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As an angler for most of my life, I had always heard about night fishing and how much fun it could be, but whenever I went out for a round of fishing under the moonlight, I felt that I should be having more success than I was. The problem was that I was treating night fishing just as I treated daytime fishing, so I went on a hunt to find the best spinnerbait to help me catch more fish at night.
So, what is the best spinnerbait for night fishing? The main factors to consider here are color, size, and quality. In general, darker colors tend to work best at night, but the color you’ll want to use will also depend on how much light the moon is creating that night. Most sizes of spinnerbait will work just fine if you stay within a half-ounce to a full-ounce the lure should be effective. Finally, quality is always a major factor when it comes to the dependability of your tackle, and this is no exception with night fishing.
During times of low visibility, bass will rely on senses other than sight to pick up on their next possible prey. What I discovered was that spinnerbait was one of the most effective forms of tackle to use at night. With a big bushy tail and most notably, the vibration from a spinning blade, spinnerbait is a tried and true way to slay bass when fishing at night.
What Color to Use?
Color is an often-debated topic, especially at night. Some anglers will tell you color makes no difference at night, while others are strictly in the black/blue camp. Ask another angler, and they may tell you how well white lures were working the other night.
There are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to color, but in the end, you’re going to want to experiment with different setups to see what works best.
One of those guidelines is that the color of your spinnerbait should depend on how much of the moon is showing. If it’s a bright night, you want to use a darker color, such as black or blue, to create a silhouette against the bright background that allows the bass to be able to see the bait.
What matters at night is contrast. At night, the brightest area is the sky, so if a fish is looking up the color that will create the most contrast on the bright sky is a darker color, like black. You also want to try and create some contrast with the colors on the lure, so no matter which direction the fish is looking, they will notice a silhouette around the lure.
When the moon is out, metal blades will make more of an impact by reflecting the moonlight. This would include copper, chrome, nickel and gold blades.
With sightlines limited at nighttime, scent can play a more pivotal role in hooking a big bass. You can add scent depending on what kind of trailer you use on the end of your hook.
What Size to Use?
Some anglers have success using as small as a ½-ounce lure, while others will go as high as 1-ounce. The sweet spot that you’ll hear a lot of pro anglers have success with is a ¾-ounce paired with a #5 or #6 blade.
The weight of your spinnerbait is measured by head size and usually will depend on how deep you’re fishing, if not purely due to personal preference. For fishing just off the shore, stick with between a 3/8 and ½-ounce head. As you start to get deeper you will most likely want to go with a ¾-ounce head at a minimum, and up to 1-ounce for deeper depths.
One of the reasons for a more substantial weight is that it gives the angler the ability to better feel the lure hit bottom. Bouncing your spinnerbaits off the bottom, or off structure is a tried and true technique for eliciting a quick strike.
Blade Type and Size
There are three main blade types for spinnerbaits, which were all conceived by John Hildebrandt in the late 1800’s:
The Colorado is the roundest of the three blade types, the Willow is the opposite as a slender spoon meant for high speeds, while the Indiana finds a middle ground between the other two and is the most prevalent of the three blades for all types of fishing.
The most popular blade for night fishing, though, is the Colorado, which can be useful in a variety of sizes depending on the weight of the rest of the lure. A 1-ounce head will likely be paired up with a #8 blade, while a 3/8-ounce head may be paired with a #4 blade.
The reason the Colorado blade is a popular nighttime choice is due to its larger and rounder size, which is more effective at causing vibrations and moving more water than other blade sizes. Due to its full, round design, the Colorado has more drag, or “thump” when retrieved. When a hungry bass can’t see as well, the vibrations caused by this thumping in the water tells him that his next meal is right around the corner.
Beyond the weight of the lure, and the blade size, there is also the arm size of the spinnerbait to consider. Luckily, this is an area where most every bass angler agrees; the short-arm style is easily the winner. The largest arm size you may see recommended is a medium, and that will likely only come along with a 1-ounce or larger sized head.
The short-arm setup is used primarily for two reasons:
- A shorter arm causes increased vibration, which more effectively attracts bass in low-light.
- The short arm places the blade just above the hook, making it easier to land strikes.
Using Noise to Attract Bass
One aspect of night fishing that we haven’t discussed yet is using noise to attract the bass. There are two different ways of looking at noise, such as a rattler, in your night-fishing setup.
The first, is that the rattler does help to attract the attention of bass and could lead to more strikes than a conventional lure. However, the other side of the coin is that the older, larger bass (read: trophy bass) that you may be targeting are a little too smart for a rattler, which may sound inauthentic and will never elicit a second thought.
With that said, plenty of quality bass fishermen will tell you that rattlers work wonders. Others will tell you the opposite. My thoughts are that it can’t hurt to toss in a spinnerbait with a rattler to change things up, especially if it’s been a dry night up until that point.
In springtime, big bass are often feeding on crawfish in the warmer, shallower water, so if you’re out on the water during the spring, focus your casts near the shoreline with a crawdad trailer.
You can also never go wrong with a long plastic worm as a trailer. Ribbon tail worms like the Zoom Magnum have been responsible for more hooked fish than the bass community would like to admit.
In the summertime, the big bass shift their focus to shad schools so try throwing on a shad as a trailer in the summer months and see how that works compared to the more conventional options. The warmer months are when a trailer may not be as necessary, so try fishing without one at first to allow the fish to focus on the action of your spinnerbait.
Trailers can sometimes throw off the natural action of your bait, and cause for a more lumbering retrieve. This can be especially effective in darker water, or colder water that may require an extra nudge to the bass. In clear, warmer waters though, you may be better off not using a trailer at all.
Using Trailer Hooks
In addition to trailers like worms and swimbait to lure the bass, trailer hooks can be hugely beneficial for increasing your hook ratio if you have been experiencing a lot of strikes but haven’t been landing many.
A trailer hook is an additional hook that has a rubber eyelet on top allowing it to fit securely on the end of your first hook. You can never have too many small advantages when it comes to fishing.
When buying a trailer hook, be sure to match the color of the hook to the color of your spinnerbait skirt. This will allow the rig to blend together.
Best Spinnerbait for Night Fishing
Strike King makes some of the best spinnerbaits, and it’s no surprise that they make multiple excellent options for night fishing. While you can’t go wrong with most of the Strike King lure meant specifically for night fishing, here is my favorite.
Strike King KVD Night Spinnerbaits
The KVD here, of course, stands for Kevin VanDam, the all-time money leader in professional bass fishing. There are a few aspects I love about this lure. The first is that the blade is made of a bright metal which reflects beautifully off the night moon. The second is the all-black design of the head, skirt, and hook, which also contrasts nicely with the blade. The last aspect that stands out about this lure is that the blade is in front of the hook, making the bass come over the top of the hook to get at the blade.
Final Thoughts on the Best Spinnerbaits for Bass Fishing
One factor to consider no matter what brand of spinnerbait you’re looking at is the placement of the blade in relation to the hook. Most short-arm spinnerbaits will have the blade situated right over the hook, which helps to ensure that the fish gets hooked as they go after the action of the blade.
However, on some spinnerbaits, the blade is located just behind the hook. This can result in many frustrating strikes that don’t result in hooked fish.
When it comes to selecting spinnerbaits for night fishing, focus on quality and reputation and don’t be afraid to pay for a premium product. While there aren’t many things worse than losing a brand-new lure that you paid top dollar for, one of the exceptions is losing a trophy fish because your tackle failed.
Spinnerbaits are the perfect choice for night fishing, so you really cannot go wrong when picking through the various sizes, shapes, and colors. Every spinnerbait is going to thump its way through the water, piquing the interest of big bass, hungrily searching water they wouldn’t usually visit during the day. With full, flowing skirts and vibrating blades, those hungry bass don’t stand a chance against the allure of a sexy spinnerbait.