Inline spinners were something that I never added to my fishing skill set when I was growing up. I had used them a few times back in the late 90's and early 2000's before converting to fly fishing, but never gave them a serious thought. This year I decided to give spinner fishing a try and was only going to do this if I would to make my own. I was getting a little bored of tying so many flies and a little bored of nymph fishing. I wanted to jump into something new and challenging this year so I made a trade with someone who makes their own spinners for some spinner components. After making a few spinners and having fun doing so, I invested around a hundred dollars and started really got into making my own inline spinners. I wanted to re-learn how to use a spinning rod again, and try to master the techniques of fishing and inline spinner. I am glad that I took up this new hobby as I am having a lot of fun making spinners, and even more fun trying to learn to fish with them.
Lets first discuss the basic anatomy of an inline spinner. The basic components of a spinner would be the shank, the clevis, the blade, the body, and the hook. You can also add a split ring to this anatomy on your rear loop if you decide to make a spinner that you can swap the hooks on as well. This can be convenient if you want to switch from a treble to a single hook for certain regulations, or if you want to swap out the dressing you add to your hooks. You can play with the beads above and below the clevis as well. Ninety percent of all spinners are comprised of the items listed above. You can also add a dressing to your hook if desired as well.
Shanks are the backbone of the spinner so to speak. For trout and pan fish I chose a .026 diameter closed loop stainless steel shank. I may try a .031" diameter shank as well. These shanks with the pre-made loops are very nice and save quite a bit of time. I decided on buying 8" long shafts. After I construct my spinner, I am left with enough material that I can make another spinner entirely. You will only have a straight shank, but you can create your own top loop using round needle nose pliers. I just wanted a way to get a little more for my money.
There aren't many types of clevises out there but you want to match the clevis size to the blade size when you are just starting out. The radius of the clevis set to match the distance from the edge of the spinner blade to the hole on the spinner. You can play around with different combinations as you go through your testing processes and may find some blades will spin better with an over sized clevis. There are also clevises you can buy that allow you to switch the blade on your spinner as well. These allow for a quick change in blade size or color while fishing. I haven't bought any of these clevises yet, but they are a pretty neat idea. The entire make up of your spinner is all a trail and error process to fine tuning your spinner and is quite addictive.
Three of the most common types of blades available are Colorado, Willow, and French. I personally like the look and action of the Colorado blades and is what I will be making most of my spinners from. All of these blades can be found in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles. There are variations of these blades where the surface of the blade is hammered, or may have different shapes to them. I will be using my spinners mainly for trout, panfish, and bass so I stuck to size two and three blades for my initial parts purchase. Three is a tad large for trout in my opinion but will work. I like size two best for trout, as size three just looks a little large in my opinion when in the water.
The body can be comprised of may items. I like brass or tungsten beads the best, but you can add lead bodies, rubber fish bodies, wooden beads, and even paint your own bodies. There are all sorts of bodies available out there to choose from. The biggest aspect about the body in my opinion is the weight.
When I first started making these spinners I wanted to make a black and chartreuse colored streamer. I didn't have any black brass beads so I used some of my fly tying tungsten beads. This spinners were very heavy and sank very fast. I loved this aspect of the spinners but the price of tungsten may not be in the range for many who are starting out. I opted to keep the tungsten for my flies, and purchased some black beads from eBay. For the most part, anything with a hole through the middle can be added between your blade and hook, but you need to be conscious that you are not making your spinner too light by only adding plastic beads. You need to be close to the strike zone so I recommend using beads that are moderately heavy in your construction.
Hooks are mainly a personal preference, but whatever you use I suggest you purchase barbless hooks or debarb the hooks on your own. Barbed treble hooks can take a toll on fish when trying to remove them. A barbed treble can be difficult to get out of the fishes mouth, and may increase the time that fish is out of the water. For trout I would recommend a size ten treble, and wouldn't go much larger than a size 8. For bass and panfish I would recommend a size eight treble, but if you feel you may get into larger bass you may want to up your hook size to a six or four. Personally I don't like the idea of using a single hook unless I am fishing for native brook trout. A single hook can be taken deeper into the fishes' mouth and risk injury to the gills of the fish. There is contradicting information out there on the use of single hooks but from my experience a barbless treble is the best way to go. They are easy to get out and harder for the trout to take deeper into their mouth. Whatever option you choose I would definitely de-barb the hook.
The combination of colors, sizes, and components you can make for your inline spinner are endless. I like the layout of the spinners above for my trout spinners. The spinners above are made up of the following components:
-(1) closed loop stainless steel wire shank (.026)
-(1) 2.8mm brass bead
-(1) size 2 clevis
-(1) size 2 blade
-(1) 2.8mm brass bead
-(2) 3.3mm brass beads
-(2) 3.8mm brass beads
-(1) 4.5 mm brass bead
-(1) treble hook ( Size 10& 8)
This combo has brought me a quite a few nice trout to hand. Being a fly tyer at heart I like to add a dressing to the hook of Marabou. I like the added movement that the marabou presents as the spinner is making its way down the stream.
Tools needed for making spinners are not extremely expensive, but you can add up quite a total depending on how elaborate you want to get with your spinner. I chose to just touch the surface with inline spinners this year. I have a very nice rotary fly tying vise so I chose to just use that for my current needs. If you do not have a rotary vise, a standard clamp style fly tying vise may work just fine. I suggest something that you can clamp your shank into while installing the components. If you are just testing the water with building your own spinners I wouldn't suggesting diving into a high end wire forming tool. If you really feel that you are going to love making your own spinners than a wire forming tool can be worth its weight in gold to create perfect loops. I am still working through my rear loop and keeping it inline, but a pair of round needle nose pliers can aide in creating a round rear loop. These pliers can be found at a relatively low cost. Round Jewlers pliers will also work. You will find that a lot of minor tweaks and changes to a spinner can have a pretty decent effect on the way the spinner performs.