Why? Maybe it is where each angler is putting his bait. When fish are inactive and holding tight to cover, a foot one way or the other or a few more yards beneath an overhang or behind flooded timber makes the difference between catching fish and a nice boat ride.
But more often what counts is how the lure is presented or retrieved. Even conventional spinnerbaits are incredibly versatile. If one retrieve doesn't produce, fish might respond to a faster, slower, deeper, shallower, horizontal, or vertical presentation.
Below are fourteen different ways I fish a spinnerbait. In general, the warmer the water, the faster my retrieve, while in colder months my lure creeps along like a crayfish, but any of these techniques may pay off for you year-round.
1. Buzz :: Retrieve the bait with your rod tip high, keeping the blades on the surface the entire time. Bend a willowleaf blade to increase the commotion it causes on the surface. Curl the blade around your forefinger, or put two kinks in it to create triangular panels, or just bend the back part of the blade. Experiment with angles to get the drag, flutter, and action you like.
2. Bulge :: Swim the bait just below the surface so that it produces a bulge and wake. Allow the blade to break the surface every now and then like a skittering shad being chased by a predator.
3. Burn :: Clip on undersized blades and retrieving the lure a foot or so deep at an extremely high rate of speed. For lakes with Kentucky bass, this is particularly effective. I recommend a 5/16-ounce Quickstrike with a couple of #3 willowleaf blades for spots.
4. Rip :: Sweep your rod tip to the side to create a burst of speed, and then slow it down as you reel to take up slack and rotate the rod back toward the lure.
5. Steady :: Crank the spinnerbait in at a steady rate in the "twilight zone," keeping the lure just within sight during the entire retrieve. A variation on this is to every now and then twitch your rod tip during the retrieve. This causes the skirt to flare and the blades to flutter erratically, which can trigger strikes from following bass.
6. Troll :: Anglers usually use their reel and rod to swim the spinnerbait, but don't overlook this lure when trolling. The vibrating, flashing blades and pulsing skirt attract hits as the bait passes ambush points, and the spinnerbaits' ability to bump across the bottom and crash through vegetation without hanging up is an advantage over crankbaits, especially for trolling shallow, weedy areas. To maintain depth at trolling speeds, clip on smaller, narrower spinner blades, or increase weight by clamping a rubber-core, lead sinker onto the frame (in front of the head) or to the hook shank under the skirt.