Fishing bass with a spinnerbait

How to Tune a Spinnerbait


A spinnerbait is one of the longest standing, best bass catchers of all-time. When really looking at them, they’re not super realistic as compared to a lot of the lifelike baits on the market these days. But the flash and vibration of a spinnerbait still lure in fish by the millions each year.  

One of the big issues that arise with a bait that gets this many bites, bass often bend the wire on the fight. It’s imperative that you then tune the spinnerbait again to ensure that it runs correctly and doesn’t kick-up to one side, or spin underwater.  

And you can also tune a spinnerbait by bending the arm up away from the hook, or down towards the hook so that you can fish it slower or faster through the water column. These are the two main reason why you should know how to tune a spinnerbait, so let’s dive into the how now.  

Tuning a spinnerbait for fishing bass

Tune it to run true 

A spinnerbait runs true when it’s tracking through the water with the blades directly above the hook— you want the bait to be upright in a perfect vertical line. If the lure is kicking up and running to one side, you can bend the blade arm left or right to correct this.  

Basically, holding the line tie of the spinnerbait between your finger and thumb, you should be able to close one eye and hide the hook behind the wire of the blade arm. If the arm is too far to the right to do this, bend it to the left. If it’s too far to the left, bend it to the right. It’s that simple.  

If you want the bait to go slower, or ride higher... 

You can also tune a spinnerbait to go slower, by creating more resistance from the blades. To do this, bend the arm up slightly, to create more space between the hook and the blades. This will raise the blades up so that they catch more water and create more resistance, which will allow you to fish the bait slower at the same depth. This is important in muddy water for instance, when the fish need more time to find the bait.  

Doing this also allows you to fish the bait higher in the water, on a slower retrieve. This is called riding high, versus slow rolling like in the previous example. A situation where you might want to do this is when bass are feeding up, but the water is could and you don’t want to have to reel the bait really quickly to keep it up near the surface.  

The adverse happens if you pinch the bend of the arm, and get the blades down closer to the hook. In doing this, you’re making the bait more streamlined and lessening the resistance of the blade. The less resistance, the deeper you can fish the bait, without having to reel it super slow.  

You might want to do this for instance if you’re fishing submerged vegetation. Say you’re fishing in 10-feet of water, with submerged hydrilla topping out at 4-feet. You want to get your spinnerbait down into the grass but want to cover water faster than you’d be able to while slow rolling the bait. This is the perfect time to tune your bait like this so that you can fish it deeper, faster.  

Fishing bass with a spinnerbait

A word of caution 

Be careful when tuning a spinnerbait, it’s better to do it too little to start with than too much. The reason you want to be careful is that you are slowly weakening a spinnerbait the more you bend the arm.  

It’s the same principle that you use to bend a wire back and forth until it breaks, if you don’t have wire cutters handy. For anyone who’s never done this, essentially if you just keep bending a wire, it will eventually heat up and break. Though a spinnerbait arm is bent repeatedly over a longer period of time, the same principle holds true.  

The thinner wires typically break faster, the thicker ones take a little longer on average. But the more you bend it, the higher your risk of breaking it. So aim to tune a spinnerbait sparingly. And it’s a good idea to start over with a new spinnerbait once you’ve had a few fish destroy one and had to bend it back multiple times. 

Spinnerbait fishing for bass

Whether you’re looking to straighten up your retrieve or adjust the speed and height at which you can fish it through the water column, it’s important to know how to tune a spinnerbait. But do so sparingly, and you’ll get a better action and longer life out of each bait.  

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