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Technique and Gear Selection Article


The Walking Baits: Selecting the Right Rod, Reel, and Line for Your Walker Arsenal (continued)

 

Lines cont'd: When braid is not available I will also use 12-15 lb. monofilament and there are many anglers that still prefer mono line for a more natural presentation. Some anglers like the fact that mono sinks so it never seems to get in the way of the walking baits track. The line stretch can also be a positive factor depending on how you fish and can absorb some of the shock of the initial strike, enabling fish to really engulf the entire bait that split second before your set transfers to the bait. In these instances mono can prevent the walking bait from ripping out of the fish’s mouth due to an over-zealous hookset (which I have done many a time), and is also why mono can sometimes be a better choice for other topwater baits including buzzbaits and poppers.

 


The DUO Pencil is a modern take on the walker and it is a good one!


Rods and Reels: Now that you have selected your lure and line it is time to spool up. It is possible to use just about any stiffer and fast action rod for walking these baits but achieving that perfect walk is made easier with the right spinning and baitcasting outfits. I personally prefer to use baitcasting gear in most cases, mostly because I can leverage a rod that I already have on the boat for a wider array of techniques, rather than bringing another dedicated spinning outfit.

 


A shorter and faster with a crisp tip helps generate a walk without touching the water's surface


Shorter baitcasting rods ranging from 6’6” to 7’6” are preferable for this technique as they deliver the right combination of casting capability without feeling unwieldy when constantly worked. When using longer rods I sometimes find myself tapping the surface of the water or feeling strain on my wrists after walking these lures for extended periods.

 

A medium heavy rod with fast action is ideal to ensure those instant hooksets and plenty of power to both drive hooks and muscle fish back to the boat or shore.

 


A 7.1:1 reel is my sweet spot for walkers but a 6.3:1 can also be used with a brisk retrieve


Probably just as debated as the type of line to use for walking baits is the baitcaster selection. A lot of anglers overthink this one and go for the fastest burner reels they can get their hands on to more easily get the baits moving. This can be a mistake as pulling in too much line can actually make it more difficult to enable the lure to swing between rod twitches, and having to constantly remind yourself to slow down is often easier than speeding up.

 

Many anglers can walk the dog just fine with a multi-purpose 6:3:1 retrieve baitcaster but for me the 7:1:1 gear ratio is the sweet spot, delivering just the right amount of line pickup without having to consciously think about altering cranking speed.

 

A light reel is not a must, but one that balances out with the fast rod of your choice will only help make it easier to deliver the right twitch over and over again without getting fatigued.

 


Walkers can deliver plenty of fish and are an absolute blast to toss


When using spinning gear for the walking technique rods that are 6’6” to 7 feet are ideal and ones that have a fast or extra fast action helps provide enough tip to properly work baits. A 2500 size reel works great for bass applications, especially with braid, and will provide a good balance without feeling heavy when making all those rod twitches. Though not my preferred setup it is hard to deny how easy it is to work walking baits with the yo-yo feel that spinning gear provides.

 


Feel free to bust out the walk all day but it is a definite must try in lower light conditions, especially at sunrise on a calm day or over known structure


When to bust out the Walk: There is no reason to wait for the apocalypse to deal with “Walkers.” These baits and this technique can be absolutely deadly for targeting those green monsters whenever the water’s surface is relatively calm. Cast your lure whenever you see surface activity, as these fish are already pushing bait, and target suspended fish over points, drop offs, flats, and any area that you see shad activity. As with all techniques practice makes perfect, and use a combo that feels right for your preferred cadence, and keep at it… nothing builds confidence like landing a few explosive topwater fish!

 

 

 

 

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