If you’re angling for topwater bass, walking the dog is a surefire technique to get your catch. This technique takes some practice and skill, but if you follow the steps outlined below and use the right type of gear, you’ll be catching more fish than you can count in no time.
Walking the Dog Tips and Techniques
When watching an experienced angler, you may feel that the walking the dog technique is complicated. While there are a few steps to follow, almost anyone can learn this powerful fishing technique.
How to Walk the Dog for Bass
Follow these tips to walk the dog and catch some topwater bass. Once you’ve mastered these steps, you’ll learn to modify it to suit the area where you’re fishing and the type of lure you’re using.
Once you’ve found a great spot where the bass is likely to hang out, cast out into the area. Give the lure a chance to land and then keep still for around 20 seconds. When the lure hits the water, it sends out shockwaves that can catch the interest of any fish in the area.
You’ll usually want to cast over a topwater area that isn’t covered in grass. However, this technique can also work at great depths and even under coverage.
Presentation – Walking the Dog
Once the ripples are gone, begin to reel in until the lure starts to move; you should be able to see or feel it.
Once the lure starts moving, it’s important to keep it moving continuously. Angle the tip of the rod down and move the rod back and forth, about six inches to each side
The flicking motion should last about one second per flick and continue to reel in the lure. Don’t wind too fast or too slowly. You’ll want to keep a slight bit of slack in the line, but not too much.
The goal is for the lure to present a natural-looking movement, as bass can be clever.
The lure should move in a left-to-right pattern and create a wake. This technique gets its name from this back-and-forth movement, as you appear to be walking a dog as you move the lure.
While the goal is to keep the lure moving back and forth in continuous motion, that isn’t the goal for winding.
You should make one 360-degree turn of the reel every second, or less. The slower you can go, the better. You may feel like this speed is excruciatingly slow, but patience is one of the keys to successful fishing. A low gear ratio reel can help this to feel a bit more natural.
You shouldn’t retrieve continuously. Instead, stop winding every two to twenty seconds.
During these pauses, remember to keep making the left-to-right flicking motion. The pauses will look even more natural if you start by pausing for longer periods while you reel in only a little, and gradually reel in more while pausing less frequently.
Getting a Bite
If a bass is interested, you may see some movement along the surface, like a ripple as the fish gets closer and a splash if it bites. You’ll often feel it as it bites. You don’t have to strike, but pull the rod up slightly if you think the bass has bitten.
If there’s no fish, don’t give up. Continue the slow winding and long pause movement to give the fish the impression that it’s injured its meal, making it an easier target.
Don’t wind in quickly as it won’t get results. With any luck, the bass will strike again
When to Walk the Dog for Bass
Walking the dog is a handy technique that can work in quite a few spots. It’s ideal for topwater fishing.
You can cast your lure just about anywhere other than into grass, as grass prevents you from creating the desired effect.
Based on your skill with casting, you can use the walking the dog technique just about anywhere. You can use it in shallow and deep water.
If you want to fish in areas with lots of fish, this technique can be particularly effective. Simply find some open water where the fish like to hang out and start casting.
Another option is to try casting under an obstruction, like under a dock or tree limb, where bass like to hang out. While walking the dog can be a great technique in these situations, you’ll need to be a skilled caster to get your lure where it needs to be.
Type of Rod for Walking the Dog
Begin by selecting a rod that isn’t too rigid, as the technique requires some give in the rod. You’ll want to choose a medium to medium-heavy rod with a that’s less than seven feet in length. The handle should have a short butt..
Type of Reel for Walking the Dog
When choosing a reel, you can go with a spinner or a baitcasting setup. Some anglers prefer a baitcasting setup, as it’s more versatile and can be used for several different fishing techniques.
You want a reel that’s strong enough to handle even larger bass, but you don’t want one that’s too fast. Walking the dog requires you to be able to reel in slowly at times, and it’s difficult to manage with a fast reel.
A low gear ratio can help to keep your retrieve rate slower.
Types of Line for Walking the Dog
When fishing topwater, you need a line that can float. There are only two types of line that float: braided and monofilament lines.
Braided line will still work, but the action of the lure may be a bit more difficult to manage.
If you are set on using braided line, adding a monofilament leader that’s roughly 20 feet long will go a long way towards helping you manage the lure action.
For braided, go with 20-30 pound test. And for mono and fluoro, go with 15-20 pound test.
If you want your walking the dog technique to be even more effective, you can use a snap or a split ring to connect the line. It’ll loosen up the connection and give your “dog” even more space to walk.
Types of Bait for Walking the Dog
The best type of bait for walking the dog is a hard-bodied lure. Choose one with a little weight to it if you plan to cast far out.
The best lures are thin and taper off at one end. The lure and the walking the dog technique work together to give the impression of injured bait.
You’ll typically use a lure between 3 ½ and 6 inches, although you can also find jumbo versions if you want something really big. There are treble hooks on the tail and belly.
Pretty much any hardbody wood or plastic baits can be walked. We like to use spooks, walkers, and even some poppers to walk for bass.
The color you choose will depend on where you’re fishing. If the water’s murky, go with colorful. If it’s clear, you’ll want to opt for natural colors that the fish would expect to see.
While most walking the dog lures have a somewhat similar shape and presentation, differences in size and slight differences in shape can create different results. You may want to try out several to see what you like.
Types of Fish You Can Catch
Among bass, you can catch spotted, smallmouth, and largemouth bass. These fish tend to feed upwards, and are usually attracted to movement and flashes of color near the surface. You may be surprised at how many bass you can catch once you master this technique.
Walking the dog is primarily used for bass fishing. However, you’ll find that it’s effective for catching many fish, including snook, trout, redfish, and more. You can catch pretty much any type of freshwater fish, particularly medium- and large-sized ones.
Why So Many Anglers Prefer Walking the Dog
While walking the dog is primarily a topwater fishing technique, it can also work in deeper areas where fish like to hang out. It’s versatile enough for almost any freshwater situation.
There are also many variations on walking the dog. Many anglers start with a standard technique and then develop their own style as they use trial and error to see what works best. It’s a technique that beginners can learn, but can also be honed and perfected over years until it’s a surefire hit.
Anglers also like walking the dog because it’s an active fishing technique. It’s not one of those methods where you cast out your lure, wait forever for a bite, and then reel it back in.
Walking the dog is for fishers who like to keep moving and want to put a little more skill into fishing.
And as with all other top water techniques, it’s also tremendously exciting when you get a bite.
Many bass fishers enjoy top water fishing. It’s a calculated game that requires skills and patience, but can be quite exciting when you get a bite.
Walking the dog is one of the best techniques and can often yield great results as it gives the bass an impression of something living and not a lure. Be sure to try this technique the next time you’re on the water.