Spinnerbait Fishing Strategies for Peacock Bass
Air Kuning and Chenderoh Dam (Perak, Malaysia)
With the exception of the crankbait, perhaps no other reaction bait has stood the test of time more so than the spinnerbait. Originally invented in 1951 and first manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri, the spinnerbait can come in handy in a myriad of angling situations, quite literally anywhere in the world. In my opinion, it is an invention that is well ahead of its time and one of the very few multispecies lure that catches fish in either cold or warm water conditions.
Spinnerbait fishing in Malaysia
In Malaysia where I grew up, the spinnerbait was a wellregarded staple bait of avid snakehead anglers long before other options became more widely available in tackle shops across the country. Though spinnerbaits have recently been overshadowed by the raging success of crankbaits and swimbaits for some styles of fishing, it does not mean that spinnerbaits have become totally obsolete, in my opinion, certainly not when it comes to peacock bass fishing because not a lot of baits will actually allow you to cover water as effectively as a spinnerbait under a wide variety of warm water conditions in Malaysia.
Spinnerbaits excel when the water has at least a little stain to it, generally in mid-20s to low-30s degree Celsius. Though soft swimbaits can do a better job in lakes that have baitfish-dominant forage, especially black water lakes with predominantly open water cover, a spinnerbait is an effective lure in situations where peacock bass move to the edges of cover. In fact, the latter is actually a pretty common scenario in a lot of lakes in Malaysia. Therefore, that is why I always have a spinnerbait tied on, because no matter where you fish, you will never be far away from the nearest cover.
Spinnerbait fishing conditions
What are the most common scenarios that call for a spinnerbait? Cover and water conditions aside, one key element that makes the spinnerbait such an effective situational lure is wind-blown cover. Where there is prevailing wind, I will head for the nearest cover and I comb those areas thoroughly with spinnerbaits. All in all, windy conditions usually mean it is prime-time for spinnerbait bites. No matter the lake, when the wind blows, whether in stained or semi-clear water, peacock bass will be moving up the water column in search of forage.
Spinnerbaits are major fish producers, especially around edges of cover. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water across the water column on the same cast through mainly snaggy cover. Wind-blown surface ripples reduce light penetration and encourage peacock bass to move closer to the edges of cover. Wind is basically caused by differences in
atmospheric pressure, when air moves from areas of higher to lower pressure. The falling barometer makes peacock bass more inclined to forage and chase. The effective result of that is a much enlarged strike zone where you do not have to put the bait within inches of a fish’s nose. Just get it close enough for the fish to see or sense the bait’s vibration and you are bound to find action.
Fish high-percentage areas
Peacock bass will belt a spinnerbait from a variety of cover per se, but they tend to show a preference on any given body of water, on any given day. So, the first step revolves around finding those high-percentage areas. When I am fishing on ex-mining lake fisheries in Air Kuning, I basically look for grass, hydrilla, hyacinth or any available cover. Finding peacock bass with spinnerbaits is often a result of trial and error, from retrieve speeds, the depth you are fishing and bait styles that is the best on any given condition. Use the spinnerbait’s snag-resistant properties to your advantage and efficiently cover water that is inaccessible to other lures. I will cast beyond cover where possible and then drive my spinnerbait close to it. I repeat the process and vary my retrieve speed and depth according to prevailing conditions.
I like the power-finesse spinnerbait approach to peacock bass fishing. In fact, that is my go-to approach in response to angling pressure on lakes in Air Kuning and Chenderoh, in upstate Perak. Angling pressure can create finesse fishing situations and even big lakes are not completely immune to pressure. As anglers, we should always consider what we are trying to imitate with the spinnerbaits we throw, starting with size because size and profile matters.
Imitate local forage
Most lakes in Air Kuning have a baitfish-dominant forage base. Over there, I will throw compact spinnerbaits with small blades such as O.S.P High Pitcher. For those who prefer regular spinnerbaits, 3/16 or 1/4-oz with smaller blades make good alternatives. I prefer a Colorado lead blade with willow leaf trailing for power-finesse presentation around shallow water cover. If I need to retrieve the bait a little faster, deeper or tighter to cover, I switch to tandem
willow blades. I like to use white, silver or other natural colors in semi-stained water and loud colors, such as pink, chartreuse or even blood red in stained and muddy water conditions. There are various retrieve styles for spinnerbaits but I generally prefer to keeps things simple most of the time. I caught nearly every peacock bass on steady retrieve, but sometimes you have to throw in little pauses, pops and mix it up to entice a big bite.
Having the right rod is really important when throwing a spinnerbait for peacock bass. I basically rely on two medium-high modulus rods depending on conditions and size of spinnerbaits. In my opinion, medium-high modulus rods can improve your hook-up ratio with spinnerbaits greatly. When using 1/4 or 5/16-oz spinnerbaits around sparse cover, I use a 6’-9” medium Majorcraft Corzza CZC692M casting rod paired with a 5.8:1 Daiwa Alphas 103 casting reel and 12lb-test Sunline fluorocarbon line. For heavier 3/8 or 1/2-oz spinnerbaits, I use a 7’ Majorcraft Corzza CZC-702H casting rod paired with a 6.3:1 Team Daiwa TD-Z 105H casting reel and 14lb-test Sunline fluorocarbon line. Shorter rods are more accurate when I am working around shallow water cover. When I am covering big hydrilla flats and screw palm banks on Chenderoh Lake, I like the extra length and power of a heavy-action rod to help me get extra distance on my cast and drive hard
fighting fish away from nasty cover.
Experiment and be versatile
Importantly, I believe peacock bass anglers must remain versatile when fishing a spinnerbait, especially today in Malaysia where angling pressure is immense. Conditions on the lakes all over the country can change rapidly for better or for worse and what works today may not work tomorrow, especially during the inter-monsoon periods.
The bottom line is to pay attention to the conditions and experiment to ensure your bait imitates the prevalent local forage.
Be sure to check out Air Kuning and Chenderoh Lake on your next vacation to Perak, Malaysia. Thank you for reading and I hope you find this article interesting. Fish hard, fish well and god bless.
I would like to thank my sponsors TCE Sports Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia), Nice Fish Distribution (UK), Bitez and SportyFish Series (Singapore) for their support and contribution.
I caught this solid 3lb’er around scattered grass on a pink 1/4-oz spinnerbait with tandem willow blades
Wind-blown isolated bushes such as these in Air Kuning can be fish magnets during certain periods of the day
Spinnerbaits are ‘big fish’ bait! My friend, Robert Tan caught this solid female on flooded hydrilla
Do not let muddy water and screw palm cover intimidate you on Chenderoh Lake. A spinnerbait can get near those fish holding cover without getting hung up
Some of the custom-made spinnerbaits that I use on my most recent trip to Malaysia
This is my Chenderoh Lake personal best (period). I caught this fish on a blood red 1/4-oz spinnerbait with tandem willow blades on top of a flooded hydrilla flat that is beside a screw palm island
O.S.P. makes some of the best compact profile spinnerbaits. The High Pitcher series spinnerbait is superbly well balanced out of the package, durable and comes fitted with extremely sharp hooks
My heavy spinnerbaiting setup (7’ Majorcraft Corzza CZC702H paired with a 6.3:1 Team Daiwa TD-Z 105H casting reel and 14lb-test Sunline fluorocarbon line) sits next to my topwater setup