The Universal Lure

Off the top of your head, can you name one lure design that catches at least eight different types of freshwater fish, possibly more? Such a lure does exist. It is actually probably sitting in the back of your tackle box now. It is normally overlooked because we all like to utilize our lures that we have the most confidence in first. I’ll give you a hint though, it has a metal blade on it and is normally the size of a fifty cent piece coin.

Meet the Tiny Assassin

The in-line spinnerbait, AKA the Rooster Tail. Did you guess right? I have personally caught crappie, bass (large and smallmouth), catfish, gar, trout, muskie, and multiple types of panfish, such as bluegill and sunfish. I am sure if I had other species in the areas I target, many more catches would be made. This lure is compact in size but not limited to just smaller sized fish. I have brought many good sized largemouth and catfish out of the river and lakes with this fun sized wonder. What an incredible fight it truly is! They just can’t seem to resist the lore of that flash and vibration created from the blade.

The In-Line Spinner Bait

There are four different types of spinnerbaits.

  • The In-Line
  • Beetle Spin
  • Safety Pin
  • Tailspinner

They all produce fish, but the in-line in my experience produces the most success when wanting to catch multiple types of fish species. The others get the job done but mainly target one or two types as opposed to the in-line producing a little over half a dozen. (That I personally am aware of, could be more.)

The design is pretty simple but effective. It doesn’t even look like a natural bait to the naked eye honestly, but looks can be deceiving. The blade spins to create flashes and vibrations that trigger predatory fish through sight, sound waves, and by activating their lateral line system. This special sense organ allows fish to feel and touch at a distance. Fish can feel the slightest change in the water which helps them locate prey. With this lure covering so many fish senses, the chances of hooking up rises tremendously.

Justin Edwards Lures

The Secret Weapon

I actually found out about the success of this lure while stocking up on crappie and panfish after competing in a tournament at Lake Okeechobee. I had used it up north on trout and occasionally tricked a bass but never really utilized it in Florida. I caught more bass using the spinnerbait attempting to target panfish, then I did during my tournament. I also couldn’t stop catching gar and catfish with it. I had never caught a catfish on an artificial lure until that day.

At first I was stunned, but just kept casting. Seemed I was catching everything, except the actual fish I was trying to target. Literally ever cast, FISH ON! I guarantee the smile on my face could be seen from the bank. That day I had a new weapon in my arsenal. Something so simple that had pretty much just been collecting dust in the back if my tackle box since I left Virginia.

The Kryptonite of the Rooster Tail

As great as this lure is for a backup when all else fails, it does come up short when used in heavy weeds or a vertical presentation is required. It is best used as a horizontal bait being cast or trolled. You can reel it in slow, moderate, or fast, but must be aware of the cover that is in the area because the hook will catch fairly easy.

If It Isn’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

I am always down to try and use new products. I am not married to any certain brand. I go with what works and if it is producing I stick with it, but I am open minded to any and everything. With that being said though I want to share my favorite spinnerbait. Wordens Yakima Bait Rooster Tail. It not only always produces fish, but last along time. Unless a tree decides to change the address from Tackle Box Drive to Cypress Branch Avenue. The hooks take years to rust, the blade stays shiny, and the trailers stay attached fairly well.

I have used other brands and the paint always seems to fade and the trailers disappear after multiple catches. Black is my go to with a copper colored swing or french blade. I also use white or pearl. Other colors don’t seem to have the success that the black or white do.

My Presentation

I throw it almost up on the shoreline and quickly retrieve it until I know I am clear from the shallows. Once clear, I’ll pause. Let it sink and flutter a bit, then continue retrieving it. The fish will follow it and normally strike half way back to the boat or right at the boat. Once they bite I don’t set the hook hard. I keep my rod roughly at a 45 degree angle and gently twist my torso just a bit. I keep the line tight and apply just enough pressure to feel out the size then proceed to the boat.

I am a angler who enjoys the fight. If the fish comes off, it comes off. There will always be another. I have never felt the need to jerk it into the boat within a few seconds. I rarely lose a fish though by doing it this way.

Justin Edwards

Put Me in Coach

So if a time arises where your confidence lure isn’t producing and you just can’t find that bite. Throw on a in-line spinnerbait. Retrieve it at different speeds until you find what they like. Don’t worry about losing the fish because of the smaller hook either. Any size hook you run the chance of losing a fish. That’s why it’s called fishing, instead of catching. Just do what you normally do when bringing it into the boat or to shore. Keep the line tight and enjoy the fight!

Reader Interactions


  1. Emory McCall says

    It still amazes me how we tend to forget the simplest things. Growing up this was the go to lure, until the tournament trail dictated throwing every created lure known to man. I still have several of these in my kids tackle boxes. Maybe its time to throw one of these from a Kayak! Thank you for the article. This type of content is what makes this site great.

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About Justin Edwards

My dad got me into fishing at a pretty young age. Growing up in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia offered plenty of outdoor activities for a growing young man. I was an outside kid and the mountains were my escape from reality.

I targeted catfish in the summer nights off the James river. Smallmouth bass in the local lakes and ponds during the spring/summer. Trout in the mountains which offered plenty of beautiful, secluded creeks during the winter. Pike which always hung out near the papermill plant and carp with our homemade oatmeal balls soaked in Dr. Pepper.

I found the deeper in the woods and mountains I went, the bigger my catches. I would go so far out away from civilization. All I wanted was to be off the grid as far as possible. The mountains always called and I always went.

When I turned 17, I committed to the army. Then as soon as I graduated at the age of 18, I left Virginia to spend the next 6 years of my life serving my country. I never stopped fishing though. Didn't get to fish as much, but would always sneak away with buddies to fish bodies of water on the different bases. As soon as my contract ended I knew one term was enough for me. I got out and decided to move to Florida because I had always wanted to live there. Figured might as well just do it. I found a job and immediately wasted no time hitting the water.

Florida was alot different then the mountains of VA. Not just because of the hundreds of thousands of people, but there was so many places to fish! I fished salt and fresh. I fished lakes, ponds, rivers, bays and channels. So many places to fish! And so many species!

I have been in Florida for 5 years now and have caught some amazing fish. I make it a point to go atleast twice a week. Fresh water and salt water. I have learned so much and caught some monsters! The more I go, the more I Iearn and better I get.

I have a jon boat that I restored and a canoe (which is my favorite because it really will take you off the grid) I love going deep into the gator infested swamps. Far away from everything. The silence is beautiful. I dont spend a fortune in gear. I use regular rods and reels. I keep it simple. I dont use fish finders or anything like that and I am always succesful. I love to fish as primitive as possible. It's more of a challenge that way. I live for that. I learn by trial and error. I study my surroundings and remember what works and when it works. I enjoy teaching others what I have learned so that they may continue this amazing activity. Fishing is my life and always will be.