When you first start fishing, the first thing you learn how to do is cast. If you can’t get your rig into the water, where fish are likely to be, none of the other tips and information is even remotely useful. It’s also not a complicated skill.
As such, if you’ve been fishing for at least a few weeks, you can probably cast a bass lure to almost any spot on a lake without much trouble, and experts can usually cast it with pinpoint precision.
There is one casting skill that not many anglers master, though. It’s called “skipping”.
Skipping is a unique way to cast your lure, and while we’ll admit that it’s not a necessity in all situations, it is a very useful skill to learn.
To help elevate you above all the weekend warriors who can’t do it, we’re going to teach you how to skip bass lures. You’ll learn what it is, how to do it, and when it’s useful.
Let’s get started.
What is Skipping?
Skipping a lure is exactly like skipping a rock. If you’ve ever grabbed a smooth rock, wound up your arm, and tried to see how many times you could make it skip across the water’s surface, you already have a fair understanding of the mechanics behind skipping a lure. The way you do it is just different because you’re using a rod and reel, and a lure is a little more complex than a rock.
Skipping isn’t just some trendy way to cast that will make you look professional, though. It actually has a niche purpose.
Skipping allows you to get your lure to spots that you otherwise couldn’t reach or slip into. It’s similar to dock flipping in that regard, but it’s better for long-range casts with very narrow target areas. You “skip” the lure across the surface to get under low-hanging obstructions that you can’t flip to.
How to Skip a Lure
Skipping a lure shouldn’t take you long to master. This is especially true if you have skipped rocks before and already understand the general concept. Even if you don’t have any experience with it, it’s not too difficult. It just requires a bit of knowledge about lure designs and some patience while you get used to awkward rod movements.
We’re going to use this section to go over each step of the process. Including the lures that you want to choose and tips to make you master it faster.
1: Getting the Casting Movement Down
There are a lot of details to cover, but first and foremost, you need to know the general movement that you’re looking for. Depending on your preferred casting method, you might almost have this motion down.
Traditionally, a standard cast is performed over the shoulder. You fling the rod tip over the shoulder, and you release the line at a point that will let the trajectory carry the lure to the spot you want to hit.
For skipping, you want to cast sideways.
This is a lot like swinging a baseball bat, but you aren’t trying to swing for the fences. You’re just trying to build enough momentum throughout the cast to give the lure enough force to skip to your desired location.
You can do this motion one-handed, but it’s usually more accurate to use a two-handed approach. You also don’t need to swing your hips like you would with a baseball bat. 90% of the motion should be with your arms, wrists, and shoulders, and the goal is to whip the tip more than swing the entire rod.
This will all make more sense and come naturally once you start implementing our other tips.
2: Lure Selection
The lure you use is crucial for this technique. Just like you have to find a good rock to skip, you have to put a little thought into your lure.
Of course, you can skip tons of lures. Very few of them are going to sink regardless of how hard you try.
The main concept you need to understand is that if a lure is designed to drop into the water and go straight down, like a drop shot rig, you probably can’t skip it very well.
In general, you either want a very smooth lure with lots of surface area, such as a crankbait, or you want something you can adjust such as Texas rigged worm.
You need to have enough surface area to bounce it off the water, or you need to have some sort of weight to drag it across the top (like a Texas rig’s bullet weight).
With practice, you can expand your horizons a bit, but we recommend keeping it simple at first. The more your lure is geared for skipping, the easier you’ll be able to learn the basics.
3: Rod Selection
You can skip with nearly any rod. So, this isn’t a requirement. However, keep in mind that you’ll be casting horizontally. You need a lot more room to cast this way. If you naturally cast off to the side, which is usually less accurate and non-traditional, you’ll already know this.
However, unless you want to get snagged on every random tree limb or picnic table, use a shorter rod. Preferably, don’t use a rod over 6’6” in length when you’re practicing this. That will help keep you from damaging your rod or getting snagged on random things on the bank or on your boat, and if you’re on the bank, you won’t risk hurting whoever is fishing nearby.
As you get better, or if you have a wide-open casting area with no one around to hurt, go ahead and use whatever you want.
4: Fluid Motion
We described the exact motion earlier. So, we won’t reiterate it. However, just like a normal cast, it needs to be done in one solid motion. This takes time to learn because it comes down to muscle memory.
