These lure modifications will bring get more life—and strikes—out of your spinnerbaits
Look in any bass angler’s tackle bag and you’re bound to find a healthy dose of spinnerbaits. They have, after all, proven themselves time after time after time. Some guys only throw white. Others swear by big Colorado blades over faster willow blades. Of course, some anglers simply tie on the first one their fingers touch and let it rip. There aren’t many tweaks to be made to the cast-and-retrieve spinnerbait presentation, but simple modifications to the lure itself can seriously up your catch rates with these classics. The following three hacks will not only make your spinnerbaits downright deadly, they’ll also prolong the life of your arsenal.
Nebraska bass guide Steve Lytle likes to trim his spinnerbait skirts into the shape of a baitfish. This makes the profile look more natural, and Lytle says that tapering the skirt—especially in the rear—also helps you hook up with more short strikers. And he keeps some chartreuse worm dye in his boat at all times. “Dipping the skirt of a white spinnerbait into dye gives it a little more color and a lot more flash in the water,” he says. Lytle usually dips just the first 1⁄2 to 1 inch of the skirt. It’s the rear section that moves the most, and that little extra pop of color can trigger more strikes when the bass are being finicky.
I’m a fly guy at heart, so I’m always thinking like a fly guy, even when I’m casting lures. That’s why I often take a spinnerbait to my fly-tying vise for some doctoring. One of my favorite modifications is removing the rubber skirt and tying in a long bunny strip. I’ll let about 3 inches hang past the hook bend for the tail, and then wrap the rest of the strip around the shank forward to the lure’s head. The result is a spinnerbait with a pulsing leechlike trailer that presents the bass with a different profile from what they’re used to seeing. Or try other fly-tying materials like bucktail and Flashabou to change up the look.
No matter how well secured you think a spinnerbait skirt is, there’s a good chance it’ll slide off at some point, especially if it’s old or if you’re catching fish left and right. To reduce skirt loss, Georgia bass guide Mike Bucca wraps all his skirts with fly-tying wire prior to hitting the water. If you’re not into prep work, however, Texas guide John Tanner says to always have some small zip ties in your tackle bag. These come in handy not just for securing spinnerbait skirts in a pinch but for mending jigs as well. This is a better alternative to using superglue on the hook shank. While that old trick will definitely keep a skirt in place, it makes swapping skirts a nightmare.
Written by Ben Duchesney for Field & Stream.