Spoons and spinners must be among the most popular hard body trout lures, and the reason is simple. They catch trout and they catch them consistently. I always consider it a good idea to have both types of lures when fishing because a trout’s preference can easily change hour from to hour, day to day.
Spoons are likely the easiest trout lure to learn to fish with, but the hardest to fish with skill. While spinners are consistent performers, and due to the flashy action pack nature of their retrieve they can trigger strikes with minimal input from the angler.
In this article, I will discuss the pro and cons of fishing with spinners or spoons, and when to favor one design over the other.
In my experience, I have always found that spinners catch more fish, but spoons catch proportionally more large fish. Also, when trout are in a feeding mood, they seem more likely to strike a spinner, when trout are being a bit difficult, they seem to prefer the more subtle presentation of a spoon.
I want to make one point clear, there is more than one way to fish trout lures, and contradictory views are not uncommon among anglers.
One such example is that I like to use Spinners when the water is a bit hazy, I believe that all vibrations can grab a trout’s attention when their eyesight fails them. While other anglers, seem to prefer spoons in that same situation. I do not fully understand their rationale, but think it might have something to do with a spoon’s ability to dead drift with the current, maximizing the amount of time trout will get to see it.
A brief history of Spinners and Spoons
Fishing with spoons has its origin sometime in antiquity when polished shells and hammered metal discs were fitted with rudimentary hooks made from stone or metal. The first modern spoons, have their origins in Scandinavia, sometime in the 1800s
Spinners, sometimes called inline-spinners are a much more modern design, with one of the earliest spinners being the Mepps spinner, designed by Andre Meulnart in 1938 France. From there the design quite quickly gained popularity and a worldwide following.
What is a spinner?
I feel the need to give a brief explanation, a spinner is a metal lure with a rotating metal blade that rapidly spins around when retrieved through the water. Sometimes, they are called inline-spinners (although that refers to a specific type of spinner), another variation, that is rarely used for trout is a spinnerbait.
Ideally, a spinner needs to be retrieved with enough speed for the blade to be rotating all of the time. They can be fished with a dead drift, but they are somewhat less effective.
What is a spoon?
A spoon is basically a solid metal lure with no moving parts. They also often look like a spoon, a curved piece of metal. Some spoons are more angular and bulky such as the Kastmaster.
The shape of a spoon can affect how they will swim and fly. A long skinny spoon casts better and often sinks faster, but the action is typically more subtle. A flat wide spoon is less aerodynamic, they hang for longer in the water column, but they tend to swim with a more pronounced wobble. Both designs and everything in between certainly have their niche.
When retrieved, spoons swim by wobbling side to side, if reeling too fast they begin to spin reducing their effectiveness for most species of fish.
Another characteristic of the spoon is that their running depth is a lot more speed-dependent compared with spinners. When reeling slowly, they sink toward the bottom, if reeling fast they raise higher in the water column. If reeling in rapidly, they can even dance across the surface – Don,t do this when after trout.
Reasons to fish with spinners?
Spinners are great trout lures. More trout are probably caught on spinners, than any other type of trout lures. They are that effective.
The secret to the spinner’s effectiveness lies in its rotating blade. As the lure moves through the water the blade rapidly spins around creating a blur, this blur sends an enormous amount of flashes through the water easily catching the attention of any nearby fish.
The spinner is far from being a one trick pony, the rotating blade also creates a lot of vibrations, and when hunting trout rely on their sense of ‘feel’ just as much as their sight. So the vibrations (and even sound) a spinner gives can further grab the attention of nearby fish.
I always like to say spinners are not shy lures, they are designed to be seen and to trigger reactions from nearby fish.
Reasons to fish spoons?
If spinners are so effective, why do so many fishermen still decide to fish with spoons? Well, I feel spoons have three main strengths, which should earn them a place in any tackle box.
One of the biggest reasons, why novice and experienced fishermen choose to fish spoons is that they cast extremely well. A spoon, such as a Kastmaster will cast further, and with less effort than virtually any other lure design. In situations where fish are holding far for shore, or when there is a lot of water to cover with limited time. The humble spoon is a great solution.
Just praising spoons for their ability to fly through the air pays them a massive disservice, spoons can also reach depths faster than any other lure design. This makes them ideal for targeting trout feeding in deep fast water such as the head of pools.
Spoons have one final strength I fish to discuss, and it is in sharp contrast to the inline-spinner discuss above. Spoons are very quiet lures, and many of them have subtle action, they send relatively few vibrations and flashes through the water.
Sometimes trout are simply not in an aggressive mood, and too aggressive action, will spook them rather than trigger them. Sometimes, spinners are too much of a good thing. In situations where a more subtle presentation is required, a spoon is hard to beat.
Some great spinners to try
There are many spinners on the market, some are excellent, and some are junk that will break after a few casts.
My favorite brands of spinners are Panther Martin and blue fox for bigger waters, and Mepps Agilia and Joe flies for streams and shallows.
If for some reason you want to fish both deep and fast, then consider using a Roostertail or Shyster. Their design works well at faster retrieves.
For more spinner suggestions, check my guide here.
Great spoons to try
There are so many different spoon variations. It will take a lifetime to fish them all. My favorite for casting far is the Kastmaster, my favorite for fishing deep water include the Acme Little Cleo, BC Steel, or the Thomas Rough Rider, for shallow water it is hard to beat a Thomas Buoyant or Mepps little wolf.
For more spoon suggestions check my recommendations here