How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Spinnerbait Tips from Kevin VanDam

Expert fishing tips from the big-bass catching legend, plus seven of the best spinnerbaits

Kevin VanDam has built his pro bass fishing career on effectively using spinnerbaits. One of the most versatile bass baits of all time, spinnerbaits can be fished deep, shallow, and everywhere in between. But there’s more to it than just casting and retrieving.

I got a chance to fish with KVD on a lake in Upstate New York a few summers ago, and he spilled some of his spinnerbait fishing secrets.

1. Use the Right Blade and Head

Choosing the right head weight and blade size and shape is critical. A simple rule of thumb: use a lighter spinnerbait with smaller blades in shallow water and a larger bait in deep water.

2. Match Your Retrieve to Water Clarity

On bright days in clear water, run your spinnerbait fast. This is to not give bass as long to inspect your bait in crystal clear conditions. Rip the spinner bait quickly for reaction strikes. That’s not an issue on overcast days or in turbid water, so slow down your retrieve in darker conditions.

3. Bump the Bait

Run your spinnerbait into cover like docks, vegetation, or logs. The erratic motion will trigger more strikes. If you’re fishing open water, give the bait sporadic jerks to create the same effect.

Plus: How to Pick the Best Spinnerbait for Catching Big Bass

There are a ton of different types of spinnerbaits to choose from, so let’s start with some basic definitions. When you’re talking to bass guys, a spinnerbait means a “safety pin”-style bait, where the blades are attached to an angled wire arm and run above the body of the bait. The other option is an inline spinnerbait, which is aptly named: the spinner runs in line with the body. In-line spinners come in a wide variety of sizes and designs, and are more commonly used for pike, muskies, or trout. But there are times when they work for largemouth bass, too. Here’s a look at a few different styles and their features.

1. KVD Finesse Spinnerbait

KVD Finesse Spinnerbait Strike King

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This is a great example of a perfect all-around spinnerbait. It’s got one willow blade, a smaller Colorado blade, and a slightly smaller skirt that comes in a variety of natural colors. This 3/8oz spinnerbait can be fished over weeds, arounds stumps, along docks, and pretty much anywhere else bass hang out. Kevin VanDam, the king of spinnerbait fishing, helped design it, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me, too.

2. Strike King Bottom Dweller

Strike King Bottom Dweller Strike King

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With two thinner willow blades and extra weight added to the hook shank, this bait is designed to run in deeper water and track better when it hits the bottom. This bait would be ideal for fishing deep weed beds or reefs in the heart of summer when big bass are generally deep water. It’s available in 3/4, 1, and 1-3/8 oz models.

3. Booyah Moon Talker

Booyah Moon Talker Booyah

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This bait has one big (#5 or #6) Colorado blade that allows you to keep the bait near the surface, displace a lot of water, and create plenty of vibration. As its name suggests, this spinnerbait is designed for nighttime fishing—specifically for rolling the bait just below the surface to get big bass to strike under moonlight. It comes in a variety of dark color patterns.

4. Booyah Super Shad

Booyah Super Shad Booyah

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The four willow blades on this spinnerbait are designed to mimic a school of fleeing baitfish. You want to tie this on if you’re seeing bass chasing schools of shad in open water and crashing around you on the surface.

5. Mepps Comet Combo

Mepps Comet Combo Mepps

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You probably won’t see this bait in Ranger boats on a pro tournament trail anytime soon, but you will see this staple in-line spinnerbait in plenty of Lund boats run by Northwoods bass anglers all summer long. The hook sinks into the Mister Twister tail to make it weedless, making it a great option to pull through heavy cover and pitch around logs and downfalls. The #4 blade creates plenty of vibration to bring in big bass. My favorite color combo is the silver blade with the white tail.

6. Panther Martin Weed Runner

Panther Martin Weed Runner Panther Martin

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The Panther Martin name is well known by trout anglers, but the WeedRunner inline spinner was designed for bass and pike in heavy cover. Just like their traditional spinners are perfect for working trout rivers, The WeedRunner is a great choice for targeting river bass in slow-moving currents around heavy cover. Of course, you can throw it in lakes, too.

7. Johnson Original Beetle Spin

Johnson Original Beetle Spin Johnson

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The smallest and least glamorous (and the cheapest) spinnerbait in our roundup is the old-school beetle spin. This is a known crappie killer, but the 1/4 oz. version (with a 2-inch body) is also a sleeper finesse bait for largemouth bass. This is a great bait for newbies and kids because if they cast into a snag, and break off, you can tie on another and only lose a few bucks.

More from KVD

How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Determine Fishing Conditions

How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Power Fish a Crankbait

How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Find Bass in Weeds

How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Choose the Right Hooks