Spoon Fishing For Bass: A Guide To Fishing An Underutilized Lure

Written by: Dan R
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I’m willing to bet that a peek into any angler’s tackle box is going to reveal something we all have in common: the spoon. Our fathers fished with them, our grandfathers fished with them, and our great-grandfathers fished with them. There’s a reason these lures have survived the test of time since their inception in the late 19th century. Spoons work, no matter what you’re fishing for.

Still, those spoons sit idle in the bottom of our boxes, and when it comes to bass fishing, they’re often nothing more than dust collectors. Overlooked and underutilized, spoons are great for catching bass, so dust them off, tie them on, and let's talk catching bass on spoons.

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Types of Spoons For Bass

Jigging Spoons

jigging spoons

We’ll start things off with the most popular spoon for bass fishing. Over the course of the last few years, jigging spoons have made a comeback and are more popular than ever for taking lots of big bass, especially when those bass are turning everything else down.

Most bass anglers who are fishing jigging spoons are fishing them in the late fall or winter when bass are lethargic and hanging out in deep water. While jigging spoons are designed to fish deep, they’re not limited to cold weather seasons. Bass will seek out the stability of deep water anytime of the year, and jigging spoons are just as effective in the summer months as they are in the winter.

Jigging spoons are, for the most part, smaller and more streamlined than most other spoons. Because of their size, they’re difficult to cast, but that's not what they’re intended for. Instead, a jigging spoon is meant to be dropped over the side of the boat and fished vertically, falling quickly and erratically towards bass that are holding deep, imitating a wounded baitfish as it struggles to stay alive.

Jigging Spoon Options:

Flutter Spoons

flutter spoons

A lot of bass anglers will group flutter spoons and jigging spoons together if for no other reason than how they are used. Like jigging spoons, a flutter spoon is very effective when dropped over the side of the boat and jigged vertically. That's not the only way they can be fished, but we’ll touch on that more later.

Where the difference really comes into play between the two is in their design. Flutter spoons are much larger than jigging spoons. The extra surface area and concave design causes the spoon to drop at a much slower rate and, as their name suggests, flutter a lot more than a smaller jigging spoon. 

Flutter spoons are still used for deep-water fishing, but more so when the fish aren’t quite as deep, usually in the 10-20 foot range and suspended over deep water ledges or steep drop-offs. The slow fall rate and extra flash make this spoon perfect for really finicky fish, and they’re widely popular in the winter.

Flutter Spoon Options:

Weedless Spoons

weedless spoons

If you’re fishing heavy cover, what is the first thing you’re going to reach for? Whatever the answer, I guarantee most bass anglers are not going to say a spoon. Weedless spoons should be higher up on that list than they are - much higher.

These spoons are designed to fish heavy cover and slop and are most effective in the early morning when the sun is high and when big bass are cruising for their morning meal. The flash created by these spoons as the sun hits them isn’t just going to catch a bass’s eye but will also annoy them into hitting.

Weedless spoons are single-hooked, concave spoons with tapered edges and have the perfect combination of castability and flutter when retrieving. The wire weed guards allow you to pull the spoon through even the thickest cover.

Weedless Spoon Options:

Casting/Trolling Spoons

casting trolling spons

Casting and trolling spoons are the spoons we grew up on and are normally the first thing we picture when we think of fishing spoons. What's great about these lures is their simplicity. The design is basic, and fishing them is as simple as casting and retrieving or a slow troll.

There really isn’t much to be said about these spoons that most of us aren’t already familiar with, other than that out of all the spoons we talk about, these are probably the least effective for bass. Because of that, many bass anglers will steer away from them, but if they didn’t catch bass, we wouldn’t have put them on the list.

Casting or trolling spoons are most effective when used as a search bait for aggressive fish on those clear days when the sun is high and can reflect off the wobbling surface of a shiny spoon.

Casting/Trolling Spoon Options:

Techniques For Fishing Spoons For Bass

Vertical Jigging

Vertical jigging is by far the most popular method for catching bass on a spoon, and for many bass anglers, it’s the only way they fish with spoons. While other lures can both imitate wounded baitfish and get down to deep holding bass, none of them can do it with the effectiveness of a spoon.

Jigging is simplicity at its best. Drop it over the side of the boat and let it fall. When it reaches the bottom, a simple lift and fall action is all that's needed. How you impart that action is going to depend on what the fish are after on any given day. Less aggressive bass may need a steady lift of the rod and a slow drop, while more active fish might want something a little quicker. Quick, high snaps of the rod are good for triggering more active bass.

Regardless of how you’re working the spoon, fish will more often than not hit it on the drop, so it's important to not let the line go completely slack. Instead, keep a little tension on it - not enough that it impedes the falling, fluttering action, but just enough to feel the strike. This can take a little practice to get dialed in right.

