One of my readers, Charles Ewing, asked "Why don't you write a column about your favorite lures?" And one of my guests, Rob Johnson, asked "I've thrown a spoon maybe 10 casts my whole life. I know I have never caught anything on one. Haven't used it enough to get any confidence. How do you work it? You mentioned a swimming spoon. Do you just cast it out and crank it in? fast? slow? mix it up?"
So with December looming on the horizon as the Nov 15 editor's deadline approaches, I picked a category of lures that fits the winter seasonal condition.
Spoons: There are mainly 2 types; solid, heavy spoons like Kastmasters and Hopkins. These are the ones you would use to jig vertically, but you can swim them too. These heavy, solid jigging spoons are more straight. The other main type would be stamped from sheet metal like the old Epinger Daredevil. Remember the red spoons with a white swirl stripe? This type is usually slightly cupped like a teaspoon. The original spoon lure is reputed to have its origin from tableware. The stamped spoon does not sink vertically, but instead flutters. Therefore, it is not a good choice for vertical jigging, but they are good for swimming.
If you stop a swimming retrieve with these, you can take advantage of the fluttering descent on a controlled sink. This imitates a distressed or injured shad, and fish hit it as it flutters down. There are spoons with nifty shad paint jobs, prism tape and shiny metal. Some of them can be retrieved about the same as a crank bait, especially the heavy ones, while others need a slower speed. Both types are available in a wide range of sizes. A good place to start when picking one of these lures is to consider how closely the overall profile matches the size and shape of the bait minnows that the fish regularly consume. Spoons can be effective lures for any game fish that eat other fish.
The handy thing about spoons is the way you can target different parts of the water column. Each brand, size, and type has its own best retrieve, but it is usually easy to adapt by watching what each one does as you work it next to the boat a couple of times. The versatility of speed and depth control make them an important piece of my arsenal. In the warmer months, spoons can be retrieved through the actively feeding fish near the surface or allowed to sink to any zone or water layer that holds fish.
In the winter, I can drop them on the fish's nose and barely flutter it ( 3 or 4 inches) until I annoy them into biting, or I rip fairly hard and let it re-fall 5 or 6 feet. The fish tend to suck it in while it is falling and you rarely feel the bite, but when you lift it up again, you are setting the hook. Sometimes it feels like a plastic worm "Tic". So to answer Rob's questions:
"Slow?" Yes, sometimes. "Fast ?" No, more medium. "Mix it up?" Yes.
By including spoons in your arsenal, you can be versatile and be prepared for changing patterns of both winter and summer.
Tight lines. Rich