When buying spinners of unknown brands, a lot can be learned about their likely performance and action based entirely on the blade design they used.
The shape or design of the rotating blade on an inline spinner not only influences the action, and sink rate, but also the optimal speed the spinner should be fished at.
For example, a long thin willow leaf blade that is found on Roostertails spins close to the body of the lure, allowing them to sink fast. The streamlined blade has the downside that it takes a relatively fast retrieve to get it spinning at full velocity.
Contrastly, the round Colorado blade, found on spinners such as the standard Joe Fly creates a lot of resistance, allowing them to start rotating at relatively slow speeds. They also spin, further from the body creating a lot more uplifting resulting in a shallower swimming spinner.
How much does any of this matter?
While different blade designs, do perform differently, it will be dishonest of me not to mention, it does not really matter that much. There is enough overlap that it is generally possible to fish any blade design at any retrieval speed or depth, it just becomes more difficult to do so and you have to sacrifice some of the inherent flash and action of the spinner.
For example to fish a Roostertail shallow, generally requires a very fast retrieve, too fast for most trout to be interested in, To fish, a French lade Mepps Agilia deep requires long pauses to give it time to reach the bottom. During these pauses, the blade stops spinning reducing the action, and in current, sometimes it will drift out of the ‘optimal’ strike zone before reaching the depth.
So while it is possible to fish any design of spinner in any situation, some simply work better than other under different conditions. In this guide, I will discuss the various blade designs and in which trout fishing situations they work best.
The optimal speed to run different spinner blades?
Judging and calculating retrieval speed when spin fishing is difficult, for this reason trolling speed is used to estimate the most efficient speed ranges to use various spinning lures.
Between about 1-3 miles per hour, all blade designs should be freely rotating, Colorado blades fill the gap below 1mph, they can be effective down to 0.6mph, while high resistance blades such as a Colorado can start surfacing at speeds exceeding 1.6mph.
So high speed retrieves between about 1.6-3mph is where willow leaf blades really come into their own.
So to summarize
- <1mph: Colorado
- 1-1.6mph: French, Indiana
- > 1.6mph Willowleaf
There are over 17 different blade designs for spinning lures, most of which are never really used in trout fishing situations. Below I will discuss the four main types.
French blades were among the earliest blade designs and time has proven them to be extremely effective at catching trout.
In some ways, French blades are the middle of the pack type of design, they rotate at ‘moderate speeds’, and they generate enough lift to make them a popular design to fish in shallow to medium depths.
If I were to have only one spinner, it probably will have a French blade.
Indiana blades are very slightly more teardrop in shape than French blades, this increases the distance through the water resulting in a slightly slower performance with more lift. I basically fish them in similar situations.
For some reason, colorado blades are not commonly found on mainstream trout spinners, this is a shame because they are the best option for extremely slow retrieval speeds. Some people even drift fish them beneath floats, it takes very little momentum to get the blade turning.
I like to fish colorado spoons in very shallow, or very cold water when trout are unlikely to expend much energy chasing down a quick moving meal.
I mostly assemble my own colorado bladed spinners, simply because they are difficult to buy. The main exception is Joe Flies, although they also come with a trailing fly. The Mepps Musky Marabou is another example but they are a bit big for most trout fishing situations.
There is also an old technique to fish colorado blades with a lead weight tied several inches down the line. The lead gets the spinner down deep, and during the retrieve, the colorado blade will constantly try to raise to the surface but the lift it generates will never overcome the mass of the sinker. This method works very well targeting fish holding close to the bottom in fast water.,
Willow Leaf Blades are the fastest
Willow leaf blades as their name suggests are long and thin like a willow leaf.
These are designed to be fished at relatively higher speeds (est: 3-1/2mph), when retrieved, the willow leaf blade spins close to the body of the lure making it extremely hydrodynamic, generating minimal lift allowing the lure to swim low for longer. The long blade can also assist in bouncing the lure away from any structure, reducing the chance of snags.
I do not rate willow leaf based spinners that highly for trout fishing, because they are at their most efficient at speeds and trout start to lose interest. Trout are lazy fish, most of the time they prefer not to spend energy chasing down prey. The higher speed does make them more attractive to some other species of fish.
The main time, I will consider using a willow leaf blade spinner is when I want to search over a lot of water quickly. Due to the high speed of the retrieve, it is a good lure to find fish with.
Examples of this blade can be found on Roostertail, Mepps Aglia Long, Thomas E.P Spin, Luhr-Jensen Shyster and the list goes on.
Inline style blades sink fast but retrieve moderately slow
The most unique aspect of the in-line blade is that it does not require a clevis (A little u-shape connector) to attach to the lure.
The main difference between a French blade and an inline blade is in their buoyancy. Inline blades, with no forward momentum drop like a rock, this is because the blade does not turn on the descent. It only starts rotating with forward momentum, or when held in the current.
The inline, because it spins closer to the middle of the blade also generates less lift, they stay deep, for longer. This is a big help in strong currents and powerful eddies.
They can also be paired with a much heavier spinner body, allowing for a comparatively smaller lure with greater mass. Again, great for sinking fast, and staying low in the water column.
One of the best ways to fish an line blade is to cast directly upstream and retrieve with the current. They also work well swinging them downstream on river water rivers. The low lift allows the inline bladed spinner to stay deeper in the water even at the end of a long swing. This is when many trout will choose to strike.