Whitten Special by Mike Whitten
Without a doubt, the first question I get asked when I show the Whitten Special spinnerbait, by Bill Dee's Gambler's Spinnerbaits, is "Why in the world do I want a 1 ounce spinnerbait? Most folks have never even seen a 1 oz spinnerbait!"
Well, the answer is really simple. It is a tool, a tool designed to fish in places where fish have never seen a spinnerbait. The Whitten Special built by Gambler's Spinnerbaits was built to my exact specifications to allow me to make long casts with a big bladed lure, to have a lure that will get to the bottom quickly in deep water, and stay there. It gives me a lure with a big profile that will attract big, kicker bass, a lure that will allow me to throw a bait that everyone else is not using.
The technique is one of "slow rolling" a spinnerbait. The technique is not new, but it is one that very few anglers use properly or successfully. Slow rolling a spinnerbait means making long casts on open water structure, allowing the bait to fall quickly to the bottom, getting the blade turning, and then slowly, steadily reeling the lure along the bottom contours where the larger fish spend most of their time.
The tackle is specific, but not complicated. I use a MH action Falcon rod, in either 6'6" or 7' length. A Carolina rig rod would work well for this technique. My reel of choice is a Shimano Calcutta 200, with ABEC 7 bearings installed, for longer casts. Line is 14-17# premium mono. I DO NOT like braid for this application, since strikes are generally quite aggressive, and the braid gives you no cushion close to the boat with a big fish and an ounce of lead for leverage.
I fish this lure/technique on open water structure, and main lake points that fall into deep water. My typical "Whitten Special" spot is a gravel bar or ridge off the main river channel, a hump or Indian mound with direct current exposure, or a main lake point running well out into the lake, with good current flow across it. Depths on these spots will run from 6-14' on top, but dropping quickly into 15-30'.
I always approach these spots fishing into the current, making long casts upcurrent and reeling the lure along the bottom with the current. Even strong current will have little effect on this heavy lure, but remember that fish ALWAYS feed and orient into a current, so your lure must move toward them in a natural manner. During the retrieve, pause occasionally to allow the lure to make bottom contact, and then resume reeling. Often, this slight change of direction will trigger a strike.
The original Whitten Special is a one ounce, long arm single spin, with a #5 Gold Glitter willow leaf blade, over a white and chartreuse skirt. This is my #1 confidence lure combination, but Bill Dee is working on a 3 lure Whitten Special Pack that will feature the 3 colors I carry and use. The other two are a chartreuse skirt/chartreuse willow combo, and a white/blue glimmer skirt/silver nickel glitter willow blade. Finally, he is building a night fishing version of this lure, the Whitten Night-Time Special with a black/red glitter skirt and a gold Thumper blade. Check the Gambler website at www.soblures.com for these new lures.
Finally, you have to understand that this lure, fished as I've described, is not a numbers lure. You will not catch 30 or 40 fish a day doing this. You may only get 5-8 bites a day. But, those 5 may weigh over 20#. Try this technique in the same places you throw a Carolina rig, big crankbait, or a spider grub. You'll be amazed at what can happen.
Good fishing! Mike Whitten/Memphis