Spinner baits perfect for spring bass

(This is the second installment of a two-part series.)

Larry Brinker has been fishing for Lake Mead’s largemouth bass most of his life, but unlike those anglers who tend to hold their hard-earned knowledge close to their vests, Brinker is one of those rare souls who doesn’t mind opening his tackle box of learning for the next guy. In last Thursday’s column, I passed on some of Brinker’s advice about fishing for bass during the spawn, but what about when the spawn is over?

One of Brinker’s favorite tools for spring bass is the spinner bait, a lure built on a wire frame that is bent at a 90-degree angle. At one end of that frame is a blade or pair of blades that spin around the frame like a propeller, and at the other end is a jig head and hook that are dressed with a skirt of colored silicone strands.

“A spinner bait we call junk food. It really doesn’t look like anything out there,” Brinker said. “You’ve got big flashing blades, a big skirt and a big eye and bright colors, but it catches a lot of fish. The flash, the vibration that the blades put off, all tend to get the fish’s attention.

“If it is in their area and they don’t want it there, or it’s just a reaction and they just can’t help themselves, they’ll just attack it. The spinner bait is my favorite because (the fish) are violent; they really, really hit it hard.”

Brinker prefers a spinner bait dressed with a white and chartreuse skirt and fitted with a narrow willow leaf blade. “I like the willow leafs because they create a lot of flash but less drag,” he said. “It is easier for them to go deeper when you slow down (your retrieve) versus a Colorado, which catches a lot of water and wants to stay up high in the water column.”

When using a spinner bait, some anglers like to add a stinger, or extra hook, behind the first to catch those fish that short-strike the bait. While Brinker generally won’t use a stinger, he does like to add something extra to get a fish’s attention. So he’ll thread a large curly tail or split tail plastic bait onto the hook. This, he said, is a snag-resistant setup and a great tool for fishing around flooded structure or working a big flat.

“If you are fishing on a flat that has deep water around it, you want to throw that spinner bait up in a foot or two of water and work it all the way until it drops off,” Brinker said. “Then slow down your retrieve and let that spinner bait come off that drop and get deeper. That slow-rolling action is a great way to catch very large females during the spring.”

Other baits Brinker uses in the spring include jigs, tubes and minnow imitations like a Rapala or a Yo-Zuri. He also likes a Senko or a fluke. These he’ll use weightless or with little weight and will tuck the point of the hook back into the bait’s body so he can pull the bait through cover and not get snagged.

These baits come in a wide variety of colors. How do you choose which one to use? Brinker said the answer can be found in the color at the bottom of the water you are fishing.

“Whether the algae is in a green phase, a light green phase, dark green, brown, or if the bottom’s gray because of the gravel, red because of clay, I’ll try to use a soft bait or a hard bait that’s close to that color to start off with because the natural forage in that lake or that ecosystem is going to be close to that bottom color for camouflage,” Brinker said.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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