Heavy Metal Bass Fishing – Throwing Big Spoons for Summer Bass
The Ben Parker Magnum Spoon from Nichols has created a firestorm in the fishing industry lately. While the industry leaders were at ICAST this year showing their latest and greatest lures, Nichols was busy meeting the supply and demand that the near 8”, 3.5 oz. spoon has generated by anglers fishing summer ledges. The spoon received much press in June 2014 during the Kentucky Lake FLW Tournament as half of the top anglers used it to produce huge bags at the weigh in. The oversized spoon also provided a win for the Bethel University team in the same month in the BASS College Wildcard event on Lake Pickwick.
Big spoons have been around for some time, as the legend goes they started many years ago when an angler dropped his spoon for eating in the water accidentally while having lunch. As he watched the spoon descend into the clear water a huge fish engulfed the spoon as it fluttered down. The angler is believed to have rushed home, digging through the kitchen drawers and taking his wives silver wear to the garage to cut the handles off and drill holes to attach a hook on one end and a line on the other. Of course the facts of this old tale were not documented and the origin remains a mystery to this day. However in 2006, Texas angler Kelly Jordon revived the use of the flutter spoon while being filmed for a now classic episode of Ultimate Match Fishing. While on Kentucky Lake with cameras rolling Jordon tied on 5” spoon weighing 1.5 ounces that was considered to be a giant spoon at the time, and impressed the other anglers with the effectiveness of the big spoon.
Tennessee Pro Angler Ben Parker who partnered with Nichols to manufacture the giant spoon is well known for his skill of fishing big spoons. Parker has tweaked, modified and experimented with hooks, swivels and spoon shapes openly over the duration of his career. The Nichols spoon bearing his name appears to be the result of his toils. This massive spoon measures 8-inches and features a nickel-plated, chrome finish, equipped with a size 4 Spro Power Swivel that connects the super sharp 3/0 Owner Stinger dressed treble to the spoon.
Parker shares, “Whenever bass are schooled up away from heavy cover and feeding on big baitfish I throw a spoon. They work great ledge fishing but I often use one even in 4-6 feet of water on gravel flats or shelled areas. The water does not have to be deep. You can keep the Magnum Spoon off the bottom and work it in less than 5 feet of water. It just doesn't like wood.”
The biology behind the success of the giant metal spoons is the way they imitate big late season shad that appear to be injured or dying, bass with rapid metabolism in warm water cannot resist an easy meal. During the June 2014 FLW Event at Kentucky Lake almost every top rated angler tied on the magnum spoon to catch and cull a limit.
Fishing the big spoons will wear you out according to the anglers that are throwing it. They require a bit more manual labor than other lures, but they have great results. Team Nitro Pro Donna Bilbrey recommends tackle that includes a 7'6" - 8' rod like the TFO GTS Swimbait Rod to help with the cast and to properly work the heavy spoons. The TFO rod with a softer tip and a stout butt give more leverage and action when throwing big spoons. “This rod is designed for use with large baits such as Alabama Rig, Carolina Rig, big swimbaits and deep crankbaits but it is great for big spoons too. A really fast reel like the Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier baitcast reel with 7:1:1 retrieve speed, spooled with quality fluorocarbon in the 20 pound range is what I recommend because it is strong and flexible enough to allow the spoon to provide action.” She stated. Growing up fishing the Great Lakes and the Detroit River she learned the techniques of both flutter and jigging spoons to produce smallmouth throughout the summer months, a skill she brought with her to Tennessee, which has paid off for her on several occasions on Tennessee lakes.
BPS Nitro Flash Casting Spoon
She says, “To find success with the smaller 5” spoons like the Nitro Flash Casting Spoon, cast as far as you can, while striping line so the spoon will fall straight to the bottom structure on a slack line. If bass don’t hit the spoon on the fall, once contact is made with the bottom, pump the spoon up by quickly lifting the rod tip one to two times then burn it back with an occasional “kill” retrieve. Burring four to five fast cranks and then abruptly stopping the retrieve to create and erratic presentation. Once the jig flutters to the bottom again, wait a few seconds and then repeat this cadence. But the massive Ben Parker Spoons are going to require more work with the rod and the angler.”
