Spinnerbaits and Blades

Blade attachments give off the right flash.

The original plan was to look for cobia off the beaches. We found the bait schools and jacks, but the cobia never cooperated. Meanwhile, mackerel sprayed through rain bait all along the surface in the morning haze. New targets had presented themselves. Two fishing buds and I threw every topwater lure conceivable at the surface-splashers, and only after we presented baits deeper in the water column and added a bit of flash did we start pulling tight on the tastiest member of the mackerel family.

Perceptive anglers are reaping the benefits of adding gold, nickel or copper blades to their soft baits and spoons. It’s what I like to call “lure bling” or “pieces of flair.” The two main attachments are inline spinners or V-type spinnerbaits.

There’s nothing subtle about it. Blades add weight, girth, noise, vibration and moving parts to a lure—but sometimes that’s just what a lure presentation needs. Murky conditions that hold hungry reds, trout and flounder, or the frenzied mackerel schools that we found, will quickly trump any doubts you might have about more metal in the water.

Spoons

The Clark Caster from Clarkspoon adds a new twist to an old favorite. The Casters come in the manufacturer’s size 00 and 0 gold or silver spoons, and a detachable bullet weight threaded with gold or silver Colorado-style blade is added to the front of the lure.

“This lure’s for those anglers who want to cast, and not just troll their spoons,” says Al Brister, co-owner of Clarkspoon. “When the wind’s blowing and you want to make longer casts to those bluefish, ‘macks or bonito, this lure goes the distance and sinks quickly.” Typical spoons have a tendency to come to the top of the water column when retrieved quickly. A bullet weight in front forces the spoon to the bottom and allows anglers to work the bait much deeper. The added weight and blade are snapped to the spoon, and can easily be removed if water depth or other conditions change.

Inline Spinners

Blade combos in the spirit of Clark Caster found their way into the redfish sphere about a decade ago, popularized by fishermen in North Florida, Louisiana and other dark-water predominates. “These rigs aren’t just for Clark spoons,” Brister says. “So far the most popular weight has been ½ ounce, but the combos come in 1/8-, 1/4- and 1/2-ounce sizes.” The bullet–blade attachments are sold separately in packs of two, which allow anglers to experiment, adding the combinations to soft baits such as jerkbaits or paddletails, or even natural baits like mullet.

Blades adorning soft baits have become so mainstream that companies like Terminator lures (of Rapala) and Hildebrandt lures (now sold by Yakima Baits) give anglers a number of options right out of the box. The rig is simple—inline spinner at the front, followed by a bullet weight, worm hook and choice of soft plastic. Two favorites: Terminator’s Snagless Inline Spinner is constructed from titanium, and the accompanying Oklahoma blades are gold or nickel-plated; Hildebrandt’s Snagless Sally is similar in look but features a snap-loop that allows the hook to change without untying—slide the weight up to expose the snap-loop and change the hook and soft bait.

Spinnerbaits

In dark-water inshore fisheries (like those in Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach) anglers use spinnerbait and soft-plastic combos to target reds, flounder and ‘specks. There are plenty of environments along the coast ripe for this style of fishing, including much of the northern sections of the state.

Captain Roger Bump of Jacksonville has long used spinnerbaits to target inshore fish. “Redfish and flounder require slow retrieves, and a flexible tip rod will give you this,” he says. “I prefer plastic trailers for redfish in white or bright chartreuse, but for flounder I like smaller spinnerbaits with bucktail. Spinnerbaits work well on banks with grasslines, large flats with grass on the bottom and on muddy shallow flats with no cover.”
“Natural” lure presentations can be a waste in these situations. The lure presentation may be so delicate, that targeted species never locate it. The profile of a spinnerbait often replicates the right vibration and movement to mimic impaired baitfish. It’s all about being in the right place, and letting the fish know your lure is there.

“When searching for fish, reel your bait at a slower cadence and use a wide blade that continues to perform and spin, like the Colorado style,” says Buzz Ramsey, brand manager for Yakima Baits. “Ideal in 1 to 3 feet of water, remember to engage the reel and start reeling moments before the lure hits the water, so as not to get caught in grass or oyster. Once you find fish, you can change the blade to something thinner, like a willow leaf, which allows you to speed up the presentation.”

Terminator Lures offers its Watts Bothers series spinnerbait with a Bass Assassin paddletail. Louisiana company H&H Lures markets spinnerbait attachments for crappie and bluegills, with size weights large enough to handle redfish. But if you’re looking for the original in spinnerbait attachments, Hildebrandt Lures offers a mass of styles and weight sizes. Inline spinners, trolling spinners and spinners for jigheads are all available attachments in varying weights and blade styles. Blades are made of brass and are polished in nickel, gold and copper.

“Whenever you decide to add a blade to a bait, make sure there’s some buffer area,” reminds Ramsey. “A soft bait too close to the blade can disturb the lure’s presentation.”

First Published in Florida Sportsman Magazine,  July, 2010 .

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