Spinner Fishing Tips: Make The Most Out of Each Cast

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. It’s an old cliché that probably makes us roll our eyes when we hear it, but it also carries a lot of truth. But just how do you teach a man to fish?

It seems like there is an inherent luck element that plays a key role in whether or not you come back from a fishing trip with a cooler full of dinners or an empty cooler and a feeling of frustration. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that luck is the only factor at play.

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There are lots of techniques and many different strategies that one can use to try and improve how successful of an angler they are. Mastering these will help you make the most out of the time spent fishing and will make you more likely to bring in a fish with each cast.

We are going to discuss some spinner fishing tips so that those interested in learning this style of fishing or in improving their success rate can do so.

Take a look at what we’ve come up with, but as always join in on the conversation and let us know what tips you might have for those of us trying to get better at spinner fishing.

What Is Spinner Fishing?

Before going into specific tips and tricks we can use while spinner fishing, it is a good idea to go over exactly what this type of fishing is and what makes it different from other types of fishing. This way those who are new to this method can get an idea of what we’re talking about and can use the advice provided here most effectively.

Spinner Fishing

The main component of spinner fishing is the lure. The lure that is used comes with a blade attached to it in such a way that allows it to move freely in the water. So when you go spinner fishing you will cast your lure into the stream and then almost immediately after the lure hits the water you will begin to reel it back in.

By reeling it back in you will cause the free-hanging blade to swing around the lure. In other words, it will start spinning. The blades are usually made of some sort of reflective metal so that as it starts spinning in the water it will shine and shimmer, which draws the fish’s attention and makes it look like a piece of struggling bait.

It’s that simple. If you’re new to this style of fishing it may seem counter-productive to be constantly casting and recasting your lure, but this style of fishing does work and can actually be quite successful if done correctly.

Now, we will take a look at a few things you can do to make sure you are doing it correctly and to maximize your chances of being successful next time you’re out there.

Blade Style, Size, and Color Matter, Choose The Right One for You

It isn’t all about how cool the lure that you are going to use looks; instead, each lure serves a different purpose and is best for certain types of fishing. Let’s take a look at when each type of lure would be used so that you can make sure you have the right one or are using the one you have the right way.

Blade style

In general, there are seven different blade styles to choose from. They can be divided into groups that are appropriate for use in different situations. From these groups you can choose which is best for you; there isn’t much difference between each one outside of personal preference. In the first group you will find:

This is the shortest and fattest of all the blade styles and will run along the top part of the water. It is best for fishing in shallow water or for fish that normally move near the surface.

Blade style

In the next group of blade styles we have:

  • Indiana
  • Fluted
  • Turtle back
  • French

The Indiana is similar in shape to the Colorado, but it is a bit more elongated and not as round. These styles are considered intermediate lures and are good for fishing at medium depths or in rivers or streams with medium current levels. The French is much thinner and longer and starts to resemble those from the next group, which are:

  • Inline
  • Willow

These two blade styles are long and thin and therefore spin close to the wire shaft of the lure. This makes them ideal for deep water use or for use in rivers and streams that have swift currents.

Blade size

Now that we have a better idea of the different blade styles out there, let’s take a look at the blade sizes and examine what is the best use for each size. All blades are sized on a numerical system starting at 0 or 0/0 and ending with 10.

Size o is the smallest and size 10 is the biggest. Let’s break down the different sizes because you will need a different sized blade depending on the type of fish you are going after.

  • Size 0-3. These size blades are best for going after trout. They are small and spin quickly in the water and therefore are good for attracting this type of fish.
  • Size 3-6. If you are going after bass or pike you will want to look for a blade in this size range. It will be a bit bigger to more accurately reflect the type of food that these fish might be looking for.
  • Size 7 and up. Blades of these sizes are good for muskies and other larger fish. It is important to remember that the larger the blade the more resistance in the water, which means slower rotation.

Blade color

Once you head out to your local fishing gear store for a lure, you will quickly realize that not only do they come in all different styles and sizes, but they can also be found in all different colors. Most will come in some shade of metallic gold or silver so that they flash when light reaches them, which attracts fish.

