Try a Google search for “world’s best fishing lures” and you’ll get well over 3 million hits — but virtually all of them have one commonality: Almost every article or blog written about the greatest lures of all time includes the simple, time-tested spoon. Just how long spoons have been around is a matter of debate, but other than the addition of a weed guard, few technological advancements have been added to the spoon in the past 1,000 or so years. That’s because more tech hasn’t been needed — because the simplest weedless spoons catch fish, period.
A well-designed weedless spoon can be cast a country mile; it will wobble through the water with grace and appeal, and attract strikes from virtually every game fish on the face of the planet. It won’t grab at the grass, rarely snags and doesn’t require you to get a doctorate to create a fish-enticing flash and wiggle.
“We all get so caught up in scented baits, lures that are anatomically perfect, plastics with fake wiggling legs and completely realistic eyes that sometimes you have to remind yourself that we caught fish before all that stuff was around,” notes South Carolina Lowcountry guide Jay Nelson, of Winyah Guide Service, who likes using spoons while hunting for redfish. “Spoons are the perfect old-school standby, especially when the water is stained and the reds are focused on baitfish.” But all spoons are not created equal. Color variations, wobble, flash and construction quality are some of the variables that need to be taken into consideration. Fortunately, you have plenty of options; below are seven.
Bagley’s weedless spoons feature both hammered and smooth surfaces. The hammered surface purportedly reflects more light, catching it from all angles as the spoon wobbles through the water. The weed guard is a standard arm running just shy of the hook point, and it gets an assist from a small ball at the lure’s attachment point, which prevents weeds from grabbing at the tip of the spoon. Like many spoon manufacturers, Bagley recommends using its spoons both with or without a plastic trailer. It’s available in silver or gold finish.
Bomber adds a different dimension to its Who Dat line of spoons by adding new vibrations into the mix, with a number of models that have added rattles and/or a spinner blade attached to the weed guard. Do the extra goodies really generate extra strikes? That depends on whom you ask, but there’s no doubt that part of a spoon’s appeal is generated by the vibrations it sends out as it wobbles through the water, particularly when that water may be cloudy or in any way reduced in visibility.
Hooks on the Who Dat spoons are securely screwed to the body instead of being soldered or welded, and the weed guards on some models have two red beads on the end to add extra visual appeal.
Eppinger began producing spoons all the way back in 1912, when its original Dardevle was sold as the Osprey spoon. “We’ve had over 100 years to perfect it, and have made dozens and dozens of tweaks over time,” says John Cleveland, marketing director for Eppinger. “Handcrafted in Michigan, our spoons are thinner in the middle and thicker in the sides. This gives them an action that triggers strikes.”
Note that they’ve also had plenty of time to develop dozens and dozens of versions of their weedless spoons, and they offer the widest range of colors and sizes I found from any one manufacturer.
The key to maximizing an Eppinger spoon’s effectiveness, Cleveland says, is to vary your retrieve. “One of the reasons our spoons can really bang on the fish is that if you change your retrieve, vary the speed, move it smoothly or, conversely, add some action, as you change it up, you change how the spoon flashes and moves through the water. Don’t fall into a rote pattern and, even after a front has moved through or the fish are moving really slowly, you’ll find a way to get them to bite.”
Bill Stahl knows how to work metal, and his nephew Bruce Book is a die-hard angler, so they teamed up and bought Gator a few years back. Why did they choose Gator? “These spoons have a unique rotating action,” Book says. “The way they roll over as they move through the water is different from other spoons, and it triggers strikes. It was originally designed for inshore reds around Cape Canaveral, Florida, but I’ve found a huge variety of game fish love it: trout, snook, blues, jacks, Spanish, you name it.”
The Gator’s hook is screwed to the spoon body, not welded, and the aft end of the spoon has an unusual cutout that may produce unique vibrations as it oscillates through the water. Gator is the only weedless-spoon manufacturer I ran across that offered its spoons pre-rigged with a number of different trailers and/or skirted hooks.
H&H spoons are available in a limited number of options and sizes, but they do have one unique perk: The Secret Redfish Spoon comes with a small plastic sheath over the (included) ball-bearing swivel. The sheath is designed to add extra weed protection because swivels are sometimes responsible for picking up grass and ruining a lure’s weedless quality.
H&H says its Secret spoons are twist-free. Note that this is the only manufacturer you’ll run across that includes a stainless-steel ball-bearing swivel on any of its spoons, making its pricing seem particularly attractive.
What sets Hurricane’s weedless spoons apart from the crowd? “The brass blade, which is nickel- or gold-plated, casts far and is a proven fish catcher,” says Brian Farrell, product manager for Big Game International. “And at $3.29 retail, it’s also a good value for the money.”
Hurricane offers its weedless spoon in gold or silver, though the manufacturer says it plans to expand its color selection in 2019. Farrell recommends anglers clip the spoon to a ball-bearing swivel to improve its wobble, and also notes that adding a 3- or 4-inch soft-plastic grub might increase the spoon’s appeal.
Johnson has been producing its classic spoon, the Silver Minnow, since 1923. But don’t let the name fool you — the Silver Minnow is available in 18 different colors and patterns. Still, Johnson says that through the years, traditional silver and gold finishes have always been its most popular.
“The soldered hook and weed guard create a keeled shape that allows for a versatile wobbling action,” says Kevin Malone, of Johnson. “This design makes it less likely to roll over and spin. It is also plated with pure silver or 24-karat gold for a brighter flash than other chrome or brass spoons, and it can be cast and retrieved, twitched, jerked or trolled. All of these methods can be effective with or without a trailer.”
Johnson offers the Silver Minnow in some exceptionally light weights (all the way down to one-sixteenth of an ounce), which may limit casting distance but can add appeal for anglers who like to fish over extremely shallow flats. Johnson also gets a tip of the hat for producing the least expensive weedless spoons in this roundup.