Fishing Technique: How To Walk The Dog

There are lots of ways to catch bass, and each method has its advocates. In fact, many anglers are so passionate about their methods that they defend them very aggressively. Some will tell you the only way to catch big bass is with a plastic worm. Others will swear by the jig. Many anglers will seldom use anything but French Spinners, buzz and spinnerbaits.

In addition to the myriad of available lures, the particular technique used can have a big impact on its success.

You can reel in straight, you can stop-and-go, you can ‘pop’, you can jig, and any combination of these. You can go fast, you can go slow, and anything in-between. There is really no right or wrong way to fish a lure. If it works, it works…

No lures illustrate this better than the ones designed for “Walking The Dog”. Like the Senko, Sluggo, and other similar lures, they prove that sometimes, less is more. None of these have any built-in action of their own. The action is supplied by the angler. This has the advantage of allowing a lot of freedom to adjust the action to what works best under a lot of conditions.

What Is Walking The Dog?

Walking the Dog refers to both a particular type of lure and a specific technique. Lures designed for Walking the Dog fishing are normally just torpedo or streamlined minnow-shaped, with no lips or other hardware to supply any action to them. They are usually floating, or slow-sinking.

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The action is supplied by the angler by twitching the rod tip with it pointed slightly downward, with a little slack in the line. This causes the lure to dart erratically and randomly from side to side, much like a real baitfish in distress.

Why Do Walking The Dog Lures Work So Well?

There are several reasons why Walking the Dog lures work so well.

Reason #1: They imitate a wounded baitfish very effectively.

Many times, when a baitfish becomes injured or sick, it loses control of its swim bladder and becomes unable to dive. They are stuck at the surface and can only struggle from side-to-side.

The noise and vibrations from this draw attention from predators from quite a distance. Walking the Dog lures mimic this perfectly.  Most other lures are mechanical and predictable. They do the same thing on every retrieve. Walking the Dog lures are erratic and random, as much or as little as the angler wants.

Reason #2: You supply all the action.

You can go fast and crazy, or slow and gentle. You can go with a full retrieve or a stop-and-go retrieve, or any combination. If one method doesn’t work, you can change the action without having to change lures.

Equipment For Walking The Dog Lures

Since you supply all the action, Walking the Dog takes a little practice to get it down just right, or to your liking.

But the extra skill involved makes this type of fishing even more fun and interesting. It doesn’t take all that long to get the right ‘feel’ for it. Most people can learn to master the basic technique in under an hour on the water. And you can always keep improving your technique with experimentation.

To start with, in addition to the proper lures, you need the correct equipment to make this work.

Reels are not that critical. Although a lot of hard-core bass anglers use baitcasting reels, you can Walk the Dog with any good spin-casting or spinning reel. Just be sure it has a decent retrieval speed and holds enough line because you will be making long casts.

Personally, I prefer spinning reels for Walking the Dog because I have always been able to get more distance casting with them due to less line friction. On a spinning reel, the line comes directly off of the spool with no friction from going through a hole or coming off a rotating spool. The line shoots freely.

This is just my opinion. You can use whatever reels you like.

Walking the Dog lures are streamlined, and fly through the air like a bullet for long distances.

To take advantage of this, you will want a longer rod, usually in the 7’ range. Longer retrieves increase the chances of strikes. Also, you want rods with large line guides to reduce line friction on the cast.

The rod needs to be fast and at least Medium-Heavy action because you need to have instant control over the lure. 7-foot graphite worm rods are perfect for Walking the Dog.

Since you need to have instant control over your lure, you do not want any line stretch.

This can cause you to miss strikes, and will adversely affect the action of your lure. Fluorocarbon lines are out because they have way too much stretch to them.

Use braided line when possible or a good monofilament.

I recommend Trilene if you are using monofilament because it is thinner than other lines for a given weight. This translates into more distance when casting. Just a suggestion. For braided lines, I am partial to Spiderwire lines. I have always had good luck with them. Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary…

This is all the special equipment you will need for Walking the Dog. It has the advantage of also being suitable for many other types of fishing.

How To Walk The Dog For Best Results!

To start Walking the Dog, you want to tie your lure on with a knot that allows you instant control over the lure.

I prefer the Trilene Knot, but you can use whatever you like, including a snap swivel. Avoid loop knots like the Bimini Twist or Spider Hitch because they may take a split second to put tension on the lure when you twitch it. That’s enough to miss a strike when Walking the Dog.

After casting your lure out, take up the slack, and allow it to sit until the ripples have dissipated.

Over half the strikes I have gotten have been while the lure was sitting still after a cast or twitch.

Once the ripples are gone, point your rod slightly downward, just a little past 3 O’Clock, then twitch your rod, causing the lure to dart to one side. Take up most of the slack, but allow just a little bit to remain.

This allows the lure action to be random and alternating. Twitch the rod again, and the lure should dart to the other side. Repeat for the remainder of the retrieve.

With a little practice, you will get the feel for how much slack to reel in, and how to twitch. You can control the direction of the lure with the rod tip any way you want.

You can stop and start during the retrieve, go slow or fast….anyway that works for you.

When I stop during a retrieve, I let the lure set until the ripples dissipate. You can vary the pattern such as 3 twitches, stop, then 2 twitches, stop, then 3 more twitches, etc. It helps if you can actually be a wounded baitfish in your mind. It’s OK to really get into it. That’s half the fun….

If a fish misses a strike (and it does happen), continue the retrieve, and many times, the fish will make multiple attacks on your lure. Another advantage of Walking the Dog.

With a little practice, Walking the Dog will become second-nature, and you will start piling up successful fishing trips. It has been proven to be one of the most successful topwater techniques there is.

Happy fishing…

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