Walking the Dog Fishing Technique

After a long day on the water, fishing a New Jersey clam bed unsuccessfully searching for Striper,  I notice an old man using a strange technique with lighter equipment. For a short time he was there, he caught a Blue and a Bass with this procedure. I asked him what kind of fishing technique he was using and he said he was called “Walking the Dog” which he uses on topwater either fresh or saltwater. What is the Walking the Dog Fishing Technique?

  • Walking the dog fishing is a topwater technique
  • Using a cigar shaped-flat belly Topwater lure
  • First, Cast
  • Let settle
  • Twitch the rod’s tip sharply a few inches to the side
  • This creates slack in the line.
  • Twitch & repeat.
  • Jerking against the slack in your line is the key to achieving a left-to-right action.

Topwater hits are the best hits there is an explosion on top of the surface of the water dramatically and it can be used on an array of sport fish from Largemouth to Saltwater species.

Walking the Dog Fishing Technique


The secret of Walking Dog fishing starts with the right equipment and tackle to be effective. Using the right Topwater lure and the technique.  It’s all about the Retrieve. The procedure involves slightly twitching your rod during the retrieve to cause the lure to move in a side-to-side motion. Here are a few more tips to help you learn how to walk the dog that will catch some big fish whether in Fresh or Saltwater

Topwater lures are flat-bottomed hard plastic lures heavy enough to give you some casting distance far enough from you and the area of the fish.  in the front of the lure and giving a lot of open water to work on. This far casting prevents the fish from seeing you or the boat you are on as he’s chasing the lure back toward you on the retrieve. These Topwater Lures don’t have the cup face or propeller but may have some rattle inside for sound attractant and a flat belly that is easy to identify.

The fishing Rod you’ll use will have a big impact on the ‘Walk the Dog’ technique as well.  You should go with a medium-heavy rod with a fast tip to get the best action from your lure. The braided line is most angler’s top choice here, as it has zero stretches, meaning when you move your rod tip an inch, the lure moves an inch. Braid also makes it possible to get some real “snap” in the action of my topwater lures and makes hook sets much easier on long casts.

  • Cast then
  • Let the lure sit for a moment
  • Twitch the rod’s tip sharply a few inches
  • Then immediately drift the rod’s tip back toward the lure a few inches, creating a bit of slack in the line while reeling in
  • Do this as you retrieve the lure all the way back to the boat or shore.  
  • Point your rod tip down to one side or the other 4-5 o’clock slightly off the water 18″ or so- -try and experiment and see what you are successful at and what’s comfortable for you as long as you keep the slack in the line.
  • Jerking against the slack in your line is the key to achieving the left-to-right action attracting fish while covering water. 


Top Water Fishing Tips



  1. On a Miss-Strike always keep the lure moving, giving the fish a second chance which many times will happen. If you’ve lost it you’ll still know where the fish is by where you took that strike. What is most important in the Walk the Dog Technique is to allow some slack in your line. Doing this will allow the movement of the topwater lure to perform the side-by-side movement that imitates the walking part of technology which gives it its name. 
  2. Don’t reel in too fast or you won’t have the slack that’s necessary to perform the side-to-side action just reel in the slack and keep your line from getting tight.
  3. Throw your topwater lures behind docks during the post-spawn to catch male bass hiding under the dock and protecting their fry. Try to keep your lure as close as possible to the dock and in the shadiest areas on sunny days.
  4. On Colder water retrieve a little slower
  5. Look behind the lure for a fish following the lure and go back to the same spot
  6. Make a long cast but use a braided line so it won’t stretch
  7. Minimize your chance of spooking the fish- by staying out of view while the fish is on topwater
  8. Don’t over-throw while casting-think golfing when you overthrow you’ll lose some control and distance its the same in casting
  9. Choose the right equipment-A rod over 7 ft. will give you less accuracy but more stability. Under 7ft can give you the advantage of covering water next to docks and structures in the water. the power of the rod can be matched to the reel and lure weight and size. So distance is my consideration while my 8 ft gives me more accuracy heavy enough to catch saltwater fish but light enough to allow me to work spots while I’m fishing in the fresh or saltwater.
  10. Don’t use Fluro carbon fishing line only Monofilament or Braided
  11. Best used with a little chop on the water’s surface and some cloud cover


Walking the Dog Video

With the right equipment and technique the right topwater Lures, you can use any fish that will hit on the surface including Largemouth or even Saltwater Striper. Here is an excellent video that will show you the correct way. They can work on the Bay or Lake even in tighter areas like lagoons or streams. The more you cast the better you can get at it.


Topwater Lures for Topwater Fishing



When it comes to the Walking the Dog technique you will need a special type of hard plastic lure that is specifically used with the fishing procedure. They are cigar-shaped-flat belly Topwater lures that will walk side to side with a little help from you and the technique. They won’t do anything until you use the rod tip and keep them moving which creates the action needed.

There are a few types of Topwater types of lures:

Prop Syles-A prop bait is categorized as a topwater lure and is a torpedo-shaped hard bait with one or more propellors on it. As the bait is retrieved the propellers spin and chop the surface of the water. This creates sound and water disruption that is designed to sound like prey swimming on the surface.

Poppin Style-Topwater poppers go back to the earliest days of bass fishing. They are one of the oldest styles of bass lures still being made today and still effectively catching fish. Over the years these lures have evolved into all different shapes and styles, but what they all have in common is a bowl-shaped face on the front of the bait. This is what makes them “pop”.


Heddon Zara Spook Lure for Bass Fishing



The most talked-about topwater bait used is the Heddon Zara Spook and the most popular topwater bait used by the Pros. First introduced in 1939, the Heddon Zara Spook offers an iconic walk-the-dog action that has been proven to not only catch fish but catch more and bigger fish as well. Essentially the same today as it was 75 years ago, the Heddon Zara Spook delivers a pronounced, sauntering action that is responsible for countless tournament wins across all levels of bass fishing.

To create this magical action, cast the Heddon Zara Spook out, and then with a bit of slack in the line then use your wrist to rhythmically manipulate the rod tip, while simultaneously reeling. If done correctly, the Heddon Zara Spook should walk back and forth across the surface followed by a gentle wake. The heart-stopping strikes created by this action are incredibly aggressive and one of the most exciting ways to catch any fish.



Topwater Fishing  Rod Tackle Bundles


A medium-heavy rod with fast action is ideal for walking-the-dog fishing techniques to ensure you can set your hook and fishing lures and plenty of power for lure walking to both drive hooks and bring the fish back to the boat or shore.

When using spinning gear or Baitcaster Combo tackle bundles, lures, and baits set-up for the Walking the Dog technique, rods that are 6’6” to 7 feet are ideal for bass fishing, and ones that have a fast action will help provide enough tip action to work baits across the target areas attracting fish properly.

A 2500 size reel works great sold at Cabelas for bass applications in conjunction with this St Croix Rod is especially good using braid, and will provide a good balance without feeling heavy on your wrist when making all those rod twitches.

This St. Croix MJC68MXF Mojo Bass Graphite Casting Fishing Rod with IPC Technology, 6 feet 8 inches is found on Amazon and makes a perfect Walking the Dog type Rod.

Make long casts past the structure you’re fishing in and get the correct action from the Walking the Dog technique by twitching your rod tip while reeling up the slack. It takes some time, but once you get it you’ll be getting strikes in no time. Don’t be afraid to mix in an occasional pause, particularly if you have a fish swirl on it.



JimGalloway Author/Editor



7 Topwater Fishing Tips To Dominate The Surface



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