Notwithstanding the value of framing the dock perimeter with reaction baits and probing posts with down baits, skipping a jig or a compact Texas rig may very well be the most effective of summer dock tactics.
Why? This skilled technique puts a bait where fish are not expecting it. Especially during the summer months, heat-weary bass think they’re tucked way back in the cheap seats when suddenly an obnoxious intruder swims past their face.
Response is usually swift and the skipping technique typically tempts some of your bigger bites.
So why don’t more anglers skip? In a word, backlash; that overrunning vexation that plagues and often intimidates novices.
FLW Tour pro Clark Wendlandt said the right rod helps alleviate this problem. He says a stiff, 7½-foot flipping stick won’t cut it. Instead, he suggests a 6-10 to 7-foot, medium-heavy rod. That lighter rod has plenty of fish-fighting backbone, and a softer tip to allow that sling-shot action you need to zip a bait under the dock without backlashing the second your bait touches the water.
Furthermore, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins suggests backing off on your spool volume to about 75 percent. As for good form, he said the sidearm roll cast befits the skipping technique with an easy motion that keeps the line-jarring power under control.
Are you still unsure of this skipping stuff?
Then pull a page from the crappie angler’s playbook and “shoot” a bait right into the shadows. With the bait hanging about reel level, point the rod tip at the target area, pull the bait back to load the rod like a bow and arrow and then release the lure to send it zipping into the shadows.
You can shoot most any flipping jig or Texas-rigged plastic, but consider that water drag will limit a long, gangly bait’s trajectory. Compact packages work best and whatever your choice, be sure and grip the bait by the bend of the hook. This keeps the point safely forward of your fingers.
The Gene Larew bait company simplified this technique with its new shooting system. Its plastic Dock Shooter bait features a flat back with hook alignment guide, a spear tail for gliding action and a keeled belly for realistic movement. A weighted shank Pinhead Hook allows the bait to fall horizontally, rather than head first, while the Gene Larew Pull Tabs (not included) provide a safe gripping point that keeps you on the docks and out of the E.R.