Using a baitcaster is the ideal way to skip because of the power and leverage you're able to generate. Watch along for skipping tips, techniques and gear from MLF pro angler @Kevin VanDam. With the right set up and a bit of practice, you can be one step closer to mastering skipping around overhanging bushes, boat docks and extreme cover!
If you want to step up your game as a bass fisherman, one technique you must be proficient at is skipping baits with a baitcaster. Let’s face it, most people can skip soft plastics with a spinning rod around boat docks and bushes. In order to really stand out, you need to learn how to skip baits with baitcast gear in order to have the power and leverage to get big fish out. This technique is something Kevin VanDam has been doing for many years. However, he worked with the engineers at Lew’s to develop a baitcast system that includes the perfect rod and reel for anglers to excel in this technique. The resulting product was the Lew’s Pro SP Baitcast Reel. “This reel is an absolute game changer. I was pretty good at skipping before, but this makes me a magician,” says VanDam. The reel is designed just for skipping and pitching. It only holds about 40 yards of line and includes a specially designed spool with a knot slot. This slot allows you to not feel the knot as the line starts to come off the reel during a cast. It has a special braking system and comes in a fast gear ratio. “Most of the time you’re skipping to one target and then burning that bait back to hit the next target. The high-speed gear ratio makes me extremely efficient at this technique” VanDam explains.
Kevin matches this reel with his KVD GC5 Dock Skipping/Frog Rod, which he describes as the perfect rod for this technique. This 7’2’’ rod has a fast tip and comes in a medium heavy action for lots of backbone. Typically, Kevin will use 20# fluorocarbon or braid and insists that it’s very hard to backlash with this set-up. “If I want to fire up to a willow trip and the bait suddenly stops, I don’t get a big backlash. You can set the braking system to the perfect skipping zone and it’s almost impossible to backlash. In fact, I don’t even thumb the spool every cast,” explains Kevin.
Kevin will rig these specific rods and reels with several different baits that excel in these scenarios. One bait VanDam loves to skip is a KVD Sexy Frog. He will spool the reel with 50#-60# braid when throwing this frog. He notes that the larger line diameter you use, the smoother the cast will be. Additionally, your chance of a backlash decreases with a larger line diameter. “I can side arm cast this all day around thick cover, through bushes and willow trees, and be really successful with the frog,” says Kevin.
Another bait Kevin skips a lot is a Strike King Tour Grade Andy Montgomery Skipping Jig. This jig paired with a Strike King Rage Bug makes a great skipping jig. The jig has a screw lock keeper on it to keep the trailer from sliding off, which is crucial when skipping. Typically, 20# fluorocarbon is the line of choice when fishing clearer water. However, if the water is dirty, or the cover is extremely thick, Kevin will switch to braid.