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Technique and Gear Selection Article


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


Date: 10/23/17
Tackle type: Rod, Reel, Lure, Line
Manufacturer: Various
Reviewer: Zander

Introduction: Nothing quite inspires heart stopping strikes quite like topwater walking baits and it is no wonder that there are now so many different options available seven decades after the original Heddon Zara Spook unleashed the craze upon anglers. While having the right bait is certainly a key part of the battle selecting the right reel, rod and line can also make it easier to impart that zig-zag action that is essential to draw those explosive strikes.


The most famous walker of them all... the iconic Heddon Spook

Walking baits, also known as “Walk-the-Dog” style baits, as effective as they are do have somewhat of a steep learning curve as far as fishing techniques are concerned, but once you get the method down it really all comes down to muscle memory. Cadence is the key and the technique is best employed over calmer water where that subtle zig-zag motion is hard for suspended fish to resist.


Walkers are some of the very best lure options for the first and last light


Make your cast and start twitching your rod tip downwards and point the tip back towards the lure and reel on the slack line you have just created. It is important that you don’t try and force the bait towards you or to the side, this will create an unnatural presentation. Twitch the rod, let the line go slack, point the tip and reel up that slack line, and repeat.


Let the bait do the work, and with the right cadence it will be dancing side by side effortlessly. Put in the time and you will start to really get a feel for how your walking bait is behaving and you can start to mix things up to alter speed and even the distance of your bait’s side to side travel.


Walking the do takes practice but the right rod, reel, and lure can help make it easier

The Walking Baits (TWB): Whether you choose the original Spook, or one of the countless new walking baits, try and select one that is both easy to cast and walk. You will want to cover a lot of water so baits weighing 5/8oz. and up will make it easier to cast far enough to work through plenty of productive water.


While the original cigar shape of the Spook is still one of the best today there have been advances in design and many walking baits now feature curved bodies and hydrodynamic shaped heads designed to make it easier to walk the baits with less effort.


In addition to a good old fashioned Spook some of my favorite easy to walk go to baits include the Reaction Innovations Vixens, the DUO Realis Pencil, and the River2Sea Rover.


Walking is not only deadly for largemouth, stripers cannot resist a good walk either

Lines: When it comes to line there are two camps, those that prefer braided lines and those that still prefer mono. Personally I now use 30+ lb. braided line for all my walking bait work as I prefer the no-stretch for working baits as well as instant hooksets the second that the lure lands, which definitely will happen once in a while the more you commit to the technique. In general I find it is easier to impart the right rod tip action directly on most walking baits when using braid, and to help disguise brightly colored braid I do not hesitate to take a permanent marker to the first 15-20 feet of line, or top shot with a fluorocarbon leader.


I prefer braided lines for most of my walking but heavier mono is also an option

Next Section: Mono is also a viable option...









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