Do you know what I consider to be the easiest lure for skipping under docks? It is the stick worm, such as Yamamoto’s original Senko.
Although the majority of my tournament winnings have come from me using jigs, skipping stick worms probably rates as my second most lucrative technique. I’ve experienced excellent days of fishing, both in the North and South, by using this technique. Using the proper equipment is extremely important when skipping sick worms because casting accuracy is extremely vital for success around docks. Here is a review of the equipment to use when skipping under docks.
Discussion of equipment has to start with the lure. So why do stick worms skip so well? Well, I’ve tried everything over the years and they just do! It must be because they are fatter, so they have more weight and surface area, which lends itself to great skipping. Plus there aren’t any appendages, like on a creature bait or jig, which seem to create more drag on the water’s surface.
Just about any lure can be skipped, so why does it matter that one is better than another? Having an easy skipping lure lends itself to more accurate casting from a greater distance. Because they are easy to skip, I can use a calm, mellow casting motion, which I am more accurate with on the water.
I am decent at skipping jigs, too, but I notice I am clumsier with the accuracy and I can’t get the same distance either. Distance can be very important for two reasons. The first of which is to just stay off the fish and prevent them from noticing you; and second, sometimes a bait has to be slung a great distance under a dock to reach a bass lurking way back in the shadows.
Stick Worms Can be Different
Not all stick worms are the same, and I actually have two brands I like to use depending on the situation. The first would be the original Senko by Yamamoto. Within the stick worm category, they skip the best because they have the highest salt concentration imbedded within the plastic. This means they are the heaviest and really fly! So why don’t I just use this one all the time? That’s because the salt concentration makes them sink faster and sometimes I don’t want that. So when I want a stick worm that sinks slower, I opt for All-Terrain Tackle’s stick worm, which they no longer sell, but of which I still have a healthy stockpile. I like the slower-sinking stick when I’m fishing shallow, weedy docks. It will hover up above the weeds a bit longer.
Like any worm, stick worms come in all sizes and colors. I prefer a 5-incher most of the time. Sometimes I do go down to a 4-incher when I feel the bass are pressured or I am around a lot of smallmouths or spotted bass. The 4-incher skips really well also, but not as good as the 5. Just about anything in the green pumpkin or watermelon spectrum are effective colors. Bright chartreuse is an odd color that I’ve used successfully as well. When faced with tannic or stained waters, I might switch to a junebug or red shad color.
Ninety percent of the time I will wacky-rig the stick worm with no weight. If you are not familiar with wacky-rigging, it means the hook is poked through the mid-section of the worm. You’ve done it correctly if the worm lies perpendicular to the direction of the fishing line and the hook point is exposed.
Having an exposed hook, as is the case fishing wacky-style, can present some problems with snagging boat lifts, dock cross beams, dangling ropes, and so on. And it seems docks are being built nowadays with more matrixes of support beams than in the past. Therefore thoughtful and accurate cast placement is a must to minimize snagging these objects. In recent years, I’ve been using hooks with little finesse weed guards built into them. They definitely help. Regarding hook size, I generally match a 5-inch stick with a 2/0 hook and the 4-incher with a 1/0 hook.
Use Spinning Equipment
In my opinion, the only way to skip a stick worm is by using spinning equipment. I can cast it farther and more accurate with spinning gear as compared to baitcasting rod/reel combos. The rod I prefer is a 6-footer with a medium action. The softer-action rod allows the rod’s flex to cast the worm as much as the forward casting motion. Due to the rod’s flex, I can use a calmer, less aggressive casting motion resulting in better accuracy. With the hooks I use, I do not need a strong hookset that a stiffer rod offers. In fact, I barely even set the hook, but rather just reel fast and bend the rod over. The reel I use has a medium-size spool.
With this technique, the notion would be to use heavy line because a hooked bass will often swim around rusty dock posts and so forth. And, in fact, if I am using a jig on baitcasting gear, I am using heavy line. But in the case of spinning gear, heavy line does not come off the reel spool as smoothly because of its stiffer nature. There’s a lot of line drag/friction as it comes off the spool and even rod slap as it travels up the rod. Heavy line on spinning gear robs the angler of casting accuracy and distance! It is the stiffness and weight to the heavy line that creates these problems. So really an angler needs to think about reducing the stiffness of the line.
Braided line is limp as it gets, so a good approach is to use braided line. It feels awesome flowing off the spool and will allow an angler to add strength while maintaining limpness. Tie a fluorocarbon leader to the braid if need be. I do not use braided line myself, however; I use all fluorocarbon line, which is the stiffest line material of all and goes against what I’m saying here. I may be changing though because to get the sweet flow off the reel spool, I drop down to 8-pound-test. That’s right….8! Line this light requires me to really think about the angles I present the skipcast. I am always thinking about the route a hooked bass will travel as I lead it out from under a dock and sometimes I can get into trouble because of the underpowered line strength. Monofilament line is limper than fluorocarbon, but fluorocarbon offers so much of a better feel and bite-detection that I won’t use mono. In the end with whichever line is being used, your reel’s spool should be filled to its proper maximum capacity. Under-filled spools have a lot of resistance as the line unwinds during a cast, thus robbing accuracy and distance.
Skipping lures under docks is a difficult skill to master. I’ve presented here, the easiest lure of all to skip – the stick worm. But just because it’s the easiest, doesn’t mean it’s easy. The proper rod/reel/line outfit will greatly affect the proficiency of this technique. But after a couple days of on-the-water practice with the right setup, you won’t believe how easy it can be and the bass you’ll be catching!
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