A lure class known as blade baits first showed up on the fishing scene in the late 1950s. The original blade bait was the Heddon Sonic, introduced in 1957. Unlike nearly all the wooden or plastic plugs of its day, when it hit the water, the Sonic sank straight to the bottom. When retrieved, it wobbled with a tight vibration you could feel even on those old glass rods of yesteryear.
This style of bait found favor with anglers throughout the ’60s before it virtually disappeared for almost a generation. In the ’80s, blade baits made a comeback but seemed relegated to a secret place in the tackle box of top anglers.
Recent tackle trends are seeing the blade bait’s popularity soaring. Many tackle manufacturers now offer a number of models and colors. The secret to the attraction of blade baits is vibration. Whether jigged, ripped or retrieved, blade baits send out a thumping, pulsing rhythm that walleyes and most other species just can’t resist. One of my favorite blade baits is the Johnson ThinFisher. Fishing guide Austin Parr joined me on my radio show Saturday to discuss why this lure has become one of his go-to presentations.
Blade baits are often grouped with a style of lures known as jigging spoons. Jigging spoons are a mainstay in western reservoirs and are especially effective in cold-water situations.
Provided by Terry Wickstrom
The Johnson ThinFisher, seen here, is a relatively inexpensive yet effective blade bait.
Jigging spoons and blade baits have long been thought of as a cold water presentation. The key was falling water temperatures stress bait fish, especially the shad. A spoon or blade bait fluttering or vibrating triggers a reaction strike from fish concentrating on this vulnerable prey. Because blade baits tend to be a better choice for horizontal presentations versus a typical vertical presentation used with a jigging spoon, anglers like Parr have extended its use throughout the year in a variety of applications, and for a variety of species. In fact, in the heat of summer when anglers are chasing walleyes on local reservoirs such as Cherry Creek and Chatfield with bait, Parr switches to blade baits in the middle of the day when the bite slows down. By “yo-yo-ing” the bait over humps and points, he is able to add some fish to his catch during the toughest part of the day.
I asked Parr if there is a season when he doesn’t use blade baits and he said he catches fish on them year round. He also said he has caught virtually every species of fish in Colorado on blade baits.
I asked Parr why he thought more anglers don’t use blade baits. He said they don’t have the appeal to anglers that a realistic crankbait or scented soft bait does. There is also a bit of a learning curve to fishing blade baits successfully and gaining confidence.
I asked why, like me, he liked the Johnson ThinFisher so much. Parr felt the ThinFisher had a tighter vibration and its design seemed excellent at triggering fish to bite. The ThinFisher is available in three sizes and a variety of colors. When fishing shad-based lakes, silver with a black back is a good color choice. On reservoirs such as Aurora, where perch tend to be the main forage, a green and gold seems to work the best. I like to have a few silver and a couple varieties of gold colors in my tackle box. Fortunately, the ThinFisher is relatively inexpensive (about $3.50 each). You will lose some in the rocks and cover, but that tends to be where the fish are. Whether you fish from a boat or shore, and whatever species you prefer to chase, the ThinFisher will give you another trick in your bag to catch fish, especially on some of those tough bites.
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