A spinner is an artificial lure with a blade or body which rotates quickly about a straight line axis consisting often of a wire bar. Spoons, in contrast, have a wobbly retrieve and do not usually spin.

The basic kinds of spinner are artificial minnows, wagtails, fly spoons, and barspoons. It is unfortunate that the last two incorporate the word ‘spoon’ in their names, for they are in fact spinners with a straight axis around which the blade spins.

Artificial minnows

Of all the kinds of spinners, artificial minnows most closely represent fish, both still and on the move. The body, made of either wood, plastic or metal, is round in cross section, minnowlike in profile, and has a hole along its length through which a metal bar or wire trace passes. At the tail is a treble hook and at the head a swivel which can be attached to the reel line or, if fishing for pike, to a wire trace link swivel. Gerierally, the swivel at the head has a smaller overall diameter than the hole through the middle of the lure so that on the take the fish tends to blow the lure up the line, giving itself nothing to lever against as it tries to throw the hook.

The head of the minnow has a pair of vanes which cause it to rotate. Some makes have adjustable vanes so that the spin can be reversed, and line twist reduced.

A variation on the minnow theme is the quill minnow, a superb lure for fishing for trout in hill streams. The whole body of the quill minnow rotates, often including the bar wire through its middle, so that the swivel has to work well to avoid line twist, and an antikink vane is usually necessary.

Wagtail movement

Wagtails look more lifelike when moving than when still. They usually have a head complete with eyes, spinning vanes, a swivel and tubelike body hidden inside two long rubber flaps which are pointed at the tail end, close to the treble hook. The name comes from these loose, flapping strips of rubber. All this detail disappears, however, when the whole body rotates quickly and, other than in body softness, the wagtail probably differs little from the minnow.

Fly spoons

Fly spoons, as their name implies, have traditionally been used for game fish, but are very effective for chub and perch on small streams. They are small, twinkling lures, most of which spin rather than wobble, and are essentially spinners for short casts on light tackle of 26 lb b.s. Monofilament lines.

Many fly spoons are constructed with a spinner blade attached at only one end to a split ring connecting two swivels. A treble hook is attached to the other end of one swivel and the reel line to the opposite end of the other swivel.


Barspoons are in fact more correctly classified as spinners since they have a straight axis of wire around which the blade, attached at one end, rotates with a strong vibration. Weight is added to the bar, just behind the spinning blade, and this weight can be made to look like a body and can be painted different colours. Barspoons are among the most versatile of lures and all except the very heavy ones are retrievable even when you are fishing in very shallowwater. A change in the blade shape has given rise to some classic lures: the Vibro has the end away from the bar pointed quite sharply, and the result is a spinner which vibrates very strongly. The kidney spoon has a kidneyshaped blade which gives a pulsating spinning action.