When you flip the lure off to the side to start the swinging arc, you should be smoothly transitioning into your sideways baseball swing, transitioning through the arc, and releasing without any pauses. If you do pause, you will stop the swing arc and cause the lure to behave uncontrollably. This is how people get treble hooks stuck in their faces, another angler's rear, and everything else that requires a bit of pain and awkward interaction to resolve.
5: The Release
When you release is absolutely crucial, and it will be determined by what your target is.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any real ways to tell you the exact moment to release. If you’re forced to cast at an awkward angle, the release point will be dramatically different than if you could cast facing forward and swinging normally; even if you’re targeting the same spot.
The best way to get this down is to practice. Go out to the lake or a local pond, and just practice your sideways swing and release while actively targeting specific points.
Because skipping is extremely precise in most cases, you need to get your release point down to the point where it's second nature.
It might take a few solid days of practice before you get this aspect down. Muscle memory doesn’t build overnight. However, you should start getting a basic grasp on it within your first dozen or so casts.
6: Keep It Parallel with the Water
If you haven’t skipped rocks, this is the tip you need. You can’t skip a lure if you cast it at an angle. If you angle it downward, you’ll rocket it into the water column. If you angle it upward, you’ll get a good cast, but you won’t hit the water until it loses momentum.
When you cast parallel to the water, the lure strikes it, and its momentum keeps it moving forward. Especially if you have a lure that has a lot of surface area to keep it from sinking or an aerodynamic weight like a Texas rig to skim it across the top by force.
This is crucial, and it should be the main step that you practice when you start working on your skipping ability. It’s a lot harder than it sounds when you’re used to casting traditionally.
7: Follow Through and Eye the Target
A major tip you need to adhere to is to look at your target and follow through with your cast.
Eyeing the target will naturally help you keep on point with your cast, and you won’t have to time everything perfectly like you would if you were staring at your rod. It takes practice, but it does help considerably.
You also want to follow through properly. Once you release, try to keep your rod pointed at the release point. You don’t want to keep swinging and shift the momentum of your line, or it might throw off your cast. It will bounce around naturally, but if you release after a 90-degree swing, there’s no reason your rod should be pointing off to your other side by the end of it. This simple motion will give you a visual reference for aiming and keeping your lure on target.
8: Watch Your Strength
If you swing too hard, you’ll skip your lure right into some bushes. This is the same concept as when you cast normally. Use common sense, and muscle memory, to cast with an appropriate amount of power. You’re not swinging an axe, and the rod will provide most of the momentum you need. Your swing should be very light, and add a little bit more power the further you want to cast out.
Not only can you cast too far by manhandling your rod, but you can also miss your release point and shoot your hooked lure directly into an adjacent angler, or you can smack yourself with your rod.
When Should You Skip Lures?
Skipping lures isn’t something you do every cast. In fact, you probably won’t use it very often. It’s a pretty niche skill for most people.
However, it’s like a crow’s foot wrench or a lighter in a non-smoker's house. When you need it, you’re happy to have it.
Primarily, skipping is used to get your lure into tight spots under low-hanging foliage and structures, but you’re too far away to just flip it. Flipping has a limited range, but if you perfect the skill, you can skip a lure as far as your line will allow, and you can hit your spot with pinpoint accuracy.
Imagine you’re on one side of a pond, and you want to get under a dock on the other side. There are two feet of clearance from the water to the dock's bottom. You can’t just drive around to the other side, and with 50 yards between you and the dock, you can’t flip it to the dock.
That’s the type of situation where knowing how to skip bass lures could come in handy.
In that very situation, you can skip the lure across the pond, while keeping it low enough to get under the dock and shoot your lure into the perfect position to get any bass under that dock.
Without knowing how to skip, you’d be stuck. You wouldn’t be able to fish that dock unless you drove to the other side of the pond.
With some foliage situations, you can’t even opt to travel closer to the spot. You have one entryway, and you either skip it, or you miss out on the big bass hiding there.
Use BassForecast for Help
If you’re new to skipping, or you just want to improve your bass fishing technique, download the BassForecast fishing app, today. BassForecast is the perfect fishing companion to help you find the best spots to fish.
Not only will you find in-depth information about real-time weather conditions and maps of the fishing spot, but you’ll also find tips from fellow fishermen, spot-on solunar, bass fishing blog, species information, and more for nearly every possible fishing spot in the US.
Download the app, today!