I was 12 years old and for the first time tried a technique I had read about in an issue of Texas Fisherman: wade-fishing the flats. The location was the flats adjacent to the Port Isabel Ship Channel on Long Island. The article recommended using a gold spoon or soft plastics for best results.
I had limited resources (my meager allowance was dedicated to keeping up with Marvel Comics *Dark Phoenix* saga), and thus a limited tackle box. I did have a gold Beetle Spin with a pumpkinseed split-tail on it. I figured the rig was close enough to do in a pinch.
The trout seemed to agree with me. I caught seven nice fat trout in an hours wading. Danny Hernandez, my fathers friend and my host for the weekend, was impressed and suggested we fish together after I took my catch to process (that was the pinnacle of the entire afternoon; I had earned the respect of an accomplished angler).
I was gutting and gilling my prizes when a guide walked up and asked where Id caught the trout. Unaware of the unspoken proscription in regards to revealing a fishing spot, I told him. When he asked me on what, I was just as eager to answer: "A Beetle Spin."
"Thats bull(hockey), son," he said, spitting a Days Work stream. "You cant catch trout on a bass lure."
I never used that lure in saltwater again. If an expert said I was doing it all wrong, who was I to argue? Obviously, my piscatorial success was an aberration, a fluke. Spinnerbaits are not for saltwater.
The next time I tried a spinnerbait was during a press event sponsored by Lindy and Old Bayside on Sabine Lake. We were rigging Old Bayside Shrimp and Shad tails on ¼-ounce jigheads, hooking them up on spinnerbaits, and casing along cane-studded marsh banks. We absolutely hammered the redfish and speckled trout. I also hooked---and lost---the biggest flounder I have ever seen when I let the bait sit on the bottom while I pulled out a backlash. When I started to take in line, the big flatty clobbered the bait so hard it cleared the surface.
I was a fool to have believed someone over my lying eyes. The spinnerbaits effectiveness for trout, redfish, snook, and even flounder is well known. Its versatility and ease of use lend it to a variety of inshore applications. It comes in a variety of sizes, and can be cast long distances to cover wide patches of water on flats, but its design means it can still be fished super shallow without burying in sea grass.
Moreover, as any bass fisherman will tell you, the arm of a safety pin-style spinnerbait acts as a deflector to make the lure virtually weedless. They are compact enough to sharpshoot into tight spaces among mangroves, pier pilings, and sand pockets.
The ball-bearing swivel-mounted blades have a ton of flash and action, and can be worked to buzz, throb, flutter, or wobble, depending on the imagination of the angler. They come in a variety of styles, colors, and designs that are even more diverse.
Remarkably, even though respected and popular fishing tackle companies such as H&H, Bass Assassin, and Strike King make effective and productive spinnerbaits for saltwater, and any of the spinnerbaits designed for bass fishing are equally strong medicine for inshore predators, they lag behind traditional saltwater lures in popularity and usage. Anglers who do use them know a gem when it twinkles from the bottom of the tackle box.
One contingent of Texas anglers who should take a closer look at spinnerbaits is those whose affections gravitate to that line-sided, underbite-faced thug, the snook.
The spinnerbait is designed to be fished around stickups, overhanging trees, docks, and other visible structures; in other words, typical snook habitat in classic spots such as South Bay and the Brownsville Ship Channel.
With a fast-tipped, medium-action casting or spinning rod, any snook-focused fisherman can accurately cast a ¼- or 3/8-ounce white- or smoke-patterned safety pin-style spinnerbait into tight spots and work them back to the boat at a variety of speeds.
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When snook are strafing baitfish, buzzing the bait close to the surface and creating a wake can lead to explosive strikes. If a snook takes to following behind the bait, as is their wont at times, lowering your rod tip to make the lure dip and flutter could (and in my experience usually does) provoke a strike. If you are a Robalo fan, the spinnerbait should be in your arsenal.
The spinnerbait is a useful search bait when fishing a broad flat. You can tie on a 3/8- or ½-ounce skirted or plastic tail-dressed bait and make long casts to cover as broad an area as desired. Depending on rod position, you can buzz the lure back to the boat (rod tip up) or "roll" it just over the top of seagrasses (rod tip down). When crossing over a sand hole, you can slow down your retrieve and the bait will drop into the pocket with a flutter that should entice any lurking trout, redfish, or flounder to take a kill shot.
The only limits to using the spinnerbait in saltwater is an anglers imagination. There isnt any real wrong way to fish one. Work it in deep water on a slow, steady retrieve when trout are sulking below. Fish it with a wire leader along jetties when Spanish mackerel are rampaging. Throw it under the birds. Throw a black one at night under a fool moon.