Tackle & Techniques – Spinnerbait

Tackle & Techniques – Spinnerbait

Feb 24, 2015

Casey Ashley on Spinnerbait Tackle

By Mike Pehanich

Small Waters Fishing’s Tackle & Techniques series, (a.k.a. Outfit Matches & Misfits) series brings the analysis of top pros and angling authorities to rod, reel and line selection for specific techniques. More important than our experts’ specific tackle choices is the reasoning and logic they bring to the subject, enabling you to make your own tackle choices and adjustments based on sound angling – and often scientific — principles. Here Bassmaster Elite Series pro Casey Ashley outlines his choices in spinnerbait tackle.

To paraphrase a talented country singer, the spinnerbait “will catch ‘em shallow, it will catch ‘em deep…in open water or the back of a creek.”

Come to think of it, that country singer is Bassmaster Elite Series angler Casey Ashley, and his best known recording – “Thank God I’m a Fisherman!” — is about himself and not the spinnerbait specifically. Spend some serious time on the water with him, however, and you’ll find the two are almost inseparable!


Traditionally, bass anglers have regarded the spinnerbait as a bread-and-butter bait, as basic to their angling arsenal as whole grains are to the food group pyramid!

Its components, however, trace back to two more primary lure types — the skirted jig and the spinner.

To catch fish consistently with a spinnerbait is to step beyond simplicity and to learn the nuances of selection and presentation that, indeed, will enable you to catch ‘em shallow or catch ‘em deep…to fish it like a jig, to burn it across the top of a bed of grass, to slow roll it along a rock strewn point…or anything else you need it to do.

But all that knowledge presupposes the kind of sound tackle selection that will bring out the best in this versatile lure.

 Casey’s tackle logic

Casting a spinnerbait to blowdowns, rocky turns, subtle pockets and points and the like is basic “open water” fishing in Casey Ashley’s vernacular.

Rod selection

Generally, a spinnerbait is a fairly large lure, and even  a downsized version tends to fish “large” for its size. Most spinnerbait blades create a generous amount of turbulence and resistance. Furthermore, spinnerbait hooks are generally large. It takes a forceful hookset to drive one into a bass’s mouth.

Fish it with a pool cue rod, however, and you are headed for disappointment.

“The key is a rod with a good tip,” says Ashley, who prefers a rod that tapers rapidly in the last 20 percent or so of its length. “I’m using a seven-foot (7-0) medium heavy rod with a fast tip that ‘gives’ with very little pressure.”

Exception: The only time Casey replaces his 7-0 medium heavy spinnerbait rod with another is “in close quarters,” casting to close objects with overhanging limbs. “If I’m in summertime patterns and the water is real dirty and I am fishing creeks or rivers, way in the backs of coves where the water gets really skinny, I will use a 6-6 medium heavy rod,” he explains. “I’m in tight quarter, around bushes. It’s just easier to hit your target, and you aren’t hitting limbs behind you. But when I can use the seven-footer, I will.”

Rods of choice: Casey’s primary spinnerbait rod today is the new Quantum EXO EXC706F, a 7-0 medium heavy rod with a fast tapered tip. When we fished on Table Rock Lake, he employed a similar Quantum Smoke rod (SKC706F) as well as a 7-0 cork-handled Quantum Tour Edition model he had used during the 2011 season.

"You don't want a burner reel! Not for this!" says Casey Ashley, who opts for a 6.6:1 baitcasting reel for most of his spinnerbait fishing, though he will occasionally use a 5.3:1 cranking reel of slow his presentation further.

His choice for “close quarters” is the Quantum EXO EXC666F, a 6-6 medium heavy fast-tapered model.

Reel selection

He chooses a baitcasting reel with a 6.6:1 gear ratio for his spinnerbait work.

“You don’t want a ‘burner’ reel…not for this!” he says. “If I get a fast retrieve reel – and this is me personally – I get to fishing too fast and I am not fishing effectively.”

When cold or other conditions call for slowing down even more, he may opt for a slower ‘crankbait’ reel in the 5.3:1 gear ratio range “just so I won’t get to fishing too fast.”

Reels of Choice: His current workhorse reel is the Quantum EXO EX100SPT 6.6:1 gear ratio baitcaster, a 100 series reel. He still fishes the Quantum Smoke SL150SPT, too. His “slow down” reel is the Quantum EXO EX100PPT 5.3:1.


For shallow “open water fishing,” he uses only monofilament line – 17-pound Berkley Trilene XT, a tough abrasion-resistant mono suited to fishing near cover.

Why not fluorocarbon?

"Keeping it simple" for spinnerbait fishing begins with gearing up with the right match or rod, reel and line.

“Fluorocarbon has no stretch,” he explains. “It is like a souped-up monofilament. That’s what it is. It’s not quite braid, but the stretch is gone. And when you are in tight quarters, that mono has enough stretch so when a fish hits your spinnerbait, he takes the whole thing – instead of feeling you first!”

Exception: While 17-pound monofilament is his exclusive choice for shallow cover-oriented fishing, he will use fluorocarbon to fish a spinnerbait on deep structure. “You don’t have a lot of line out when you are fishing shallow cover, and, if you use fluorocarbon, you will pull the bait right out of his mouth. But when I am fishing deep water, deep brush 10 to 20 feet down, I can get away with fluorocarbon. The more line you have out, the more ‘give’ you have. And with fluorocarbon, I get a heck of a lot more sensitivity!”

For burning a spinnerbait near the surface, he always uses monofilament. No exceptions.

Line: Berkley Trilene XT, 17-pound test.


 Also see  Casey’s Slow Rollin’ Spinnerbait Tips. Includes exclusive SWF video!

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