Lakecaster Online Archives - Oct, 2003


By Len Fairbanks
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Len Fairbanks

As the dog days of summer start winding down, I always look forward to the first few cold fronts of the year. These cold fronts cause a lot of positive things to happen. For one the air temperature and water temperature begin a downward trend. After the kind of heat that we have had this summer, this is a welcome relief for the fishermen and the fish. We usually always get some rain and that'll put the lake on a rise. Another benefit that I enjoy is that those cooler temperatures get a lot of people to thinkin' 'bout 4-wheelers, and guns and squirrels and dove birds and deer camp and that means a little more elbow room out on the Lake. But best of all is that the reduced water temperature, the increased cloud cover and the rise in water level will put those bass shallow, on the prowl and make 'em hungry. And anytime that the bass are shallow, scattered and feeding, my hand automatically reaches for my spinnerbait rod.

Spinnerbait fishing this time of year CAN be as easy as casting the lure out in shallow water and reeling it in, and this is what makes this bait so attractive and useful for the beginning/average angler. While things are often just this simple, let's discuss some of the subtle techniques and tactics that can help you be successful.

Let's start with the lure itself. A trip to your local tackle dealer will reveal that spinnerbaits are available from numerous manufacturers, in about seven different sizes, dozens of different blade combinations and literally hundreds of different colors. In my opinion, for this time of year on Lake Livingston the two best sizes for spinnerbaits are 3/8 oz. and 1/2 oz. I use the 3/8 oz. size when fishing water 2'-3' deep and shallower. I use the 1/2 oz. size to cover water from 2'-5' deep.

For blade combinations, I prefer a two blade or tandem setup with a gold or copper #5 or #6 Indiana rear blade and a small #3 gold Colorado blade in the front. Sometimes when the lake comes up and I am catching bass in flooded grass and vegetation, I use either a Colorado/willowleaf combination or sometimes a double willowleaf setup (still in gold/copper or gold/gold), since these two combinations seem to come through the grass easier and without getting fouled as often. Most of the companies are offering painted blades now and I have had some good luck with a combination of chartreuse and white.

As far as skirt and trailer colors go, I usually use a chartreuse and white skirt with a chartreuse trailer on Livingston. Many companies make quality spinnerbaits these days and they will all catch fish. Stanley, Strike King, Nichols, Bumper Stumper and Horizon are just a few of these companies. Probably my favorite spinnerbait for Livingston is a 3/8 oz. chartreuse/white Stanley Wedge with what they call Colorado blades but to me, they look more tear-drop shaped like an Indiana blade. Check the swivel and replace it if it doesn't spin freely.

Now let's talk a little about tackle. For line, I use nothing less than 17 or 20 pound green premium monofilament like Berkley Trilene XT or some of that new, super-tough Ironsilk. The rod that I prefer to use for spinnerbaiting is a 6'6" medium/heavy; straight handled worm rod made by Fenwick (model GTC- 786 or HMX T66MH). Many people seem to feel that they can be more accurate with a 6'0" or a 5'6" rod and many prefer to use a pistol grip style handle. I'm 6'4" tall with long arms and maybe this makes it easier for me to fish with this longer rod, but I don't seem to have any problems with accuracy and I sure like having that extra 6" of rod and that straight handle when a great ol' big 'un tries to take my spinnerbait away from me. Any of the quality, high-speed baitcasting reels on the market today make excellent spinnerbait reels. I prefer one with a thumb bar spool release such as an Abu Garcia 4600C4, 4600C5 or one those new Torno's.

The last thing that we need to cover about spinnerbaits are some of the different techniques that we need to use to be successful.

Like I said earlier, many times we just need to simply cast the lure out and reel it in, preferably bringing it by and bumping into any cover (logs, stumps, brushpiles, weeds, bushes, etc.) that we can see in the water. Try to always cast at least five to ten feet past your target because with these fish in shallow water they can be easily spooked.

Also, try to always make your spinnerbait bump into whatever cover you are fishing. The sudden, erratic, jerking action that this imparts to your lure seems to drive bass crazy. Don't worry about getting hung up, the spinnerbait is extremely weedless and it is amazing some of the thick cover that one can come through as long as you keep the bait moving.

One of the small things that I do on almost every cast is to jerk or pop my rod slightly just after the bait hits the water. Many times while a spinnerbait is in the air during a cast, the lure will cartwheel and the blades become tangled on the line or the hook or the skirt and this little "pop" gets everything back in order and running straight and ready to catch a fish.

As you are fishing your spinnerbait, try to develop a "feel" for how your spinnerbait should be acting as it comes through the water on a normal retrieve. What sensations do those thumping blades transmit up your rod? What is the difference between the feel of your spinnerbait bumping a stump and your spinnerbait being bumped by a bass? This "feel" is not easily or quickly acquired but is probably the single thing that separates the good spinnerbait fishermen from the chunkers and winders.

I don't want to scare you into thinking that you can't catch any bass on a spinnerbait without this "feel" because this is not the case. In fact, the majority of the time, the bass will strike a spinnerbait very aggressively and many times you will either see the strike or feel it immediately. But, since you are going to be out there anyway, work on this "feel" thing and you'll catch more bass because of it.

One last thing on technique is the hookset. Many people lose bass on a spinnerbait because they either don't set the hook properly or not at all. When a bass slams your spinnerbait and heads the other way like a freight train, they will usually set the hook themselves and this is what lulls many people into believing that they can be lackadaisical about setting the hook with a spinnerbait. This is anything but the truth. While fishing your spinnerbait, your rod should always be held in a position that is ready for a quick, hard sideways or "sweep" hookset.

Well, that's it for another month. I sincerely hope that at least some of the information that I have provided was enlightening or maybe entertaining but most of all helpful. If you would like some first hand instruction on black bass fishing on Lake Livingston or Sam Rayburn, I guide full time on both of these lakes and can be reached at (936) 563-5454 or you can email me at If you get a chance, check out my web site at and let me know what you think. Until next time, catch all you can and release all that you catch. Be safe out there, don't forget to hook up your kill switch and may God bless.

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