Blade color

These are great when fishing in clear or lightly stained warm water. You will also see painted lures in all different colors. These are less flashy in the water, but they provide a more stark contrast and for this, they are good to use in warmer and dirtier water where light might not be as visible.

One thing to pay attention to is the material used to make the lure. Silver and gold will be the most reflective, but sometimes silver will be replaced with nickel in cheaper lures. To the average observer it might be difficult to spot the difference, but nickel is much less reflective in the water and will, therefore, be much less noticeable to fish.

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If you want something less flashy, nickel will be fine, but don’t think it will have the same properties as silver if that is what you are really looking for. When you go to pick up your lure, think about where you will be fishing and then try to find something that will best match this.

Vary Cast Location, Not Always in The Same Spot

This might seem like an easy tip, but it is one that many of us are guilty of not doing when we are spinner fishing, especially if we aren’t having a lot of luck that day. As we get distracted, we continue to cast the line back to the same spot we just pulled it in from.

This doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense when you think that the point of spinner fishing is to catch the fish’s eye and to draw it towards your lure. To help you visualize how to spread out your casting area, think of the area in front of you as a clock. Right in front of you is 12 o’clock and then on each periphery you have 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.

Try as best you can to start your cast at 3 o’clock and then move it one hour each time you send your lure into the water. When you reach 9 o’clock, you can either go back to 3 o’clock and repeat or simply reverse the order.

Vary Cast Location

Try to keep up with this type of routine. If you get a nibble or think one area is more productive, stick around and cast a few times in that zone, but once you realize there is nothing there it is important to keep searching the area.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get in The Water

If you are fishing from the shore it might be difficult for you to expand you casting area to something as wide as we just discussed. Low lying trees, brush, and plants can make it difficult to cast or can cause major problems when casting near them.

Well, a simple solution to this is to walk out a few feet into the stream or river where you are fishing.

Just moving little ways away from the shore will dramatically improve your angle and will allow you to freely cast over a much larger area. Is the water cold? Think about picking yourself up a pair of waders so that you can walk out into cold water protected.

Let The Lure Sink

A common thing to do when spinner fishing is to cast the lure and then immediately start reeling it back in the moment it makes contact with the water. This rarely makes sense, even if you are going after surface level fish.

You want to give the lure a chance to get down to the depth that the fish you are going after live in. It will depend on the size of the lure that you are using, but a general rule of thumb is that the lure will sink at a rate of about one foot per second.

Let The Lure Sink

So, to try and control how deep the lure is in the water, start counting as soon as it touches the water. If you’re not having luck at a certain depth, change it up every couple of casts so that you can be sure your lure is passing through the largest area, which increases the likelihood of it being seen by a fish.

Make Sure to Activate The Spinner

When you cast the lure out into the water and then wait for it to sink down to the appropriate depth it is important that you don’t just simply start reeling. The blade on the lure can sometimes get hung up and won’t actually spin.

A good way to avoid this and to make sure it is spinning properly while you are reeling in is to give the rod a nice tug towards you right after it reaches the appropriate depth and right before you start bringing it back in.

This should work, but as the lure approaches you and you can see it, make sure the blade is spinning okay. If it isn’t, pull it out and fix it, otherwise you will be hopelessly trying to spinner fish without a spinner.

Cast Upstream

This is a particularly important piece of advice if you are going after trout, but it is useful for all types of spinner fishing. All bait that fish will find naturally in the stream or river will be traveling downstream, so for your spinner to look most realistic, it is important to make sure it does the same thing.

A fish won’t bat an eyelash at a piece of bait that is moving upstream because it knows instinctively that this cannot occur. To help make your cast more effective and your lure more appealing simply cast upstream and allow your lure to be carried with the current back downstream as you reel it back in.

Cast Upstream

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Try to maintain the same pace as the current. If your lure is flying through the water way faster than the current, fish will become alarmed and will probably stay away from your lure. This might take some practice, but it will help you be more effective. Another tip when casting is to try and keep the angle of your cast low.

You want to get a “line drive” instead of a “pop fly.” Doing this will make your cast go further, it will help you avoid any overhanging trees or brush and it will also make it easier to judge the rate at which your lure sinks using the method we discussed earlier.

