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With the evolution of bass baits, spoons have slowly been moved to the back of the tackle box. After all, how affective can a piece of steel with hooks be compared to exact replicas of baitfish that can cover water top to bottom. It would be difficult for any casual recreational angler to have confidence in old metal standbys today. In spite of an array of cosmetically perfect hard baits, guides from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have long known the effectiveness of spoons as search baits. These guides know you can cover a lot of water in a hurry either casting, jigging or trolling with something much less expensive, easier to use, and sometimes more effective than designer crankbaits or jerkbaits.
Spoons are the ultimate reaction bait and there is nothing more exhilarating than the violent strike of a big smallmouth on a spoon. There’s no mistaking what it is unless you mistake it for the bottom for just a second or two. Because spoons are a reaction bait, fish will hit them when they simply won’t touch anything else. Whether you are raking a flutter spoon through suspended fish or vertical jigging on marked fish, the feeling is always the same. When a big smallmouth strikes its violent and can feel like they are going to rip the rod out of your hand.

My reintroduction to spoons or swimblades came while on a trip to Lake Erie in 2007. I dropped in to see Denis Kreze, owner of Fishing Niagara Bait & Tackle. I needed some drop shot weights and Dennis asked me to try something different. He handed me a rather plain looking swim blade and told me to try vertical jigging over some deep humps. When we finally got out on the water and approached our first deepwater spot I dropped the ½ ounce blade to the bottom and raised it up about two feet. Before I got a chance to lower the blade again I felt this frantic weight and the tip of my rod whipped straight down and I felt that familiar thump, thump, and my first fish was on. That single moment hooked more than one species.

This certainly wasn’t new to me but it was long forgotten. Experienced fall bass anglers have always used spoons in the right conditions in the fall but it seemed so obsolete to me after almost 40 years of bass fishing. On this particular windless bluebird day over crystal clear Erie water it seemed even more unlikely to catch more fish than dragging a drop shot with proven rubber baits that have produced uncountable numbers of smallmouth. But it did.

Forty fish days on Lake Erie are not uncommon but on glass flat sunny conditions they are a little more difficult. Spoons and tubes were all that were needed and swimblades accounted for more than their share of larger fish.

Lake Erie probably isn’t the best place to test any bait because the number of fish and the aggressive nature of them would make it difficult to determine the results of one bait over another. But on that day this chunk of weighted tin out fished all other baits both in numbers and in size, as it did in our tournament the next day.
Now that I was hooked on this lost technique I couldn’t wait to test it on waters where fish were a little more selective. My home lake is Lake Simcoe and often times the fish are outright prudish and bait selection and technique often make a huge difference in the number and quality of fish you catch. One week after my Erie excursion I was back home with a bag full of my new weapons. The conditions were the same and so were the results. Within 20 minutes of launching the boat over 35 feet of water I had boated three fish all over five pounds. I finished the day with over 30 fish in six hours and one day later fished with two very experienced tournament angler and fish from spoons accounted for more than half the fish we caught.

Being satisfied with results without knowing why is not one of my strong points. I began to test various spoons using different techniques and colour's. Over the next two years and several hundred fish there were several conclusions to my one man research efforts. The first was that chrome out fished any other colour by a factor of about ten. I believe the reason for this is twofold.  The first and most obvious was that chrome transmits more light and attracts more fish from greater distances. The second was that fish can’t determine the colour or profile of chrome because it mirrors its surroundings. Fish would hit a chrome spoon while dead sticking.On one hand, Lake Erie may not be the best place to test any ‘new’ bait because of the sheer number of fish and their aggressive nature. However on the other, hand, all those hungry fish can sure help build your confidence when trying something new or different. On that day this chunk of weighted tin out fished all other baits both in numbers and in size, as it did in our tournament the next day. I was hooked!
Now that I was confident in this lost technique I couldn’t wait to test it on waters where fish were a little more selective. My home lake is Lake Simcoe and oftentimes the fish are outright prudish and bait selection and technique can make a huge difference in the number and quality of fish you catch. One week after my Erie excursion I was back home with a bag full of my new weapons. The conditions were the same and so were the results. Within 20 minutes of launching the boat over 35 feet of water I had boated three fish all over five pounds. I finished the day with over 30 fish in six hours and one day later fished with two very experienced tournament angler and fish from spoons accounted for more than half the fish we caught.

