The shad are spawning at Lake Wheeler. So a lot of Bassmaster Elite Series pros have a baitfish impersonating willow leaf spinnerbait tied on - most of them provided by sponsors.
But no surprise, just like the under-spin horsehead lure he used to win the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, the spinnerbait Casey Ashley has tied on is one he and his dad Danny make themselves.
“The art of spinnerbait fishing has gone away,” says Ashley who slapped 19 pounds on the scales to sit in second place on Day One at Wheeler, including the biggest bass of the day – a 6 pound 14 ounce beast.
“Very few tournaments allow us to think we can tie on a spinnerbait, ride it for four days, and win with it, but if I need one, I can build it using components from a couple plastic jars I carry in my boat,” says Ashley. “And when I build it, I’m confident the blades are always gonna spin, no matter how slow or fast I retrieve it,” says the easy going South Carolina pro.
“The spinnerbait Daddy and I build came from my buddy Trad Whaley. His dad’s name is Danny too, and he fished B.A.S.S. events back in the Hank Parker era,” says Ashley. “If there was a fish to be caught on a spinnerbait, Trad’s daddy was gonna catch it – and usually big ones – using this bait right here that they built, and called the “Big Train”,” grinned the Quantum pro.
“Dad and I pour our own heads from that original Big Train mold, and Trad was kind enough to have some plated for us. But a lot of times, I’ll just fish it with no paint at all on the head – just plain lead,” says Ashley, known for his old soul and simple approach to life.
Favorite Size: “Most of the time, I’ll start with a ½ ounce, but if I realize I need to keep it shallower, then I’ll move to 3/8. On a rare occasion, if I need to get deep, I’ll go with a ¾ – but day in and day out, I use a ½ ounce.”
Blades and Beads: “I put a lot of beads between my blades for a reason,” smiles Ashley. “That keeps those blades separated, spaced apart – and always spinning – that’s really key,” he emphasizes. “I like a #4 size in gold up front, and a 4 ½ silver as the main blade in the back – and almost always throw the smooth finish, even though I carry a few hammered ones in this jar.”
Speed of Retrieve: “A lot of people wind a spinnerbait way too fast in the springtime,” warns Ashley. “It’s a tool you can get more bites with if you’ll take your time, and make contact with cover. A lot of that comes from choosing the right reel. I use a 6.6:1 Quantum Smoke.”
“Spinnerbaits may not get a lot of use anymore, but they still catch fish -- good fish. And there just aren’t many lures you can tie on that flash, replicate shad, and offer the versatility they do,” concludes Ashley.
He just simply prefers to make his own.