Not a giant fish, but I don’t get tired of ‘keeper’ sized bass of any flavor. Daiwa Tatula HD reels, 65# Braid, and Low Down Customs 8 footer.  Times they are a changin’. 


My longtime friend Brett Woodward, from Dana Point, who now lives in Laguna Niguel, gave me my first calico bass exposure.  Brett is a really good hook and lethal as a team partner.  Brett got me hooked on slow rolling spinnerbaits in the kelp for calico bass well over a decade ago now, from his Boston Whaler. 

Kelp = Hard Grass

If you’ve never felt or touched Pacific Ocean kelp, you may not know its super hard.  Hard grass, like the good kind of hydrilla you look for on Okeechobee or Seminole.  Hard grass means your bait doesn’t muck up in it while fishing.  Hard grass means really fishable grass.  Hard grass means it’s healthy and likely has an entire ecosystem of life living under/within it.  

Box O Saltwater Grade Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits are really ‘old school’ in the freshwater bass world, especially over grass.  Spinnerbaits are weedless and fish really well in the grass, and do a great job of creating a bait ball/chaser rig.  It makes a ton of sense to fish them in the kelp.  I am sure lots of guys are throwing swimbaits in the kelp, including myself.  I feel like the spinnerbait is a go-to to ‘catch a fish’ and see if any little calico bass are around or sorta see how aggressive the fish are.  

I am new to calico bass fishing.  I love to throw weedless swimbaits.  Believe me.  Braided line, Owner screw lock hooks, and weedless paddle/boot tailed swimmers are key part of my progression as a fisherman, swimming bait fisherman.   However, the spinnerbait gets down and can be slow rolled.  It get’s in the funky zone where you lose visibility, where there are deep shade pockets created by the kelp stringers.  Calico bass are aggressive and bold, but they aren’t dumb.  They have been picked over pretty good around Dana Point area, but it’s still really fun fishing.  You have to work hard for smaller fish I feel like than 10-15 years ago, but then again, what place gets better over time?  

Here are some thoughts on spinnerbaits I carry for saltwater bass fishing:  

WarBaits Spinnerbait HD 1 oz

I like all things WarBaits.  They have a no-nonsense 1 oz spinnerbait that keeps it simple, keeps it heavy duty, and has one heck of an Owner Hook that dwarfs most spinnerbait hooks.  The colors and durability are awesome and the baits will catch ‘many’ fishes before the wire and bait become useless.  Highly recommend them.  Here is a link to an Instagram video I made fishing the Warbaits HD 1 oz Spinnerbait somewhere near Trestles:

Nichols Pulsator Depth Finder Spinnerbait

Nichols is a favorite of mine. I’ve caught many spinnerbaits fish on Nichols bass. I love their colors, painted blades and fishability of the double willow spinnerbaits they make.  I realized they make a 1 oz version, made with heavy wire, dubbed the Nichols Pulsator Depth Finder.  Nice and compact, nice hook, but nowhere near the Owner hook on the Warbaits HD Spinnerbait.   Really cool color combinations and a good choice of 1 oz weights. 

The Warbaits Spinnerbait HD 1 oz come with a big and stout 10/0 and 3X Strong Owner hook. The hook is ‘significantly’ beefier gauge and reaches way further back than any other spinnerbaits I own. Beast of a hook on a beast of a spinnerbait.

Blade Runner 1.5 oz

I have fished the Blade Runner 1.5 and it definitely is heavy duty and the flat sided nature of the bait make it keel very well.  Keels tend to work well or work against you.  I find this 1.5 oz bait is really easy to throw and I liked having the turtle shell/willow combination.  Heavy duty Wire too. 

Blade Runner Guppy Spinnerbait 2.5 oz  

Maybe the guys wanted to build a better mouse-trap?  I just noticed Blade Runner makes a 2.5 oz spinnerbait now?  Check out the Guppy.  It says flat bottom, so maybe this bait has less keel and is even more a deep creeping thumper.  Will get some and advise. 

Revenge Heavy Duty Spinnerbaits

Revenge makes really good baits in general.  They have all kinds of spinnerbaits.  They make a heavy duty and a deep runner that are saltwater worthy.  I find the Heavy Duty have heavier wire and are more geared to salt than the deep runners.  I have always liked the way Revenge distributes the weight of the spinnerbait into the body shape of spinnerbait.  Most spinnerbaits are all head.  Revenge has a good sized body and is a compact bait.  I like gold shiner color! 

Notice the body resembles a baitfish and the weight is distributed to more than just the head of the spinnerbait






Here is some more fusion.  The Lucky Craft Blade Cross Bait you have to check out.  This thing really fuses the jerkbait, underspin, spinnerbait, and swimbait thing together.  I really like how neutrally buoyant this thing feels in general. It sinks out, but any slight tension flattens the bait out and you can get a near suspend with any bow or wind in your line.  Very senko-ish in feel.  You can rip rip rip and then stall this thing and just be totally stoked at this jerkbait, flash, spin, stall stuff this bait produces. You can slow grind out and transition out of your jerkbait cadance, and get more swimbait style.  Just slow grind it along, mindfully.

The Lucky Craft Blade Cross is pretty impressive.  They make a 110 size which tells me there has to be bigger / saltwater size of these things!  I want a 200 or 300 series!!!
The Lucky Craft Blade Cross is pretty impressive. They make a 110 size which tells me there has to be bigger / saltwater size of these things! I want a 200 or 300 series!!!


I think jerkbaits catch fish all year long, but as winter sinks in, and then again right before Spring springs….the jerkbait is king.  I can see smashing fish on the Ozark lakes on this bait.  Where ever you have a good reaction bait bite.  Lake Mead/Havasu come to mind.  I can see the herring eaters going nutty about this bait, especially those spotted bass herring eaters that love spinnerbaits and jerkbaits so much.  Lanier, Clarks Hill, Murray, Keowee, Hartwell —those lakes come to mind as well suited for this bait.  All clear water lakes, that is for sure.  And anywhere you know fish react to jerkbaits, well shoot, I would just tie one of these on and give a try, because this thing fishes sick.  There is no doubt you’ll enjoy and appreciate this bait.  It almost has a glide bait feel to it, and has so many other influences, I was impressed.


This is a modern twist on jerkbait, spinnerbait and swimming baits and if you think about it, is a bit of a sister to the spy bait thing.  The spy baits have the props and the whirring of their blades creates a new unique vortex.  So does the Blade Cross Bait.  Very unique swim signature and profile. Lucky Craft makes quality baits and this is no exception. I notice these things tend to be low in quantity and stock in Tackle Warehouse often.  That is usually a good indicator.

Fusion of jerkbait, spinnerbait, underspin and swimbait.  Pretty rad bait.
Fusion of jerkbait, spinnerbait, underspin and swimbait. Pretty rad bait.


Purchase the Lucky Craft Blade Cross Bait HERE