Being satisfied with results without knowing why is not one of my strong points. I began to test various spoons using different techniques and colour's. Over the next two years and several hundred fish later, there were several conclusions to my one man research efforts. The first was that chrome out fished any other colour by a factor of about ten. I believe the reason for this is twofold. The first and most obvious was that chrome transmits more light and attracts more fish from greater distances. The second was that fish can’t determine the colour or profile of chrome because it mirrors its surroundings. Fish would hit a chrome spoon while dead sticking.

Wow and Flutter
The “wow and flutter” approach as I call it is an excellent way to cover water and attract fish. Often when fish are busting bait on the surface a spoon will no sooner hit the water and a bass will hit it. These “wolf pack bass” are competing for food and like a crowd of people trying to catch a foul ball at a baseball game, a school of bass can spot a flash and be on it in seconds and after the first fish hits the bait there will be another one waiting with glove, I mean mouth open.
The same technique used for suspended fish also works well for bottom dwelling fish. Again, simply cast it out and wait for it to hit the bottom and when the line goes slack reef it off the bottom. Try it at various aggression levels. Start by simply lifting it as you would a jig and if there is no reaction try reefing it higher. When fishing deeper water simply use heavier spoons.

The majority of fish I've caught using this method hit on the initial drop. Often the line will straighten and go sideways before the intended depth is reached. This is typical of schooling fish competing for food.

Stroll and Jerk
It couldn’t get any simpler than this technique and on windy days when a good drift speed is possible it becomes even more effective. Simpley drag either a heavy flutter spoon, jigging spoon, or swim blade as far behind the boat as you would a drop shot or tube. Twitch it every once in a while and then let it drag in the sand or bounce off the rocks. While fishing for walleye last fall on Georgian Bay my fishing partner used this technique. I was using a drop shot which had been producing well for the last few days. But on that day a tungsten spoon dragged over the rocks on in 35 feet of water produced eight fish to my one. I even tried a live minnow on a jig head and still the bouncing spoon out-fished me.

Jigging
This is the most common method of spooning in the fall for most bass anglers. Again, all three spoons could be used but I found swim blades more effective and versatile. There is no line twist using swim blades so less terminal tackle like swivels are required. They get down to the bottom in a hurry and rarely get the line wrapped in the hooks. You can control the movement much better because they wobble and work on the up stroke rather than flutter when falling. You can use them jigging directly over a target or drift and jig in high winds.
The vertical jig utilize a variety of movements from simply tapping it on bottom in short strokes to a high erratic variable stroke. Start by dropping it to the bottom and lifting it sharply about 2 feet and letting it fall again. Try not to let the line get too slack for too long. Bass will grab a spoon and let it go in a second so a taut line means more hook ups. Every once in a while lift the spoon close to the surface and let it free fall to the bottom.  Two things fish react to are something falling to the bottom and anything shooting off the bottom.  Having the spoon high in the water column every so often attracts fish from further away. 

Dressing spoons with feathered hooks can ad another dimension to a baits action and profile. Owner and Excalibur both make excellent quality replacement feathered hooks.

 

Equipment
I use my spoons with spinning gear with the exception of long line dragging. My jigging rod is a Shimano Crucial 6’ 3” medium with an extra fast tip. I use 15 pound test Power Pro with fluorocarbon leader. For most applications the leader isn’t required but if you want to dead stick or drag, visibility could be a factor. Another reason for the fluorocarbon leader is that micro braids are extremely limp and tend to get caught up in the hooks when free falling. The leader is stiffer and helps keep the line away from the hooks. You could use a heavier fluorocarbon line instead of braid but I like zero stretch for jigging and I have already built some give or flex in the equipment using medium rod. I find it important to set the drag on your reel so that any more than a spoon being reefed as hard as you can will give line. If you get a really good hook set it may not matter if your drag has any give but often fish will be hooked in the lip skin and it will rip out if you force it too early.
For my flutter spoons I use a 6’ 8” rod with the same line as my jigging rod. The extra length allows a larger sweep for hook set when the line is a long way out from the boat. I use a good quality swivel even if the spoon has one attached.

Experiment to Gain Confidence.

My reintroduction to spoons was successful the first time out within minutes of the start of our day. Fishing with any bait on Lake Erie can be a confidence builder and that confidence is required to keep experimenting. The average angler that has limited time on the water might be reluctant to spend too much of their day using spoons but if they do keep at it until the first strike that might be enough to cause an addiction.

Of course, bass are not the only species to eat spoons!

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