An In-Line Spinnerbait
The in-line spinner is named for the fact that a metal blade revolves around a central axis (a wire), which may be attached by a clevis (a c-shaped metal piece with holes that accommodates the wire) or by itself. Most in-line spinners have metal weights rigged behind the spinning blade and beads or brass hardware that separates the two for frictionless spinning. Due to the fact that the spinning blade cause the whole bait to rotate, line twist builds that creates line problems and tangles. Swivels are used to solve the problem of twist.
The Blade Factor:
As with all spinner type baits, various shapes of blades are used depending on many factors. Speed of retrieve is a major consideration because different blade designs revolve at different speeds. For example, the elongated willow leaf design requires the most speed to start and maintain the spin. The broader and more circular Colorado blade requires less speed and a slower retrieve to maintain spin. An Indiana blade falls somewhere in between. Vibration is higher with broader blades, less with streamlined blades, but flash depends more on blade size, texture and color than on design.
A hammered nickel (pock marked) blade has the most flash in that the dimpling reflects light at more angles than a smooth polished blade. Painted blades can have more or less flash depending on color and patterns, but always less flash than silver finishes under a sunny sky and have more flash under low light conditions. Under low light conditions fluorescent colored blades stand out over regular colors or polished metal.
Treble or Single Hook Dressing:
The treble hook can be dressed or not, depending on personal preferences of bait profile and action. By itself, the flash and maybe the vibration are the only attractors. But anytime you add something to a bait, you change its appearance and action and may have to alter presentation. The simplest hook dressings have been hair or feather and add a fluttering tail action that is imparted by blade vibration. These materials come in many colors, though black or white have been traditional attractors. Flashy artificial materials such as Flashabou, add a fluttering flash in different incandescent or solid flash colors, increasing the total flash profile of the in-line.
Many believe that a dressed treble presents a body/target that follows the flash ahead of it and that it may entice more strikes than a bare treble hook. For this reason, some companies have added soft plastic dressings to the hook to change the appearance and action of the bait and these are routinely called trailers. Soft plastic trailers have traditionally been curly tailed grubs and come in any color desired, as well as either single tail, double tails or quadratails. The speed of retrieve will always depend first on the blade size and design, but trailers provide lift for any spinner type bait, allowing a slightly lower retrieve speed. The weight material on the wire behind the spinning blade and also been made to look like a fish or like traditional minnow type baits such as the Rapala.
Trailers Anyone? What do skirts or trailers represent to a fish or for that matter, what does an undressed blade bait represent? Everyone has an opinion, but the author of this entry believes that fish have a general idea of things it can eat or attack without danger. If a fish is feeding on schooled minnows, it may attack anything of a general shape or color of its prey. If a feeding or aggressive fish attack a prey item it has never been exposed to in its lifetime, it may do so out of curiosity, irritation or any of a variety of behavioral factors unrelated to prey recognition.
In-line spinners have limitations such as not being good for heavy weeds or where very slow or vertical presentations are required. In-lines are usually considered swimming, horizontal baits and may be cast or trolled behind a slow moving boat. In-lines come in all sizes: small trout and panfish sizes to musky and salmon sizes up to six inches in length. In-line spinners are a multispecies bait that have a time and place in anyone's tackle box.
Safety Pin or Overhead Arm Spinnerbait
Safety Pin Spinnerbait with a tandem blade configuration; a Colorado blade mounted ahead of an Indiana blade.
Invented in 1951, the "safety pin" or overhead blade style spinnerbait is probably the most popular spinnerbait design for bass anglers. The most prominent features of this design is a wire frame that is bent roughly 90 degrees and embedded at its base in a bullet-shaped lead head with a single hook behind it.
Blade Options: At the tip of the wire frame's overhead arm, a spinner blade is attached by a swivel or other means to an enclosed wire loop. Another blade may be attached "in-line" on the overhead arm by a clevis to create a "tandem" blade spinnerbait. The characteristics of blades used that are stated above for in-line spinners, also apply to (overhead arm) spinnerbaits. There is no hard-and-fast rule for when to use a particular design, color or size blade or blade combination, but generally the rounder Colorado blade is used for slow, steady colder-water retrieves, dropping the bait in a free fall during retrieve pauses, or slow rolling the bait along the bottom while narrow willowleaf blades are used for fast retrieves and through vegetation. Slow-rolling a spinnerbait is similar to the presentation of a skirted jig in that it remains in contact with the bottom throughout the retrieve. If fished as a "drop-bait," the main blade helicopters above the weight/hook as the bait falls, thus simulating a dying minnow. Most times the strike occurs as the horizontal retrieve is continued. For more on blade hydrodynamics, see below.
Skirt Options: Like in-line spinners, skirt material options are many and depend on the body/target/action profile desired. Skirts are tied on or attached by a latex collar to the lead molded on the hook. For bass, silicone skirts have recently dominated the field over "living" rubber skirts because of all the available molded-in patterns, metal flakes, and incandescent colors. The skirt's pulsating, fluttering motion caused by blade spin is the same as for in-line spinners, but the body target is rounder and has more action with the similar retrieve or a pause in retrieve. The skirt also adds resistance, which can enable the user to retrieve the bait slower depending on how many strands are used; but again, minimum or maximum speed capability depends on blade size and shape. The length of the skirt is typically 1/4-inch past the curve of the hook, but some anglers prefer longer or shorter skirts in order to produce different profiles and action.
Spinnerbait with over-sized swivel-mounted blades or that are retrieved too fast have a tendency to roll over, decreasing the odds of getting a solid hook-up. Ideally, the bait should run true, meaning the overhead arm and blade are directly over the skirt/hook on the horizontal retrieve.
