Spinning gear is not a secret by any means, and you only need to look at the success of anglers like Brent Ehrler and Aaron Martens to know that it can be a recipe for tournament success. Hell, even KVD – the power fisherman’s power fisherman – ain’t afraid to get the eggbeater out, even in big fish territory. During an E50 a decade ago, he caught the then-lake-record bass at Lewisville (TX) on a shakey head on a spinning rig.
So why do I resist it?
It’s not that I don’t catch a lot of fish on spinning gear. I utilize it to skip Senkos under docks almost everywhere. I’ve become increasingly fond of the dropshot, not only offshore, but also around bedding fish, where it often seems to trigger them faster than anything else. In clear water, I’ve also found a little Scrounger head with a ribbed swimbait on the back to be deadly. Still, when I get in power fishing territory, I tend to be baitcast-only more often than I’d like to admit. In fact, I can think of plenty of times when I don’t even have a spinning rod in the boat.
I learned the lesson the hard way once again on the Potomac last Saturday. I was in a crowded community hole grass bed with 50 or 60 of my closest friends, and while just about everyone was catching fish, two guys from Pennsylvania were catching more than anyone else I witnessed. What were they doing differently? I never saw them fish with anything but spinning tackle. They Power Poled down, cast out their baits, and seined the area. I figured they must’ve had a key waypoint, but after a while, they picked up the poles, moved 30 yards and did it again. The fish were all around us, and while those of us flinging chatterbaits and traps and swim jigs were getting bit, their presentations were far more productive. I wasn’t quite uncouth enough to get within spying distance of their baits, so all I know is it was something small and dark.
To my credit, I had two spinning rods in the boat. I brought them out, caught a few that way, and then reverted back to the power stuff (and catching fewer fish). When push comes to shove, we’d all rather have Old Ned tethered to 17 pound fluoro or 50 pound braid than 6- or 8-pound silly string (or 5 or 7 if you’re like Aaron, bro), but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get the bite in the first place. I think the only way for me to get a better handle on the situation is to go out with nothing but spinning tackle now and then to force the issue. You hear that strategy all the time with jigs or frogs – why not with the light stuff, too?