How to skip a bass jig | Tips for skipping docks
If you have gone fishing for bass before you know how exhilarating it can be. It can be fun, tricky, and relaxing all at the same time. Skipping baits fishing is another technique used for bass fishing that can be a little challenging in the beginning, but fun!
Skipping bait under dock or other structure on the first try can be very difficult, but with the right information I plan to give you, you’ll be able to start skipping docks in no time.
- Start with a compact bait. The flatter the better.
- It’s all in the wrist action. Rolling your wrist helps control the accuracy of the cast
- Don’t cast too hard and keep the rod tip as low as possible.
- Be versatile. Be willing to learn multiple skipping techniques.
- Choose the most difficult location to skip
To find out more about the details of skipping docks and being able to do it like a pro continue reading!
What Is Skipping?
Skipping a is the art of casting a lure (preferably flat) across the water (normally underhand/sidearm) that it skips and bounces off the surface, preferably many times! Think about skipping a rock.
Anglers like to skip lures under docks and other structures because often larger bass will setup deep in the shadows to ambush prey.
Due to their location, they are also less pressured because it takes skill and practice to skip a dock because fisherman don’t want to either lose their lure getting it hung up or having it knock into the surrounding hard structure, thus scaring the bass away.
In the end these bass are often really big and less pressured.
Start With Calm Conditions And “Keep It Simple Silly”
If you’re serious about learning skipping lures, then you need to start in calm, windless conditions.
The flatter the water (meaning no waves or ripples) the better because it gives you the best chances of skipping your lure.
Waves will cause your lure to deflect off the water at an odd angle and will most likely end a failed cast.
Wind will also affect your cast. If you have a strong cross wind it will cause your lure to blow off target and it will also cause ripples and waves.
“The key to skipping jigs is hand-eye coordination and lots of practice.”
– Gerald Swindle BASSMASTER Elite Pro
This Is The Best Way To Skip Any Bait, And Science Proves It…
Physicists at both Brigham Young University in Utah and Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Rhode Island have identified the perfect way for skipping an object across the water.
In their experiment they were using hard round objects, they were not jigs, but the science is exactly the same…
In an interview Dr Tadd Truscott, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the university and one of the researchers said, ““Throw them hard with a lot of linear and angular momentum. Throw at about a 20 degree velocity angle with about a 20 degree angle of attack!”
What the heck does that mean?!…
You want to cast your jig nearly parallel to the water at a 20 degree angle and it will give you the best chances of your jig to skip. Cool right!
It’s All In The Wrist…
Reel the bait nearly to the tip of the rod, leaving 6-inches to a couple of feet to let it dangle.
Without releasing your bait, start with some slow practice casts movements…
You simply roll your wrist half a rod tip nearly parallel to the water like if you are skipping a rock, and throw the bait under.
In addition, you want to keep the tip of the rod as close to the water as possible.
One last thing to keep in mind… as you are casting you want to finish the skip cast (or follow through) with your rod heading in an upward direction.
You never want you finish you cast with the tip of your rod pointing to the water.
Your First Skip Cast…
Once you feel comfortable, start with your first official skip cast…
Go easy at first, don’t cast too hard. Consider trying to skip in open water off the bank just to practice at first or you can learn how you can practice skipping baits from home.
The harder you throw the bait the less accurate it will be and the more prone to getting a backlash…
You don’t want to baseball swing your cast because it will never end up at the target location.
If you cast that jig a zillion miles an hour it’s not going to end up where you want.
Read more: How To Practice Skipping Docks At Home?
If You’re Just Beginning Avoid My Mistake Of Choosing The Wrong Bait…
When I first started to learn to skip jigs, I thought I could use almost any type of jig… Boy was I wrong!
On a whim, I decided I was going to learn how to skip a jig, I grabbed a small box of ball head jigs and went to the local pond…
I was out there for HOURS! Cast after cast, backlash after backlash, all my casts were unsuccessful. I had the right rod, reel and line. I had the correct trailer… I went home defeated, but determined…
After reading multiple articles and watching videos and interviews I learned one of the the best types lures to skip was the good ol’ casting jig!
I thought to myself, “are you serious?!”
