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Fishing with Spinnerbaits

J.D. Blackburn

A few years back, on a reasonably temperate February day, Mossy Oak pro Brandon Lester and I fished Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, my home lake. The goal was to try out a new spinnerbait that a fellow from down in Florida had created. He claimed the thin diameter of the bait’s wire made it better than any spinnerbait on the market.

Lester was a good one to test the claim, as he is a spinnerbait fan. 

Brandon Lester fishing

“Spinnerbaits are not as fashionable as they once were with bass anglers,” he says. “The Chatterbait (bladed jig) probably has a lot to do with that. I still throw spinnerbaits a lot and catch good fish on them. I really like them in the colder months. I catch a lot of fish on my home lake, Tims Ford, with them.”

Spinnerbaits haven’t won a national-level tour event in a good while, if my memory serves correctly. I honestly can’t remember when a big win came on a spinnerbait in the past few years. But, back in the day, they used to win Bassmaster Classics. Mossy Oak Fishing Pro Hank Parker won the 1989 Classic on the James River with a spinnerbait. Mossy Oak Fishing Pro Kevin VanDam caught some of his fish in the 2011 Classic in New Orleans on one.

Brandon Lester spinnerbait

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Years later, I discovered that the cove we fished that day on Percy Priest, Fate Sanders, was the exact cove where Don Butler won the second Bassmaster Classic ever held in 1972. Bob Cobb was at the recent Bassmaster Classic signing his new book, The B.A.S.S. Story Unplugged and confirmed the story for me. So, that’s pretty neat that we were fishing there that day.

That day it turns out that particular light-wire spinnerbait very well might have been the best spinnerbait on the market, except because the wire was so thin you could catch one, maybe two, bass on it before it broke. We learned the hard way that there is a point where the wire can be too thin. We caught 30 or so fish but went through $400 worth of baits! It was a failure.  

Curious to see if the pros were even fishing with spinnerbaits in tournaments anymore, I posed these two questions to Mossy Oak Fishing Pros Brandon Lester, Brandon Cobb, and Jordan Lee.

In our last 20 tournaments, how many times did you throw a spinnerbait? Do you have a go-to weight and blade combination?

Lester: 5 out of 20 and a ½-ounce double willow is a good starting point.

Brandon Cobb fishing

Cobb: I would say I have one tied on the majority of the time. 15 of 20, probably. It's not my main bait most of the time, but kind of always on for situations. My go-to combo is a ½-ounce double willow, and I like white with a large silver blade and a small gold blade.

Lee: I would say 3 out of the last 20; cold water events mainly. When I’m throwing a Colorado blade, I like either 5/8 ounce or 3/4 ounce to keep the bait in the strike zone. I throw double willow when I am fishing shallower, clearer water a ½-ounce is hard to beat.

Therefore, the spinnerbait is still a very viable option for tournament anglers. That means it is good enough for me, too. That’s good to know!

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