Bass Fishing Tips: How Kevin Van Dam Fishes Spinnerbaits

When 4-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin Van Dam fishes a spinnerbait or lipless crankbait, he doesn't just chunk and wind. Find out what he does to catch more fish.

Bass Fishing Tips: How Kevin Van Dam Fishes Spinnerbaits

Professional angler Kevin Van Dam of Michigan has ultimate confidence with a spinnerbait, which mimics a shad or multiple shad. But he doesn't just chunk and wind. (Photo: Phoenix Moore, Major League Fishing)

When 4-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin Van Dam fishes a spinnerbait or lipless crankbait, he doesn't just chunk and wind.

The $6 Million Man from Michigan has those four titles along with seven Angler of the Year awards, 121 Top 10 finishes and 28 major tournament wins. In his roughly 30 years of professional fishing, Van Dam has seen a lot of water from south Florida to California.

But his roots were in the clear waters of Michigan inhabited primarily by smallmouth bass. To catch those he often used a jerkbait and spinnerbait, the latter of which is arguably his go-to weapon anywhere in the country.

I've fished a few times with Van Dam at Strike King media events. The spinnerbait, he told me years ago, may be old school but is a timeless bait anglers should not overlook. A half-ounce double-willowleaf spinnerbait in white or white-chartreuse mimics shad, allows an angler to cover water quickly, and can be fished fast high in the water column or slower to get deeper.

If bass are on or near the bottom, a heavier bait can be slowed down with a slow-roll presentation. The half-ounce size can be burned through skinny water, too, should you be pursuing largemouth around shallow cover where a heavy bait won't work well. And if you're in a smallmouth lake, you better take extra baits because they'll try to mangle it.

Do This, Too

One thing Van Dam always does that you can do is to flick the bait every 3-4 turns of the reel handle.

It's not a violent flick. It's just a quick flick, barely even a pause in the retrieve, to make the bait wiggle and puff. It's a subconscious thing, too. He just does it. 

Have you ever watched a shad or baitfish swim, either in a school or alone? Their bodies shimmy and wiggle. They don't swim in straight lines. Adding the slight wrist-flick imparts a momentary break that a bass might not like.

If you have a pond, lake, ditch, swimming pool or somewhere to watch a spinnerbait in action, tie one on and give it a try. 

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