I learned the shape of the jig head can either help or hinder your effort to learn how to skip a bass jig.
The casting jig has a unique style head design. Its head is flat yet rounded contour is perfect for skipping docks and overhanging structure.
Lastly, I found out that if you don’t have any casting jigs, then are a TON of other baits you can use to skip!
Choosing The Right Bait for Skipping Docks…
Like when you’re choosing a rock to skip you would need a bait that is relatively flat and compact.
Baits like jigs, flukes, senkos are just some of the lures you can use. And don’t think that you can only skip soft plastics and jigs. You can easily skip certain hard baits as well!
But you’re using a jig and the first thing you need to do is to shorten your soft plastic craw trailer.
Don’t stop to measure the length, just cut off the lower-third to half of the body! Doing this instantly makes your jig more compact and easier to skip docks.
Also the wider the body of craw the easier it is to skip.
In summary, don’t solely rely on the jig to skip. Just remember the ‘skipping a rock’ analogy… if you were to choose a rock to skip on a lake, you want one that is wide and flat. And there are so many other baits you can skip that match that profile.
Read more: Top 10 Best Skipping Baits You Need To Try
What Type of Rod Is Best For Skipping Lures? … It depends…
The best type of rod for skipping depends on what type of bait you’re using and how tall you are.
Most anglers agree that the most popular rods for skipping docks are casting rods. But, spinning rods are the easiest to start skipping with and they’re preference for light weight baits.
Casting rods will give you more accuracy and more control when you catch a fish.
I spoke with a Shimano rep and he says, if you’re a taller guy (say over 6-feet) you’ll want to use a rod that is over 7-feet long, but if you a little shorter you’ll want to use a rod that is around 6’8” long.
Also he emphasized that you’ll need a moderate-heavy action rod with an “extra fast” tip.
This way you’ll be able to “sling” the bait incredibly far under the dock or overhanging tree. Then when you get a bite that rod will have a strong backbone built in, so you’ll have the confidence to set the hook without thinking twice.
What Type of Reel Is Best For Skipping Lures?
The rod and reel work as a team…
You’ll want a quality reel that reduces wrist fatigue and has a quality braking system.
Lower profile baitcasting reels will feel more natural in your hands. On top of that, the higher quality reels will be made of machined aluminum and titanium which reduces the stress and joint fatigue after a long day of fishing.
Some the cheaper quality reels will skimp on the type of magnets that are built into the reel. Cheap magnets give you less control on the spin speed… if you have less control of the spool spin speed it will create backlashes (or an ultra-frustrating buildup of loose line at the spool that can cause unwanted knots or tangles to form).
Having a reel that has a great braking system and smooth casting is just as important as the rod.
What Is The Best Line For Skipping Docks?
Most professional anglers will prefer to use either fluorocarbon or braided line.
Fluorocarbon is very strong, has very little stretch (unlike monofilament fishing line) and has very little “memory”… That means it does not have as much wrapping or twisting effect like a monofilament line will have.
Fluorocarbon fishing line comes off the spool well went you cast the lure. Plus, because of how it’s made, it’s nearly invisible to the fish!
If you’re fishing in relatively clearwater with little surrounding structure… say like floating docks then using a fluorocarbon line that is 12-to-15-pound test is the way to go.
Braided line is also a popular choice of line for skipping dock and skipping lures in general.
Braided line is made from tiny interwoven strands of manmade fiber such as Dacron, Spectra or micro-dyneema. This makes it very flexible, has nearly zero memory, and has zero stretch. This makes setting the hook with braided lines very easy. .
Braided lines often have ⅓-to-¼ – diameter mono or fluorocarbon fishing lines! Thinner lines will have less drag and resistance when you cast… meaning your lure will cast further and will dive deeper faster! Cool right!
Unfortunately braided lines are very visible to the fish. So that’s way if you’re fishing a traditional dock or something like an overhanging tree that also has a lot of submerged structure nearby, that braided line will blend into the background
If you’re going to choose a braided line for your dock skipping endeavors, then a 20-to-30-pound test line should work great.
Pointers To Keep In Mind….
