Weighing the Pros and Cons of These Classic Lures
By Ben Team
Many lures have a narrow range of efficacy. Floating frogs, for example, are often extremely productive for catching black bass, but they are unlikely to fill your stringer with crappies, bluegill or catfish.
By contrast, other lures catch virtually anything that swims. Inline spinnerbaits are a great example. Perhaps most commonly used to elicit strikes from cold-water species like trout and salmon, they also catch stripers, walleyes, perch, pike, muskies and other warm water fish. They even work for saltwater species.
Bass anglers, though, have a love-hate relationship with inline spinnerbaits, despite their effectiveness. Yeah, they work, but they also cause a lot of headaches.
The Basic Components of Inline Spinnerbaits
While the details vary from lure to lure, most inline spinners feature the same basic parts:
- A small piece of stiff wire with an eye formed at each end. This forms the skeleton of the lure.
- A small blade that sits immediately behind the leading eye.
- Some inline spinnerbaits use a clevis to attach the spinning blade to the central wire, while the blades of others attach directly to the wire.
- A small weight is attached to the middle of the wire, and serves as the lure’s “body.”
- Most – but not all – inline spinnerbaits feature a bead between the lead weight and the trailing eye.
- A treble hook is attached to the lure’s trailing eye. Often, this hook is “dressed” with a bit of hair or marabou.
Some inline spinners are painted fluorescent colors, while others bear a metallic finish. They vary greatly in size, and feature a variety of different blade types (French and inline spinner blades are the most common). The weight on some baits is sometimes shaped and painted to look like a minnow, while others feature cone-shaped weights that don’t look like anything in particular.
You can swap out the various components of inline spinnerbaits just as you would a traditional “safety pin” spinnerbait. However, you must match the blade size and style carefully to the lure’s body, as these lures may stop performing correctly when rigged in an unbalanced fashion.
Inline spinners are flat out effective – they catch fish. It’s not clear whether this is because of the fish-attracting flash they create or due to the minnow shaped silhouette as they whip through the water, but that’s hard to worry about when you’re dragging up fish after fish.
In addition to the rod-bending results they often generate, inline spinners are versatile lures that can be fished several different ways. Most anglers simply cast the lures out and retrieve them directly to the boat or shore, but you can also yo-yo them back like a jig to help tempt finicky feeders. You can also try to retrieve the lure just under the surface of the water, which often creates a wake that draws fish to the lure.
Because most inline spinnerbaits feature an unprotected treble hook, they tend to snag every weed, blade of grass and log in the lake. This isn’t a huge problem for trout and salmon anglers working rocky streams, but it can be extremely frustrating for bass anglers, who must often target areas of thick cover.
You can swap out the treble hook on an inline spinner for a single, weedless hook, but this may reduce your hook to strike ratio. Additionally, care must be used when swapping out the hooks to keep the lure properly balanced.
Another “problem” associated with inline spinnerbaits is their tendency to catch small bass and non-target species. Some anglers take this in stride, while others try to avoid the problem by upsizing the inline spinner used. This does not mean that small inline spinners will not catch large bass – they absolutely will – but there are better baits to use when targeting lunkers.
What about you? Do you tie use an inline spinner at every opportunity, or avoid them at all costs? Personally, I love them when fishing for rainbow trout in streams, but I usually prefer safety-pin-style spinnerbaits when targeting bass in ponds and lakes. Let us know how you feel in the comments below, or on Twitter.