Top-Skipping Baits

No bass in sight? Make a splash.

Field & Stream Online Editors

The toughest bass to reach are those that withdraw far back under low docks, thick overhanging branches, and other hard-to-fish cover. When they retreat to these defensive positions, bass rarely dart out and nab lures that strut along the edges of their lairs. They are virtually uncatchable, save for anglers who employ skipping.

An accomplished skip-caster can hop a lure 20 feet or more under imposing cover. The essence of the method is the same as skipping a flat stone: a low, flat trajectory and a projectile that displaces enough water to bounce on rather than penetrate the water. The method puts you in touch with untapped bass, even on heavily fished waters.

Casting With Zip
To make the skip cast, approach as close as you can to the cover without spooking the bass, typically about 15 feet. Then hold the rod tip low and make a sharp, sideways back cast. Snap the rod tip ahead, so the lure hits the water forcefully at the outer edge of the cover. When performed with zip and at a low enough angle, the lure skips inches over the surface and well back beneath the cover.

You can skip virtually any bass lure. I've watched masters at this technique adroitly skip heavy spinnerbaits, jigs, and even crankbaits with baitcasting tackle. However, you'll enjoy faster success and suffer fewer line problems by starting out with spinning gear and light lures.

Lures That Skip
A soft-plastic tube is the easiest lure to skip and one of the most tempting to bass. Rig it with a 1/32- to 1/16-ounce weight, and the tube's fat body consistently bounces four to eight times before it settles into the water and slowly glides down. In addition to getting beneath prohibitive bass cover, a skipped tube mimics a fleeing minnow-hard for any self-respecting bass to ignore.

In places where you can fish an exposed hook without snagging, such as under floating docks, insert a narrow tube jig inside the hollow plastic bait. Designed specifically for tubes, these jigs rarely come in sizes lighter than 1/16 ounce. If you wish to reduce the weight, pare down the jig's lead head with a pocketknife or side cutters.

When brush, limbs, dock posts, and other obstacles are present, rig the tube Texas-style to avoid snagging. Hooks designed specifically for tubes are available. Peg a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce bullet sinker to the head of the tube by pushing a toothpick into the sinker's hole to wedge the line. Break or clip off the excess wood. Another excellent option is a special tube weight that attaches to the front of the hook inside the lure. It makes for a more compact, natural-looking offering.

A fast-tipped, 6-foot medium-action spinning outfit nicely handles a lightweight tube and provides the snap and speed needed to skip the lure. A reel featuring a large-diameter spool better tames the line. Fill it with 8- to 10-pound-test monofilament. If the cover is especially dense and abrasive, consider one of the superlines made from Spectra or similar fibers. A line of this type that tests at 25 to 30 pounds has a diameter equal to 8-pound monofilament. The limp line feeds off the spool and is less inclined to spew tangles with skipping presentations.

Texas-rigged floating worms fished without weights also skip exceptionally well. Standard 4- to 6-inch worms do nicely, too, particularly straight-tailed designs. Rig them with pegged 1/16- or 1/8-ounce slip sinkers. As your skipping ability improves, you can move up to heavier sinkers.

The same holds true with jig-and-pig combinations. A 1/8-ounce rubber-skirted jig tipped with a pork frog bounces lightly across the water's surface. Before long, you should be able to move up to 1/4- and 3/8-ounce jigs and still dance them over the surface to reach undercover bass.