There was a time when the spinnerbait was included in nearly everyone’s list of Top 5 Baits for Fall Bass. Sadly, most lists that have shown up in recent years seem to showcase square-billed cranks, jigs, lipless cranks, swimbaits and topwaters of various types—with the spinnerbait being conspicuously absent.
Certainly, the former lures have earned their reputations as top-picks for shallow bass on a pre-winter feeding spree. But the flashy metal spinnerbait should be among them. So, if bass fishermen can’t see their way to including the spinnerbait in a Top 5 list, perhaps it’s time we expand the list to the Top 6.
Bass anglers everywhere look forward to the time when days are shorter, the weather is cooler and water temps are lower because they know these factors trigger largemouths to leave their deep, summer haunts. Instinct tells them it’s time to invade the shallows where gangs of forage fish, which are also doing their best to fuel up before the honest-to-goodness cold arrives, create a target-rich environment.
That’s what makes a spinnerbait such as the Colorado Willow Spinner-Shad (below) so effective. Multiple blades, a pulsating skirt and a writhing curly- or paddle-tail trailer make the lure appear to be a small ball of baitfish, fooling a bass into thinking it can score a 3- or 4-for-1 deal. A white or light shade resembles minnows or shad, but don’t discount blue or firetiger if ’gills or yellow perch swim the waters you fish.
Slow-roll the spinnerbait along the edges of weedbeds, or in some cases, what’s left of them. And be sure to hit boat docks (casting all the way to the bank), fallen trees along the shoreline, as well as isolated cover—weed clumps, rocks, stumps and such.
Remember, too, how well topwaters work this time of year, and don’t be shy about making high-speed retrieves that leave a wake on the surface, especially on days that are sunny and calm. Do this over green weeds, or sunken brush or trees.
While mild temperatures and golden, drenching light angling in from a sun that’s low on the horizon form the “picture postcard” version of fall fishing, there are plenty of days when the weather can take bass out of their active mode. Fishing pressure can likewise put them down.
Those are the times when many anglers turn to finesse tactics with something like a straight-tail worm to save a trip. But when you think about it, what better finesse bait is there than an original Senko?
The lure’s leisurely, fluttering descent on a weightless hook entices finicky bass hanging around docks, weeds or shallow brush just as well this time of year as it does in the summer. Rig it Texas- or wacky-style on a 3/0 offset, light-wire worm hook, toss it with medium to medium-heavy spinning gear and let it go to work.
If the fish are holding a bit deeper, switch to a slightly heavier hook, or pinch a small split shot or two onto the hook shank to facilitate a marginally faster fall. Just don’t overpower the lure; finesse is still the goal here.
Here, too, think about your topwater fishing. When a bass misses your hollow-body frog or buzzbait, immediately offer a weightless Senko in its place. You do it during the warm months; don’t quit the habit just because the weather has changed.
Shallow cranks, jerkbaits, jigs and the others are excellent offerings for autumn bass. But don’t ignore the trusty spinnerbait or unlikely soft stickbait. They’ll add a dimension to your late-season fishing that will definitely help you round out your year.
This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s