Carl Spande

Carl Spande is a lifelong fisherman and avid outdoorsman. He has been participating in local competitive bass tournaments for the past three years.

Posts about Northerns

Fishing tip: Try to 'walk the dog'

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: May 19, 2009 - 2:45 PM

Topwater baits offer some of the most exciting strikes known to bass fishing. I have found that when I introduce someone to bass fishing, I almost always have a spot on the lake where a topwater presentation will draw strikes and blowups, whether it be a floating frog across lilypads or casting a popper in a shallow bay. Kids and beginners will never forget that bass they caught when it jumped out of the water to attack the bait.

One of my favorite topwater lures is a Heddon Spook or Spook Jr. These types of surface baits will exhibit a "walking" motion, moving side to side, if presented correctly. The technique for manipulating this type of bait is called "walking the dog". Here are a few tips to help you "walk the dog" during the "dog days" of summer...

1. Tackle is just as important as the actual technique. I prefer to use a 7' rod, medium to medium heavy, with a fast action tip. A baitcaster or spinning reel will work, it's personal preference. I like a longer rod to make long casts with, and also I like some give in the tip and rod so I don't pull out the hooks when the bass strikes the lure.

2. Use Monofilament line. Mono line floats, and this is critical in the presentation of the bait. You want the nose of the lure to be slightly higher than the back of the lure. This will allow the bait to look more natural, like a struggling baitfish, and it will also allow the bait to move from side-to-side more efficiently, without nose diving below the surface.

3. Knot Selection: There are many knots available to the common fisherman. My suggestion for a "walk the dog" type lure is to utilize a Loop Knot. A Loop Knot allows one to maximize the action of these baits by allowing the bait to move freely along the loop created, thus resulting in a more natural presentation. There are many different loop knots to tie, so I would find a source for knots and find one that has strength and is fairly easy to tie. I would be more than happy to share the knot I tie if interested.

4. "Walking" your bait: To get the most out of these lures, one needs to practice "walking". Most of these lures are weighted so that they will exhibit the "walking" motion fairly easily, but it is up to the angler to perfect this technique. Just to be clear, when one "walks the dog", they are manipulating the bait so it moves side to side in a forward motion. Horizontally, it would look like this:
Start /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/ Finish
After the cast is made, I let the ripples caused by the lure landing to subside. I then proceed with my rod tip down, to jerk the bait with a regular cadence. A helpful hint is to have a little bit of slack in your line. When you jerk your rod tip away from the bait, try to bring your rod tip back to its starting position very quickly. This will allow the bait to dart from side to side because there will be slack line. A taut line will only move the bait forward, similar to a popper.

5. Once you are able to "walk the dog", try different speeds and cadences. Often I will walk the bait for three pulls quickly, let the bait rest for 3 seconds, then do another series of 3. Try out different patterns and see how you do! This is a fun technique, plus, if you are fishing with a beginner or your buddy who only fishes on occasion, you will look like a bass fishing pro! I hope this will help someone add another technique to their arsenal...

Developing a Pattern

Posted by: Carl Spande Updated: May 4, 2009 - 5:27 PM
When I am fishing for bass, walleye, or even crappie, I am constantly in search of developing the most effective fish-catching pattern. Creating a pattern can be explained in simple fishes until they figure out a bait, lure, or most effective presentation technique to optimally catch the most (or largest) fish during their given time frame.

A simple example would be you are taking your child bobber fishing for panfish on your local lake. You are at the shoreline and see a nice patch of lilypads in the water. You instruct your child to make a cast in that general direction. After about 15 minutes there are no bites. You realize that maybe the fish are not biting the minnows you brought along in the minnow bucket. You reach in your pocket and remove a container of mealworms, or grubs, and bait their hook. On the next cast, they catch a nice sunfish worth celebrating. After several casts and more fish caught, you come to the conclusion that the grubs were the ticket. Also, you realize that if that cast were only a few feet farther, you could catch sunfish the size of your hand. With or without knowing it, you just established a sunfish pattern that can be duplicated down the road at possibly another lake location.

The overall key to developing a pattern comes down to making observations while fishing. When I am in a bass tournament, establishing a pattern is critical, and often this pattern will change as the weather and time-of-day changes. In the morning, the fish may be striking topwater baits aggressively, but as the day goes on, I may need to switch to a 6" worm in watermelon color. Maybe I have the right lure tied on, but I am not working the lure as effectively as I could be. Instead of a straight cast and reel-in retrieve, I switch to a stop-and-go technique and catch my five fish.

Developing an effective pattern is fun. You are able to observe and use trial and error to determine the best possible way to catch fish. If you are ambitious, keep a fishing journal to record your observations and your catches. You will be amazed at how you will be able to repeat your patterns on various lakes under similar conditions.

The next time you are out, find that fish-catching pattern and put more fish in your boat in a shorter period of time.


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