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By : Mark Hicks
The most challenging cast in bass fishing is skipping a lure under a low dock with a baitcasting outfit. Do it well and you’ll put a bait in front of bass that other anglers can’t reach. Do it poorly and you’ll suffer the worst backlashes imaginable.
South Carolina’s Andy Montgomery is widely regarded as the best skip caster in professional bass fishing. Not only can he skip a lure for distance, he does so with remarkable accuracy. A 4-inch wide opening is all he needs to skip a bait far under a dock.
However, not just any rod is suitable for this difficult cast. Choose the wrong rod and you’ll never learn how to skip with any consistency. Thankfully, Montgomery worked with Lew’s to develop two signature Andy Montgomery skipping rods that are perfect for skip casting.
“I’m tall, so the I use the 7-foot, 1-inch, model,” Montgomery said. “I also designed a 6-foot, 9-inch, rod for shorter anglers.”
You can skip with any length rod, Montgomery added, but to be deadly accurate, the rod’s length must match your height. When making the skip cast, the rod should be angled down at about 45 degrees. You can’t get the proper angle if the rod is too long.
“The hardest thing was to develop a stiff rod that has enough tip action for skipping a bait,” Montgomery said. “I skip jigs and bladed jigs a lot. I need a stiff rod to drive the hook home.”
Montgomery’s signature skipping rods have ample backbone for setting the hook and the lively tip needed for skipping.
“The handle is short enough that it won’t catch on your shirt, but long enough that you can cast with two hands to create a little more whip,” Montgomery said.
Any high-speed Lew’s casting reel will perform well for skipping, but no reel can prevent backlashes while you are learning this cast. To minimize backlashes, Lew’s and Montgomery teamed up to design the Lew’s Pro SP SLP Series skipping reel.
“We eliminated the worst skipping backlashes by giving the reel a spool that holds only 40 feet of 20-pound Strike King Fluorocarbon,” Montgomery said. “Even if you do get a backlash, it won’t be a bad one and you can get it out fast.”
The unique spool has a groove in the middle for tying on the line. The groove prevents the knot from digging into your thumb, which would have been a problem with such a shallow spool. The reel’s quick 8.3:1 gear ratio improves hook sets and overall efficiency.
Montgomery’s go-to skipping baits are Strike King’s 1/2-ounce Tour Grade Skipping Jig and 1/2-ounce Thunder Cricket bladed jig. He dresses the hook on both baits with a green pumpkin or black and blue Strike King Rage Bug.
“My first choice is the Thunder Cricket because I can cover more water with it,” Montgomery said. “If the bass want something slower, I switch to the jig.”
When the bass key on baitfish, Montgomery opts for a white Thunder Cricket dressed with Strike King’s Swim N Shiner or Blade Minnow.
“The Swim N Shiner skips better, but the bass really bite the heck out of the Blade Minnow,” Montgomery said.