Thinking back to the days when I saw my first spinnerbait, I remember a lure with blades just like an in-line spinner but configured in a way to make it weedless.
My first reaction?
What an odd looking contraption…
I definitely had my doubts it would catch anything much less bass. After a little more research, I finally broke down, bought a couple and even caught a few bass on one my first time trying it. I was hooked for life 🙂
Initially I saw the spinnerbait as a lure that could be fished like an in-line spinner with a basic cast and retrieve approach. Little did I realize how much more versatile any spinner could be when something changing as small as the retrieve style.
Over the years I learned a number of specialized retrieves for spinnerbaits making them even more effective than they were when I first starting using them.
One thing to remember when fishing a spinnerbait, this type of lure is the reaction bait designed to trigger bass into striking rather than mimicking actual forage. Imparting erratic motions during the retrieve is often just what the doctor ordered helping trigger those reaction strikes on a consistent basis!
An Introduction to Several Specialized Spinnerbait Retrieves
Chuck & Wind
The first time most of us heard the term “chuck and wind” was probably from watching bass fishing celebrity Jimmy Houston on TV. Jimmy made this spinnerbait retrieve famous when using it while fishing and winning several national tournaments decades ago.
Though chuck and wind sounds like a slow motion cast and reel approach, the retrieve is fast enough to keep the bait in sight just below the surface. This allows the angler to see the bait, watch for following fish and cover a lot of water quickly. Most anglers also either twitch the rod during retrieve or tick cover changing the lures movement helping trigger more strikes.
Bump the Stump (Cover)
Though many bass fisherman refer to this next retrieve as “bump the stump”, in reality it should be referred to as bump the cover. This retrieve is used where bass holding cover such as stumps, brush lines, weeds, rocks or docks dominates the area being fished. The cast is made beyond the cover to allow the angler to direct the spinnerbait into as many pieces of cover causing numerous erratic movements therefore triggering reaction bites. The “bump the cover” retrieve is probably one of the most effective retrieves used by bass anglers to trigger reaction strikes.
Waking the Bait
Another spinnerbait retrieve dating back to the early days of professional bass tournaments is called “waking the bait”. Just like the chuck and wind method, the spinnerbait is reeled with a fast retrieve so the blades create a bulge across the water’s surface mimicking escaping forage. Usually the retrieve speed is kept just fast enough to create the wake while not allowing blades do not break the water’s surface. If the retrieve suddenly stops working, try allowing the blade to break the surface which can sometimes help trigger additional strikes. This is another great retrieve to use when searching for bass since it allows the angler to cover a lot of water quickly.
Yo-Yo Vertical Edges
Several times each season all bass anglers encounter types of cover forming vertical edges extending from, at or near the surface all the way to the bottom. When bass are active and cruising along the edge, the any of the retrieves mentioned above may work when casting parallel to the edge. On days when bass are less aggressive, however another retrieve can help entice finicky fish into eating your spinnerbait.
Remember the yo-yos we all played with as kids?
This approach uses the same motion as you impart when using a yo-yo. A long cast is made either parallel with or perpendicular to the vertical cover. Initially the spinnerbait is allowed to flutter to the bottom or desired intermediate depth on a slack line. The bait is then quickly lifted towards the surface using both the rod while picking up line with the reel. As the bait gets close to the surface is then allowed to flutter back down towards the bottom before being lifted again towards the surface in a yo-yo retrieve style. The height of the lift-drop (yo-yo) retrieve can be varied to a specific depth interval depending on how the bass are positioned along the vertical cover.
A skillful bass angler, equipped with the right tackle and knowledge can often make negative to neutral fish strike with the right presentation. This is often accomplished by presenting a slow, thumping spinnerbait through cover, right into the strike zone of these sulking bass. The retrieve used to trigger neutral bass into striking is called “slow rolling a spinnerbait”.
This retrieve is started by making long casts across structure being fished letting the bait flutter towards subsurface cover. Once contact is made with the cover, the angler starts a slow, steady retrieve keeping the bait in contact with the cover, twitching occasionally to impart an erratic motion. It sometimes pays to experiment with the retrieve so try either a yo-yo or stop/go variation while slow rolling depending on the mood of the bass.
Another variation of this retrieve is to let the spinnerbait flutter all the way to the bottom. Next the spinnerbait is retrieved using a dragging retrieve by moving the spinnerbait with the rod and reeling in slack as you would with a jig or Texas-rigged worm. This variation is sometimes called “dead dragging a spinnerbait”.
There are a number of different retrieves to be employed helping the bass angler to tailor his or her presentation to the mood of the bass as well as the conditions being fished. As a matter of fact, never be afraid to use a little of your own imagination in developing unique retrieves. Ultimately, these variations will put even more weapons into your spinnerbait fishing arsenal.