It no secret that the “dog days of summer” can be some of the toughest fishing conditions during the year. Bass are deep or sticking to shady cover, temps are well above 85, and a full day in the sun with very few bites can make an angler of any experience level hot under the collar. But there is a proven way to reverse that affect: Night fishing. TRC Director Eddie Endicott has been doing just that for years, chasing big smallmouth at night on Dale Hollow. His weapon of choice? A tried and true classic, the spinner bait.
“Fishing at night during the summer months can be some of the best fishing of the year. It's cooler, less boat traffic, and Bass will readily take a bait,” says Endicott and his photos prove it. “One of the best methods for night time Bass fishing is using a spinnerbait. All Bass species will take a spinnerbait. And you can cover a lot of water as well as any depth with one.”
Let’s break down all the aspects of the spinnerbait from blade selection, weights, colors, etc. to help fine tune your nighttime fishing attack.
Blades: The Thump is what you Want!
I would recommend these blades, but each has its place. And the colors would depend on the conditions. I normally run chrome or gold, but if it is a black night with no moon, I would choose black blades. I feel a full moon is the is the best time to fish with a spinnerbait.
-Colorado= This is my number one choice. They give out the most vibration (or thump). This is the best for drawing attention to your spinnerbait.
-Indiana= Gives off a decent amount of vibration, but not as much as a Colorado. They do have less drag than a Colorado so, they are good about not fatiguing you and making it easier to plane your spinnerbait. (I will get into planing out a spinnerbait later).
-Willow= I personally don't use them at night. But they are good if you are targeting depths of 1-10 feet. They have a lot of flash but little vibration compared to the others.
There are a multitude of head designs out there. I'm only going to focus on three types, Rounded Head, Minnow Head, and Spade.
-Rounded= This is my first choice. I feel it is the utility vehicle of head designs. They are great around rock, wood, and somewhat grass.
-Minnow Head= Are the best around grass, but terrible in wood and rock. The flat sides will let the spinnerbait fall on its side and let the hook hang up anytime it encounters structure.
-Spade= A good design for wood and grass, but it will hang up in rock. the design will wedge itself in rock a lot, but usually glide over wood and grass easily.
In choosing a hook I like the longer shanked hooks. It will put the hook at the end of the skirt creating more hook ups. Now as far as the size, I base it on the size of my trailer. Just as you would for Texas Rig worm. I want to get by with the smallest I can get away with. Larger the hook the harder it is for a Bass to engulf it. For the most part a 3/0- 4/0 will do.
Skirts: You can have it in any color you want…..
So long as its black. I don't get too caught up in skirt colors at night. All that you want to do is create a silhouette. The only time I would look at a different color is on a bright full moon night. I have had great success with white then.
Trailers: Not your typical rules
And I don't mean a trailer hook. I never run one because I bring spinnerbaits through all cover like a jig. I'm referring to a plastic/pork trailer.
- Color= Match your skirt or go the opposite. If I'm using a black spinnerbait I will use a black trailer most of the time. But I have ran a white trailer with good success.
-Type= It's a personal preference on type. But to me it's all about the thump. So, I use a swimbait with a spade paddle tail most of the time. Be prepared to go through a lot of trailers.
-Size= Remember, you are trying to get attention on to your spinnerbait. At night do not match the hatch. I commonly use a 4"-6" trailer to get a bigger silhouette, more thump, and it will make your spinnerbait more hang up free in wood and rock, due to the body of the trailer not allowing the bait to roll over.
Planing Out a Spinnerbait:
This to me is very important to do. I know you have seen a spinnerbait going through the water with the hook riding down underneath the skirt. This is caused, most of the time, due to the blade having more drag than the lure. Most of the time you can plane it out by using a trailer. The trailer will increase the drag on the lure, thus planing it out and aiding in more hook ups.
Weight: Know your depth to maximize results
This is totally dependent on the depth that you are targeting. Here are my recommendations:
1'-10'= 3/8-1/2 once.
10'-20'= 5/8-3/4 once
20'+= 1 once
I'm not going to go into detail on each technique that I use, because they are pretty straight forward. But I try to keep bottom contact with all.
-Steady Retrieve= This is my most commonly used method. Just a steady retrieve and stopping occasionally to keep bottom contact (Try a slower retrieve).
-Yo-Yo= You just pull it off the bottom, with your rod, and let the bait flutter back to the bottom (a short arm spinnerbait works best with this method).
-Stop and Go= This is kind of a variation of the other two. Steady retrieve it at a slightly faster retrieve and stop it every 6-10 handle cranks and let the bait flutter back down.
When retrieving a spinnerbait at night, before letting the bait flutter back to the bottom, pop it twice (Just as you would to dislodge a piece of grass) and hold on, because this will usually be when the strike will occur.
Like using a top water lure, always wait until the rod loads up before setting the hook (unless they knock slack into it).
Follow these guidelines when picking out your next spinnerbait for that night time fishing trip. Don’t get lured in by the branding of “night prowlers” and “midnight magic”. While those may work just fine, getting the exact blade and head shape for your water’s cover type and the right weight for the water column will produce the best results.
Written by Eddie Endicott and Edited by Brad Oswalt