Any angler who doesn’t own an assortment of Spooks, Sammies and other fat, dog-walking stickbaits isn’t serious about catching bass. These pudgy topwater lures slam the fatties year after year.
Many Bassmaster Elite Series pros also rely on slender stickbaits that look like Jenny Craig disciples. Oklahoma’s Fred Roumbanis favors ima’s Skimmer. This 3/8-ounce lure has a slim profile similar to a 5-inch soft plastic stickbait.
The Skimmer comes through for Roumbanis mainly on calm, sunny days.
“You need a good breeze to turn the Spook bite on,” Roumbanis says. “The Skimmer catches more bass in slick water.”
The Skimmer’s ability to draw strikes on flat water allows Roumbanis to target bass that his competitors overlook. That’s what happened during a major tournament he fished at Lake Mead.
“A lot of guys were chasing windy points where the bass would bite regular stickbaits,” Roumbanis says. “I was chasing bass in bays with slick spots where I scored with the Skimmer.”
Roumbanis usually works the Skimmer with a slow, steady sashay, as he does with fat stickbaits. However, the Skimmerresponds with a quieter, more natural action.
“The Japanese burn the Skimmer so fast it jumps out of the water,” Roumbanis says. “They have good luck doing that on their high-pressured lakes.”
Roumbanis makes the Skimmer dance with a 7-foot medium action iRod and 15-pound P-Line CXX, a floating monofilament. A bone-colored Skimmer draws strikes for him wherever he fishes it. “One of the great things about the Skimmer is that it gets better hookups than a Spook or a Fluke,” Roumbanis says. “That bait is all hooks.”
Elite Series standout Aaron Martens of Alabama fishes a skinny 3 1/3-inch, 3/8-ounce Dog-X Speed Slide anytime he finds bass feeding on small baitfish. Although this stickbait is designed to practically walk in place, Martens also works it with quick, hard twitches. This makes the Dog-X jump and slide erratically across the surface.
“It looks like a panicked minnow swimming for its life,” Martens says.
The hot retrieve draws strikes for Martens when bass chase baitfish on the surface. Martens reverts to a basic dog-walking action when there’s a break in the feeding frenzy. He scores big with this tactic in clear lakes where bass suspend over 20 to 30 feet of water in the summertime.
Then again, the Dog-X works anytime bass are feeding on small, young-of-the-year baitfish, Martens says. He has also called up smallmouth bass on the Dog-X in Northern waters, such as Oneida Lake. The lure was a major player for him when he finished in 24th place during a Bassmaster Elite Series event at Fort Gibson Lake, Okla., in June 2010.
“I was working a bone-colored Dog-X over shallow points in 2 to 3 feet of water,” Martens says.
Alabamian Gerald Swindle ties on Lucky Craft’s spindly 4-inch, 3/8-ounce Gunfish 95 when bass refuse to bite fat stickbaits. The Gunfish’s small cupped face spits when you walk the bait over the surface.
Swindle generally works the Gunfish with the same cadence he imparts to fat stickbaits. But, there are times when bass prefer a faster tempo, twitching and a wild, darting action.
“You need to drink an energy drink before you do that,” Swindle advises. “It’ll wear you out.”
The fast pace goaded strikes from sizable bass when Swindle fished an Elite Series tournament at Lake Murray in spring. The bass were feeding on blueback herring over shallow points, and they had been pounded by fat stickbaits.
“They wouldn’t hit the big stuff anymore, but they’d jump on the little Gunfish,” Swindle says.
Originally published October 2011. To read more Bassmaster Magazine articles, click here.