How to Use Spinnerbaits

How to Use Spinnerbaits: Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait

As bass anglers, we are always looking for new ways to get bit. A spinnerbait is one of those lures that have been around for decades now, and has even been surpassed by new age techniques like chatterbaits, but can still produce some great days on the water. If you’re wondering how to use spinnerbaits, you’ll want to read on!

Slow rolling a spinnerbait is one of the best ways to catch a bass in low visibility situations. It works from cold, muddy, and shallow water during the winter and pre-spawn months to deep, dark water in summertime night derbies. There are a few tips, tricks, and things to keep in mind which we’ll discuss in a moment, but the most important thing to have when fishing this way is patience.

Here’s a video of me slow rolling a spinnerbait in shallow, muddy, cold water.

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How to Use Spinnerbaits: Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait… GO SLOW

Patience is not only a virtue, it’s essential when slow rolling a spinnerbait. Partly because this style of fishing doesn’t usually catch a lot of numbers, but it does draw big bites. So you’re going to need to be patient and stick with it. Secondly, it can be really hard to fish slow enough. A spinnerbait is often thought of as a fast-paced search bait. But when slow rolling a spinnerbait, it’s almost like dragging a football jig.

So how slow do you have to go?

You just want to “feel the blade”. Spinnerbaits for slow rolling in low visibility situations are built with blades that have a lot of thump. Whether it’s two Colorado blades or a number 6 willow leaf, you want a lot of thump so the fish can find the bait. Those blades cause the bait to have a lot of lift in the water. So you have to slow your retrieve to a crawl in order to keep the bait down. I want to fish the slowest I possibly can and still keep the blade turning.

All that being said, I do not use a slow gear ratio reel for this. Yes, it would take some of the mental strain away by mechanically slowing the retrieve of my normal cadence. But, I have had too many fish over the years slam a slow rolling spinnerbait and make a quick run, one that I needed a fast gear ratio reel to combat. If I were using a 5.4:1 reel in a situation like that, the fish would have a much better chance of putting slack in my line on the initial run and spitting the bait before I could even catch up to it to set the hook.

How to Use Spinnerbaits: Use Erratic Movements When Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait

Usually when I’m fishing a moving bait under the surface of the water, I’m adding some sort of erratic movement to the bait by twitching my rod. With squarebills, swim jigs, spinnerbaits and  chatterbaits, mine is never a simple heave and retrieve approach. I want the bait to be unpredictable.

How to Use Spinnerbaits(1)

The same is the case when I’m slow rolling a spinnerbait, but I will say the movement is much less exaggerated.

Where I’ll put a pretty good pop in my rod tip when burning a spinnerbait through shallow grass, it’s more of a slow and steady extra pull every three or four feet of the retrieve when I’m slow rolling a spinnerbait. It gives off just a little different vibration from the blades and gives you a half second at the end of the pull to let the bait sink back down a little and let the blades flutter. That’s when I’ll get a lot of my bites. I believe the fish are tracking the bait and just run into it when I give it that brief pause. The blades are also much more visible when they are fluttering like that.

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This short pause is referred to as ‘killing it’.

Killing a spinnerbait right as you pass by a piece of shallow cover is going to create a moment to remember if you do it enough. A lot of them over time. There’s a specific fish catch that happened 14 years ago with my dad that I can remember vividly to this day. He pulled his spinnerbait over a stump and killed it. As the bait nearly broke the surface and began to flutter down all you could see was an upward aimed open mouth and then the side of a big bass as it rolled down. The battle ensued and a 6-pounder made its way to the boat. Stuff like that you can’t unsee… thankfully.

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How to Use Spinnerbaits – Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait: Gear to Get the Job Done

Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait: Line

I’m fishing for big fish that are typically around rock, wood, or vegetation when I’m fishing this way so I like to use big line. It’s either 40-pound Sufix Braid in shallow, muddy water or 17-pound Seaguar InvisX in clear, deep water.

Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait: Reel

I use the same reel for each, a Lew’s Super Duty. Again, I like the 7.5:1 to ensure that I can catch up to a fish that strikes on the move. This is also a powerful reel that’s built for big line, big baits, and big fish.

Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait: Rods

For the shallow setup I like a Fitzgerald Rods Vursa 7’ Medium Heavy or sometimes a 7’ 3’ Medium Heavy if the cover is really heavy. For the deeper water setup I like a 7’ 6” Medium Heavy Vursa. I use the longer rod for deep water to gain the advantage on a fast moving fish that has a little more line to work with than the shallow water fish.

Slow Rolling a Spinnerbait: Spinnerbaits

Night Time Spinnerbait:

Nichols Night Time Colorado Spinnerbait

Muddy Water Spinnerbait:

Nichols Pulsator Hoosier Series


This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Shaye Baker


Shaye Baker started fishing with his dad in Alabama as soon as they could find a life jacket small enough to fit him. Competing with his father in local tournaments, Shaye quickly found a hunger for competitive bass fishing. He furthered his fishing career at Auburn University helping to establish the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club. While at Auburn, Shaye served as the President of the club and qualified to fish on the traveling team amassing six Top 5 finishes including two 3rd place finishes in consecutive FLW College Fishing National Championships. While beginning to dabble in the world of outdoor journalism, Shaye continued to fish semi-pro events finishing in the Top 5 in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Costa Series and BFLs. Finding himself at a crossroads, Shaye chose to put down the rod and pick up the pen and camera to focus on his career in outdoor journalism. Shaye has had work featured in Bassmaster Magazine, FLW Outdoors Magazine, B.A.S.S.Times and the Japanese bass fishing magazine Basser. Shaye has also had work featured on ESPN and, and While working with B.A.S.S., Shaye initiated and spearheaded their GoPro division which brought more video coverage to the fans than had ever been done before in competitive fishing. After his tenure with some of the best companies in the business, Shaye identified a need for competitive fishing where participation didn’t cost a fortune. By founding UPLOADED, the Online Fishing Series, Shaye established a free tournament series where anglers could film their fish catches and upload their videos to compete against other anglers for prizes.

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