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Published Feb 18, 2022 2:06 PM

Even the best spinnerbaits don’t replicate any critter that’s actually found in nature, yet they’re proven lures. That’s because catching fish is all about a lure’s action, and spinnerbaits come alive in the water. They appeal to a predator’s vision in clear water, and with their hard-thumping blades they resonate through a bass’ lateral line in any water conditions. The simple combination of lead, wire, cupped blades, and a skirt drives bass crazy. Nevertheless, as swim jigs, vibrating jigs, and swimbaits have gained prominence, the role of the spinnerbait—once the king of bass fishing—has diminished. But spinnerbaits are still exceptional tools for covering water, busting through thick cover, and picking off aggressive bass.

Many old-timers think that they need only the traditional best spinnerbait for largemouth bass: a ⅜- or ½-ounce double-willow model with a white and chartreuse skirt. While that’s clearly a proven winner, the key to being an exceptional spinnerbait technician is having a full box of situational tools. Yes, a general model spinnerbait will get bites, but you can double or even triple your catch by employing a lure that’s specifically designed for the scenario. Below, I list the best spinnerbaits for various situations the typical bass angler will encounter.

A spinnerbait in the mouth of a bass
When you dial in the perfect spinnerbait for a particular situation, the bass will tell you it’s right. Pete Robbins

Things to Consider Before Buying a Spinnerbait

First, consider the time of year you’ll be fishing, the depth you’ll be targeting, and the natural forage in the area. From there, you can start to evaluate the key features of a spinnerbait. For example, while durability is always a plus, in spinnerbaits it’s a double-edged sword. Thin wire thumps harder, and may produce more fish in certain conditions, but it also breaks more easily. Next, consider the hook. Make sure the lure comes with a super-sharp main hook, one with a shank that’s long enough to stick short-striking fish. You also might want to add a trailer hook. Look for spinnerbaits with quality components, like swivels and blades, so that the lure runs true on both the fastest and slowest retrieves.

Best Finesse Spinnerbait: War Eagle Mike McClelland Finesse Spinnerbait

War Eagle

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Key Features

  • 3/16 and 5/16 ounces
  • Mustad Ultra Power Point Hook
  • Sampo swivel

Why It Made the Cut

This compact lure will catch a limit and handle giants, too.

Pros

  • Slides easily through cover
  • Turtleback blade provides a lot of thump in a small package
  • Premium components

Cons

  • Thin wire is susceptible to breaking

Product Description

Arkansas pro Mike McClelland introduced the piano wire War Eagle spinnerbaits to the bass world in the late 90s with back-to-back Bassmaster wins. This small spinnerbait features a tiny Colorado blade paired with a slightly larger turtleback blade (sometimes called a “Mag Willow”) for lots of vibration without an overwhelming profile. War Eagle’s dual-length skirts mean they don’t require a soft plastic trailer, which might hamper the action of this diminutive lure. This spinnerbait is a great option when bites are hard to come by, but don’t be surprised if you hook a trophy.

Best Spinnerbait for Slow Rolling in Deep Water: Strike King Bottom Dweller

Strike King

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Key Features

  • 3/4, 1, and 1 3/8 ounces
  • Strike King “Perfect Skirt” replicates a soft plastic trailer without adding lift
  • Six color options

Why It Made the Cut

This Spinnerbait maintains contact with deep structure without compromising action.

Pros

  • Proprietary thin-cut blades keep the bait down
  • Premium components
  • Non-rolling head design

Cons

  • Only dual-willow configurations available

Product Description

As deep-diving crankbaits, hollow-belly swimbaits, and football jigs have become more popular, bass holding deep around offshore structure see fewer and fewer spinnerbaits, which makes these lures increasingly effective. Whether dropped off a river ledge or ripped free from deep hydrilla, a spinnerbait generates big bites, but only if it stays upright with the blades spinning. Strike King has solved that problem with a heavyweight lure that comes with a non-rolling head and Raz-R-Blade High RPM blades—a thin-cut willow leaf that flashes hard without creating unnecessary lift.

Best Spinnerbait for Murky Water: Stanley Vibrashaft Dirty Water Colorado Spinnerbaits

Key Features

  • 3/8, 1/2,  and 3/4 ounces
  • Front blade is fluorescent orange, red, or chartreuse
  • 100% silicone skirt

Why It Made the Cut

Stanley’s Dirty Water Colorado transmits more vibration than any other frame and has front painted blades for great visibility.

Pros

  • Highly visible front blade
  • Tapered wire vibrates heavily
  • Shad-shaped head avoids snags

Cons

  • Limited skirt options

Product Description

Lonnie Stanley developed the revolutionary Vibrashaft wire decades ago to target East Texas bass, and it proved to excel everywhere from Lake Mead to Okeechobee. It combines durability with exceptional vibration, which is key to generating and converting strikes in dirty water. This Colorado blade spinnerbait will rattle your fillings loose, and the front fluorescent blade creates visibility even in chocolate milk. They’re also available in tandem willow and dual willow models.

Best Spinnerbait for Smallmouth Bass: Nichols Pulsator Painted Blades

Key Features

  • 3/8, ½, and ¾ ounces
  • Painted blades
  • Durable wire

Why It Made the Cut

This lure runs true at high speeds and remains visible for smallmouths at a long distance.

Pros

  • Razor-sharp Mustad hook
  • Made in U.S.
  • Bullet-shaped hydrodynamic head

Cons

  • Only one blade shape combo

Product Description

Nichols describes this lure as being ideal for stained water, and it certainly is, but more than anything, it’s an absolute bronzeback killer. You can cast it a country mile, burn it back just under the surface without having it blow out, and watch as the hard-charging painted blades bring up big smallies from the depths. Throw it around shoals, tapering gravel points, and over suspended balls of bait. Then hang on because you’re likely to experience some of the hardest strikes in the sport. Luckily, the wire and hook are made to withstand the abuse.

