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Underspins and What They Can Do For You

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Not everything about Winter has to be cold. There’s plenty of warm things to look forward to in those brisk months...fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate, a nice pair of fleece pajamas… and the underspin bite.

First off, let’s talk about what an underspin is. They’re pretty simple honestly, a hook with a blade attached underneath that you thread a swimbait onto. They are meant to imitate baitfish or a small school of baitfish. Underspins come in all shapes and sizes but for this write up I’ll separate them into two categories, weedless and exposed. The weedless underspins are typically a screwlock keel weighted swimbait hook with a blade dangling off the back on a swivel. These I typically fish in the warmer months as vegetation begins to emerge. The weedless nature of the bait makes them a great shallow water option to pull through cover and target Bass that are pushing shallow to feed. They also give you a great option to work a small swimbait through cover while adding flash...think weedless spinnerbait. I don’t typically fish this style in the winter because I am typically fishing more open water, deeper water or suspended fish so the weedless nature of the bait and slightly lower hookup percentage isn’t really worth it. In the winter I focus more on the other style of underspin, the exposed hook style. This style comes in dozens of configurations from equally as many brands. While they come in many different shapes and sizes, they really don’t vary that much. As long as it’s a jighead with a decent bait keeper and a blade on a bearing swivel, it’ll get the job done. Don’t be fooled by super fancy paint jobs and what not. I often use an unpainted lead colored underspin in the winter because I’ll be pairing it with a natural shad colored plastic, so the gray color actually matches pretty well. I don’t go too crazy with the baits I put on the underspin. Typical rule of thumb, the clearer the water, the more you should match the bait. 99% of the time my swimbait will be a paddle tail in a natural shad color. Baits such as the Keitech Fat Swing Impact, the Strike King Rage Swimmer or the Megabass Spark Shad are some of my favorites. All of these baits come in a variety of colors and sizes, so I just try to match the size and color to the forage in my given fishing situation.

Now that we’ve touched on what an underspin is, let's talk about what you need to throw them. Underspins aren’t a very demanding lure when it comes to tackle requirements. A 7 foot or longer medium to medium heavy power rod, a slow to medium retrieve speed reel (5.4-6.8:1 ratio) and 10-14lb flourocarbon line will do the trick. I often will throw them on braid with a long flourocarbon leader in a pinch and it works just fine. I sometimes call the underspin a “poor man's Alabama rig” because of how the bait fishes and what it imitates, and for the fact that you don’t need specialty equipment to throw it. It’s also nice that every time you cast it you aren’t throwing $30+ into the water.

My favorite thing about an underspin is the fact that it's a moving bait that gets bit consistently in the cold months. We can all agree, dragging a jig or waiting 10 seconds in between twitches of your jerkbait can be boring. It’s pretty refreshing to pull out the underspin and at least get to turn the reel handle constantly to keep yourself awake. Fishing an underspin isn’t too difficult. You have to remember what it imitates first. The bait is designed to mimic baitfish so the best way to fish it is to imitate what the baitfish would be doing. If you’re fishing following a cold front you’ll want to hug the bottom, reeling slow and steady and fish drop-offs next to feeding areas. If you’re fishing a warming trend, look for the bait. Often on a warming trend, bait will come up higher into the water column. In this case, a faster retrieve with the occasional twitch is often the best because the bait will likely be more active and moving around. Always remember though, This bait shines in the Winter, and no matter how much bait you’re seeing, it’s still Winter. The water is cold and the fish are still going to be fairly slow. Don’t fish it too fast or add too much action because that can be the difference in an epic day and a fishless day. My typical cycle when fishing the underspin is always start low and slow. I’ll crawl it along the bottom and then gradually work my way up the water column as time goes on. Another nice thing about this bait is it’s a great search bait in the Winter. Since not many moving options are optimal in the winter, it’s nice to have something that can cover water efficiently.

That’s really all there is to it. The underspin is a bait every angler should have in their winter Bass aresenal. They’re not an expensive bait to get into, swing down to your local tackle shop, grab a few heads and a pack or two of swimbaits and get to casting. I have a feeling the results will quickly add this bait to your cold weather favorites list.

Grant Alvis

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