Know How to Set The Hook

Spinner fishing is different than other types of fishing in many ways, and this includes how you set the hook once you notice a fish is interested in your bait. Since the lure is traveling towards you almost all the time it will react differently when a fish hits it than something that is floating idly in the water.

When a fish goes after your lure the lure will actually stop or go away from you for a second. It is important to set the hook in this moment by trying to move it as horizontally as possible. Jerking up on the line might cause you to rip the lure out of the fish’s mouth, which will allow it to escape and will leave you disappointed.

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This is a bit different than other types of fishing because you might not feel the typical “pull” on the rod. Instead, the line will almost go slack and maybe move away from you.

This will only last a split second so it is important to be alert and waiting for that sensation so you can react accordingly. Once you master this, pulling in fish while spinner fishing will become a common occurrence.

Target Structures and Holes

This particular tip is not actually unique to spinner fishing but is still worth mentioning. Fish like to hang out near particular structures in the water. Weed lines, points, breaks, humps, rock piles, etc. are all examples of structures in the water where fish might be congregating.

Having a decent knowledge of the water that you are fishing is important to being able to fish the appropriate structures, but even if you are not familiar with the area you can figure out where might be best through observation.

Once you have located an attractive structure, it is important to develop a casting pattern that is in line with what we have already discussed. You want to make sure what when your lure passes through the area it appears to a fish like a natural piece of bait.

This means it needs to be at the right depth, be going the right speed and also be going in the right direction.

If a particular structure appears to be fruitful, cast all around it to try and attract fish from the area. Like we mentioned before, don’t simply cast always to the same spot.

What Advice Do You Have?

So as you can see, you can teach someone to fish. Many of you probably already knew this as you are not new to this sport, but experienced or not, we hope these tips have helped to shed some light on a few strategies you could be using to make your fishing experience more productive and more effective.

One key takeaway is that the way that you fish is dramatically affected by the type of fish you are going after and the type of water that you are going to be fishing in. Once you have this clear, it will be easier to determine things like the ideal blade size, style, and color. Other tips can be used in any situation.

What do you think of the tips we have provided here? Have you used any of them? Which seem most helpful? If you do something while spinner fishing that works for you but isn’t on the list, send it in so we can spread the word.

We hope this information has helped and that you will use it the next time you head out fishing. But more than this, we hope this information helps you bring in more fish because that’s what we all really want. Happy fishing!


Neal Walker

Neal Walker started fishing when he was 4. His father took him to the fishing trips all over USA and Canada. Later he took Angling Education Program at Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but most of his knowledge comes from experience. Now he takes his sons with him to share his passion.


  • I have been using this method to fish for trout in Southern Wisconsin recently, using Mepps Algia spinner baits and in my opinion,they are one of the best. Personally, I have been using sizes 0 -2 and have been particularly successful using red blades, chartreuse bodied spinners with silver blades and orange bodied spinners. This method is designed to trigger bites because of the aggressive instinct of the trout, not to mimic bait.

    • This is a great insight, Ben. Thank you. Keeping the sizes 0-2 will be very handy indeed when combined with red and silver blades as I’ve proven them based on experience. Trouts are really aggressive in nature, and this makes it very effective to catch them.

  • This is a great article, thanks, Neal. I’ve been fishing on and off for a few years now with various types of cranks and other creatures and I am reasonably successful, however, I just don’t seem to have any luck with spinner baits.

    So far, I’ve tried different depths, retrieval speeds, and a few different colors but have still never gotten a single bite. I think I’ll head out this weekend and try out some of your tips, wish me luck!

    • Spinner fishing, just like any other fishing or hunting method, takes practice. This is something that you will not master in a day. It takes patience, practice, and more patience. Let us know what happened on your last fishing adventure!

  • Well this won’t be the first time I would have been impressed by one of Neal’s articles! Neal really knows how to write some of the best fishing tips! I love how you detail them and then also encourage the reader to try it themselves in the most practical way! I have been try to learn fishing for sometime but I will not call it to be a great success (haha), after reading this article, I am so gonna try these new techniques and tricks on my next fishing trip! Kudos Neal! Thanks a lot!

    • Thanks, Jerry! I definitely recommend these techniques because I tried them myself and I just want to share this experience to others to have a more engaging and enjoyable fishing experience.