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Skipping big swimbaits

Known for his prowess with a swimbait all over the country, Texas pro Chris Zaldain says the lure is excellent for catching big bass under docks. Photo by Seigo Saito

A common refrain among Bassmaster Elite Series pros is the need to fish something different from what other anglers are throwing. Bass shy away from baits they see every day, be it lures cast by local anglers or Elites. Michigan bass addict Garrett Paquette hit on a disparate presentation that continues to reap bass. His “secret” tactic is skipping a swimbait under boat docks.

“Dock fishing is really big in Michigan,” Paquette said. “A lot of guys skip jigs, worms and weightless stickbaits under docks. The bass see a million of those baits. I catch a lot of bass by skipping a swimbait under docks right behind guys fishing those other baits.” Paquette’s original skipping swimbait was a 5-inch, line-through paddletail sporting a treble hook under its belly. A weight molded inside the solid, soft-plastic lure ensured that the fake baitfish would run straight. That lure was discontinued, but Paquette found a more-than-capable replacement: Big Bite Baits’ 5-inch B5 Line-Thru Swimbait.

Paquette threads his line through a narrow shaft that runs from the B5’s nose through an internal weight and out its belly. He knots the line to a strong No. 1 treble hook and pushes one of the hooks into the belly of the swimbait to hold it in place. When Paquette sets the hook, the swimbait slides up the line. This prevents the bass from using the bait as leverage to throw the hook. It also reduces the amount of damage the bass can inflict on the bait.

The B5’s internal weight provides the momentum needed for skipping, and the bait’s tall, flat sides allow it to “skip across the water like a stone.”

There are several other line-through swimbaits with internal weights that lend themselves to skipping applications, such as Optimum’s new Boom Boom Line-Thru Swimbait. It is available in 4-, 5- and 6-inch sizes.

Many solid soft swimbaits can be configured in the line-through fashion with a long rigging needle. However, you must peg a weight to the head of these lures so they will run true at anything but an inchmeal pace. A weight makes them nose-heavy and not as well suited for skipping. The same is true of swim- baits rigged on a jighead.