Bigger isn’t always better, but in this case, it is. The magnum spoon craze that exploded in 2014 has made its way around the block, moving into its third summer of taking schooling bass by storm. But, if you don’t like to follow fads before they’re proven, don’t worry; the verdict is in, and it’s time to tie one.
The magnum spoon is the brainchild of guide Ben Parker of Samburg, Tenn., but it wasn’t until five of the top 10 finishers at a June 2014 FLW tournament on Kentucky Lake wound up with his big spoons tied on, that the movement got a kick-start — despite a few jeers from naysayers.
But magnum spoons are no laughing matter. Catch one in the side of the side of the head, and you’ll be seeing stars. The original Ben Parker Magnum Flutter Spoon, now being made by Nichols Tackle, is nearly 8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and weighs in at 3½ ounces.
Why such a big spoon? Won’t bass be keyed in on the threadfin shad that only measure around 4 inches?
“I think they confuse those bigger spoons with the larger gizzard shad and white perch,” said guide Joel Munday of Holly Springs, N.C. “It’s a different look. A lot of people throw spoons in the summer; it’s no secret that they work really well. But if they’re not reacting to those smaller spoons, something that big looks different to them.”
The fact is, a healthy sized bass isn’t going to turn down the opportunity to fill its protein need in one gulp versus chasing and snacking on threadfins — especially when its competitive nature kicks in and its sees its buddies eyeballing the same bait.
“That big spoon is definitely going to get you a big bite,” said guide and pro fisherman Jonathan Phillips of Pittsboro, N.C. “I never use the spoon as my No. 1 bait to throw into a school of fish. But I do use it as a tool to catch the biggest fish out of the school or to fire up the fish after they quit biting.”
Phillips (910-585-3585) keeps a magnum spoon tied on a rod he keeps on the deck of his bass boat. Often starting out with a crankbait, he moves to the spoon to reignite their aggression, or he leads off with the spoon and works his way through differing crankbaits, a heavy spinnerbait, worms, jigs or smaller spoons — thereby appealing to every palate in the school.
While the biggest bass may resist other offerings, the magnum spoon’s seductive fall is sure to turn its head. Designed with a flat center and cupped edges that start to narrow at the split ring and widen at the hook, the spoon produces a flutter pattern on the fall that resembles a dying or injured bait. After hitting the water, the spoon rocks back and forth until the bottom end swings downward, initializing a dive. The friction of the water causes the bait to level out, where it wobbles again until the arrangement repeats itself to the bottom. But it’s the next step separates the men from the boys.
“Obviously, the bigger spoons are a lot heavier,” said Munday, who runs Outdoor Expeditions USA (919-669-2959). “There’s a lot more of it to work, but you fish it a lot like you would an average-size flutter spoon.
“The idea is to jerk it off the bottom as hard as you can, but because it’s so heavy, it gets back to the bottom a lot faster than a regular spoon would. It takes a lot of pulls to get it up as high as I can in the water column. It’s very repetitious: hopping and falling, hopping and falling.”
Although giving the spoon a hookset-like snap is the most- common method, it’s not the only one. Phillips said that giving the bait a long sweep with the rod to raise it off the bottom is also acceptable. Some anglers simply reel as fast as possible with a high-speed baitcasting reel to provide lift before the fall. Getting enough elevation is crucial, but the deal goes down when the lure drops.
“Let it fall on a slack line,” Phillips said. “Sometimes you’ll feel the bite; other times you’re going to see the line jump. When you see that line jump, you reel down and jerk. You don’t check him to see if he’s there like a worm bite. He didn’t put it in his pocket.”
The equipment needed to support a lure of this nature needs to be beefy. Phillips prefers a heavy crankbait rod, a 7-foot-10 JB Custom Missile rod. Munday leans towards a heavy, 7-foot-11 Envy rod from 13 Fishing. The preferred line is 20-pound fluorocarbon for its low stretch and fast sink-rate. Baitcasting reels with a gear ratio of 7.1-to-1 will help anglers gather line quickly between jerks and before hooksets.
Munday and Phillips admit that magnum spoons are not lures to fan-cast or use as search baits, nor are they effective in shallow water. But they are perfect for post-spawn, early summer conditions where bass have moved out to the main lake or deeper creek channels to be near the congregations of bait. Anglers need to have schools of bait and bass pinpointed on their depth finders, so they can back off to casting distance and put the spoon exactly where it needs to be.
Anglers often make what they call a “milk run” in search of schools, checking areas they know to harbor deeper bass and moving on if they find an empty screen. Ledges off main-river channels and main-lake points are profitable places. Phillips also targets hard areas such as rock piles, roadbeds, old house foundations, and bridge pilings.