With the exception of the crankbait, perhaps no other reaction bait has stood the test of time more so than the spinnerbait. Originally invented in 1951 and first manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri, the spinnerbait can come in handy in a myriad of angling situations, quite literally anywhere in the world I have fished so far. Above all, the spinnerbait is an innovation that is ahead of its time and possibly one of the best multispecies reaction bait out there.
In Malaysia where I grew up, the spinnerbait was a well-regarded staple bait of avid snakehead anglers long before other options became more widely available in tackle shops. Though they have recently been overshadowed by the raging success of crankbaits and swimbaits for some styles of fishing, it does not mean that spinnerbaits have become obsolete, certainly not when it comes to peacock bass fishing because not a lot of baits will allow actually you to cover water as effectively as a spinnerbait under a wide variety of conditions.
In Malaysia, the spinnerbait works best when the water has at least a little stain to it and even muddy water, generally in high-70s to mid-80s F. Though soft swimbaits can do a better job in lakes that have baitfish-dominant forage, especially blackwater lakes with open water cover, a spinnerbait is an awesome lure in situations where peacock bass move to the edges of cover. In fact, the latter is actually a pretty common scenario in numerous lakes and that is why I always have a spinnerbait tied on, because no matter where you fish, you will not be far away from the nearest cover.
So, what are the most common scenarios that call for a spinnerbait? Besides cover, one key element that makes the spinnerbait such an effective situational lure is wind-blown cover. Where there is prevailing wind, I will head for the nearest cover and I comb those areas thoroughly with spinnerbaits. All in all, windy conditions generally mean it is prime-time for spinnerbait bites. No matter the lake, when the wind blows, whether in stained or semi-clear water, peacock bass will be moving up the water column in search of baitfish.
Spinnerbaits are major fish producers, especially on edges of cover. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water across the water column, on the same cast, through predominantly snaggy cover. Wind-blown surface ripples reduce light penetration and encourage peacock bass to move to the edges of cover. Wind is caused by differences in atmospheric pressure, when air moves from higher to the lower pressure areas. The falling barometer makes peacock bass more inclined to forage and chase. The effective result of that is a much enlarged strike zone where you do not have to put the bait within inches of a fish’s radar. Just get it close enough for the fish to see or sense the bait’s pulsating vibration and action is soon to follow.
Peacock bass will lunge for spinnerbaits from a variety of cover per se, but they tend to show a preference on any given day, on any given body of water. So, the first step revolves around finding those high-percentage areas. When I am fishing on ex-mining lake fisheries in Air Kuning, I basically look for grass, hydrilla, hyacinth or any available cover. Finding peacock bass with spinnerbaits is often a result of trial and error, from retrieve speeds, the depth you are fishing and bait styles that is the best on any given day. You need to take advantage of the spinnerbait’s snag-resistant properties and efficiently cover water that is inaccessible to other lures. I will cast beyond cover where possible and then guide my spinnerbait close to it. I repeat the process and vary my retrieve speed and depth according to prevailing conditions.
I like the power-finesse spinnerbait approach to peacock bass fishing in Malaysia. In fact, that is my go-to approach in response to angling pressure on lakes in Air Kuning and Chenderoh, in upstate Perak. Angling pressure can create finesse fishing situations and even big lakes are not completely immune to pressure. Peacock bass anglers should always consider what they are trying to imitate with the spinnerbaits they throw, starting with size because size and profile matters.
Most lakes in Air Kuning have a baitfish-dominant forage base. Over there, I will throw compact spinnerbaits with small blades such as O.S.P High Pitcher. For those who prefer regular spinnerbaits, 3/16 or 1/4-oz with smaller blades make good alternatives. I prefer a Colorado lead blade with willow leaf trailing for power-finesse presentation around shallow water cover. If I need to retrieve the bait a little faster, deeper or tighter to cover, I switch to tandem willow blades. I like to use white, silver or other natural colors in semi-stained water and loud colors such as pink, chartreuse or even blood red in stained and muddy water conditions. There are various retrieve styles for spinnerbaits but I generally prefer to keep things simple most of the time. I caught nearly every peacock bass on steady retrieve, but sometimes you have to throw in little pauses, pops and mix it up to entice a big bite.
Having the right rod is really important when throwing a spinnerbait for peacock bass. I basically rely on two, medium-high modulus, rods depending on conditions and size of spinnerbaits. When using 1/4 or 5/16-oz spinnerbaits around sparse cover, I use a 6’-9” medium Majorcraft Corzza CZC-692M casting rod paired with a 5.8:1 Daiwa Alphas 103 casting reel and 12lb-test Sunline fluorocarbon line. For heavier 3/8 or 1/2-oz spinnerbaits, I use a 7’ heavy Majorcraft Corzza CZC-702H casting rod paired with a 6.3:1 Team Daiwa TD-Z 105H casting reel and 14lb-test Sunline fluorocarbon line. Shorter rods are more accurate when I am working around shallow water cover. When I am covering big hydrilla flats and screw palm banks on Chenderoh Lake for instance, I like the extra length and power of a heavy-action rod to help me get extra distance on my cast and drive hard fighting fish away from nasty cover.
All in all, I believe peacock bass anglers must remain versatile when fishing a spinnerbait. Conditions on the lakes in Malaysia can change rapidly and what works today may not work tomorrow, especially during the inter-monsoon periods. The bottom line is to pay attention to the conditions and experiment to ensure your bait imitates the prevalent local forage.
Be sure to check out Air Kuning and Chenderoh Lake on your next angling vacation to Perak, Malaysia. Thank you for reading and I hope you find this article interesting. Stay tuned for more news and exiting articles to come on theBBZ. Fish hard, fish well and god bless.