If you've ever read a word or watched a video about Chesapeake Bay fishing, you've almost certainly heard about spinnerbaits. In fact, there are probably a few of them sitting in your tacklebox right now. These simple lures are an excellent choice in a number of scenarios for a number of different species, and better yet, just about anyone can use them. Just cast a spinnerbait out and then reel it back in and if a hungry fish sees it go by it'll bite, right?

spinnerbait fishing lure
Anything with a spinner, a lure, and a wire arm connecting the two can be called a spinnerbait.

Well mostly, but there are a number of finer points to consider. And when you begin to apply them you might start catching so many fish with spinnerbaits that it makes your head spin.

What is a Spinnerbait?

First, let's define what we're talking about. A spinnerbait is any lure that has three components: a hooked lure, a spinner blade, and an arm that connects the two. Famous lures like the Beetle Spin, Super Rooster, and Perch Pounder are all spinnerbaits, albeit small ones. Larger spinnerbaits meant for bass may have multiple spinners, and many spinnerbaits are fished with both a skirt and a trailer on the hook.

As you draw a spinnerbait through the water you'll feel the “whump-whump-whump” of the blade as it spins. Many people would credit the combination of flash and vibration that’s being created by the whirling blade as the main reason why these lures are so effective. And this leads us to TIP #1: If you don't feel the blade vibrating, something is wrong. There could be a bit of weed snagging it up, maybe the arm got bent in the tacklebox, you might not be reeling fast enough to get the blade spinning, or you may be fishing too small a spinnerbait with too heavy a rod and line. Determine what the reason is and fix it asap, because as things are you aren’t going to catch many fish.

Remember how we just said a spinnerbait can have any number of hook lures, trailers, or skirts? Choosing from the bajillions of shapes, colors, and patterns you might see in the tackle shop can be tough. And this is when you'll want to remember TIP #2: Color and size are the two most critical factors, and swapping out either will have a far bigger effect on your success rate than changing the styles and shapes of your trailers and skirts. In fact, if you look in the tackleboxes of very successful spinnerbait anglers you'll often see the exact same model spinnerbait in 10 different colors and three or four different sizes.

white perch on spinnerbait
Small spinnerbaits are effective on a wide range of species.

How to Fish a Spinnerbait

Back to that thing about tossing it out and reeling it in: Yeah, that will catch some fish. But you’ll catch a heck of a lot more fish if instead of just tossing it you use TIP #3 and toss it past structure and then drag across it. We mean physically across it — don’t be afraid to cast over a stump or into a rock. Spinnerbaits will pick up weeds, but they rarely hook a branch or snag a rock thanks to their design, which keeps the hook turned up and protected. Unlike most other lures they tend to bounce right off of even the snaggiest items. And naturally, that structure is probably where the fish are hiding. Bang that lure against the hard item and not only will you be dead center in the strike zone, it will often create a puff of silt or algae that can catch the predator’s eye.

Also use TIP #4, and when you're casting to docks don't just cast to them, cast under them. Use a low sidearm cast or learn to skip the bait (it’s not easy with a spinnerbait but it can be done) and you'll discover that quite regularly casts that fall right next to a pier go unnoticed, but casts that go under the very same pier get crushed.

Finally we come to TIP #5, which is all about the retrieve. Instead of just reeling a spinnerbait back, vary your retrieve to change the lure’s depth until you start getting strikes. This can mean allowing lots of sink-time before you start the retrieve, using a heavier or lighter spinnerbait, reeling faster or slower, and/or changing the angle of your rod. All of these variables will have an effect on that lure’s depth as you bring it back in, and if the fish are particularly deep or particularly shallow, this factor can make all the difference in the world. BONUS TIP: From time to time hold your rod tip up high, accelerate the lure until it breaks the surface, and keep that tip up so the blade comes out of the water and “bloops” a few times before decelerating. On occasion this will call in the fish.

snakehead on a spinnerbait
Blooping the surface with the blade can attract fish from afar.

You just read this entire article, and realized you don't have a single spinnerbait in your tacklebox? RED ALERT DOUBLE BONUS TIP: Run right out and get some asap, because these things work great!