How To Fish Metal Jigs and Tailspins For Spotted Bay Bass

If you have yet to fish metal jigs or tailspins for spotted bay bass, it is truly something you NEED to do. Some of my most productive days of spottie fishing have come as a result of these two styles of baits. The reason why I group them together is due to the similar ways that you can fish them.

What Are Metal Jigs & Tailspins

If you fish in saltwater, chances are you have fished a metal jig. From vertical jigs and slow-pitch jigs to colt snipers and surface irons. These can be some of the most productive lures and have fully established themselves as essentials in the West Coast fisherman’s arsenal. However, most believe these jigs only work when fishing outside of the bay but they could not be more wrong. Micro jigs and spoons that range from 1/2-1oz can be deadly when fished for spotted bay bass and other inshore species.

damiki backdrop metal jig

Tailspins are a bit more complicated. They feature a metal body with a line tie generally on the top of the body, a hook on the bottom, and a blade on a swivel attached to the back of the jig. These baits can be employed in a similar manner and offer a different presentation for varying conditions.

How To Use Them

Both of these lures can be applied in similar conditions, yet they can be worked very differently. For metal jigs, most have a fluttering action on the fall and a slight kicking action with the retrieve. Given this, I like to cast them out or drop them and let them reach the bottom on free spool. This is essential. If there is tension on the line, the fluttering action will be thrown off. This can be challenging with a finicky baitcaster, but set your spool tension as loose as you can so that there is minimal resistance for the falling lure. I find that often the bite occurs on the fall so be sure to watch your line for jumps or stopping prematurely. If you notice this, reel quickly and swing to ensure they do not bring you into cover.

Read Next: Spotted Bay Bass Fishing – Everything You Need to Know

Once the jig reaches the bottom I will give the rod a quick jerk or the reel a few quick handle turns. This will often elicit a bite. I believe that if the falling lure catches the attention of a fish and it does not commit to the bait on the fall, it will simply look at it on the bottom and wait to see if it reacts. A quick motion can force the spottie to react and eat your lure.

With the jigs, after this quick jerk, I will continue with a few more handle turns and then put it in free spool again and repeat the process again until I am straight up and down with the lure.

These lures will catch all sorts of species such as this sculpin hanging out in the dock pilings

For tailspins, I employ almost the exact same method, I let it fall in free spool so that the blade can properly spin on the fall. If it feels like the lure is tumbling on the fall, chances are the hook is fouled or the blade is stuck and it is not worth letting it fall the rest of the way.

On the retrieve, I will either use the same technique as I would for jigs or simply straight retrieve it without pausing which can trigger a bite. I have found the most success retrieving tailspins at a speed just fast enough so that the blade is spinning and giving off a strong vibration.

When To Use Them

These lures work well in most conditions. Flats, docks, deep structure, grass beds. However, where these lures really excel is when fishing docks. I find them to be both the most efficient and effective lures to fish docks. Due to the weight and compact nature of the lures, their ability to be fished vertically is what makes them so useful. Additionally, it is very easy to make accurate flip and pitch casts near dock pilings and other pieces of structure.

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When fishing docks in more than 6-7′ of water, metal jigs and tailspins should always be on at least one rod in the boat or in hand when walking the docks. I find that when there is water movement around dock structure, dropping on or casting to a dock pilling with likely result in a bite. There are two ways that I approach fishing dock pilings, I will either cast past it and swim it by the bottom of the piling or let it fall to the bottom right next to the piling.

I also like to target shade lines along the docks with these lures too as the jigs and blades will reflect the light into the shade where the spotties lay in wait. I like to cast past the shade line and retrieve along the bottom and into the shade.

Spotted bay bass caught on a tailspin at night

Nice legal Spotted Bay Bass that fell to a Damiki Axeblade at night

Some metal jigs will fall at an angle and actually cover a considerable amount of horizontal distance. If you can cast it accurately enough for it to enter the water at the proper angle, it will fall back underneath the dock where very few lures can reach.


When it comes to finding the best tailspin, there is a wide variety of options. Most tailspins were initially designed for freshwater use but equally excel in the salt. The most popular tailspin for spotties is the Damiki Axeblade. This bait comes in 3/4 and 1 oz options in a variety of colors. I like to fish the 3/4 oz for 90% of conditions and opt for the 1 oz if I plan on fishing in 15′ or more. Frankly, I do not believe the color matters because after a good day of spottie fishing there won’t be any paint left on it.

One trick with the Damiki Axeblade that I like is to remove the back hook. This hook is only secured with a plastic band so by cutting this, you can simply unhook it and avoid lots of challenging unhooking situations with angry spotties. I found that the amount of fouling from this rear hook is not worth the added hookup percentage.

Another option is the Jigpara Spin which comes in more weight options for different applications. It is also a couple of bucks cheaper which can be nice when fishing in heavy structure which can have a tendency to steal metal lures.

Metal Jigs

Metal jigs come in all shapes in sizes. No really, they do. From 10 grams to 1000 and in just about every possible shape to perform various movements in the water, there is no shortage of options. However, most of these jigs are designed for deep water saltwater applications. I have found that freshwater metal jigs and spoons are perfectly suited to fish spotties.

Some of my favorites are the DUO DragMetal Cast, Damiki Backdrop, Luhr Jensen Crippled Herring, and Jigpara Micro FW. Throughout these jigs, you can find them from 1/4 to 1 oz and that is the range of sizes I would recommend for the bays. If you plan on fishing mostly vertically around docks or on deep structure, the 3/4 and 1 oz options will likely be the best for you. In contrast to this, if you plan on casting over flats or retrieving over grass beds, the lighter options will help you have a proper retrieve speed without getting caught up in the grass.


Lastly, let’s talk briefly about customizing. For tailspins, the main modification you can make is to the blade. Most tailspins traditionally come with a silver willow blade. However, by changing this out to an Indiana or Colorado blade, you can change the amount of vibration given off which can be useful for fishing murky water or night fishing. Additionally, the difference between a silver and gold blade could be the factor that turns a spottie that merely swipes at your bait into one that fully eats it.

In regards to hooks, I have found that the stock hooks work well and I will only replace them if they break or start to bend out on fish. If this happens, I like to replace them with the Gamakatsu G-Stinger.


The rod, reel, and line for this style of fishing are pretty simple. Because you’ll likely be fishing in close quarters and making lots of accurate casts. I would opt for a medium to medium-heavy rod that is 6’6″ to 7’3″. For the reel I would highly recommend using a baitcaster. The ability to see and feel exactly how fast your line is leaving the spool is very important when trying to detect a bite on the fail. Additionally, being able to stop the spool and immediately apply pressure is essential when dock fishing.

For line, I prefer 30 to 50 lb braid to a 12-20lb fluorocarbon leader. I like braid because it is easy to free spool and avoid backlashes. Adjust your leader based on the size of fish you are targeting and their proximity to heavy structure.

When fishing metal jigs and tailspins for spotted bay bass, apply some of these tips and get ready to hang on!

Ira was born and raised in Portland, Oregon where he first found his love of fishing with trout, salmon, and steelhead. Over the years he grew to target any species he could find in the Pacific Northwest including albacore, musky, and sturgeon. After graduating high school, Ira moved to San Diego to...