Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flipping Docks with.. a Crank, a Craw and a Hatch-Match Stick?

Dock Fishing is one of those classic styles or types of fishing that everyone enjoys, but not everyone is good at. There are so many different ways guys like to attack a dock, that if you ask 100 anglers you may actually get 100 responses on what they like to use when flipping/pitching a dock... so I wanted to take a moment to share with you some baits that you may not have thought to throw at a dock, and to some of you these may be  old standbys, but  either way, these baits will catch fish, and maybe break you out of that jig & pig funk you have fallen into.


Lets face it the square-bill craze is in full swing, started yet again by KVD and Strike Kings introduction of KVD series Square-bills.  Yes the name that launched a thousand products kicked off this craze, but there are many other companies out there that have been quietly building their own square-bill crank, companies such as  IMA have really kicked it up a notch with the introduction of the Bill Lowen Square-bill, a light weight plastic square-bill that fishes just like a balsa bait.

I dont know about you, but I think  Square-bill cranks are the perfect lure for dock fishing, they are shallow-running highly buoyant baits that  allow you to work fast or slow, with tight or wide action. The bill deflects off cover extremely well and allows you to run a crank bait in areas usually reserved for jigs or spinnerbaits. When using a square-bill to work a dock you have a few set-up choices. First off you can run it true and simply fish the outer edges of the dock.. or, you cast/pitch in on angles to attempt to work areas not easily reached when running the bait straight. Some anglers will also alter their square-bill to run at a slight angle, this allows you to cast into open areas next to the dock and work the bait back under the edge/lip of the dock. All of these options will produce fish, but personally I prefer not to alter the bait,  unless it is being used specifically for that purpose.  Constantly altering a bait gets you into a spot where you are possibly weakening it, this will reduce the lifespan of the crank

I personally own a whack of sqaurebills from a few companies, and always carry a pair with me. I believe that you dont require a rainbow of baits to catch fish, just 2 or 3 color options for different water conditions (or clarity). My favorite color in the IMA line is "Bone" a spooky looking version of white that still gives the look of a real bait fish. My second choice is Citrus Shad, and I use that primarily for dirty or stained water. One color (or lack of color) that I dont usually fish is "clear" but the version put forth by IMA in the square-bill series is awesome, it looks great and fishes extremely well.

Flip'em the Craw

More specifically, flip them the "Cover Craw" by Jackall, Ok, this is kinda cheating since this bait is designed to be be fished kinda like a jig. With a somewhat bulky body and those claws a flapping this bait will fall like a jig with one additional perk, it will fall inward, and hit the fish where they live. The design of the cover craw makes it fall away from the angler, and that pretty much makes it built for dock fishing, all you need to do is drop it right at the lip of the dock, and the cover craw will do the rest.

 I guess another key feature of this bait that makes it different from just throwing a jig, is that it is weightless, it will have a slower softer fall, and hopefully entice those fish that are not as active, and may shy away from faster dropping baits. Not as heavy or bulky as a jig-n-pig this is kinda a finesse dock bait, with the frame of a power bait.

Slip'em the Match Stick

If there is one worm/senko bait that i have seen recently that just screams "skip me" it is the Hatch match stick by El Grande lures. With two tapered ends and slightly wide belly this worm is a great skipping bait, and when your fishing docks with a worm, you need to be able to skip'em.

The skip when controlled properly will allow you to place your bait under the dock, in areas in which many anglers miss or simply ignore. By hitting these spots you are increasing your chances of picking up some fish left behind by other boats. Remember, not all fish hang off the edges of the docks, and fish that are not actively feeding (or aggressively feeding) may not move even two feet to chase a bait, but most fish not matter how passive, will wrap their lips around a well placed bait.

It is no coincidence that I placed this technique in the number 3 spot. It is not where I usually start when approaching a dock, but it is a great way to finish. Once you have worked the outer edges of a dock with your sqaurebill, jig or flipping craw, you will want to dig in a bit deeper, and to achieve this, you are going to need to learn to skip... This is a tuff technique to learn. I recommend starting on spinning gear to get the mechanics down. The one key thing to take away here is that practice makes perfect, so yes, this technique will take practice, but once you nailed it, you will be able to pull it out in various situations.

I mentioned it a few times here, there are may ways to fish a dock (kinda like skinning a cat), all you need to do is explore your options and learn a few basic techniques (and some no so basic ones). On a heavily fished lake a good row of docks is going to be hit over and over again, day in and day out, so if you want to be successful you need to hit the spots that others have missed, or show the fish something new. So put those Jigs away, and expand your horizons

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