Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

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Sammy - The Walking Fish

By Russ Bassdozer

Where did they get the name "walking dog"? Walking puppy or walking puppet would have been a better name because the Sammy truly is a puppet. Like Pinocchio, the Sammy lays lifeless on the water until you, the puppet master, breathes life into this plastic creation!

When given the proper action, the Sammy will zigzag on the surface side to side like a wounded baitfish. I use the bigger Sammy 115 on lakes and reservoirs, and I'll use the Sammy 100 on small ponds and shallow rivers. The Sammy is made by Lucky Craft.

I take the total approach. When I cast out, I want the Sammy to make a big splash as it hits the water. I want to trick bass into thinking this big splash was made by another bass that just smacked a shad on the surface. I want bass to hear a big splash, think it was another bass blasting a meal, and see my injured Sammy limping away from the scene of the crime! When bass think other bass are feeding, they get very competitive and want a piece of the Sammy for themselves before other bass get it. They get greedy and lose caution. So I cast out, let it splash loudly like a feeding bass and immediately start the zigzag retrieve with no hesitation. Bass rocket up and belt it!

When bass hit a walking bait, they often miss it. I do not think the bass can clearly see it because of all the surface disturbance. In fact, I have seen many bass swimming along underneath and behind walking baits. Apparently, the bass are trying to get a clear look at it. I do not think they can see it well. Often, the bass will be zigzagging its own head from side to side, trying to get a better look at a walking bait from the left and from the right. Have you ever seen bass do this? They will follow walking baits right up to the boat, trying to get a clear view of them.

When they've seen enough, the bass will boil up behind it and blast a walking bait. Never stop giving it the zigzag action with the rod tip even when a bass is cartwheeling all over it. As I said, they usually miss it. If you keep zigzagging, they will belt you two, three, four times until you finally feel solid weight on the rod tip...and the bass is on!

Because bass have such a problem with hitting a walking bait, I like to help them out by putting the biggest hooks I can possibly fit on my walking baits without ruining the action. With the Sammy, I will put size #2 hooks on the 3/4 oz Sammy 115. I put a pair of  #4 hooks on the 1/2 oz Sammy 100.

Even with bigger hooks on them, bass will still miss walking baits when they swipe at them. With the Sammy, the heavier hooks slow down the frantic, splashy action. The heavier hooks give the Sammy a slower, more stable zigzag that leaves a vee wake on the surface. I think this slower action helps bass hit them more accurately and the larger hooks are harder to miss.

With the bigger hooks, I give action to the Sammy in three ways only:

1) I give very short movements of only 3 to 4 inches to the rod tip, and I turn the reel handle slowly so the Sammy comes across the surface at a medium pace. The only thing I like to see is one inch of the Sammy's nose twitching back and forth, which leaves a rippling vee trail wake behind it. This is the retrieve I use in open water away from shore or cover. I use this retrieve when active fish can not be seen breaking the surface. It is the most life-like retrieve of all, but takes more time because it is moderately slow.

2) When active bass can be seen breaking the surface here and there, you do not need to go so slow. I do the same as above (move the rod tip 3 to 4 inches) but I turn the reel handle faster so the Sammy zigzags across the surface at a fast pace. This fast pace seems better for fish that are up on top competing with each other for food. Still, I usually only want to see the nose of the Sammy come out of the water on this faster retrieve for active fish.

3) When I fish up against shoreline or cover, I do something different. In this case, I use longer, slower movement of the rod tip, and I want to see the entire side of the Sammy come out of the water on every zig or zag. I try to make this happen in slow motion so the Sammy kind of hangs there between each zig or zag. The whole Sammy should move side to side - not just the nose. It looks very much like a dying fish. This slow, sweeping tactic keeps the Sammy hanging next to cover where bass are hiding. It draws them out. Retrieves #1 and #2 above would go past shoreline cover too quickly - not hang there long enough to infuriate bass to come out of their hiding holes deep inside the cover like tactic #3.

Colors. I like the natural colors of Sammy's for all water clarities from clear, stained or dark. You can see the kinds of colors I like in the attached photos. I have always found that these natural kinds of colors work under all conditions. I have not really found any conditions where a brighter or bolder color worked better than natural ones.

Rod. The rod I use is custom wrapped on a Lamiglas SMB 108 3M spinning rod blank. The original blank is 9 foot long, and I ask the custom rodmaker to cut the butt down to 6' 9". I do not cut anything off the tip, which is a nice-sized 8 1/2 tip. So although it's a soft, shaky rod, it's not a thin-tipped rod. After cutting the butt, the blank will weigh between 3 1/2 to 4 ounces. This is a fiberglass rod made of a special material called S-Glass which is sensitive, lightweight and made with the same epoxy resins as in graphite sticks. S-Glass is far superior than graphite for walking topwater baits. Why? Because when you shake it, the S-Glass vibrates in a PARABOLIC ARC. You can't get a parabolic shake with graphite. It gives incredible action to walking baits.

Line. I use 12 lb. test Berkley Big Game monofilament line for topwaters, and I attach the Sammy to a line clip rather than knotting it directly to the line. I have tried fluorocarbon and braided lines for walking baits on spinning gear, but monofilament works best for me.

You typically hear that the rod should be held down and to the side to get the best action with walking baits. Maybe this is true in theory. In actuality, whether you are fishing from a boat or from a bank, there are many times when you cannot get the rod down to the side like that - something is often blocking the way, and it's a compromising situation to work the lure and to set the hook free and clear when you hold the rod down and to the side. Therefore, I just hold the rod tip up with walking baits. Usually, nothing gets in the way when you work the lure or set the hook with the tip up. So, I stick to that. 

Those are my own personal choices.  S-Glass spinning rod held up, mono, and a line clip.  I have confidence in that. It makes everything simpler and I can usually bring a few fish to life on my Sammy walking bait! You can too.

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