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Fishing with Hank Parker: Spinnerbait Tricks For Early Spring Bass

Fishing a spinnerbait in spring can be exciting, especially when big bass are shallow around flooded bushes. When a big ol' bass races out to grab that blade, it really gives me a rush.

There are days during spring when you can't do anything wrong with a spinnerbait. Chuck it out there, turn the handle and hang on. Something will grab it. But that isn't always the case. There are a few tricks you need to know when the fish aren't very aggressive, and I've certainly learned my share over the years.

One reason the spinnerbait is so effective is because it's so versatile. You can fish it top to bottom and in depths in between. In fact, you may have to change depths throughout the day on an early spring day.

For example, early in the morning when the water is cool, the spinnerbait tends to be more effective when slow-rolled along the bottom. But as the sun gets up and heats the upper-water layer, the fish will suspend farther off the bottom so a medium-depth retrieve may be required. Later, bass may be on top of the grass or bushes, making a faster retrieve near the surface the best option. That's why it's wise to experiment with retrieves throughout the day.

Choosing blades and sizes can be tricky, too. When fish are aggressive in off-colored water, I like a Colorado blade that puts out a lot of vibration. If the water is clearer and fish aren't as aggressive, I like an Indiana blade. In clear, cold water, willow-leaf blades are best because they emit less vibration.

Now, if the water is cold and muddy, don't bother fishing there. However, if the water temperature is pushing 70 degrees, I like the muddiest water I can find. If it looks like tomato soup, I go as shallow as I can. You'd be surprised how many really big bass you can catch on a spinnerbait in that kind of water during early spring.

My favorite size is 3/4-ounce matched with a pair of Colorado blades in different sizes, such as a No. 3 and 5. Most anglers prefer using blades that are the same size, but I have found they don't "chime" as well. When blades are different sizes, they rotate out of sync, meaning one turns one way and the other blade rotates the opposite direction, working against each other and putting out more vibration.

Vibration is important because spring bass don't always knock the rod out of your hands. With maximum vibration, you will know when a bass stops the bait and can be quicker on the hookset.

Although I use 17-pound Trilene Sensation most of the time, I've learned heavy line can be a disadvantage because it spooks early season fish. I found that out years ago while testing low-visibility lines on an ultra-clear lake where I could actually see the fish underwater. I noticed that bass would spook before the lure ever got to where one was hiding.

I surmised that the heavy line moving through their lair was displacing water and putting fish on the defensive. Even though the bass aren't seeing my line in stained or muddy water, they sense its presence moving through the water and that diminishes any ambush notices they might have had.

Reducing line size isn't an option for fishing heavy cover, so I've learned to adjust my casts instead. Whereas I once made casts 4 feet beyond a target and ran the bait into the bush, I now make shorter roll casts just beyond the target and keep my line out of the water as best I can. That not only gives the fish less warning, but the lure jumps in front of them, triggering the impulsive strike.

Learn to do the same and you'll get more strikes this spring.

BASSIN' Magazine February 2003