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Depending on Skips and Scraps

By Russ Bassdozer

"In these parts, a man's life can depend on a mere scrap of information."

That line was uttered out of the cigar-clenched mouth of Clint Eastwood in a sphagetti Western. It's true in bass fishing too. A hot lure tip, a hot spot, what you caught on, where or how. In this sport, a man's success can often depend on a mere scrap of information. A mere scrap that can mean a blazing boatload of action for a sport fisherman, or a fistful of dollars for a tournament contender.

I hope you'll rustle up some scraps you can depend on here today. Thank you for reading.

I've skipped a lot for bass. Skipped work, skipped school, skipped lunch, and skipped out on the family. I've skipped docks, skipped boat houses, skipped brush, skipped shoreline shade trees, skipped logs, skipped over weedbeds, and I even skip open offshore water where I know hungry bass are waiting down below.

You may be thinking, "Not too many places left to fish if you skip all those spots."

I easily skip tubes. I don't give a second thought to skipping single tail, double tail and hula grubs, skip worms, skip Senkos and Ikas, and unbelievably at times, I even skip the occasional spinnerbait. You may say, "Not much left to fish with if you skip all those lures."


Skipping is a form of casting presentation that ricochets a lure out over the surface, often for a surprisingly long distance. The best way to learn to skip cast is to learn to skip for distance first. Drop a marker buoy to serve as your casting target. Do this in open, unobstructed water. Clear your mind of any thoughts of catching fish. Just teach yourself to skip for distance. Pull the boat a long cast away from the buoy, and skip your lure so it bounces like a flat stone across the surface, so it eventually runs out of gas and settles silently next to the buoy. Learn to skip as hard and from as far away as you can, and still reach the marker buoy.


The skip cast is a powerful two-handed underhanded sideways power swing. One way to describe it is almost like a golf swing, and every bit as powerful. The rod tip is held low during the initial moment of the power cast until the first skip bounces off the surface, which does not need to be all too far away from the boat. After the first skip, you follow through with a second maneuver by rotating your wrist to raise the rod tip a little bit, sighting the rod down the line trajectory for subsequent skips. The purpose of this second maneuver is to keep the shooting line from ever dragging on the water surface. Only the lure, not the line should ever touch the surface. The lure should skip three, four or more times, always with a low line trajectory, and ten or fifteen feet between skips is reasonable before the power of the cast is ultimately extinguished, the lure eventually runs out of gas midway through the last skip, and slips silently under the surface next to the marker buoy.

Practice this until you get it perfect. I congratulate you when you can hit the marker buoy from a distance every time. You've just mastered the first variation of skip cast to use in open water. As the lure skips out away from you across the top, you are doing in reverse exactly what a topwater popper does on the retrieve. It helps to think of your presentation as not just one, but several members of a baitfish achool that have been alarmed and leap out of the water to escape a real or imagined predator. So you see, skipping is not just a cast, not just a way to get your lure out. Skipping is the presentation itself, not just of one bait, but a school of them. The skipped lure splashes across the surface for the length of the cast, and attracts the attention of every bass in the immediate vicinity. Rest assured, all watery eyeballs will stop to greedily follow the path of your surface-skipping lure, and they'll swarm to the top to nail your bait as it settles under the surface into visibilty. If it is not taken under the surface or as it sinks through the water column, just let it rest on bottom as long as you can stand it. Rest assured, they know it is there, and they'll mosey on over. Curiosity not only gets the cat, but the inquisitive bass just cannot stand to let a skipped lure go overhead and sink without having to go investigate it. It's their nature. They can't resist it.

Now do this. Go into shallow water and spot a bass sunning itself next to an isolated underwater rock or laydown. Get within casting range so you can see what happens when you drop your lure next to the bass using a regular cast. Even overcast 10-15 feet if you want, and pull your lure up from behind. What happened? Did the bass spook from your cast? Now, come back to this same spot later. Keep your distance, and skip your bait across the distance so it slips in silently next to the target as if it was your practice buoy. Wait for your line to tick or start peeling off away from the isolated cover, then come tight and set the hook. Cool, huh?


Skipping creates immediate positive excitement, and stimulates a reaction bite. It all happens too quickly, and the bass genes are just too programmed to react instantly to this.

A second variation of skipping technique is to manipulate the rod tip and line drag to skitter, slosh and slither your lure out over the surface. Usually, this is effective when the target is at mid-range as opposed to full distance. As the lure goes out, pull back and "roll" or sweep the rod tip over to one side or another as you raise it. This causes increased line drag and the bait will streak a white hot line as it skitters across the surface like a panicked baitfish. This is also an effective way to correct a misguided missile. By pulling back and rolling the rod up to one side or another, you can "steer" an errant bait so it skids in a curve back towards the target you intended to aim it at. Once it gets back on course, bow the tip and sight the line straight down the trajectory again. Always, it's best to keep the shooting line off the water's surface.

Sometimes, I intentionally power a cast hard out and off to the side to begin with, so that I can pull back and slither the bait around on a curve into the final destination.

It's hard to describe skip casting techniques in writing. This is not the whole story, only pieces. In these parts, a fisherman sometimes depends on mere scraps of information. You will need to practice skipping and discover for yourself the full picture how to deploy this deadly surface presentation.

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