Flutter Spoon & Jigging Spoon
Some new anglers get confused when they hear others talking about jigging flutter spoons and confuse them with jigging spoons. Jigging spoons are significantly different in shape than the larger flutter spoons. They are often either silver or gold and available in a dressed treble or plain hook. Anglers vertically jig this type of spoon when they locate bass on their electronics. Many anglers that try jigging spoons do not have success basically because they are raising them too far and too fast. Successful anglers find success with a lift and drop technique of as small as 6 inches to 24 inches. When fishing a jigging spoon, an aggressive strike almost gets the rod jerked out of your hand because there is very little slack in the line fishing or jigging straight down. The jigging spoons as some refer to the smaller spoons are flat on both sides and are made of lead with a chrome plate. Many have a hammered finish but they are available in many other sizes and finishes as well. But the big spoon craze is known as flutter spoons.
Angler Mike Mueller of Union, Kentucky has had great success with a flutter spoon throughout his career fishing the Tennessee River chain of lakes in many tournaments. His preferred set up is also a fast reel and a 7'6 rod. Mike also chooses a reel with a 7.1:1 like the Lews BB1 - the rod has to have a fast tip that allows easier casting and a strong backbone for the hookset he uses a C76 model Razr for his technique. The 7.1:1 Lews reel is preferred as you need a fast retrieve in order to set the hook as it falls on slack line. Mike uses either 17-20# Seaguar Fluorocarbon or 40# Seaguar Smack down Braid (12# Diameter) – as his line choices. Each one provides the low stretch needed for a solid hookset, but the braid allows for a slightly better feel of the bite as it "flutters"
“Current is the key, the leading edges of the ledges where the current hits, or other current breaks on the ledges are preferred. I generally fish ledges with a one-two tactic on active feeding fish on ledges.” Mike says,” I will either start with a Flutter Spoon or follow up with a deep diving DP3 Bass Craft Crankbait, or vice versa. When the fish turn off or become inactive, I will go to a big 10" worm like the Snack Daddy "Kraken" or a Jewel 3/4 oz. football jig.”
Positioning is another key factor he reports, “The cast is more of a lob cast, depending on the size of the spoon. Since the spoon has a tendency to get hung up in the wind, I'll slightly tighten the spool tension knob in the Lews BB1 in order to reduce the risk of backlash. As the spoon hits the water it is key is to let it fall on a slack line with the rod tip high, all the time watching your line for signs of a fish as almost all hits will be on the fall. Once it hits the bottom, I alternate between making one sharp snap of the rod, or two quick snaps of the rod in order to keep the cadence unpredictable. In all cases, the lure must fall on a slack line as the rod is held high - at around 11 o'clock. This relates back to the need for the 7.1:1 high speed reel retrieve that will quickly pick up the slack in the line allowing for a more solid hook set.”
When asked where and when a flutter spoon is the most effective Mike said, “This is most notably effective on the ledges of the lakes on the Tennessee River chain. This technique is mainly a Summer one that begins after the post spawn stage when the fish have moved out to the river ledges, and remains effective until early fall when the fish start their migration back to the shallows.”
Many agree with these anglers about spoons being a summer ledge fishing presentation that is great on the Tennessee River Chain of lakes since no other body of water in North America has given bass fishing more legends that the 652 miles of the Tennessee River. The chain of lakes that have harnessed the power of this amazing fishery are Fort Loudon-Tellico being the furthest upstream, Watts Bar, Chickamauga, Nickajack, Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson, Pickwick and Kentucky Lake, the farthest downstream and the largest manmade lake east of the Mississippi River by surface acreage and it is the best known ledge fishing lake in the country. Bass have historically been caught using spoons in and around deep water in depths of 10 to 30 feet. This is where there is the best chance that you can find a good spoon bite.
The ledges of these lakes are so productive because they have so many kick-outs, back ditches and humps more than other lakes on the professional bass fishing circuit. The structure of Kentucky Lake provides the areas where fish can hide and thrive. Multiple schools of big fish that can be a gold mine but they are known to move overnight to change the outcome of a two day event. The flutter spoon can be a great way to fire up a school of bass. A Heavy Metal wakeup call sometimes is all that is needed.
For more info visit these sites:
The Ben Parker Magnum Spoon from Nichols:
Bass Pro Shops® Nitro Flash Casting Spoon and 7:1:1 Pro Qualifier Reel:
Temple Fork Outfitters, Gary's Tactical Series Swimbait Rods: