September 12, 2023
Skipping a jig is a technique that looks pretty impressive when you pull it off, but also has a lot of functionality for getting a lure back under overhanging cover such as boat docks and tree limbs. It’s also a cast that isn’t as difficult as it seems and will definitely improve with practicing proper technique.
Many lures can be skipped across the water’s surface, as long as they have a lot of surface area to skip properly. When choosing a jig trailer, make sure it has a flat, wide surface to better slide across the water like a flat rock. Additionally, hollow-body frogs, wacky-rigged Senkos and bladed jigs tend to skip quite easily.
The other ingredient to effective skipping from an equipment standpoint is the rod, with shorter, softer rods being easier to skip than longer, stiffer flipping sticks. Rods in the 7-foot range are more nimble than longer rods, and a medium-heavy action has enough flex to load properly in the back-cast and shoot the lure forward with ease.
Any chop on the water can cause a jig to dig in, rather than skim across the surface, so slick and calm are ideal conditions for skipping.
Regarding casting technique, if you can make the sidearm roll cast, you can skip a jig. (We have a primer for executing the sidearm cast in the Crash Course library if you need to tune up your skills with the roll cast.) The only difference between the roll cast and the skip cast is a much shallower angle of attack with the skip cast. Extend the rod tip over the boat gunwale and point the tip toward the water as you transition from the back cast to the forward cast to release the lure within a foot of the water. The trajectory of the lure needs to remain parallel to the water throughout the cast, with minimal downward trajectory. If you approach the water too steeply, the lure will deflect hard or, worse yet, bite suddenly into the water, causing a big backlash.
As I was learning this technique, I equated skipping a jig with skipping a rock across the water. When skipping a rock, I’m trying to generate as many skips as possible to impress my kids, so I’m throwing the rock with as much force as my arm can generate. We don’t need that much force when skipping a jig. In fact, the same amount of effort used to execute the roll cast will allow the jig to skip a considerable distance.
Another temptation I had when learning the skip cast was to crank down the spool tension knob to avoid a train-wreck backlash that can occur with this technique.
However, this is counterproductive to effectively skipping a lure. Over-tightening the tension knob causes two problems: sending the lure offline (to the left or right, depending upon your dominant casting arm) and fighting against the added tension by casting harder. Some increased tension on the knob may be helpful if overruns persist, but limit it to a click or two, as the spool needs the freedom to properly release the lure toward the target.
While I don’t have a definitive formula for where to land the lure, consider having it touch down closer to the target than the boat—typically within 3 to 5 feet of the target in order to get the lure to stop as far back under the dock or overhanging limbs as you can.
Also, understanding a comfortable range is important, as accuracy diminishes on long skips and the likelihood of a backlash increases. For me, somewhere within 30 to 40 feet is a good range, though some targets are slightly closer than that.
To practice good skipping technique, take an old hollow-body frog and get on a concrete surface such as the driveway or patio. Make the frog skim the surface toward a target without bouncing. If you get a noticeable bounce off the concrete, you’re coming in too steep. In that case, lower the rod tip and flatten the angle of attack. Take that same feel out to the water and you should see the jig skimming across the surface in the same manner.