Spinnerbait dressings or trailers trailers are even more varied than for in-line spinners and personal preference dominates choice. Shaped pork rind and soft plastic trailers are the norm, with soft plastic being the majority material of trailers used and come in many colors. As with in-line spinners, the trailer affects lure profile, action and lift depending on shape and size. For example, a straight double tail design has the least lift or drag and is more of a skirt-like extension; whereas a large curl tail grub produces the most rear action, lift and the largest profile within the pulsating skirt. Pork or soft plastic chunk baits offer the most lift and allow a planing of the bait on the horizontal retrieve.
Wire Arm length Consideration:
There are spinnerbaits that have a short overhead arm and are used for more vertically dropping presentations down steep structure (banks or points). The have a little less weed resistance than the larger overhead arm and blade, but fall better and are closer to the skirted jig versus the spinnerbait design in usage. Typically a Colorado blade is used to slow the fall and create the maximum fluttering flash on the way down.
Long arm baits are used when a bait has multiple blades or when more weed resistance it needed during a horizontal swim. Single large blades allow for maximum skirt and trailer pulsation and provide added lift to the bait on the slowest retrieve. Long arm baits are typically used to cause a surface wake (i.e., "waking a spinnerbait") when run near the surface or "buzzing" when the blades chops the surface into a bubbly, noisy trail. For bass, the target hit is usually the skirt and/or trailer; for northern pike, musky and pickerel, the entire bait may be engulfed.
Stinger (trailer hook) option:
Adding a stinger hook (either a single or treble hook) to the main hook is also a personal preference and may ensure a better hook up as well preventing fish that jump from throwing the bait. Some anglers prefer the single hook to be rigged so that the point is down, others prefer it rigged up, but in either case the hook must be prevented from coming off the main hook or grabbing weeds. To accomplish this, there are a few choices. The first is to use rubber tubing cut to 1/8", inserting the eye of the trailer hook and forcing the main hook through the rubber covered eye. The trailer hook is now fixed stationary behind the main hook. The other way allow the hook more side to side motion and consist for stops above and below the eye placed on the main hook. These stops can be 1/8-inch cut rubber tubing or plastic circles cut from the plastic lid of a coffee can and placed above and below the hook eye encircling the main hook.
The overhead arm spinnerbait is used for fewer species, but is a great tool for larger sportfish that dominate the food chain. For smaller species, the Beetle Spin type design is preferred.
 Beetle Spin
The Johnson Tackle Company introduce the clip-on jig/spinner over twenty years ago for people who like using small jighead and soft plastic body combinations. Typically used for panfish, other sport species also attack the bait. A small blade is attached by a swivel (the as for overhead arm spinnerbaits), but the wire frame is formed into a spring clip that opens to allow a jighead to be attached by sliding the jig eye into position such that the jig hook runs in the same direction as the overhead blade.
Jighead dressings are on the short, more compact side and variable in material and design. The curl tail grub is popular, along with straight tail plastics and hair. The original jig dressing was called the cricket, a straight, double-tailed soft plastic creature that had little action except that it wagged up and down and side-to-side behind the spinning blade or with variations in retrieve speed. As the Beetle Spin became more popular, more designs were introduced and softer plastic was used for better action. Many species of fish will hit a Beetle Spin combo.
A tailspinner is a type of spinnerbait that consists of a lead body with the line tie point on top, a single treble hook on the bottom, and a single small blade mounted on the tail, hence the name. Mann's Bait Company's "Little George" tailspinner, introduced in the 1960s, is the most well-known lure in this class. When fished vertically for schooling fish in deep water. the bait is ripped upward and then allowed to flutter back down on a semi-taught line. Anglers use it for horizontal presentations as well; it casts like a bullet, so it works well on windy days; however, it sinks like a bullet, too, so one has to reel it quickly in shallow water to keep it from snagging on the bottom.
The most important part of any spinnerbait next to the hook is the blade. There are several different shapes, and numerous sizes, with colors ranging from gold, silver, and bronze, to painted blades with a myriad of different colors and patterns. The two main characteristics of a spinnerbait blade are flash (available light reflecting off the blade as it moves) and vibration (the 'thump' of the blade as it spins). Some blade designs produce more vibration, while other designs produce more flash. The most prominent blade types include the following:
Colorado blade: A round, spoon-shaped blade, the Colorado blade is designed for maximum vibration, its broad shape and parabolic cross-section producing a deep, heavy vibration that can be detected by fish at long distances via their lateral line, and by the angler through the rod. It is often favored for use in situations where the fish cannot see the lure very well, such as in murky water or at night.
Willowleaf blade: A long, narrow blade shaped like the foliage it's named after, the Willowleaf has an almost flat cross-section, and stresses flash over vibration, having very little vibration at all. This type is most commonly used when there is ample visibility for the fish to see the blade flickering and flashing as the lure moves. A popular safety-pin blade setup is to have a Willowleaf blade with a Colorado blade mounted just ahead of it on the frame in a 'tandem' configuration.
Indiana blade: This blade is a hybrid of the Willowleaf and Colorado blades, sharing design features of both, such as the narrow width of the Willowleaf and the rounded shape of the Colorado, with a curved cross-section halfway between the two. This blade is highly flexible, and provides a middle ground between the extremes offered by the other two, and is the primary blade type used on most in-line spinners. It's name derives from the fact that it was introduced and popularized by an Indiana spinnerbait manufacturer, Hildebrandt.
Oklahoma blade: This blade, also referred to as turtleback or mag willow, is a shortened, rounded variant of the Willowleaf blade. In terms of vibration and speed of rotation, it falls between the Colorado and Indiana blades. For heavily-pressured waters, this blade creates a sonic signature that is unlike the three more common blade types, and therefore it is more likely to attract attention from predatory fish.