My first time using flutter spoons, I caught a striper by accident. I was fishing with my neighbor, Nick Hanney, trying to scratch up a limit of black sea bass one Wednesday after work. As often happens on Buzzards Bay, a beautifully calm morning had deteriorated into a windy, choppy afternoon. A southwest wind is no friend of the working man.
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We couldn’t reach the sea bassin’ grounds in the open bay, where a quick limit would have been assured. Instead, we hid out inside the harbors, hitting smaller structures and catching smaller fish. On a whim, I’d brought my striper setup rigged with a Nichols Lures Ben Parker Magnum Flutter Spoon.
Flutter spoons have been around the largemouth bass scene for years. They were primarily 4- to 5-inches long, fished with big sweeps of the rod and, in freefall, look like a falling leaf that’s sweeping, twisting, and fluttering to the ground. A wide, 5-inch, 1-ounce slab of metal is already a pretty big plug for largemouth bass, but when Ben Parker, a lure designer, bass pro, and guide saw largemouths feeding on foot-long gizzard shad in Kentucky Lake, he also saw the need for a larger spoon.
Working with Nichols Lures, a small bass-fishing lure company out of Georgia, he helped design an 8-inch-long, 2-inch-wide, 3-ounce version of the flutter spoon. These big lures were a quick hit in the largemouth bass world, with tournament fishermen on Kentucky Lake putting them to work as soon as they were available. From there, it crept up to the Northeast, helped along by anglers who saw the big spoon’s potential as a striper lure.
The Magnum Flutter Spoon first became popular for stripers in New Jersey, before anglers in New England began to catch on; however, in a recent episode of the On The Water Podcast, Rhode Island charter captain BJ Silvia revealed he’d been fishing the lure years before, after being introduced to it by Humminbird Electronics Marketing Manager, Bill Carson. “You can’t give it all away,” Silvia said, about keeping the lure under wraps.
He experienced its fish-catching power on a trip when a novice angler on board couldn’t cast far enough to reach the action, so he handed her a rod rigged with a spoon and instructed her to lift and drop the platter-sized offering.
“After that, every time I turned around, she was fighting another fish.
Silvia said he’s had good luck jigging the spoon, casting it, and even slow-trolling it on leadcore line, but it works best when stripers are actively feeding. It’s not the best option, he says, to get inactive fish to bite.
When I made my first drop with a flutter spoon, I didn’t even think we had any stripers, active or inactive, below the boat. I just wanted to get a feel for how to fish it. After the lure touched down, I made one sweep of the rod to lift it, surprised to see that it didn’t have much resistance. I let it fall to the bottom, and when I lifted the rod, my arm was stopped cold halfway through the upward stroke.
The bass tore off line before coming up to thrash on the surface, and with our first look at the 30-pounder, we had a new theory on why the sea bassing at that spot might have been so slow.
The feel of a bass smacking a flutter spoon seems to be at least a part of the appeal of fishing it. Since these lures represent big baitfish, stripers strike quickly and violently; however, with just a single treble on the back end of the lure, missed strikes and pulled hooks are somewhat common.
To improve hook-up ratios with flutter spoons, many fishermen add assist hooks to the front of the lure, exactly as they do with tuna jigs. Stripers hooked on the assist hooks aren’t able to use the spoon as leverage during the fight, which reduces the chance of pulled or bent hooks. Adding a swivel between the rear treble hook and the spoon can also help to hang onto bass by eliminating the twist and reducing the leverage the fish can get.
While Nichols Ben Parker Magnum Flutter Spoon—and the 1-inch longer “Super Magnum”—were the only options during the first few seasons of the flutter spoon craze (which also coincided with the pandemic shipping and supply-chain issues), anglers today have a variety of options. Jigging World, Tsunami, Tony Maja, and other Northeast-based tackle companies have been producing their own versions of the big metal in sizes up to 11 inches and in a wide variety of colors.
Fishermen caught just fine when only plain chrome and hammered chrome spoons were available, but now white, chartreuse, gold, and even baitfish patterns are available. Nichols offers 18 colors of their Magnum Striper Spoon (which includes saltwater-grade hardware), the most of any company. Most of the Northeast-based tackle companies sell spoons in white, chrome, chartreuse, and bunker patterns.
Jigging is the most popular (and productive) technique with a flutter spoon. When tension is removed from the line and the spoon freefalls, its flat, thin body turns horizontal and slowly falls toward the bottom, kicking and wobbling like a bunker in its final throes. Experimenting with the cadence and the length of the sweeps will help dial in the best retrieve. Some fishermen favor big sweeps, while others use smaller motions, likening it to jigging for fluke.
Flutter spoons can also be cast and retrieved. On a straight, slow retrieve, the lure rocks side to side, flashing as it swims. With a shape like an oversized potato chip, it doesn’t cast well, and my few attempts at surfcasting with one have yet to produce results. However, Nick Cicero of Tsunami suggested the heavier-bodied version of the Tsunami Pro Flutter Spoon might find a home in the surf.
Flutter spoons work best around large baitfish, bunker most notably, and can tempt the stripers that are lurking near the bottom, around the fringes of the baitfish school. The hits almost always come as the spoon falls on a slack line, leading to an exciting jolt when the angler winds up for the next lift. It’s a feeling I can’t wait to experience again in the coming weeks.