Sammy - The Walking Fish
Where did they get the name "walking dog"? Walking
puppy or walking puppet would have been a better name because the
Sammy truly is a puppet. Like Pinocchio, the Sammy lays lifeless
on the water until you, the puppet master, breathes life into
this plastic creation!
When given the proper action, the
Sammy will zigzag on the surface side to side like a wounded
baitfish. I use the bigger Sammy 115 on lakes and reservoirs, and
I'll use the Sammy 100 on small ponds and shallow rivers. The
Sammy is made by Lucky Craft.
I take the total approach. When I
cast out, I want the Sammy to make a big splash as it hits the
water. I want to trick bass into thinking this big splash was
made by another bass that just smacked a shad on the surface. I
want bass to hear a big splash, think it was another bass
blasting a meal, and see my injured Sammy limping away from the
scene of the crime! When bass think other bass are feeding, they
get very competitive and want a piece of the Sammy for themselves
before other bass get it. They get greedy and lose caution. So I
cast out, let it splash loudly like a feeding bass and
immediately start the zigzag retrieve with no hesitation. Bass
rocket up and belt it!
When bass hit a walking bait, they
often miss it. I do not think the bass can clearly see it because
of all the surface disturbance. In fact, I have seen many bass
swimming along underneath and behind walking baits. Apparently,
the bass are trying to get a clear look at it. I do not think
they can see it well. Often, the bass will be zigzagging its own
head from side to side, trying to get a better look at a walking
bait from the left and from the right. Have you ever seen bass do
this? They will follow walking baits right up to the boat, trying
to get a clear view of them.
When they've seen enough, the
bass will boil up behind it and blast a walking bait. Never stop
giving it the zigzag action with the rod tip even when a bass is
cartwheeling all over it. As I said, they usually miss it. If you
keep zigzagging, they will belt you two, three, four times until
you finally feel solid weight on the rod tip...and the bass is
Because bass have such a problem
with hitting a walking bait, I like to help them out by putting
the biggest hooks I can possibly fit on my walking baits without
ruining the action. With the Sammy, I will put size #2 hooks on
the 3/4 oz Sammy 115. I put a pair of #4 hooks on the 1/2
oz Sammy 100.
Even with bigger hooks on them, bass will still miss walking
baits when they swipe at them. With the Sammy, the heavier hooks
slow down the frantic, splashy action. The heavier hooks give the
Sammy a slower, more stable zigzag that leaves a vee wake on the
surface. I think this slower action helps bass hit them more
accurately and the larger hooks are harder to miss.
With the bigger hooks, I give action to the Sammy in three
1) I give very short movements of
only 3 to 4 inches to the rod tip, and I turn the reel handle
slowly so the Sammy comes across the surface at a medium pace.
The only thing I like to see is one inch of the Sammy's nose
twitching back and forth, which leaves a rippling vee trail wake
behind it. This is the retrieve I use in open water away from
shore or cover. I use this retrieve when active fish can not be
seen breaking the surface. It is the most life-like retrieve of
all, but takes more time because it is moderately slow.
2) When active bass can be seen
breaking the surface here and there, you do not need to go so
slow. I do the same as above (move the rod tip 3 to 4 inches) but
I turn the reel handle faster so the Sammy zigzags across the
surface at a fast pace. This fast pace seems better for fish that
are up on top competing with each other for food. Still, I
usually only want to see the nose of the Sammy come out of the
water on this faster retrieve for active fish.
3) When I fish up against
shoreline or cover, I do something different. In this case, I use
longer, slower movement of the rod tip, and I want to see the
entire side of the Sammy come out of the water on every zig or
zag. I try to make this happen in slow motion so the Sammy kind
of hangs there between each zig or zag. The whole Sammy should
move side to side - not just the nose. It looks very much like a
dying fish. This slow, sweeping tactic keeps the Sammy hanging
next to cover where bass are hiding. It draws them out. Retrieves
#1 and #2 above would go past shoreline cover too quickly - not
hang there long enough to infuriate bass to come out of their
hiding holes deep inside the cover like tactic #3.
Colors. I like the natural colors
of Sammy's for all water clarities from clear, stained or dark.
You can see the kinds of colors I like in the attached photos. I
have always found that these natural kinds of colors work under
all conditions. I have not really found any conditions where a
brighter or bolder color worked better than natural ones.
Rod. The rod I use is custom
wrapped on a Lamiglas SMB 108 3M spinning rod blank. The original
blank is 9 foot long, and I ask the custom rodmaker to cut the
butt down to 6' 9". I do not cut anything off the tip, which
is a nice-sized 8 1/2 tip. So although it's a soft, shaky rod,
it's not a thin-tipped rod. After cutting the butt, the blank
will weigh between 3 1/2 to 4 ounces. This is a fiberglass rod
made of a special material called S-Glass which is sensitive,
lightweight and made with the same epoxy resins as in graphite
sticks. S-Glass is far superior than graphite for walking
topwater baits. Why? Because when you shake it, the S-Glass
vibrates in a PARABOLIC ARC. You can't get a parabolic shake with
graphite. It gives incredible action to walking baits.
Line. I use 12 lb. test Berkley
Big Game monofilament line for topwaters, and I attach the Sammy
to a line clip rather than knotting it directly to the line. I
have tried fluorocarbon and braided lines for walking baits on
spinning gear, but monofilament works best for me.
You typically hear that the rod should be
held down and to the side to get the best action with
walking baits. Maybe this is true in theory. In actuality,
whether you are fishing from a boat or from a bank, there are
many times when you cannot get the rod down to the side like that
- something is often blocking the way, and it's a compromising
situation to work the lure and to set the hook free and clear
when you hold the rod down and to the side. Therefore, I just
hold the rod tip up with walking baits. Usually, nothing gets in
the way when you work the lure or set the hook with the tip up.
So, I stick to that.
Those are my own personal choices.
S-Glass spinning rod held up, mono, and a line clip. I have
confidence in that. It makes everything simpler and I can usually
bring a few fish to life on my Sammy walking bait! You can