Depending on Skips and Scraps
"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."
WHAT IS IT?
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
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
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