Best Three-Bladed Spinnerbait: Lunker Lure Hawg Caller Proven Winner Triple Blade

Lunker Lure

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Key Features

  • ⅜ and ½ ounce
  • Ultra thin, bent wire
  • Three small willowleaf blades

Why It Made the Cut

The three-blade design excels during the shad spawn or when bass are feeding on smaller baitfish

Pros

  • Premium Sampo swivels
  • Thin wire maximizes vibration
  • Head design features dual eyes

Cons

  • Thin wire requires extreme care

Product Description

When largemouth or smallies are feeding on smaller baitfish, like shad spawning in late spring or young-of-year forage in the fall, a lure with three small blades can be the best spinnerbait for bass. This lure allows anglers to replicate small meals while still using power fishing gear. Hawg Caller’s thin wire design makes the whole profile shake and tremble like a small fish in peril. The head design is reminiscent of the famous “Hank Parker spinnerbait” that the television host used to win the 1989 Bassmaster Classic on Virginia’s James River.

Best Spinnerbait for Night Fishing: Omega Genesis Ti Night Rider Spinnerbait

Omega Custom Tackle

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Key Features

  • 1 ounce
  • Durable titanium wire frame
  • Oversized, textured Colorado blade

Why It Made the Cut

Everything about this lure is tailored to wake up and antagonize nighttime bass.

Pros

  • 5/0 Gamakatsu hook snatches fish 
  • Blade thumps harder than any other
  • All-black construction provides maximum silhouette against the night sky

Cons

  • Only available in one size and one color combination

Product Description

Omega built this spinnerbait to fish under any nighttime conditions, from a full moon to complete darkness. It shares characteristics with many other night baits, like a black skirt and a massive Colorado blade. But with this spinnerbait, Omega has executed several subtle tweaks that improve overall effectiveness. For example, the blade isn’t only big and dark, it’s textured to provide a distinct sound profile. The head also has an unconventional flat-bottomed design with a concave rear section, which forces the long-tailed skirt to flare out when pumped or dropped. That helps nighttime giants find it, and the Gamakatsu hook will keep them pegged.

Best Spinnerbait for Fishing Rivers: Humdinger Double Willow Spinnerbait

Humdinger Lures

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Key Features

  • ¼- and ⅜-ounce sizes
  • Compact profile
  • Flat rubber skirt

Why It Made the Cut

The Humdinger Double Willow looks old school, but its proven design excels on rivers.

Pros

  • Snag-resistant, bullet-shaped head 
  • Tough-to-find flat rubber is deadly on bass in current
  • Razor sharp hook

Cons

  • Large sizes not available

Product Description

Throw it over submerged vegetation, around cypress knees, or drift it across a downed tree, and this little Humdinger will dredge its way through the cover. It attracts all sizes of fish, and it’s durable enough that you can bang it off dock pilings, riprap, and stumps without mangling it. While the Humdinger may not look fancy, it’s a time-tested design that old-school river rats swear by when the bite is tough. It comes in a variety of other blade configurations.

Methodology

Many anglers assume that because spinnerbaits cast well and can produce big bass on even a straightforward, moderate retrieve, that these lures are “idiot baits.” But that’s not the case. The more variety you have in your spinnerbait game, the more success you’ll see. To find the best spinnerbaits, I looked to manufacturers that have evolved spinnerbait designs to create lures that excel in specific conditions. I picked spinnerbaits that utilize premium hardware, such as hooks, swivels, and blades. After years on the water — and just as much time spent interviewing pro anglers about their favorite baits — I was able to round up the ideal roster of spinnerbaits that will cover almost all bass fishing scenarios. 

FAQs

Q: What size spinnerbait is best?

Most experienced anglers carry spinnerbaits from 1/8 ounce to well over 1 ounce, but ⅜- and ½-ounce models are the most common. Remember, blade size, blade shape, and skirt thickness alter the “lift” of a spinnerbait, so two models that have the same weight but utilize different components may ride at very different depths, even with the same retrieve speed.

Q: What color spinnerbait should I use?

Combinations of white and chartreuse with nickel and/or gold blades are the most popular spinnerbait colors, but the combinations are endless. A black spinnerbait excels at night. Translucent skirts are great for largemouths in clear water, while smallmouths in the same condition may prefer neons and fluorescents like pink and orange. While “matching the hatch” is important for choosing spinnerbait colors, water clarity also plays a key role in this process.

Q: Do spinnerbaits work in clear water?

Spinnerbaits are excellent tools in clear water for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass, although the sizes and colors that appeal to them may vary. One key in clear water is to fish the lure quickly, so that bass don’t get a good look at it. Instead, the flash and thump force bass to make a reaction strike. Smallmouths will come from long distance to crush a burning spinnerbait.

A man holding a bass
Sometimes it takes more than a white or chartreuse skirt to tempt big bass. Pete Robbins

Final Thoughts

While most spinnerbaits excel in the 0- to 10-foot depth range, there’s no reason they can’t be fished substantially deeper. The spinnerbait’s incredible versatility is part of what makes it a critical tool for tournament pros and weekend anglers alike. They work in every water clarity. You can use them from the chilly prespawn, through the heat of summer, and well into the baitfish migrations of the fall. Just make sure that you have the best spinnerbait for the particular job. Furthermore, match your tackle to your chosen lure. While there’s no one-size-fits-all rod, reel, and line combination for spinnerbaits, go with a setup that has enough give to allow bass to grab the lure and stay hooked as they jump and surge.