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Fall Bass Fishing | Shaye’s Fall Favorites – Small Spinnerbait

For the third installment of this series discussing my favorite fall bass fishing baits, we’re going to be talking about the small spinnerbait. You can check out the first two baits by clicking these links: 

  1. Lipless Crankbaits
  2. 1/4-ounce Buzzbaits

When I say small spinnerbaits, I’m referring to the overall profile, not necessarily the weight. These are finesse spinnerbaits, spinnerbaits with a short arm and smaller blades than your typical spinnerbait. Like most of my fall favorites, I like these baits because they do a good job of matching the hatch.

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Small Spinnerbait | Size Does Matter

The reason I bring up the size of the bait’s profile and not the weight of the bait is that there are actually some finesse spinnerbaits now, like those made by Davis’s Baits, that have more of the weight along the shaft of the hook instead of just in the head. So you can still have a smaller profile spinnerbait but keep the added weight for casting. These spinnerbaits work well when fall bass fishing, especially in windy situations because they’re easier to throw than traditional finesse spinnerbaits that are lighter. 

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But weight is important. 

Part of the appeal of a small spinnerbait is that it can be reeled slowly through the water column. Obviously the heavier the bait, the faster you’ll have to reel it. So a true finesse spinnerbait for me is around a 1/4-ounce. 

Small Spinnerbait | Colors and Water Clarity

Nichols Lures makes a great finesse spinnerbait in their Nichols 33 Mini Double Willow Spinnerbait. As far as color schemes and blade combinations go, there’s a lot to choose from and as usual, the water clarity determines a lot of that for me. But in the fall, the water is usually clear to slightly stained, often with a green tint to it. 

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For most conditions, the Bombshell Bass color scheme with one gold and one silver willow leaf is very good. 

If the water does get muddy, I’ll typically just move away from a small spinnerbait and go to a bigger one. If the water is particularly clear I’ll use something more like the Blue Shad Pepper color scheme with double silver willow leaf blades.

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Small Spinnerbait | Gear and Location

This is another bait that works well on a 7’0” medium-heavy rod with around a 7:1 gear ratio reel. I’ll either use 15-pound fluorocarbon or even step up to 30-pound braid if I’m fishing around a lot of heavy cover and the water clarity will allow it. The braid is necessary at times. Even though you’re fishing with a smaller bait, it has a fairly strong hook and you still need to fish through some pretty gnarly cover. 

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As far as what to target, the same old same old holds true. 

Grass, wood, rock, open water, you can catch bass anywhere with a small spinnerbait in the fall as long as there is bait present. Creeks and pockets are the best places to start looking for the shad but they’ll often be on the bluff walls and points right outside if they haven’t quite pushed back into these places.

Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait | How to Know When to Use Each

A chatterbait and spinnerbait are often thought of as interchangeable. At first glance, that’s understandable and certainly true to an extent. While both do mimic baitfish and attract bass primarily with vibration and flash, there are still some situations where one works better than the other. So, let’s dive into the chatterbait vs spinnerbait conversation…

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Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Water Temperature and Clarity

For starters, I’ll often throw a chatterbait when the water is colder and/or muddy. Now I will throw a spinnerbait in colder water also, one with a lot of thump like a number 6 willow leaf blade or a double Colorado blade setup

But after the pre-spawn period, I’ll typically transition away from a chatterbait and the more aggressive spinnerbait combos and go to either a small colorado/willow leaf combo or a double willow leaf spinnerbait. 

The reason for this being the speed of retrieve and vibration. Those more aggressive spinnerbaits and chatterbaits give off a lot more vibration and can be reeled much slower. This gives bass in cold or muddy water more time to track down the bait. 

Around the spawn and post-spawn, I prefer a spinnerbait over a chatterbait because I’ve found a chatterbait to be a little too aggressive for fish that are weary from the spawn. I like the flash of a willow leaf spinnerbait here more than the aggressive thump of a chatterbait. 

In the summer and fall, I have also found a spinnerbait to work better down here in the south. The only time I will lean towards a chatterbait during this time of the year is in a particularly muddy situation or at times around a lot of hydrilla. 

Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Shad Spawn

For some reason I have also had better luck with a spinnerbait in the few shad spawns I’ve fished over the years. It makes sense that a willow leaf spinnerbait likely looks more like shad to bass actively gorging themselves on hundreds of them, so perhaps it’s just a ‘match the hatch’ situation. 

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The aggressive vibration of the chatterbait isn’t necessary as the water has warmed by that time and all the shad spawns I’ve ever found have been in clear water.

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Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Bream, Bluegill, Golden Shiners

When fishing around a lot of bream, bluegill, or golden shiners I have had better luck with a chatterbait. Again, not exactly sure why that is, but I think all too often in fishing we can get so caught up in justifying why one thing works better than the other that we miss the point. 

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It works better. So just go with what works. 

Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Around Vegetation

I definitely prefer a chatterbait when fishing around thick submerged vegetation like hydrilla, coontail, or milfoil. The bait seems to rip free a lot cleaner and that initial burst when you rip the bait out draws a lot of strikes. However, in some stalking vegetations like water willow, I prefer to reel a spinnerbait through it. 

Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Skipping Docks or Bushes

When skipping docks or bushes, I definitely prefer a chatterbait. The reason a chatterbait works better in this scenario is pretty simple. A chatterbait is less rigid than a spinnerbait and folds up nicely when you try to skip it. 

Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Burning a Spinnerbait

Well, the name alone gave this one away, but yeah, I’ve never tried to ‘burn a chatterbait’ and I don’t think that would have the same desired outcome. Burning or waking a spinnerbait is a great way to catch smallmouth and spotted bass when they are actively chasing bait.

So those are some of the differences I’ve seen over the years. I’m sure there are others out there with differing opinions, but those are my life experiences and hopefully, they’ll help some of you who are trying to figure out which to throw when.

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.

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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

 

Colorado Blade Spinnerbaits for Pre-Spawn Bass with Nick LeBrun

Nick LeBrun, FLW Tour Professional, finished with a close 2nd place finish in the 2019 FLW Tour Event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, and did most of his work using The Big LeBoom Spinnerbait by V&M. The Big LeBoom is a single Colorado blade spinnerbait in ¾-ounce size.  

The Big LeBoom, a final prototype at Rayburn, played a key role in Nick’s finish, due to the heavy rains leading up to the event. The rains muddied up Rayburn, and flooded most of the shallow grass that Nick had found in practice, creating an influx of cold, muddy water, with fish pushed up on early pre-spawn staging areas.

In speaking with Nick following the tournament on Sam Rayburn, he provided some insight on when, where, and how he utilizes his name-sake lure – The Big LeBoom – to catch fish across the country.

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Colorado Blade Spinnerbaits: When to Throw

Similarly to the conditions on Sam Rayburn, single Colorado blade spinnerbaits tend to work best in colder water situations. One of the best times to throw single Colorado blade spinnerbaits is when the fish are pre-spawn patterns, moving back towards shallow spawning areas.

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During this time of year, bass are looking for bigger meals, aggressively feeding up getting ready for the spawn.  Photo Credit: Jody White

The big profile from a ¾-ounce spinnerbait, like the V&M LeBoom, with the big body and #6 size blade, provides bass an easy target and big meal that can be presented slowly through the water column. Another great time to throw this bait is when you’re fishing around targets all year long, particularly in stained or muddy water.  

Outside of the pre-spawn, when bass are keying in on the thump from the blade and body profile, stained or muddy water is key to throwing this bait. It has a lot of drawing power in that dirtier water and because of that, it can pull fish out away from cover more effectively than other baits that have less water displacement. The big blade allows for the bait to move a lot of water and draw a lot of attention, even during the warmer months around targets.

Colorado Blade Spinnerbaits: Why to Throw

There are three main features of a single Colorado blade spinnerbait that seem to shine in the pre-spawn. The thump from the blade, the size or profile of the bait, and the ability to fish it slowly through a strike zone where bass live.

