It’s that time of year, where the waters are about as cold as they’re going to get. In the coming months, the ice will start to thaw for some and the frigid waters will begin to warm for others, albeit slowly at first. But, it doesn’t take much for the fish to start to feel it, and then pretty soon the bass will be fattening up in preparation for the spawn.
As we begin to move into the pre-spawn here in the south, slow rolling a spinnerbait is an excellent technique to hone in on. If you’ve never fished a spinnerbait much, it’s a great bait for cold water, even more so the case for cold and stained or muddy water in particular. So today, we’re going to look at the basic ins and outs of slow rolling a spinnerbait, what blade combinations to use,
as well as where to look and more.
The right spinnerbait blades
When it comes to slow rolling a spinnerbait in cold water, the right blades are key. Colorado blades or a large willow leaf blade both give off a lot of vibration, which helps the fish find the bait in low visibility situations like muddy water or on cloudy days. The flash of the blades also helps the bass locate the bait. But there’s another advantage to using the large willow leaf blades and the Colorado blades as well, namely that they offer a good bit of resistance. In cold water, bass don’t like to move very fast. So the slower you can reel your bait, the better. Big blades with lots of resistance help you to slow your bait down.
The right rod
I like to use a 7’ medium heavy casting rod typically when slow rolling a spinnerbait. If there’s a lot of heavy cover like wood or grass present, I’ll move up to a 7’ 3” medium heavy rod for a little more fighting power. But the key here is the ‘medium heavy’ side of it. You want a rod that you can make accurate casts with, as the bass will typically be sitting near cover. We’ll talk a little more about cover in a minute.
The right reel
Pairing that rod with a 7:1 gear ratio reel works well for me, and then I simply slow my retrieve down. You can back down to a slower reel, to help you fish the bait slower. But whenever I go down to a 5:1 gear ratio reel, I often end up losing fish because I can’t then keep up with them during the fight. So, in my opinion you’re better off using a ‘normal’ speed reel around 7:1 and just forcing yourself to slow your retrieve down. You simply want to feel the blades turning as you reel. As long as you can feel the thump of the blade, you’re reeling fast enough.
Depending on the water clarity and cover, I will sometimes use fluorocarbon and sometimes braided line. If I’m fishing in muddy water for instance, I like to use braid because it is the most sensitive and I’ll be able to feel my blade spinning better. This helps me know how slow I can reel the bait. But in clear water with sparse cover, the fluorocarbon is necessary since the braided line stands out like a sore thumb. And, fluorocarbon is still pretty sensitive, especially compared to monofilament which has a lot of stretch. So the rule of thumb: braided line when the cover or water clarity allow for it and fluorocarbon the rest of the time.
Where to look
Bass in cold water like cover. Cover, like logs, stumps, rocks, vegetation and brush piles, offer great places for a bass to setup camp and wait for prey to pass by. These ambush points are what you want to target when slow rolling a spinnerbait. Try to throw your bait a little pass the cover and then reel it slowly right alongside the wood, rock or vegetation. Sometimes, multiple casts at the same piece of cover are necessary, especially in particularly cold water. But as the pre-spawn begins to heat up, the fish will become less lethargic and attack on the first cast.
When slow rolling a spinnerbait, having the right blade combination is critical. Be sure to use Colorado blades or a big willow leaf blade. These blades will put off a lot of flash and vibration, as well as help slow your bait down. Fishing slow is key while the water is still cold, and be sure to focus on getting your bait close to the cover as well. Select a medium heavy action rod that you can make accurate casts with, and use braided line when possible for added sensitivity and fluorocarbon whenever the water clarity calls for it. Then, just slow down. Fish the bait as slow as you can while still feeling the blades turn, and you’ll be able to unlock a whole new technique capable of helping you get bit in less than ideal situations.