Skip casting is all about the wrist and hand-eye coordination. Your bait is going to land where your eyes are looking.
Your bait is always going to travel in the same direction where your rod tip is pointing when you finish your cast.
For example, if you pull up to a dock and you’re looking at a specific location or target, don’t ever take your eyes off that target.
Fundamentally, you want each cast to be second nature. If you want to succeed if you have low body movements and you let your eyes do most of the work.
“I don’t care how good you are or how good you think you are, it’s impossible to skip jigs and be accurate when it’s windy or when there is chop on the water. It’s that you’re a bad skipper is just you’re fishing in bad conditions.”
The Three Skipping Techniques You Need To Master…
The three skipping techniques you need to master is the underhand roll, backhand roll, and the straight/vertical roll.
If your practice those three ways and you’ll quickly gain a skill most other anglers we’ll never have.
The Underhand Roll – Using your normal/dominant side skip the jig using any underhand roll, like if you were skipping a rock. Note: This is NOT a baseball swing! Its more of a finesse casting technique.
The Backhand Roll – This cast is many from your weak side using your backhand. It’s kinda like a backhand tennis swing, but less swing and more wrist roll.
Straight/Vertical Roll – Finally, this casting technique is used when the lane you’re casting to is very narrow and pointing right at you. You almost have to raise the reel and of the rod almost vertical so you can get your jig in the small lane. Having tried all three techniques, this by far is the most difficult in my opinion.
As a result, learning all three techniques from one position and not having to move your boat means you can cover the ENTIRE dock from one location!
Most noteworthy, start with a straightforward cast, then target an outside corner using an underhand roll cast and then target the opposite side corner using a backhand roll cast and if there is a narrow lane right in front of you, use the a vertical roll cast to cover that entire piece of structure from one single spot.
Moving your boat into different positions makes a lot of commotion, turbulence, noise. It will spook the bass and you’ll miss out on bites. If you avoid the urge to preposition you’ll stay quiet like a ninja!
Making Yourself Versatile…
Gerald Swindle once told a story when he was at a tournament he pulled up to a large series of docks. Since he is right handed and his fishing partner was also right-handed it made skipping docks difficult because his partner wanted to come to the front of the boat to fish the docks with him.
So in order for it to work his partner had to learn how to skip jigs backhanded. Luckily for him, his partner did know to skip jigs backhanded and they did great that tournament.
He goes on to point out that even if you’re not a co-angler, it’s still very important to learn how to skip jigs in a variety of different ways.
For example, he explained when he was starting out as a new pro he witnessed anglers come up to a dock and they may not be at an optimal angle to skip at (due to their boat angle) and so they’ll just leave 90% of the dock alone. He says after a while he noticed this to be more and more common, so he forced himself to skip jigs backhanded.
As a result, he his new ability gave his team the advantage, because now they could skip their jigs into a variety of different places where other teams would be hesitant to skip to.
If You Just Can’t Get The Hang Of Skipping Do This…
Even after I thought I got the right equipment I still struggled for some time.
It was when I was teaching my kids to skip rocks into a lake where I had my epiphany.
They kept picking up really small rocks at first. They were the right shape, but were really small.
I instinctively replaced it with a little bit larger rock because I knew I had more surface area to skip.
Like a freight train it hit me… I need to upsize my lure until I get the hand of skipping lures!
So I did. But, I needed something large with a little bit more weight with flat sides…
After about 20 minutes I settled on a big soft plastic swimbait with a weighted swimbait hook.
Later that day I was off to the local pond…
Sure enough, by adding that extra size and weight really helped me learn how to skip a lure and gain a ton of confidence.
After I felt comfortable skipping that swimbait I took the lessons I learned and honed it down to the smaller, more compact jig.
I know this article is packed with tips and strategies. I hope you don’t care that I over delivered for you. I just really want you to succeed!
Here I’m throwing in some extra important tips and tricks for you to remember when learning how to skip jigs or any other lure for the first time. Being confident in your skills, keeping it simple allows you to be much more comfortable when you’re required to skip that lure deep under overhanging structure.
So with these bonus strategies, you’ll get even more at ease with skipping baits!
