Skippin' to Better Bass
It is always about the presentation. Successfully Skippin' a bait across the surface of the water to a cruising bass takes a certain amount of practice. Oh, but it's worth it.
Just like Skippin' a stone, presenting a bait in this fashion has several benefits. First, you can get a bait under overhangs. Willows leaning over an incoming creek, between the floats on a boat dock, even back in little pockets on bluff banks. But the best news is that Skippin' a bait also attracts fish. They may think it's an escaping baitfish or the noise just attracts their attention but whatever the reason they go on point the instant they hear it.
With a little practice, Skippin' a soft plastic bait is not all that hard. The more practice the better the accuracy, however. The key to doing it well is the equipment. I use spinning gear almost exclusively. A Fenwick ® Techna AV ® seven-foot medium action rod with an Abu Garcia ® Cardinal ® 504 spinning reel are perfect for this.
The best thing that's come along in a while is the new Fireline ® from Berkley ®, Fireline Crystal. Here's why. Skippin' a bait works best when the fish are suspended in the water column next to some kind of cover or cruising around like they do in a Pre Spawn situation. These fish are looking up, not down. They just can't see the Crystal line. I use 20-pound test Crystal with about an 18-inch Berkley Vanish ® leader. I join the two with a double uni knot. I don't have room here to show you how to tie but it's a simple knot, just look it up. It's the only one I can find that works well.
Generally I skip two baits for almost everything ... a Berkley Sinking Minnow and a Berkley Power ® Jerk Shad. I rig them on a wide gap 4/0 hook. They skip well and the fish eat them even better. I match the color to the conditions and to what I think the bass are eating. Basically in clear water I use green pumpkin and in off colored water I use darker colors such as June Bug. If I'm fishing around bedding fish where I really need to see the bait or if shad is the predominant baitfish I use Pearl or Albino. The retrieve is simple: Cast it where you want it, let it sink just a little, twitch it two or three times, let sink again, then repeat the process all the way to the boat.
If you see a cruising bass be sure not to throw at it but where you think it's going to be, normally about five feet in front of it. If you see a fish on or near a bed, cast well beyond it then slow down the retrieve when you're near the fish. This is simple stuff, really; just don't make it harder than it really is.
Just remember these simple steps and you'll be Skippin' baits with the best of them. Use the right tackle, practice for accuracy and focus on the right retrieve. Oh, it also helps to cast in the right places.