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From top: 1/8 ounce brown Roostertail, 1/8 ounce green Vibric Roostertail, 1/16 ounce orange Beetlespin, 1/8 ounce black Beetlespin

    I know, I know. Two lures is cheating. The fact of the matter is that if I were to play by the rules and rank lures solely on fish-catching prowess, these two lures would probably come in first and second, and I am unsure which would finish first. River gamefish of just about any species can be caught on these pint-sized offerings, and a complete novice equipped with either could outfish a seasoned river rat 9 times out of 10 if the river rat were forced to use any of the other lures in this top ten list. I am convinced that if you simply want to catch as many fish as possible, either one of these lures is tough to beat.

    For those unfamiliar with these lures, the Roostertail is simply an in-line spinner, similar to those made by Mepps, Panther Martin, Shyster, and a host of other manufacturers. All of these brands will catch fish, but I have always preferred the Original Roostertail model in the 1/8 ounce size. Roostertails seem to be well-made, and the feathers on the treble hook make these lures even more attractive. Roostertails come in a dizzying array of color patterns, but I normally stick with green or brown with a bronze blade. The Roostertail will catch anything that swims in Georgia rivers and they cost less than two bucks each. They are super-easy to fish, and the 1/8 ounce size is not too big for bream or trout and not too small to attract the attention of some pretty good-sized bass and even the occasional striper.

    The Beetlespin is simply a small jig head with a soft plastic body of some type threaded onto a single hook. A safety-pin style spinner is attached to the jig head and your fishing line is tied to the little "O" in the bend of the spinner wire. The original Beetlespin is manufactured by Johnson lures, but there are plenty of knock-offs that are just as effective. The Beetlespin is every bit as effective as the Roostertail as a fish-catching machine, and produces an enticing side-to-side wobble when fished in slower current. I use both 1/8 and 1/16 ounce models and don't really have a favorite color. They all work at times, and switching out the soft-plastic lure bodies until I find what the fish want is really no trouble at all. 

Best Seasons and Situations


Here's a nice little redeye bass caught recently by GRF member Bill Bell that nailed a yellow Beetlespin.

    Both the Roostertail and the Beetlespin (and all the lures like them) are effective year round for bass and panfish. In the colder months, just slow down the speed of the retrieve to get the lures a little deeper. Though I primarily fish for bass using somewhat larger offerings, there are two situations when I will almost always use one or both of these lures. The first is when I am exploring a creek for the first time and simply want to find out what kind of gamefish live there. Both of these lures are fantastic for feeling out a new stream and trying to ascertain the structure of the food chain in a particular body of water. The other time I will call on these lures is to avoid a skunking. Let's face it, catching something beats the heck out of catching nothing. After about six hours of flailing away unsuccessfully for bass in the summer heat, I am usually ready to feel something alive on the end of my line, and both the Roostertail and Beetlespin have helped me remove the stench of a fishless day on many occasions. These are also the lures I am most likely to call upon when I get the hankering for some fried bream.

    Though this is not a hard and fast rule, I tend to prefer the Roostertail in quicker water and the Beetlespin in more lazy current. I feel that the wobble of the Beetlespin gives it the edge in slow current, and sometimes Roostertail blades don't spin well during slow retrieves in slow-moving water. In swifter water, I like the Roostertail a bit more because it creates a bit more flash and vibration. Having said that, there are plenty of times when I have had better success using a Beetlespin in swift water and vice versa. It's tough to go wrong with either one. When using the Beetlespin, I normally opt for the smaller 1/16 ounce size. If everything goes well and I find myself catching a lot of small fish, I will upsize to a 1/8 ounce model to entice larger fish and keep the runts off my line. Some folks like to use even larger models of these lures for bass fishing, but my opinion is that larger Roostertails simply are too prone to hang-ups and regular skirted spinnerbaits are a better option than large Beetlespins.

Tips and Techniques

    It is really difficult to fish these lures incorrectly. Throw them out and reel them back in. Sometimes the Roostertail requires a short jerk at the beginning of the retrieve to get the blade going. Both the Roostertail and Beetlespin work best when fished across the current rather than directly up or downstream. An important exception to this rule is when wading shoal areas for redeye, shoal, spotted, or smallmouth bass. Try casting directly downstream and allowing the lure to simply suspend in the current next to likely fish-holding areas. This tactic is simply too much for these predators to bear, and I have watched redeye bass stare at a hovering Beetlespin for nearly a minute before they succumb to temptation.

    A common problem for Roostertail fishermen, especially in rivers, is line twist. Some folks head this problem off by using a snap swivel. Others bend the wire shaft of the spinner so the blade still spins but the body of the lure does not. I feel that both of these approaches takes away from the action of the lure, but have seen other fishermen using both methods load the boat while I am busy spooling on fresh line. As you might imagine, these lures are best fished using lighter tackle. I normally use light or ultralight spinning gear and four or six pound line with both.

    One thing I really like to do on any fishing trip is to catch fish. Whether I am hunting for dinner, trying to decipher a new stream, or simply trying to avoid a skunking, both the Roostertail and Beetlespin are never far from my grasp.


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