These three features combined, make this bait so effective in cold water.  

During the pre-spawn when this bait really shines, you’re attracting to most of the main needs a bass has; a big meal, an easy target, and that thump, particularly in cold water seems to trigger the biggest fish in an area.

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Colorado Blade Spinnerbaits: Where to Throw

One of the most productive areas to fish The Big LeBoom, is around pre-spawn staging areas – in particular, the last staging area that bass will pull up on before they move up to spawn.  While it will work at all stages throughout the spawning transitions, that last staging area, whether it’s a ditch leading to the back of a creek, or an inside grass line like at Sam Rayburn, those late stage pre-spawners are most aggressive and looking for the biggest meal possible.

Typically the best areas to target as staging spots also feature some sort of hard cover.

Especially during the early season in cold water, hardcover tends to warm up faster and hold heat a little better, as well as giving bass a defined ambush point where they can feed up before spawning. On Sam Rayburn, one of Nick’s key areas was the last staging area outside of a spawning flat with some timber on it. Nick targeted this timber using The Big LeBoom, bumping the cover to trigger reaction strikes from his fish all week long.

Colorado Blade Spinnerbaits: Bait Selection – Color and Weight

Color selection is very dependent on your body of water – water color, clarity, and forage types. On lakes where bass are heavily focused on shad, colors like Threadfin shad or White are go-to choices in the Big LeBoom lineup. On bodies of water with large bluegill or crawfish populations, however, Black tends to shine. Something about the black blade and silhouette of the bait will trigger strikes from bass even in moderately stained water.

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When approaching a new lake, when possible, keep an open mind, tie on a white-based color and a black single Colorado blade spinnerbait, and let the fish dictate which color you throw. Photo Credit: FLW

With regards to lure weight – keep it simple. Allow the depth of the water you’re fishing to dictate the weight of the spinnerbait you’re throwing and make small adjustments with retrieve speed. By nature, the big single Colorado blade has a lot of lift on the bait, so you can get away with a ¾-ounce LeBoom spinnerbait in water 10-feet or less.  Anything more than 10-feet of water, it is recommended that you go up in size to a 1-ounce bait or heavier.

Colorado Blade Spinnerbaits: Trailers and Trailer Hooks

Often times with a big Colorado blade spinnerbait, you don’t need to add a trailer or trailer hook to the bait. The profile and thump of the bait coming through the water, as well as the slow speed you can fish the bait, eliminates the need for extra bulk that might also cause the bait to rise up in the water.  Fishing the lure without a trailer will allow you to keep the bait lower in the water column with less overall lift on the bait.

Colorado Blade Spinnerbaits: The Gear

Nick LeBrun credits his gear as playing a key role in how he presents The Big LeBoom. As mentioned above, he keeps his weight selection to either a ¾-ounce or 1-ounce bait, and keeps his gear the same as well.

The rod Nick uses is a Fitzgerald Rods, Bryan Thrift Series – Frog Rod. This is a 7’2” Baitcasting rod – medium-heavy power, with a moderate-fast action. The moderate fast action is important when fishing a big spinnerbait, because if a bass bites on the end of a long cast, it allows the fish to inhale the lure without pulling the hook away from them on the hook set. Nick’s recommended reel is also from Fitzgerald Fishing, and it’s the new Fitzgerald Stunner model in 6.3:1 gear ratio.

Reeling the bait slowly is key, so having a reel with a slower gear ratio helps keep the bait moving slowly, but you also need the power to be able to get the fish moving towards the boat.

Line size also stays the same, regardless of what size weight Nick uses or where he’s throwing the bait.  Nick uses 18-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon because it gives him the confidence to fish the bait in and around cover without having to worry about breaking fish off.

No matter where you are in the country, a big Colorado blade spinnerbait like The V&M Big LeBoom, can be a player to help you catch big fish. From cold water in the early season; to mid-season muddy backwaters, a big spinnerbait will help you put some giant bass in the boat this year. Hopefully these tips will help you have the confidence needed to go throw this bait and catch some giants!