Top 5 Freshwater Fishing Spinners

Top 5 Freshwater Fishing Spinners

This post will list Capt Jim’s top 5 freshwater fishing spinners. In-line spinners are extremely versatile fishing lures. They are mostly used when freshwater fishing. Spinners will catch a wide variety of species, from small panfish to giant musky. There are many different spinners to choose from.

river fishing for musky

The top 5 freshwater fishing spinners are;

  • Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner
  • Mepps Aglia spinner
  • Blue Fox Vibrax spinner
  • Panther Martin spinner
  • Mepps Musky Killer spinner

These five in-line spinners will cover every freshwater fishing situation and angler will face and will fool every species that will take a lure.

bluegill fishing

In-line spinners are fairly basic lures that have been around a long time. They consist of a wire shaft with some type of body in the middle. The body adds color and weight. A blade rotates on the shaft around the body, emitting both flash and vibration. There is a hook at the end, usually a treble hook. The hook can be plain or dressed with some type of hair, usually bucktail.

Spinner fishing techniques

Spinners are versatile lures they can be effective in a wide variety of angling situations. They can be used throughout the entire water column, from just under the surface all the way to the bottom. They are effective in all bodies of water, but particularly so in rivers with moving water. Spinners are also extremely effective when trolled, especially for trout.

fishing for rainbow trout

Fishing with spinners in rivers

Spinners really shine when fished in moving water such as creeks, streams, and rivers. The current just assists in getting the blades to rotate and flash. Spinners also mimic the type of forged that game fish find in rivers. The best approach when fishing spinners in smaller rivers is to cast across the current and retrieve the spinner back just fast enough to keep the blades turning. The strike often occurs as the lure swings on a tight line at the end of the drift.

Anglers fishing in larger rivers do well to both casting and trolling. In this situation, heavier spinners are often used to get the lure down deeper in the water column. Slow trolling the deeper holes is an extremely effective technique for trout, salmon, and other species.

live bait for bass

Spinner fishing in lakes

Spinners are certainly very effective in lakes as well. Very small versions are deadly on bluegill, crappie, and other panfish. Anglers cast out small brightly colored spinners towards submerged vegetation and trees as well as docks and other structure. In most cases, a very slow and steady retrieve works best. The same approach using larger spinners will catch bass as well.

Larger spinners are extremely effective on northern pike and musky. These apex predators lie in wait, generally in submerged weed beds, and ambush helpless prey as it swims by. A large spinner flashing overhead, putting out vibration will often trigger a strike. For the most part, spinners mimic a wounded bait fish which is the primary forage of pike and musky.

Alberta fishing tips

Spinners are very effective for just about every species of trout in lakes as well. Rainbow trout in particular are stocked widely throughout the country. They tend to feed and the upper part of the water column and spinners are extremely effective lures, both cast and trolled. Larger spinners will catch lake trout and salmon in lakes as well.

The top 5 freshwater fishing spinners

Best 9 bluegill and panfish fishing lures

While freshwater fishing spinners are similar in how they operate, there are differences in the way spinners are manufactured. These differences will affect the optimum spots that they will be used in and techniques that will produce fish. Also, anglers will need to use different size spinners based on the forage available as well is the species being pursued.

Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner

Capt Jim’s favorite in-line spinner is the Worden’s Original Rooster Tail spinner. This is the lightest of the spinners on the list, making it particularly effective in streams and small rivers. Not coincidentally, these are Capt. Jim’s favorite waters to fish with spinners. These lures are available in a wide variety of sizes and color patterns, all of which can be effective.

rooster tail

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The 1/16 ounce and 1/8 ounce Rooster Tail spinners work extremely well in streams and small rivers. Capt. Jim’s favorite color patterns are brightly colored bodies with a gold blade. White with a silver blade would be his second choice. This is an extremely effective lure for all species of trout in waters that hold them. In warmer waters, bass and panfish will readily devour them.

trout fishing

Rooster tail spinners can certainly be used in lakes as well. They are particularly effective for panfish in smaller ponds and lakes. They can be used by anglers trolling as well, though due to their light weight trolling sinkers or some other device will be required to get them down in the water column.

Mepps Aglia spinner

The Mepps Aglia spinner is another fairly light lure that has been around a long time. Mepps has been an industry leader when it comes to fishing spinners for decades. It is a bit heavier than the Rooster Tail spinner, however is still an excellent choice for fishing streams and small rivers. It is available in multiple sizes and blade color in tail color combinations.


Click this link to shop Amazon for Mepps Aglia spinners

The smaller sizes are excellent when used in streams and they will catch every species of trout along with warm water species such as panfish and smallmouth bass. Larger sizes are better for bass, pickerel, and pike as well. They do come with treble hooks which makes them better for fishing in open water. The most popular color combination is a gold blade with the brown hair skirt on the hook.

Blue Fox Vibrax spinner

The Blue Fox Vibrax spinner is a bit heavier than the previous two lures. It has a patented two-part brass body that along with the plated blade puts out a very unique vibration. This lure is available in sizes from 7/64 of an ounce to 5/8 ounces. It is available in a wide variety of body and blade color combinations.

blue fox spinner

Click this link to shop Amazon for Blue Fox spinners

The Vibrax spinner is a excellent choice in larger rivers with deeper holes. This bait is fairly heavy and will sink quickly, getting down to the deeper depths where lighter spinners will not reach. For the same reason, they are fantastic lures to troll for trout and other species. The heavier versions will get down deep enough in the water column that they do not require any extra weight. This is a great convenience when trolling in lakes.

Panther Martin spinner

The Panther Martin spinner is also a fairly heavy lure. It is credited with being the first in-line spinner where the shaft ran through the body and the blade. Obviously, it is a proven bait with over 100 million units being sold. It has a larger and heavier body which emits a unique vibration as well as working a little bit deeper in the water column.

panther martin

Click this link to shop Amazon for Panther Martin spinners

Panther Martin spoons are excellent trout lures, but will catch a variety of other species as well. They are a versatile spinner that can be cast as well as trolled. It is similar to the Blue Fox spinner, but with a slightly different vibration.

Mepps Musky Killer spinner

The Mepps Musky Killer is similar to the Mepps Aglia, with a few exceptions. It is one of the largest spinners available and is designed to be used by anglers fishing for musky in northern pike. These are large game fish with sharp teeth, which requires a stout lure. The Musky Killer is made from extra strong components and holds up better under these fishing conditions than other spinners do.

musky killer

Click this link to shop Amazon for Mepps Musky Killer spinners

This bait works best when fished over top of submerged vegetation. Musky and Pike are long and sleek and well designed to ambush bait fish in this environment. The spinner will not run through heavy weeds, the treble hook will snag up. However, in sparse vegetation and over submerged vegetation it is extremely effective.

In conclusion, this article on the top 5 freshwater fishing spinners will help anglers choose the right spinner for their fishing application and therefore catch more fish!

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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