My uncle Don is a flea market junky. He’s retired and goes to those things two or three times a week. You won’t believe the amazing old fishing stuff he finds. Awhile back he bought a huge hip-roof tackle box full of lures for a song that had some short arm spinnerbaits in it.
I used to fish short arm spinnerbaits back in the 1970s and 1980s, but companies stopped making them. About seven years ago I found a guy in Tennessee who was hand making short arm spinnerbaits, and I got back into fishing them. The last two years, I hardly ever go fishing without one of these baits on my deck.
A short arm spinnerbait might look weird to younger anglers. The upper arm is only an inch or so long, and it’s attached to a single large blade. There are three main reasons why the short arm spinnerbait is making a comeback.
The longer a spinnerbait’s upper wire is the more it dampens the blade’s vibration. When you throw a short arm spinnerbait, you can feel the blade thumping through the rod like a bladed jig. That’s true whether the blade is a Colorado, Indiana or willow leaf.
With a traditional long wire spinnerbait, the blades get in the way of the hook. You feel a bass plaster it, see the boil and you miss it. The reason is because a lot of bass go for the blades. My hook ratio has gone way up with the short arm spinnerbait because the bass has to go past the hook to get at the blade. You never need a trailer hook with it. And, it’s not any less snagless than a long arm spinnerbait. The head and the bottom wire still deflect off cover.
Best ‘drop’ spinnerbait
The short arm is the best drop spinnerbait I’ve ever fished. By drop, I’m talking about the ability to fish vertical cover like a rock bluff that drops 10 to 20 feet straight down, bridge pilings and docks over deep water. You let the spinnerbait sink straight down and that short arm allows the blade to helicopter with incredible flash and vibration. I used to fish night tournaments at home and catch bass doing that on bridge pilings and steep riprap backs.
There’s also a bonus feature most people aren’t aware of. Because the blade is closer to the head with a short arm spinnerbait the blade hits the head, especially when you twitch or pause and restart the retrieve. Also, when the bait bumps into cover, the blade stalls and starts and hits the head.
If you fish a bladed jig all day, there are marks on the head from the blade hitting it. If you fish a short arm spinnerbait for a day or two, you’ll see wear marks on its head from the blade banging on it.
That is a 100% positive attribute. When the blade hits the head it makes a little metallic tink-tink noise. That’s when they bite it.
Short arm comeback
Several companies are making short arm spinnerbaits again. I’ve taken what I’ve learned over the past seven years of fishing with them to design one for Molix. It has a large willow leaf blade, a hand-tied skirt, a flat head that helps with vibration and other great features. It comes in 3/8-, 1/2- and 3/4-ounce sizes and all traditional spinnerbait colors.
The only time I put a trailer on it is in water under 50 degrees and when the water is the color of chocolate milk. I’ll add a Berkley 3.8-inch bootfoot Power Swimmer or an old school ring worm.