Shallow Water Spinnerbaits

Masimo Zanetti

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I love to fish for shallow water bass. I love to see open-jaws fish coming to my lure but I don't like sight-fishing and gin clear water. I haven't lot of patience to finesse a plastic lure for more than five minutes in a bush or yo-yoing it to the nose of a bedding bass. Here is why spinnerbait is my "bread and butter lure" when it cames to made a quick limit or when I need to avoid to getting skunked in tournament fishing. I like action, I don't want to fall asleep while bass fishing.

The spinnerbait box

Sometimes, fellow tourney's bassers take a look to my spinnerbait box and with surprise note that it contains no more than 25 - 30 bladed baits. I don't need to carry in my boat lot of lures because my way of fishing requires few, tested, artificials to score big on the water. During a tournament I have no time to test lures or to change thousand of it in a couple of hours: I must catch a limit, quickly. So, I carry with me basically four skirts colors involving chartreuse, white, silver and gold patterns. Speaking about weight, for shallow water bassin' I have lures on the 3/8 - ¾ oz. range, mostly mounting big willow leaf blades, both single and tandem. I like willow leaf blade because it comes silently through the water and give off a tremendous amount of flash respect to Colorado or Indiana blade. Chartreuse and golden skirted lures mount gold blades while white and silver skirts requires silver blades. My bird-dog spinnerbait is a ½ oz. model, white/chartreuse with a #7 gold willow leaf blade. However I carry some blades and skirts in my tacklebox, so I could assemble the right lure when I need it. As I have said in my previous articles, I hate to put trailer hooks on my lures so, to avoid short-biters, I trim the skirts to the bend of the spinnerbait hook: this trick usually works for me.

The right tackle

The rod I use to fish shallow water spinnerbaits is a 6' graphite rod medium/heavy action. I prefere a longest rod to the 5 ½ pistol grip most of the people use for this technique because I got more power to force the fish out of an obstacle. With such rod I have the same casting accuracy I got with the 5 ½ model and I pitch the lures easily and with lot of accuracy. Fishing for shallow water bass, you have to consider the great amount of obstacles you normally encounter. Using a fiberglass or a composite rod, you haven't the same sensitivity using a graphite rod: that's why I use a graphite rod to detect even the subtle strike of the bass.

Speaking about line, I use a 17 lbs clear or green monos. With a strong tackle you need a good, abrasion resistant, monofilament: big bass makes no compromises when hooked in heavy cover. You must pull her out and quickly, without giving her the inch she need to turn around a tree branch and say hello!

A good 5:1 reel complete my tackle for shallow water spinnerbaiting. I prefere a reel with not so fast retrieve rate because is usually more powerful than 6:1 or 7:1 models. With a big tandem willow leaf spinnerbait, you don't need to turn the reel handle at the speed of light to keep your lure on the surface. Another thing: I feel comfortable using a reel with low profile, that just fits in my hand.


To select the right technique to use with shallow water spinnerbait, you must consider one important thing: water color. The clearer the water, the longer the cast. Here is why I prefere water with some colors in it. With such conditions I can stay closer to the area I know bass lives, gaining more casting precision and accuracy. My favourite technique is a fast and furious pitchin', a sort of run and gun with no compromises. I fire the bait to the obstacles with fast underhand pitches and retrieve it on the surface, letting the big blade creates a wake. My style of fishing "oblige" me to look for active bass. In six or eight tournament hours I fish several miles of shoreline and usually I catch bass. Only in particular conditions (e.g.: the coldest winter days or the hottest summer days) I rely to other techniques and retrieves.

I've seen, during my tournaments' years, that lot of people avoid to fish bare banks with few or no evident obstacles. Sometimes, places like these just mentioned, have an incredible big bass population. This is because big fish tend to congregate to a small stump or little weed patches, if these are the only cover they could find in a bare shoreline. Spinnerbait is the best weapon to catch these big un's. Paralleling the bank, you must saturate it with lot of casts. This is the only way to catch both the roaming bass and the ones close to the rare obstacles. This technique has always paid well for me. I usually tie on my line a small ¼ oz. lure with a single Colorado blade.

Pichin' spinnerbaits is another great way to catch bass when they're tight to dense cover. Sure, it's slower than the precedent run and gun but it's rewarding. For pitchin' in dense obstacles I tie on my line an heavy ¾ oz. spinnerbait, because I want to keep my lure in the cover during the retrieve.

Be aware that in clear water you must downsizing your lure (e.g.: from ½ oz. to 3/8 oz.), to offer the bass a smaller profile, while in murky water you must fish big and heavy spinnerbaits to let the bass know that's meal-time. It is really important to keep your spinnerbait in countact with the obstacles, bump it in every cover available and fit your speed retrieve to the methabolism of the fish. If bass is no lethargic, a shallow, mid-speed retrieve is the best to have reaction-strikes from the fish.

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