small brook trout caught on panther martin

Fishing with Panther Martin spinners

Panther Martin spinners are one of the best spinning lures around for trout. They catch all sorts of salmonids. I don’t always fish with these kinds of lures, but there are certain situations that call for an in-line spinner. In those situations I am just as likely to tie on a Panther Martin as any other brand of spinner.

Panther Martin makes a variety of spinners. Here I am mainly talking about the “Regular Series” Panther Martin spinner which consists of a heavy tear drop shaped body and spinner blade on a shaft. I use both the treble hook and single hook varieties depending on the situation. I don’t notice a ton of difference in either catch rates or damage done to fish. I also use the stainless steel Panther Martin where lead is prohibited, though those can be difficult to find.

How to fish the Panther Martin classic spinner

The basic idea with an in-line spinner is to cast it out then reel it back in. That probably oversimplifies things, but it is basically true. When you reel in the lure the blade spins around the shaft which creates flash and vibration. Whether this looks like a wounded bait fish or simply agitates fish into biting is up for debate. Whatever the case, in-line spinners do catch fish from trout to bass, walleye, northern pike and muskies. I use Panther Martin classic spinners for trout.

Fishing with in-line spinners isn’t rocket science, but you can do some things to make it more effective. First you want to cast your lure out beyond where you think the fish may be. That way the lure doesn’t spook the fish when it lands. This also gives you room to get the lure spinning before it reaches the fish. There are times when fish will hit the lure as soon as it lands in the water, but generally speaking you catch them on the retrieve.

swiftcurrent lake brook troutThis brook trout hit a yellow and gold Panther Martin spinner

After you cast out let the lure sink to where the fish are. If you aren’t sure, just vary your retrieves. Let the lure sink deep a few times. Then try retrieving it near the surface. Trout are more likely to come up for a lure than down. So you can catch a lot of fish with the lure up close to the surface. Yet there are times when you want to bring the spinner back deep and slow. That’s another thing. Vary the speed of your retrieve. You always want to make sure you’re reeling fast enough to make the blade spin. You know when it is spinning by the feel on your rod. The spinning blade will telegraph vibrations up your line, through your rod and into your hand. Finally, try a stop and go method when a steady retrieve fails to catch fish. Crank the reel handle a few times then pause. Then crank it again. Or just twitch the rod while you reel. Try different things until you see what works.

If you’re fishing in moving water like a river you typically want to quarter your casts. That means you cast upstream and across the water. As you reel the spinner will sweep downstream. Eventually it will catch the current. Then you bring it back a little more slowly. If there is a decent flow, the current itself will make the spinner rotate. Even in this case you may have to vary your retrieves until you find out what actually works. Don’t be afraid to try different colors either. There are times when a yellow spinner will outfish a black spinner ten-to-one.

Panther Martin spinner tactics and applications

In-line spinners can catch trout and salmon in a wide variety of circumstances. They are especially good for stocked trout though they also catch plenty of wild fish. That said, I only really use these kinds of lures in certain specific situations. Mainly that means fishing large waters like rivers and lakes from the bank. I want a heavy lure that I can cast way out and quickly cover a lot of water with. Spinners are good for that. Panther Martins are among the best spinners, so I often go with them.

I’ve caught all types of trout with Panther Martin spinners. They’re especially good for brook trout in the Western United States. I’ve caught dozens of brook trout in lakes like Swiftcurrent in Montana by simply casting out Panther Martin spinners from the bank. The same goes for lake trout over in Two Medicine. Sure you could catch fish with other means, and I certainly have done that. But these are big lakes and there’s often a lot of wind. Casting a small but heavy spinner lets you cover plenty of water and hook up with fish. What else could you ask for?

brook trout on panther martin spinnerBrook trout love classic Panther Martin spinners

I’ve caught fish all over the United States and even in other countries like Iceland with Panther Martin spinners. So I usually carry at least a couple of the spinners with me. I find the yellow body and black body spinners with gold blades to work in the widest variety of circumstances. All gold works great too. It can help to have the lure in a few different sizes, but the 1/8 ounce lures will work pretty much anywhere. So if you’re a minimalist or on a budget consider that size first.

The biggest issue with spinning lures is line twist. Although the blade is designed to spin around the shaft, the lure itself also spins at times. Eventually this twists up your fishing line. You might not even notice it until you start to get a lot of tangles down at the reel. You could tie a swivel on your line above the lure itself to help with this. But I find that doing so limits the action of the spinner. So I just tie the spinner straight to the line. Then, every once in a while, I cut off the lure and try to let the line straighten out before tying it back on. This helps but doesn’t completely eliminate the problem. There are some spinners made in Japan with swivels built right into the shaft. They eliminate line twist almost entirely, but that’s for another article.

Where to buy Panther Martin spinners

Panther Martin spinners are available in a lot of bait shops and even big box retail stores like Wal-Mart. You can even find Panther Martin spinners in some convenience stores like the gas station at the entrance to Glacier National Park near Saint Mary Lake. I’ve even seen Panther Martins in some dedicated fly shops around the United States. Some stores have much better selections than others. Then there are a number of bait and tackle shops that don’t carry the lures at all.

single hook panther martin spinnersSingle hook Panther Martins work well too

You can order the full line of spinners direct from Panther Martin. I haven’t gone that route yet, so I don’t know how long it would take you to actually get the spinners. I would hope that it would be fast, but I can’t say for sure. At least the prices are fair.

A lot of Panther Martin spinners are also available on Amazon these days. I found pretty much every size and color pattern of the Panther Martin spinner I use on Amazon. The prices are right. I’ve consistently seen Panther Martin Regulars on Amazon for less than Panther Martin itself charges. Amazon also carries the Panther Martin Best of the East Kit and Single Hook Panther Martins. Those aren’t always easy to find. I should say that I have used the “best of the east” spinners out west and caught plenty of fish. So don’t let the name catch you off guard.

Don’t overlook the single hook Panther Martin spinners. In my experience they catch just as many fish as the traditional treble hook spinners. Single hooks are easier to get out of fish (and nets). They are also required in some areas where treble hooks are prohibited. The single hook Panther Martins come in the same sizes and basic colors as treble hook spinners. So you really aren’t missing out at all when you use them.

If I could only have one Panther Martin classic spinner it would probably be a 1/8 ounce with gold body and gold blade. Since I can carry as many as I want I normally have black body and yellow body spinners with me too. This covers pretty much any situation I run into that calls for an in-line spinner. If you find yourself in similar conditions I bet that these lures will work well for you too.

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