Bonus Tip 1
Choose The Most Difficult Location To Skip Your Jig…
The best skipping anglers will look at that dock and ask ‘where’s the most difficult place to skip his jig?’ That’s where you need to cast to.
Many anglers are scared of skipping jigs to difficult targets so they’ll completely bypass it. Fortunately, many times there is a bass in that deep dark location. Best of all since the other anglers are often hesitant skipping jigs you can go behind someone and attack that spot and catch that bass those other guys missed!
BONUS TIP 2
Fish every dock the same way and cover every inch of it…
If you don’t get any bites in your process, if a bass was in there it would have seen it and eaten your jig.
Once you start getting bites, remember where and how you presented that jig. Chances are if there is a bass relating to that dock, they’ll be in the same location
BONUS TIP 3
Trimming a skirt to be compact can help your jig skip better…
In an interview with Bassmaster, Major League Fishing Pro and BASSMASTER Elite Series Pro Andy Montgomery says, “Sometimes in the package, the skirt will get uneven, so I’ll slide it around to get it nice and even — pretty. Basically, I want the skirt even (in alignment and separation) because I don’t want it to fall to one side or the other”
To make is easier for you I wrote a detailed report on how to what is the best way to trim the skirt on your jig without completely ruining it.
Other Skipping Related Articles
Accessories You'll Need
Reel – Having the correct reel to match with your rod is just as important. A good reel should be light and have a buttery smooth drag. There are several great reels on the market, but I recommend the Daiwa Tatula LT Spinning Reel (TALT25000D-XH). It’s a great reel packed with great features. So much so it could easily be priced in the mid $200 range.
Fishing Line – Having a good line is just as important as having a good rod. I recommend fishing with a good fluorocarbon line. Furthermore, it’s super sensitive because it has little to no stretch, and underwater it’s invisible to the bass! If pride or money is on the line I would use Sunline Sniper FC.
Skipping Baits – If you own a bait skipping spinning rod, then you need some baits to skip. But, there so many different styles of jigs on the market today and it’s so easy to perhaps feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of styles and brands available. To matters worse, the companies aren’t lifting a finger to help you decide…
You’re in luck, I’m going to help you narrow it down. I created this easy to follow guide for the best skipping bait available in each category.
Tackle Bag – You can’t carry all your gear in your pockets, so you need a reliable tackle bag to transport it. I wrote a complete review guide, Best Tackle Bag for Fishing, check it out by clicking here. But if you don’t have the time to read the full guide then let me tell you I recommend the Lunker Bag.
Fishing Pliers – Nothing will ruin a day quicker than getting a hook embedded in your hand, or worse your eye. That’s why I always recommend having a good set of pliers that won’t rust and won’t slip out of your hand. I recommend Cutthroat 7” Fishing Pliers.
Landing Net – As you are reeling in that monster fish, you don’t want to injure yourself or knock the fish off the hook by trying to grab it. That’s why I recommend a dependable telescopic landing net.
Fishing Weight Scale – Whether you’re going to keep your catch or just take a photo of it and brag to your friends it’s important to have an accurate scale. I recommend a scale that has a large LED display like this one fishing scale here.
Wide Brim Fishing Hat – Nowadays, you have to protect yourself against the sun’s harmful rays. Wearing a wide brim hat not only give you UV protection, it also keeps you cool. I recommend the Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney hat. It fits any size head and it feels really comfortable.
Fishing Sun Shirt – Don’t you stop at only getting head protection, you also need to protect your chest, back, arms and torso. According to the researchers finding skin cancers on the shoulders and forearms rank within the top-5 locations to get skin cancer*. Avoid any unnecessary UV exposure and stay cool by wearing a UV protective PFG Fishing Shirt by Columbia.
Fishing Gloves – Fishing gloves allow your hands to stay covered from the sun’s harmful rays and stay dry by using a special material. These gloves by Fishaholic offer UPF50+
Can you skip a bait that has a bobber?
After some thought, you probably could if the bobber was a slip bobber and the bait was compact.
Can you skip worms?
Yes, absolutely. The best worms to skip has to be the Senko or another stick bait style worm. Worms that have curly appendages are a little harder to skip