Spinner Basics

While fishing crawler harnesses for walleye is a simple and effective technique for catching walleye everywhere, they swim there are a few adjustments anglers can make to catch more fish.

Choosing the BEST spinner blade is a simple change that anglers can make that will catch more fish.

Captain Lance shares his thoughts on size, shape and color of spinner blades so you can make the best choice next time you are pulling crawler harnesses for open-water walleye.


By: Captain Lance Valentine

Everywhere walleye swim one of the most effective and simplest ways to catch them is a crawler harness and a big juicy crawler. A few hooks, some beads and a blade are all an angler needs to fill a livewell and maybe catch the fish of a lifetime. Like everything else in fishing, little things can make a BIG difference, and when pulling harnesses choosing the best spinner blade is a big key for maximizing your catch each day. Let’s look at a few factors to consider when choosing a spinner blade.

The shape of a spinner blade is probably the number one factor to consider. While there are many different shapes of blades on the market, three are the most common. Each blade shape has characteristics that make it a better choice in certain conditions. The three most common shapes are Colorado, Willowleaf and Indiana.

Colorado blades are the “fattest” of the three and probably the most popular, especially on commercially tied harnesses. The wide shape of the Colorado creates the largest amount of vibration and the least amount of flash of the three basic shapes. The wide rotation of the Colorado creates the “Thump” and also adds “lift” to the harness, making it ride a little higher in the water column. The wide shape of the Colorado needs more speed to spin than other blades. Colorado blades are a great choice when you need a lot of vibration, like dirty water, night fishing or fishing around cover.

Willowleaf blades are long and skinny and are popular in areas where walleyes are found in deeper water. The long, skinny shape of the Willowleaf creates the largest amount of flash and the least amount of vibration. Willowleaf blades rotate very quickly and in a narrow arc, creating the large amounts of flash. Willowleaf blades are a top choice when you need lots of flash, fishing slower speeds, fishing close to the bottom or when you want to run multiple blades on a harness.

Indiana blades are a “hybrid” of the Colorado and Willowleaf, with their vibration and flash profile falling somewhere between the other two. Indiana blades are a great choice if you don’t know where to start with your blade selection. Along with Indiana blades, there are two other blades shapes that are popular and can be very effective on the Great Lakes. The “Chopper” blade has the vibration of a Colorado with some added flash, a great choice for big schools of open-water walleye chasing larger bait in late summer. The “Hatchet” blade creates a unique sound profile that is effective in dirty water and is a top choice when fishing bottom bouncers.

When picking a blade size, first consider the baitfish that walleyes are chasing and pick a shape and size that best represents those baitfish. I carry a variety of blade shapes in sizes 2-8, with the largest part of my blade selection focused on sizes 3-6 and would say most of my harness fishing starts with a size 4 or 5 blade.

We could discuss blade finish and color for days, as each angler has their favorites, but here are some tips that are important. First, but good quality blades (my favorites are available at www.warriorlures.com). Quality blades will use real silver, gold and copper for the finish. This is VERY important, as cheaper blades will use nickel and brass for a finish. Nickel and brass DO NOT have the same bright flash characteristics that silver and gold create. As far as colors, I like to “match the hatch” with my blades. Just like my crankbait selection, I like a little bit of pink, red, orange or purple on all my blades.

Picking the right spinner blade is a key to catching more fish when using crawler harnesses. Use the tips above, have a good selection of shapes, sizes, finishes and colors then keep experimenting until you find the perfect combination each day!