To be sure, fishing a 2-ounce, 6-inch hunk of metal can be intimidating. Still, there is a time and place where giant flutter spoons will be the best option for catching deep-water bass. Elite Series pro Kelly Jordon has spent more than a decade perfecting the art of eliciting bites with the oversized lure. Embrace his system, and there is little doubt you’ll be making room in your tacklebox for this heavy metal
If, per chance, you have included Texas’ Lake Fork on your Bass Fishing Bucket List, make sure you add a special note to aim a few casts just north of the 515 bridge, not far from Lake Fork Marina. Idle over the river channel a few times before you start, so you can get an idea of what’s down below. The majority of Lake Fork visitors don’t realize there is an old roadbed and another bridge about 25 feet deep right there. Most months of the year, there are plenty of bass suspended on it, too.
The best way to catch them is with a big flutter spoon, preferably a 6-inch, 1 1/2-ounce Big Joe Flutter Spoon (silver with a chartreuse stripe) made locally by longtime lure creator Joe Spaits. That’s the lure Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kelly Jordon had tied on when he visited the underwater bridge one summer afternoon more than a decade ago. As a guide on Lake Fork, Jordon of course knew about the bridge, but it was his first time to throw a Big Joe spoon. Counting it down, he caught 15 bass, all between 4 and 6 pounds, on his first 15 casts.
Jordon has been a devoted spoon fisherman ever since, and in fact, he is the angler credited with bringing big flutter spoons into the national spotlight. That happened shortly after the 2006 Bassmaster Elite tournament on Kentucky Lake. Jordon didn’t win that event (Morizo Shimizu did), but he did finish 11th, after boating 19 pounds of bass with the spoon on six casts the first morning. Catches like that do not go unnoticed among the tournament pros.
“The beauty of a big flutter spoon is that it allows you to fish deeper water faster and more effectively than any other type of lure,” explains Jordon, a four-time winner on the Bassmaster Tour. “It imitates a dying baitfish, or a baitfish being chased, depending on how you fish it, but whatever you do with it, a big spoon seems to trigger a bass’ predatory response because of its erratic action and flash.”
Jordon, like so many bass fishermen, already had years of spoon fishing experience before that special afternoon above the 515 bridge, but all of them had been with much smaller lead jigging spoons, a standard winter lure on Fork. He’d even known Spaits for years before ever using one of the Big Joe spoons, since Spaits also custom-made a special night fishing spinnerbait for him.
Spaits, now 70 and still an avid bass fisherman himself, takes no credit for inventing big flutter spoons. He’d been fishing down by the dam on Lake Fork one day when he saw a big 12- to 14-inch gizzard shad jump out of the water, immediately followed by a bass at least twice that long. Nothing in his tacklebox remotely approached the size or appearance of that shad, so Spaits started shopping around, eventually settling on brass flutter spoons.
Brass provides much better action than the more commonly made lead flutter spoons, falling more slowly but still with plenty of fluttering movement. It also swims better on retrieve. Spaits orders them in 5-, 6- and 7-inch sizes and with both gold and silver plating, then finishes them with split rings and a Mylar-covered VMC treble hook. Orders to his supplier have steadily grown to more than 2,000 a week as anglers nationwide discover the big spoon’s effectiveness.
“A lot of lures — like worms, jerkbaits and swimbaits — are made in large sizes, and there are reasons why they are so effective,” Jordon continues. “First, big lures do catch big bass. There is no denying that. Secondly, a larger lure looks different from the smaller lures bass are more accustomed to seeing, so it gets their attention. And third, larger lures increase the size of the strike zone because they’re visible from a greater distance.
“Joe makes his Big Joe spoons that weigh up to 2 ounces, but both Nichols and Profound Outdoors produce even heavier 8-inch flutter spoons. Joe’s spoon was not a new lure, because Northern fishermen had been using oversized spoons for years to catch giant pike and muskie, but no one ever thought of using a 6-inch flutter spoon on Fork, or for big bass in general, until Joe started doing it. Fork, especially, with its thousands of acres of shallow brush and vegetation, is certainly not a typical spoon-fishing lake, which to me just demonstrates how deadly a big flutter spoon really is.”
Jordon’s favorite time to fish a big flutter spoon is during the summer when bass typically gather in large schools on, or close to, structure, but he’s quick to add that these lures are productive throughout the fall and winter, as well. The only time they’re really not a lure of choice is during the spring spawning season when bass are bedding, but they can be used during the early prespawn and again during the postspawn when fish are in slightly deeper water.
“Because of its weight and size, and because most strikes come as the lure is falling, these spoons are hard to work in shallow water,” Jordon says. “That’s why I don’t use spoons in the spring, but it does work well in 10 feet of water and deeper. At Lake Fork, I have caught bass with spoons down to 45 feet, and there’s no question they can be fished deeper. In that Elite tournament on Kentucky Lake, I was fishing ledges 20 to 25 feet deep, which was pretty much uncharted territory in those days, because everyone else concentrated in water just 10 to 12 feet deep.
“A lot of times, you’ll find a school of deepwater bass on your electronics but you can’t get them to bite,” he says, “but once you do, you have to get them into the boat as fast as possible to keep them biting, and a big flutter spoon lets you do that better than any other lure. It will usually catch the largest bass, too, even if you’ve already caught some with Carolina rigs, crankbaits or even swimbaits.”
Jordon’s first cast with a spoon is nearly always the same, regardless of the time of year. He makes a long cast, lets the lure hit bottom, then begins retrieving with very short hops. If he knows bass are present, this retrieve will tell him how aggressive the fish are. These short hops, moving the spoon just 6 to 12 inches off the bottom, still provide plenty of action, and even if bass are suspended farther above the bottom, they’ll still swim down to hit the spoon.