Spinner Blade Basics

By Lance Valentine

Countless walleye have been caught on crawler harnesses over the decade, and they continue to catch walleye to this day. Walleye spinner rigs are simple; 2 or 3 snelled hooks, some colored beads, a clevis and a spinner blade. They can be fished unweighted over weeds, with inline or snap weights for suspended walleye or behind bottom bouncers for walleye hugging bottom, talk about versatility! But, as simple as this rig is paying attention to the spinner blade can help you catch more fish. Let’s look at the factors you need to consider when picking a blade for you crawler harness.

1) Size and Shape: The first option we need to consider, the size and shape of your spinner blade is very important. In simple terms, try to “match the hatch” to what the walleye are eating. Prey like shad mean a wider, larger blade while walleye eating shiner will prefer a longer, thinner blade. Figure out what your walleye are eating and pick a blade size and shape that looks close. Bigger blades are a good choice in deep or dirty water, in low light conditions and in big waves.

2) Finish: Flash is a big part of the attraction of a spinner blade, so think about the best finish for the conditions. Clear water calls for silver and gold finishes most days while some cloud cover makes gold or copper a great choice. Recently painted backs on blades have become popular, with both green and pink anti-freeze finishes being top producers.

3) Color: Usually added to just the front of the spinner blade, color can be important, but I worry about getting the right finish first, then worry about color (more on that later!). Colors can be anything under the rainbow, and every walleye fisherman has their favorites! I like lighter colors in open water to mimic the flash that shiners, smelt, shad and other open water baitfish give off. When fishing close to the bottom I tend to choose darker colors, since bait that lives on the bottom is generally darker colored than open water bait is.

4) Vibration and Flash: Two factors that don’t get enough consideration by anglers when picking a blade. Wide blades, like the Colorado style creates little flash and a low frequency “thump” vibration. Conversely, Willow Leaf blades create a LOT of flash and vibrate at a high frequency. Add in all the other available spinner blade shapes and an angler can create any flash/vibration pattern they need for the conditions they are facing.

Here’s a “Pro Tip” to think about when considering finish and color. If walleye are being hooked on the back hook of your crawler harness, they are coming from behind to eat it. Pay attention to the finish on the back of your blade. If walleye are on the front hook, they are attacking from the side or front, so the color on the front of your blade is more important than the finish!

Put a little thought into your spinner blade selection next time you are fishing crawler harnesses and you will see your success increase!

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