Learning to select the right spinner

In the millennia that have passed since anglers first started tinkering with pieces of shiny metal to add flash and vibration to their fishing lures, spinners have accounted for uncountable numbers of fish catches.

Like most of us here in northeastern Ohio, I have caught hundreds of fish on spinners over the years. Long before I learned about crankbaits, jigs and plastic worms, I tinkered with inline spinners.

The first artificial lure I used to catch a fish was the venerable C.P. Swing spinner. My father taught me the ins and outs of trolling the old Junebug Spinner with a gob of nightcrawlers for walleyes. I caught many smallmouth bass on Mepps and Roostertail spinners and enjoyed catching walleyes with the enormously popular Erie Dearie spinners invented by Capt. Dan Galbincea of Mecca.

Spinners come in all manner of styles, sizes and colors. With hundreds of combinations at our disposal, anglers sometimes have a difficult time deciding which is the best option for their day on the water.

Anglers should begin their selection process by matching their spinner to the size of the baitfish preferred by the species they are targeting.

Color is the next consideration. Blades come in nickel, chrome and gold plating. They also are painted in every color of the rainbow.

A good rule of thumb is to use nickel or chrome spinners on bright days, gold during overcast weather and hot paint colors when the water is murky. Orange and chartreuse are the most common choices when color is desired.

Inline spinners present a slim profile that resembles a single baitfish. Anglers use inlines measuring a couple of inches for smaller game species and oversized bucktail-dressed inlines stretching eight inches and longer for big predator fish.

The L-shaped bass-style spinnerbaits with Colorado and willowleaf blades are great for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Their configuration makes them relatively snagproof, which is a great feature for anglers probing cover like willow bushes, stumps and aquatic vegetation.

Bass spinnerbaits are dressed with skirts that pulse and flair during the retrieve, making them appear more lifelike and tempting to predators.

The flash of the blades can catch the eye of fish in the vicinity, but that’s not the only function of a spinner blade. They also have a sonic effect, creating a vibration and throb that transmits through the water to be detected by nearby fish.

Round blades, known as the Colorado style, are good choices when anglers want their lures to thump through the water. Willowleaf blades are great when anglers want lots of flash.

Depth control is easy with spinners since they tend to stay on the same plane during the retrieve.

They are among the easiest lures to master because anglers can catch fish by simply casting them out and winding them back. As they gain experience, anglers can learn to vary the pace and add erratic motions to make their spinners match the fishes’ moods.

Spinners can be the most versatile lure in your box. I rarely leave the dock without at least one spinner tied on and ready for action.


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