Casting

How you cast and retrieve a spoon is going to depend on the spoon you’re fishing. The idea is simple though, and the retrieve should be as slow as possible while maintaining the depth you want to fish at. Spoons don’t float or suspend, they sink. Work them too slow and they will continue to sink, but work them too fast and they will start to spin instead of wobble. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds and takes a lot of trial and error to get it right, then you have to start all over when you change the size of your spoon.

Weedless spoons are usually heavy, but their design helps them to not spin as easily, meaning your retrieve can be quicker. A steady retrieve is usually best, pulling the spoon through heavy cover while it dances and flashes, but you can also add in a few jerks of the rod to change up the action a bit.

A casting spoon can also be used with a steady cast and retrieve but often works better with a swimming motion, pumping the rod as you’re reeling the lure in. Not only does this give the spoon a more erratic action, but it also offers even more flash that these lures rely on to attract fish.

Trolling

Trolling is simple, right? Just idle the engine down, drop the spoon over the side or cast it out a little, and let it go. Yes and no. At its core, it is that simple, but there are a couple of key things to keep in mind. 

The first is your depth. You’re not going to get any bass if you’re not fishing the right depth. This can easily be controlled by the weight of your spoon. The lighter it is, the more likely it is to flutter up towards the surface as you're moving. This isn’t to say that you have to fish big heavy spoons all of the time, but you have to be mindful of what that spoon is doing. If it’s traveling up, go to a slightly heavier spoon until you have one that's sticking to the right depth at the speed you’re fishing.

And that brings us to your trolling speed. We tend to stick to specific speeds when we’re trolling based on what kind of fish we’re after. This isn’t always necessary when trolling spoons for bass, and your speed should be based more off the lure than the fish itself. Speed when trolling will dictate not only the depth that the spoon is running at but also the action that spoon is putting off. Too fast and the spoon will spin wildly and rise up in the water column. Too slow and it won’t wobble enough and drop to the bottom.

Pitching

Pitching is a tactic normally reserved for soft plastic or jigs, but using a spoon in the same way is a tactic that not enough bass anglers take advantage of.

A spoon can be pitched in exactly the same scenarios as soft plastics or jigs. Jigs and soft plastics are pitched and worked slowly around schools of bass, giving them a nice, long look and ample time to decide whether or not they are going to take it. Spoons, on the other hand, don’t give them that option. Instead they see it as a wounded baitfish that’s about to get away, and most bass, even if they aren’t feeding, are not going to let that happen. Instead of letting them make the decision, when pitching a spoon, you’re making the decision for them.

Popping

Popping is my favorite way to work a spoon. Why? Because it’s fun. Popping is the topwater of spoon fishing. Anytime bass are feeding on, or close to the surface, popping a spoon is an exciting way to catch them.

Check out our guide on How To Rig and Fish A Popper

If bass are surfacing or boiling or you’re seeing baitfish doing the same, bass are actively feeding on those schools of baitfish. Cast a spoon past where you saw the activity and work it back to the boat with quick popping motions. You want the spoon to stay near the surface, so hold your rod high and work the spoon fast. The strikes you get from hungry bass are as heart-stopping as any topwater lure.

Check out the best topwater frogs for bass

Some Things to Keep in Mind When Fishing Spoons For Bass

  • Modify your spoons. Most spoons come equipped with treble hooks, and we recommend replacing those trebles with single hooks to help with getting snagged up on bottom or in cover. When using flutter spoons, many bass anglers will also add a hook to the top of the spoon to increase hook-ups.
  • When fishing cover, use a braided line, as it will make breaking free of a snag easier.
  • Always use a swivel. Spoons will create a lot of line twist, and a swivel will help alleviate that. A snap swivel will work, but we recommend attaching a barrel swivel directly to the snap ring of the spoon. A barrel swivel is much better at combating line twist than a snap swivel.
  • Spoons work best when the sun is high and bright.
  • Fish with confidence. Spoons can be frustrating to get used to and can take some patience, but they catch fish. The more confidence you have when fishing spoons, the more fish you will catch.

Final Thoughts

Spoons have withstood the test of time, but for bass, they’ve lost some of their luster. With so many other lures growing in popularity over the years, the spoon is sometimes forgotten. While they’ve been making their way back onto the bass fishing scenes, they’re still a highly underutilized lure. We hope we were able to help you understand a little more about spoon fishing for bass, and maybe even pique your interest in giving them a fair shot. Leave us a comment and let us know if we did!

About The Author
Dan R
Review Editor
Dan was practically born with a fishing rod in his hand. Growing up in the Great Lakes Region fishing has been a major part of his life from a very young age. When not on the water you can find Dan enjoying time with his family.
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