way too cold for an abundance of crawfish to be active. I think red works well in dingy water, simply because it’s more visible than standard blade colors like nickel or gold.”

McClelland Knows It Works Nationwide

As a native of the very region where the red kicker blade was popularized, you might think this spinnerbait trick is only fashionable for anglers in a three or four state region surrounding the Ozarks, but the trustworthy pro knows better. 

“It’s definitely most popular in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, but I’ll promise you it works anytime you have stained to dirty water in the early part of spring,” confirms McClelland.