Published on Bassmaster.com March 25, 2009
The Basslog is a database where fishermen can post the conditions of their catch online. Once the conditions (date, lure, time period, structure, cover, etc.) are recorded, it will return useful patterns from the collaboration of users. At the time of this writing, there are already over 2,300 registered users even though it is still in its infancy. With that many users recording their fish, the result set is quite unbiased. The BASSlog tracks every type of artificial lure, all of which are worthy of their own article. This article is about spinnerbaits, which make up about 15% of the fish that were logged.
The overwhelming majority of fish caught on spinnerbaits were caught in the fall and spring. More fish were caught in fall than spring, yet the average size was much bigger in the spring. Spinnerbait fish were caught in water temps ranging from almost freezing to 100 degrees. Surprisingly, there wasn't any sort of magical temperature. There were good numbers of fish caught in every 5-degree increment from 50 degrees to 90 degrees.
Most of the fish were caught shallow. A few fish were caught on spinnerbaits over 30 feet deep, but two-thirds were caught in 5 feet or less and almost every fish was caught less than 10 feet deep. As for cover, spinnerbait fish were logged in 17 different types of cover. About two-thirds were caught around some type of vegetation (weeds, lily pads, cattails). Twenty-five percent were caught around some type of wood and about 10% were recorded being caught around rocks or cement (boulders, gravel, riprap, concrete ramps, etc.).
The time of day didn't seem to be a factor for catching fish on spinnerbaits. Large numbers were recorded at all times of the day. Not surprisingly, the lowest numbers were recorded during the dark periods. But even so there about 10% were recorded between dark and sunup. Similarly, wind direction didn't seem to be a factor either. South wind had the most fish recorded, but I believe that to be the prevailing winds where the majority of time was spent on the water.
I know firsthand that spinnerbaits are great baits for fishing windy conditions. Ironically, the stronger the wind, the less fish were recorded. I'm quite certain that is due primarily to the fact that most fishermen don't go fishing when it is windy. However, based on these findings, you should be able to fish spinnerbaits in calm water with confidence. Water clarity did seem to be a factor for spinnerbaits. Somewhere around 3-foot visibility appeared to be the ideal water clarity according to the BASSlog. Stained water (2- to 3-foot visibility) had the most fish recorded; with semi-clear (3- to 5-foot visibility) a very close runner-up. Not many fish were recorded in muddy water. However, spinnerbaits caught considerably more fish in muddy water than ultra-clear water.
Double willow spinnerbaits took about 35% of the fish, while willow/Colorado blades took about 25% of the fish. Single Colorado blades came in third with about 15%. Colorado/Indiana blades took about 10% of the fish. Best skirt colors were (in this order) chartreuse/white, white, chartreuse, black/blue, white/black, white/chartreuse, black, and green/orange.
In summary, spinnerbaits catch fish during any season at any time of day. They work best during the fall and spring. The best water is shallow with 2- to 4-foot visibility and some type of vegetation, wood, or rock. Best blade types are double willow, willow/Colorado, and single Colorado blades. Best skirt colors are white, chartreuse, and combinations of the two.
For more details, consult the Basslog. There, you can learn which combinations to use under each condition. Additionally, the BASSlog is full of information that I didn't cover such as spinnerbait size, blade colors, trailer type, demographics, and sky conditions. As I mentioned earlier, it holds an exhaustive list of most every type of lure you can catch a bass on — and spinnerbaits are only a small portion of the list. Best of all, you can use the BASSlog to record your fish and you can learn from your own success as well as from other Insider members. The sooner you start, the more useful it will be. Even if you only catch a handful of fish per year, you can establish your own patterns over time. It is a proven fact that bass are pattern-oriented. Learn the patterns and catch more fish!
I fish 200+ days per year as a fishing guide on one of the best lakes in the country (Lake Fork). How I wish I had such a tool 20 years ago. I discovered how to find patterns by spending countless hours reading articles from biased authors and spending tons of hours on the lake. At last, we can all learn from our own trials as well as from the collection of over 2,300 fishermen. I urge you to take advantage of the Basslog yourself.