Lucky for me, one of the first fishing lures I had as a kid was a Worden’s Original Rooster Tail. It was black with a silver blade and caught fish in every lake or pond I fished. To this day, I still won’t go anywhere without having a few Rooster Tails along.
As the years went by, my bass fishing techniques evolved to match the ever changing lures used by the pros. It suddenly hit me that I never see bass anglers flipping Rooster Tails. Is it possible to catch four or five pound largemouth bass with an inline spinner like a Rooster Tail or is it just for small fish?
So, are Rooster Tails good for bass fishing? Yes, without question, Rooster Tails will catch largemouth and smallmouth bass in just about any lake or stream you fish. Rooster Tails come in many colors and sizes to match all water conditions and the simple to use design requires limited technique and skill to entice bass to strike.
Whether you are introducing a kid to fishing or you want to take a step back from all the fancy bass lures, tie on a Rooster Tail and see what bites.
Now, let’s go over what it will take for a bass to gulp down a Rooster Tail.
How to rig up a Rooster Tail for bass
There is nothing complicated about tying on a Rooster Tail spinner. Use whatever rod and reel combo you have but a medium light spinning setup with 6 to 10 pound test monofilament line works great. You will want to use lighter line if you plan on casting a 1/16 ounce or lighter spinner.
Most of the time I tie the Rooster Tail right onto the main line with a palomar or improved clinch knot. Line twist sometimes presents a problem after a full day of casting. You can eliminate most of the line twist caused by a Rooster Tail by adding a small swivel. A small black snap swivel at the end of the line works perfect. Connect it directly to the spinner to make changing out colors and sizes fast and easy.
Some people worry that a snap swivel attached to the spinner has a negative impact on its action but I have not found this to be true. However, for the smallest sized Rooster Tails, I tie a barrel swivel 12 inches in front of the spinner between the main line and light leader. Otherwise the swivel is larger than the lure.
On occasion, I like to fish deep structure or rock edges for feisty smallmouth bass. In these situations, it works to add one or two lead split shot weights. Especially, when you want to use a smaller Rooster Tail. Put the weights about 18 inches above the spinner. Often the blade flutters lazily as it sinks and an aggressive smallie will hit it on the fall.
How to fish a Rooster Tail for bass
Rooster Tails are extremely easy to use for bass so don’t over think your technique. There are, however, several fundamental tips you should know to get the best lure action and more strikes.
- Stick close to cover: It is a well known fact that largemouth hold tight to cover like downed trees, over hanging brush and dock pilings. While Rooster Tails are not a weed proof lure, you can still easily fish it in thick cover and along weed edges. Don’t be afraid to cast the spinner right to the edge of prime bass habitat.
- Retrieve it slow: These inline spinners work best in streams and water with current but you can get the blade spinning nicely in still water too. I always like to start my retrieve at the slowest speed necessary to keep the blade spinning. Increase your rate of retrieval if bass aren’t responding.
- Try vertical jigging around cover: Just because a Rooster Tail is an inline spinner it doesn’t mean you always have to fish it like one. I have pulled my fair share of bass from twisted piles of submerged branches or between thick blankets of lily pads by getting close and vertically jigging a Rooster Tail. Let it fall naturally and give it a swift 1 or 2 foot lift so the blade spins. It drives them crazy.
- Cast past your target: In still water, it takes a moment for the spinner blade to engage and start spinning. For that reason, I like to cast beyond my target by a few feet. I don’t spook the fish as the lure lands and it’s spinning nicely by the time it reaches the spot where a bass is likely waiting.
- Spice it up with erratic action: Sometimes a steady retrieve just isn’t doing the trick. If the bass are getting finicky, change up the retrieve by adding an occasional twitch or jerking motion with the rod tip. That stuttering effect on the spinner has triggered many strikes for me.
- Tweak the blade for better performance: As I said earlier, a slow retrieval is ideal for keeping the lure in front of bass longer. But in still water the blade may not spin correctly at slow speeds. With a Rooster Tail, you can easily get better spinning performance by adding a bend or twist in the blade. Experiment with it until you get the best action and vibration.
What size Rooster Tail for bass
“Big baits get big fish” right? With a Rooster Tail that may not be the case. Even using a relatively small, 1/8 ounce, spinner I have caught smallmouth and largemouth bass tipping the scale at 4 pounds. The lure may look small in your hand but the profile in the water is much different.
The best size Rooster Tail for bass depends on the depth, structure and retrieval style you plan to use. In most cases, anything between 1/8 and 1/4 ounce is perfect for bass. My first pick is a 1/6 ounce spinner. They offer the best balance of weight vs. size for casting and drawing out larger fish.
The 1/4 ounce Rooster Tail is the largest size I use. These heavier spinners reach deep pockets when I’m trying to find mid-day smallmouth on rocky edges. A 1/4 ounce spinner also stays below the surface when fishing fast water pockets in streams.
Best colors for different conditions
I don’t get too hung up on color when I’m fishing for bass with a Rooster Tail. I find that largemouths prefer more natural colors in most lakes and ponds.
As a rule of thumb, for dingy water with low visibility use brighter colors. Fire tiger, chartreuse and red stand out better when mud or sediment obstructs their view.
When the water is clear, go for more subdued colors like browns, white, rainbow trout and black. The closer you come to mimicking natural prey, the better chance you have of fooling fish when they have more time to see the lure.
In addition to water clarity, consider the lighting conditions when picking the best colors. On cloudy days in murky water I always use a gold blade Rooster Tail first. The gold blade provides just the right amount of contrasting flash in low light situations.
I bring out the silver blade spinners in clear water or on sunny days.
My 6 favorite Rooster Tails for bass that never fail
At this point, I may have convinced you that a Rooster Tail for bass is worth a try. If that’s the case, then these are the 6 best Rooster Tails for bass in my experience.
- Black with silver blade
- Brown trout with gold blade
- Fire Tiger with gold blade
- Rainbow trout with gold blade
- White with gold or silver blade
- Red with silver blade
With these 6 varieties you can catch bass in just about any situation. Pick up a few in sizes ranging from 1/8 to 1/4 ounce. If you can only get one size, get 1/6 ounce. You can pick out individual spinners on your next excursion to Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops but I recommend making it easier on yourself and just buy a quality Rooster Tail kit from Amazon instead. The price is much cheaper and some of my favorite colors come in one kit.
There really is no limit to the types of lures that will catch bass. It’s easy to follow the pro’s advice and buy lots of dedicated bass tackle. However, you could empty your wallet and still not out fish the Worden’s Rooster Tail.
Few lures can claim to catch multiple species in all situations but it is definitely true with the Rooster Tail. If you use it right, you will catch bass.