How to Walk the Dog

How to Walk the Dog

If you’re new to bass fishing, you may have heard a few people throwing around the terminology “walk the dog” and wondered what these anglers were talking about. Well, they’re not talking about taking Fido for a stroll around the park. This term is used to describe a technique, or really a cadence that’s used when working certain baits—topwaters in particular.

When you “walk the dog” with a topwater, it allows the bait to move left and right in a repetitive sequence, without moving very far forward. This is done by twitching and pausing a bait, to get it moving in one direction and then back in the other. And it is a vital skill to learn if you want to be an effective topwater fisherman.

Today, we’re going to walk you through how to walk the dog. But first, why does this technique work so well?

Why Walk the Dog -

Walking the dog allows you to fish a bait slowly back to the boat, while still imparting a good bit of action to the lure. This technique is primarily associated with topwater fishing, though it can be done with glide baits, Flukes and twitch baits too.

Walking a bait back and forth gives the fish more time to find the lure and decide to eat it. Sometimes it’s better just to keep a bait moving continuously, like when covering water along seawalls and points. In these situations, Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits and other steady retrieve lures are great.

But, when fishing around isolated cover like stumps, dock posts, grass clumps and tree tops, walking a topwater through these high percentage areas give the bass time to eat the bait, where a moving bait might blow right by the cover before the fish has a chance to catch up to it.

Baits that Walk Well -

Hollow body frogs and pencil (or walking-style) topwaters walk really well. We’re talking about frogs with pointed noses, like the SPRO Dean Rojas Bronzeye Frog 65. And then elongated topwaters like the Heddon Spook or MONSTERBASS Ragnar v3.0. These lures are designed to walk back and forth, and it’s really the best way to fish them.

Poppers and popping frogs can usually be walked fairly well too. Baits like the SPRO Dean Rojas Bronzeye Poppin’ Frog 60 and the MONSTERBASS Mad Max v3.0 are great examples of these two types of baits. These baits are designed with cupped mouths and can be popped along in a straight line. But they can also be walked side to side, nearly in place. This makes these lures great for walking around cover as well.

When to Walk the Dog -

Cover is key when deciding whether or not to walk the dog. Fishing a bait this way takes time, so it’s not always efficient—and sometimes not even necessary. If you’re wanting to cover water and just fish down a bank quickly, you’re probably better off throwing a topwater that you can keep on the move, like a buzzbait or a toad.

But when fishing over matted vegetation with holes in it for instance, a frog that can be walked slowly through the holes is a great selection. If you buzz a toad over one of these holes, you’ll likely just have a fish blowup on the bait but not be able to get it before it passes by. Walking a frog slowly through these holes will result in far more fish catches.

The same can be said for hard cover like submerged tree tops. Even though bass will sometimes come up out of cover like this and eat a moving bait, taking the time to slowly walk a bait over the cover is usually much more effective at drawing a fish up from the cover and getting it to commit to the bait.

How to Walk the Dog -

Learning to walk the dog is all about developing a cadence. There needs to be a rhythm to how you work your rod tip, which will translate to your bait moving in a rhythmic pattern. The best way to learn to walk the dog is just by doing it. A longer, walking-style topwater like the Ragnar or Spook is the easiest for a beginner to walk.

A medium or medium heavy baitcasting combo is best for walking the dog. Use a round between 6-9 and 7-0 and pair it with a baitcast reel in a gear ratio around 7:1. Finally, be sure to use braided or monofilament line, as these float. Fluorocarbon line sinks, making it ill-suited for topwater fishing—especially walking the dog. A setup like this will be the easiest to develop a comfortable and consistent cadence with.

Start by throwing your bait out away from you. Then, with your rod tip down, reel up the slack in your line. As soon as the line starts to tighten, give your rod tip a quick downward twitch, moving the tip about 3 or 4 inches. This should send your bait peeling off to the left or the right.

Now, lift your rod tip back up slightly to its starting (downward) position while simultaneously taking up the slack with your reel. As your line tightens, give the rod another quick twitch downward. This should send the bait in the other direction.

This sequence is essentially all walking the dog is. You just repeat this process over and over. But it should only take a second or two for your bait to sweep left and then back right. So, it will be a little tricky to get the hang of this to start with. But you’ll be surprised how quickly walking the dog becomes second nature, as you develop a cadence that is comfortable.

In Conclusion -

Learning to walk the dog may be a little frustrating and intimidating at first, but don’t get discouraged. With a little patience and practice, you can get the hang of this in no time. Having the right gear is critical though. If you try to walk the dog with a light or heavy power rod, you’ll have a really hard time. Instead, use a medium or medium heavy rod in the 7-foot range.

These rods are the right length for most anglers to be able to work them with the tip down. And the medium or medium heavy power of the rods allow the rod tips to bend a little, which will help tremendously in developing a cadence. And be sure not to use fluorocarbon, as walking a topwater effectively is almost impossible with this sinking line.

Once you get the hang of it, you can walk the dog using a variety of baits around all sorts of cover, and in open water. This technique will greatly improve your skillset and give you a new way to catch monster bass.

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