Spinnerbaits in Saltwater

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Did you know the IGFA All Tackle World Record spotted bay bass, landed by Paul Weintraub, was caught on a spinnerbait? It seems that the 4 lb 15 oz beast was a sucker for the bladed bait. Many anglers can attest to the effectiveness of the spinnerbait in the bays, but most have not tried it for themselves. One reason for not trying to use spinnerbaits is the confidence in getting a bite; we sympathize as some conditions adversely affect the bay predators’ willingness to attack a spinnerbait. Using too heavy or too light of a spinnerbait will also impact the amount of bites you will get. This is a complete breakdown of how the Fishing_Reps use a spinnerbait in local harbors.

We fish the product we rep. For the entire article we will be relying on our experience with the Warbaits spinnerbait line. The range of weights for the spinnerbait line are 3/8, 1/2, 3/4, 1 ounces. Each weight has a particular depth that it will run best; the obvious trend is lighter weights are used in shallower water, heavier weights are best in deep water. The table below illustrates the best weight to depth relationship.

Warbaits3/8 oz1/2 oz 3/4 oz1 oz
0-5 ftXX
5-8 ftXXX
12-20 ftX
Weight to Depth Chart

Shore pounding the harbors suggests the angler will be fishing shallower than an angler on a vessel. The water will become shallower as you retrieve the lure in to shore. The best presentation is to have the spinnerbait come over areas with structure (eel grass fields, mussels bars, sand bars, rock piles, sunken boats, dock pilings, etc.). It would be best to use a lighter weight spinnerbait which will lift higher up in the water column to avoid having the blades bog down with eel grass . Fish will come off the bottom to hit the spinnerbait so it is best to have the spinnerbait clear the structure by a couple of feet. This is toughest balancing act for shore pounders which merits having a range of spinnerbaits 3/8 – 3/4 oz; a weight for each situation. Some cases where you are fishing a wall or steep drop-offs will be the exception to these recommendations.

Anglers fishing from vessels have it easy. You can position yourself along contours you have found holding fish and can fish over the structure much more easily. The main consideration is how to hold the spinnerbait in the strike zone for the longest period of time. The spinnerbait will track at an incline since the angler is on top of the water on the vessel. That’s the particular reason the 3/4 – 1 oz spinnerbait is the best choice for vessel angling. The heavier weight keeps the spinnerbait down in the water column.

Rates of retrieve will vary from day to day and potentially on each tide swing. The best initial strategy is to slow your retrieve on slow tidal movement and speed up your retrieve on faster tidal movements. Typically harbor bound fish are actively feeding on stronger tide swings and will move off the structure to hit a spinnerbait.

Slow rolling a spinnerbait can be complicated in the harbors because of eel grass. As soon as the eel grass hangs up your blades, the presentation is over. Rarely will you be able to clear the grass off the blades by ripping/jerking the fishing rod. To overcome this, try to match the weight of the spinnerbait to bottom depth. Once you have the ideal weight of spinnerbait, you can practice slowing down the spinnerbait by slowing down to feel the eel grass getting hung up on the blades. Once you find the grass, clear your spinnerbait and cast to the same spot again and retrieve slightly faster. Repeat this increase in retrieve speed until you feel confident you are above the grass around 2 ft. You should improve your ability to navigate the spinnerbait over the grass with time on the water.

Burning a spinnerbait is the complete opposite of slow rolling where the spinnerbait is being retrieved at a very fast cadence. The shallower the water, the more effective this technique will be. You can focus your efforts on lower tides when the grass lines and rock edges become shallower. Predatory fish will be positioned on the deep water edges waiting for prey to come out of the shallows and into the deeper water. This is when most of the prey becomes nervous and will become more erratic in their movement which is the main reason an erratic and fast retrieve gets the attention of the predators.

Rod and reel combos are stouter overall. You will want to find a 7’0″-7’6″ baitcasting rod with a 3/8 oz – 1 oz rating. The reel should be 6.4:1 – 7.1:1 filled with straight 30 lb braided line. A short 20-30 lb mono leader will take on the shock of the strikes. Anything past the mentioned recommendations comes down to personal preference.

Warbaits spinnerbaits offer the best in quality and run straight and true out of the package. We strongly encourage you visit a tackle store near you and pick up a set to find out for yourself how good they work in the harbors. Take that same spinnerbait and fish it in freshwater for bass in the trees and over weeds. The same information provided in this article applies for green bass.

Don’t sleep on the halibut blade bite…

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