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Lure Article



The Walking Baits: Top 5 Walk-The-Dog Picks


Date: 10/22/17
Tackle type: Lures
Manufacturer: Various
Reviewer: Zander


Introduction: There are a lot of topwater hardbait options, poppers, chuggers, propbaits, twitch baits, wakebaits, and walkers. Even if you just focus on topwater walk-the-dog hardbaits there are over fifty different choices alone! There are lot of good choices and today we pick our top five most productive topwater walkers that we utilize in the majority of our topwater reel and rod field tests. These baits have proven to be not only effective three quarters of the year but can also stand up to the abuse of violent topwater strikes from a variety of species. Let’s count them down:

Number 5. Heddon Spook: No walking bait list would be complete without the icon that is the Heddon Zara Spook. First introduced in 1939 this bait is responsible for getting thousands of anglers addicted to the walk the dog technique. The spook just plain works and will still sashay side to side with the best of them even today.

The Spook is so good that their name has pretty much become synonymous with the class of bait. Just like “Kleenex” for tissue paper when you pull out a walker out of your tacklebox many anglers will simply refer to it as a “spook.”

The traditional Heddon Zara Spook retails for only $7.29 and to keep things interesting the company has now introduced many new variations of the bait including the smaller Zara Puppy, the louder and flashier Super Spook, the tungsten loaded Rattlin Spook, and the self-explanatory One Knocker Spook.

Number 4: Megabass Dog-X Diamante: Like their rods the detail in design on Megabass’s baits continues to impress. The Dog-X Diamante features a realistic head and an almost blade-like tail section. This aggressively styled profile is designed to help the bait produce a sharper walking action, something the company describes as “hard-edged” walking action. The design works and the bait is able to walk in both calm and choppy water. While the bait does walk well at lower speeds it seems to really come to life when walked faster and more aggressively, splashing and spitting as it walks. The bait is 3/4oz. and is easy to cast and holds up to violent strikes with Gamakatsu SP-MH #5 hooks. Megabass offers the bait in a variety of patterns ranging from the ultra-realistic Pagani Raigyo to the artistic Black Python. To top it all off the Dog-X is available in both a rattling and silent version to help anglers present exactly what fish want in changing conditions. All of this comes at a cost and the Dog-X retails for $19.99 each, making it one of the most expensive walkers, and yet it is worth every penny.

Number 3: River2Sea Pro Tuned Rover: Our number three pick is the River2Sea Rover, a top producing walker that generates a loud knock as it is walked thanks to a tungsten ball bearing rattle.

It only takes a few seconds of walking the Rover to appreciate just how well this lure walks, and the loud knock that the lure puts out is very distinct.  

There are two different sizes, 3-78” and 5” baits which help anglers adjust to conditions and all of the baits come with Daiichi treble hooks (three on the larger 128 size). There are 15 patterns to choose from and there are some fun patterns including the bird patterned Loon and metallic T1000. Consistency from bait to bait is very good which makes it all the more surprising that the Rover only retails for $11.99 to $12.99 depending on size, making it one of the most reasonably priced modern day walkers available.

Number 2: Reaction Innovations Vixen: Number two on our list is a sexy bait called the Vixen, and it is back! Once extremely hard to source the recently re-introduced Vixen is one of the easiest baits to walk thanks to a contoured and tapered shape and the side to side is a little more subtle than a lot of competing baits, which proves to be deadly in the calm water at first light and during the magic hour before sunset. The Vixen also delivers a tantalizing rattle sound even when worked slowly and has molded fins and three dimensional eyes for added realism. When the Vixen had all but disappeared from the market, the ones that anglers had in their tackle boxes became a very precious commodity. Some anglers ceased throwing them fearing they would lose them. When the bait finally returned it came back with a harder more durable plastic shell that is also designed to also be even more resonant to help call fish from afar. The Vixen is now available at Tackle Warehouse for $14.99 each.

Number 1: DUO Realis Pencil: Finally we get to number 1 on our list, the DUO Realis Pencil 110, a beautifully designed bait at a great price! Like so many other DUO baits the Pencil takes a proven design and cranks it into overdrive.

At first glance the lure looks like other modern day walkers but look closer at the face and you will see a sphere under the chin of the lure which is designed to displace water and make the beat even easier to walk. While a little funky this design absolutely works and also gives the lure some unique properties depending on how you work your rod tip.

 Twitch the rod harder as you walk the bait and you can actually get the Pencil to dive below the water like a baitfish breaking and re-entering the surface. There is an internal weight system that aids with the cast and once in the water adds a knocking sound as the bait is walked. Each DUO Pencil is 4.3” in length and weighs 3/4oz. and is available in a range of colors that appeal to both fresh and inshore species. I probably catch as many stripers on this bait as I do largemouth, and I never hesitate to throw it because of just how effortless it is to walk and displace a ton a water. The DUO Pencil gets our top pick not only for performance but because it offers JDM styling at an incredibly reasonable retail price of only $13.99.

Honorable mentions: The following two baits just narrowly missed our top 5 picks but are absolutely worth considering.

Lucky Craft Sammy: There was a time when the Sammy absolutely dominated the topwater scene. If you wanted a realistic looking walking bait this was it. Designed to make walking the dog easier the Sammy features a more tapered tail section and internal weighting to help make the head of the bait sit higher up in the water so that a twitch of the rod tip moves it side to side easier. Inside the bait are glass rattles which are designed to give the bait some added vibration and noise, which also made the Sammy somewhat of a twitch bait as well. Anglers could walk the dog then pause and twitch it on the surface to try and get fish to commit. While the Sammy continues to be a proven performer the competition has gotten a lot better in this category. The Sammy is available in three sizes, retails for $15.99-$16.99, and comes in all the patterns that Lucky Craft fans love including American Shad, Aurora Black, and Chartreuse Shad.

IMA Big Stik: The IMA Big Stick is the creation of IMA’s Japanese engineering team and local Delta Pro Angler and Guide Randy Pringle. This bait is somewhat of a hybrid bait and can walk, pop, and spit depending on how it is retrieved. Weighing 1.75oz. the Big Stick casts easily and once it lands you can hear it coming as it is walked thanks to eight individual sound chambers. As we learned in our autopsy these chambers also help reinforce the bait and a wire through construction help make this one of the most durable walking baits on the market. The Big Stick is armed with heavier split rings and Owner ST-66 #1/0 hooks so it can handle bass, stripers, musky, and pike. We even brought this hardcore walking bait to the Amazon and it was one of the few baits that could handle Peacock Bass without having to upgrade hardware right out of the box! The Big Stick is also available at Tackle Warehouse and retails for $20.99 each. Anglers that like the design but feel like the Big Stick is overkill can also opt for a downsized version called the Little Stik which retails for only $10.99.

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