Anatomy of Bass Spinnerbait | Great Days Outdoors

Bass angler Bobby Lane talks about the allure of bass spinnerbait.


Ask any angler if they could have only one lure in their tackle box and the majority would choose a spinnerbait. Many bass tournaments have been won with spinner baits.

These lures in some variation have been around for over a century. It’s a simple lure to cast, retrieve and catch fish.

At first glance, spinner baits may not appear to be appealing to anglers, much less to the fish. Shiny metal blades, a bent piece of wire, and a brightly-colored skirt are the main components. But, once in the water with the blades turning and the skirt shaking, the temptation is usually too much for a bass to resist.

Variations and certain nuances with spinner baits make these lures adaptable to almost any fishing situation. Lure weight, blade sizes, and colors, and skirts or trailers can create a lure for any time of the year.


However, late winter to early spring is probably the prime season for chunking a spinnerbait.

Top bass spinnerbait.

A top spinner bait mimics a bait fish. Photo by Charles Johnson

Body Parts

There are three basic components to any given spinner bait. Blades, wire arm and the head/hook, which holds on the skirt, are all connected together to make up the lure.

Spinnerbaits are manufactured in a myriad of colors, sizes, blade styles and weights. Some anglers have their favorite combination but there are certain styles that perform on a regular basis.

“You want a bass spinnerbait that is natural looking,” advises B.A.S.S. pro angler Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla. “I prefer a 3/8-ounce bait for most early spring fishing.”

The weight of the lure is the overall weight of the bait, including blades, wire, and head. The head on most spinnerbaits are usually made of lead, but tin and tungsten plus other metal alloys are also used.


Lane says the hook should be around 4/0 size or larger for most bait. The larger hook will help with more connections when bass strike.

Some spinner bait models have interchangeable blades for size and color variation. Blade size and shape will affect the vibration and lure action. Wire diameter used on the lure will also affect the action and even fish catching.

Larger diameter wires can kill or dampen the blade vibration, and a small diameter wire can break when attempting to boat a fish.

Anglers should note that some spinner blade arms extend back beyond the hook. Once the blades are added, they are positioned well past the point of the hook. This can cause some missed strikes.

Lane recommends the blades be directly over the top of the hook point.

Using bass spinnerbait.

Spinnerbaits are top lures for any angler. Photo by Charles Johnson


Blades Make the Bait

There are three basic styles of blades for spinnerbaits: Colorado, willow, and Indiana. These three blade styles have been around for over 100 years and very little has changed in their basic profile.

The Colorado style blade is a teardrop-shaped blade. This blade offers good resistance during the retrieve and plenty of “thumping” action. Colorado blades also throw off plenty of flash.

Willow style blades are long, slender and come to a gradual point. These are probably the most common among spinner bait anglers. Lures with willow blades can be retrieved faster through the water with less resistance. The large surface area can project plenty of flash from the bait.

“Spinnerbaits with a #4 or #5 willow blade and a small Colorado blade will work almost anywhere across the country,” Lane explains. “Double willows give off a good flash and come through grass patches easier.”

“Mix things up by painting one side of the blade a different color from the other side.”

Indiana type blades are a cross between the willow and Colorado-shaped blades. Indiana blades are narrower than a Colorado and shorter than a willow with a larger radius around the tip.  Spinnerbaits with Indiana shapes generally have only a single blade.

Two major colors for spinnerbait blades are gold and nickel. Some refer to the nickel-colored blades as silver, but actually, the brass blade is nickel-plated for a deeper, darker shine.

Gold-colored blades are actually electro-plated with 24-carat gold for a bright shine or durable sheen.

Other popular colors are a black-nickel and copper-colored blades. In recent years, painted blades in any color imaginable have been added to spinner baits for a different look. Some anglers like to mix things up by painting one side of the blade a different color from the other side. The effect is something bass don’t normally see in other spinner baits.

“Use gold blades or a gold and nickel mix during the winter months,” Lane says. “Later in the spring, change over to nickel blades and fish these through the summer.”

Accessorize Your Lure

As mentioned earlier, spinner bait blades can be changed out fairly easily and quickly. A change in blade size, style or color can give a different look and feel to the bass. Blades are the most critical component of a spinnerbait and quality blades help the lure to perform better.

Skirts are another part of a spinnerbait that can be changed quickly. The skirt adds bulk and color to the bait. Most common skirts are made from rubber or silicone.

Spinnerbait skirts made from silicone are more durable and offer more lifelike movement from the hundreds of free-floating legs.

“During the pre-spawn, skirts with orange and red color strands imitate crawfish,” Lane advises. “But most of the year a white skirt will work fine.”

Skirts add bulk to the spinnerbait, which can help for slower retrieves. The skirt also reflects light cast off from the blades. With the vibration of the blades, the skirt will shimmer and shake during the retrieve.

The profile of the skirt simulates a predator fish chasing a smaller fish (the blade). Bass don’t like other fish chasing minnows in front of them.

Soft plastic trailers can also enhance the profile of a spinnerbait. Curly-tailed grubs, crawfish, and other creature baits can be easily threaded onto the hook.

“Anglers who understand the anatomy of a spinner bait can have an upper hand over their fishing competition and put more bass.”

Some manufacturers actually have a “barb” along the hook shank to assist in keeping the trailer in place. A drop or two of superglue will also work in a pinch.

Water conditions will dictate what color and size spinnerbaits Lane will use. Once the water temperature reaches the 50 F mark, Lane will opt for a 3/8-ounce spinner bait with nickel willow style blades. He says the smaller bait can be fished slower. After the water temp passes the 70 F mark, Lane will switch to larger-sized blades.

One rule of thumb for spinnerbait fishing is to use darker baits with Colorado blades in muddy-to-stained water. In more clear water lakes, a white or white/chartreuse skirt with nickel willow blades is the best bet. Lane says let the fish tell you what retrieve speed they prefer that particular day.

In grass and weeds, Lane selects a double-willow blade bait. Around logs and stick-ups, he will switch out to a combo blade with a #5 willow and a smaller Colorado blade under the willow.

Anglers who understand the anatomy of a bass spinnerbait can have an upper hand over their fishing competition and put more bass in the livewell.

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