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Kenney Dishes on Spinnerbaits

Kenney Dishes on Spinnerbaits
JT Kenney (photo by Mike Meisenheimer)

This side of Jimmy Houston, JT Kenney throws a spinnerbait in FLW Tour competition about as much as anybody. Though a spinnerbait isn’t the most hyped-up bait, Kenney is quick to pick one up when bass are shallow, and a blade has figured into a ton of checks and his most recent victory at Lake Toho in 2015.

 

Why you should sling a blade

Kenney likes a spinnerbait because it’s a versatile fish catcher, and the reasons he throws it are almost as varied as the situations where he throws it.

“First of all, it looks like a minnow,” says the Florida pro. “And in reality, look how the Alabama rig brought that multiple bait thing to light. Really, how different is a spinnerbait? To me, you have to say it’s the same family, at least in my opinion.”

For Kenney a spinnerbait is a key tournament producer because of how much water he can cover with it.

“You can throw it in anything, and you can reel it at any speed,” relays Kenney. “I heard Andy Morgan one time, and it really resonated with me. He said, ‘We’re just all in a race to the next 3-pounder.’ In Tour competition, of course, you want to win every tournament, but in reality, we’re all trying to make money and get to the Cup, and it is a race to the next 3-pounder. I catch a lot of fish on a Strike King 1.5 squarebill, too. Between those two baits in the spring, more than likely, unless I’m ‘on ’em,’ I’m pretty much buzzing around with one or the other and covering water.”

Kenney also likes a spinnerbait for the novelty factor. He’s a believer in the theory that the bait has been under-fished over the past 10 years or so, and that fish are a little less educated toward it now than some other trendier lures.

 

Kenney’s combinations

Kenney employs pretty typical spinnerbait tackle: a 7-3, medium-heavy Halo Fishing TI baitcasting rod, a 6:1 gear ratio Ardent reel, and 16- to 18-pound-test Sunline Super FC Sniper fluorocarbon. He sticks with a 6:1 reel most of the time because he says using a 7:1 forces him to think about slowing his retrieve down too much. He’ll only occasionally turn to a high-speed reel when he wants to deliberately wake the bait.

Kenney typically starts with a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait, and says he throws that about 90 percent of the time. Yet he does carry everything in the boat, from small 1/4-ounce models to big ol’ 1-ouncers. Kenney exclusively uses Nichols Lures spinnerbaits, and he likes to mix and match. His favorite colors are JT’s The Best Color Ever, JT's Florida Hammer, JT's Tidal Blue Fleck, JT's Summer Bream and JT's Chartreuse Shad. Unlike some anglers, Kenney doesn’t limit himself to shad-colored baits, and likes to match Florida water with darker baits or match local bluegills will actual bream and green pumpkin patterns.

Kenney is also an active blade changer, and carries a whole suite in the boat to tweak a bait to run higher or lower in the water or to more closely match the size of the predominant forage. One thing he notes is that many blades from Nichols feature flake with a clear coat, and that the extra bulk from that alone will ride a bait a bit higher than usual.

When it comes to trailering a spinnerbait, Kenney tends to stray a little from the pack.

“If I’m getting any short strikes I put a trailer hook on it, but I almost never put a trailer on it,” he says. “Trokar makes a really good trailer hook, but I typically run a pretty small one, like a No. 1, not a 1/0. It’s hard to snake it through cover – especially woody cover – with a big trailer hook. You’ll get hung up all the time.”

One adjustment Kenney does make is to sometimes pull the skirt strands through the band toward the hook. Then, instead of all the strands being relatively equal length, the strands on the “inside” are a bit longer and flare out the back.

 

The retrieve secret

Throwing a spinnerbait in and around shallow cover isn’t that hard, but Kenney consistently gets more bites on it than the average cat.

“The biggest thing that I do is I very rarely throw any kind of bait out and just reel it back in,” says Kenney. “Even a deep plug, once it gets down there I’ll kill it and pull it and twitch it. When I’m putting action into my spinnerbait, I don’t pull the spinnerbait toward me; I throw slack at it. Instead of pulling it, it almost looks like it flares backward, and the blades go crazy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown slack at it, and when I turn the handle again he’s got it.

“I think a lot of it is that when one is coming up behind it, it just drops into his face. He can’t bat it away with his hands; he’s got to open his mouth. I know I’ve caught a lot of fish directly because of that.”

So, if you’re in the mood to sling a spinnerbait, get out and do it. It’s not only Jimmy Houston who still catches fish on them, and you can, too.

Tags: jody-white  article 

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