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Trolling With In-Line Spinners

It’s interesting to note how some lures tend to get pigeon holed. In-line spinners like the iconic Rooster Tail by Worden’s is a good example. Countless anglers all across America and beyond have faith in the Rooster Tail as a bait that is ideal for casting up trout, salmon, bass, pike, panfish and a host of other species. The question is how can a lure that works so well for casting applications get overlooked as a trolling lure? The answer is, in-line spinners are great trolling lures in the hands of anglers who know how to get the most from these lures.

Buzz Ramsey of Yakima Bait caught this impressive brown trout trolling a Rooster Tail spinner behind an in-line trolling weight. Spinners are rarely used as trolling lures, but some creative thinking helped put this impressive fish in the boat.


Because the body of an in-line spinner rotates slowly in the water, line twist can become a problem. The simple solution to this problem is to use a quality ball bearing swivel. Rather than attaching a snap swivel directly to the lure, consider rigging an in-line barrel swivel about 24 inches in front of the spinner. This rigging configuration eliminates line twist and keeps hardware to a minimum.


Because in-line spinners do not have a natural dive curve, it’s necessary to fish these baits in combination with gear that can help get the spinner to depth. Some of the common ways spinners can be presented to depth is by employing a downrigger, small diving planers such as the Jet Diver, Mini Dipsy or Big Jon Mini Disk, Tadpole Divers or keel sinkers.

When fishing an in-line spinner in combination with a diver a five to six foot leader of quality fluorocarbon line works best. Use a quality ball bearing swivel at the back of the diver to eliminate line twist and tie the spinner directly to the terminal end of the fluorocarbon line.


Another excellent way to get in-line spinners to depth is to use the tried and true three way rigging option. To tie up a three way swivel rig, tie the main line to one end of the swivel, add a 12 to 24 inch dropper line with a lead pencil weight to the second end on the swivel and a leader to the bait on the third arm of the swivel.

This simple and effective rig can be used to fish in-line spinners in just about any common water depth simply by switching out the sinker as needed to maintain contact with the bottom.


In-line spinners work because they generate a lot of flash in the water. Adding a small flasher a few feet in front of the spinner is a great way to attract fish from a greater distance. The 4 inch Big Al Fish Flash is a triangular shaped flasher that spins on it’s own axis creating tons of flash, but next to zero resistance in the water.

This photo shows how popular divers can be rigged with the Big Al Fish Flash to increase flash and present in-line spinners to depth. A five to six foot leader is attached directly to the back of the Fish Flash and the terminal end of the leader tied directly to the spinner.

The Fish Flash can be added directly to the back of most divers and trolling weights creating pulsations of light that imitate game fish feeding among a school of minnows.


In-line spinners are one of those lures that see a lot of action among casters, but trollers rarely use them. With a little help from some popular trolling aids, the in-line spinner becomes double deadly as a fishing lure.

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