When To Use A Spinnerbait For Fishing? (3 Things You Should Know)


by Robert Ceran

Spinnerbaits have been used by bass anglers for decades, and continue to be among the most effective bass lures to this day. But if you’re new to fishing, you might be wondering, when to fish a spinnerbait?

Here’s the quick answer:

Spinnerbaits can be used to catch fish all year round, but are most effective during spring and fall, when bass are feeding on schools of shad in shallow water.

The best days to use spinnerbaits are cloudy days, windy days with choppy water, or any time with muddy water. Spinnerbaits are also excellent nighttime lures, due to the strong vibrations their blades give off in the water.

Now let’s dig deeper into this topic, and discuss in full detail when to use spinnerbait.

When to use spinnerbait over the course of the year

Spinnerbaits can work well to catch fish all year round, and many bass anglers throw them 12 months a year. Having said that, spring and autumn are best for using spinnerbaits.

This is due to the fact that bass actively chase schools of shad in shallow water in early spring and autumn, and whenever you observe a school of baitfish at this time of the year, it’s worth fishing a spinnerbait in the same area to trigger strikes from bass.

When to use spinnerbait for bass is thus affected by the types of that baitfish that they are keyed in on, and you should always try to mimic the colors of their preferred forage with the blade color of your spinnerbait.

For example, if bass are currently hunting shad, use shad colored blades, which will trigger their feeding behavior. The great thing about spinnerbaits is that they also work well as reaction baits, and can trigger bites even when bass are not feeding actively. 

Do spinnerbaits work in winter?

Yes, absolutely. A great way to catch big bass in winter is by slow rolling a spinnerbait in deep water. But keep in mind that it’s best to do this with the help of a fish finder, since you need to find the spots where bass are holding during the cold season.

Also remember to slow down your retrieval speed, since bass tend to be sluggish during the winter, and you want to give them enough time to catch your bait.

Do spinnerbaits work in the summer?

Yes, especially during the right weather conditions – cloudy days, windy days, or rainy days. All of these have in common that water visibility is lower than usual, which is ideal for using spinnerbaits, since their blades give off strong vibrations underwater. These vibrations draw in bass even if they can’t see the lure.

Since spinnerbaits are semi-weedless lures (due to the wire with the blades covering the single hook, which protects it from getting snagged too easily), they can also be fished right in the middle of heavy cover, such as grass or laydowns.

The only time when spinnerbaits don’t really work well in summer is during stable high pressure weather periods, with blue skies and sunny weather.

If you’re thinking about getting a rod for fishing with spinnerbaits, check out our article: what is the best spinnerbait rod?

What time of day is best to use spinnerbaits?

Spinnerbaits can be used all day round, and there is no particular time of day when they perform better. Whenever you fish in a new lake or river, it’s a good idea to start by throwing spinnerbaits.

If there are any bass around, they will tend to draw them in with their flashy blades and vibrations, and you’ll quickly notice fish following your bait or swiping at it. Then, if they don’t want to eat the spinnerbaits you’re throwing, start experimenting with other lures to see what works best that day.

Can you use spinnerbaits at night?

Yes, absolutely. Spinnerbaits are among the best lures for night fishing because their blades give off strong vibrations in the water, which attracts bass that can readily sense the vibrations with their lateral line organ.

For night time fishing, throw a spinnerbait with a single large colorado blade, which creates a lot of resistance during retrieval, and sends out very strong vibrations.

So during lure retrieval, the vibration of the blades will attract bass to approach and investigate, and when they get close enough, they’ll catch sight of the skirt and the trailer, which will often trigger them to bite.

In general, it’s best to use dark colors for the blades and skirt for night time spinnerbait fishing, such as black, dark purple, or brown.

However, if there’s a full moon, you can also switch to gold or chrome blades, which will give off flashes of light by reflecting the moonlight.

Some anglers say these are the very best conditions for night time bass fishing, especially during the dog days of summer, when it’s hard to get a single bite during the whole day.

What weather is best for using spinnerbaits?

The best weather for using spinnerbaits are bad weather conditions, which include the following:

  • Cloudy days
  • Windy days
  • Rainy days

In general, spinnerbaits work best in weather conditions with low light, or with a choppy water surface. All of these weather patterns have in common that water visibility is reduced, which probably makes it harder for baitfish to detect predators such as bass creeping up on them.

Because of this, bass tend to hunt much more actively, which explains why spinnerbaits work so well on days like this.

One of the very best times to fish spinnerbaits is on windy days with choppy water. On days like that, you should actively seek out spots with rough water, and cast your lure parallel to the wind.

Great places to do that are points, or tributary creeks where the wind is blowing into the creek mouth.

Due to the fact that spinnerbaits produce such strong vibrations underwater (with their blades wriggling during retrieval), they also make one of the best lures for cloudy water, from lightly stained after a short rainfall, all the way to water that’s so muddy it looks like coffee.

Bass have a keen sense of vibration, and will actively approach objects that are emitting erratic vibrations.

But keep in mind that it’s better to slow down your retrieval speed during these conditions, since you want to give the fish more time to approach and investigate the lure.

Final remarks

This concludes our article on when to throw a spinnerbait, and hopefully this has given you a sense of the best times to use this highly effective lure. Tight lines and see you on the water!

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