It’s a trip to walk the dog in heavy cover
Using topwater lures in a walk-the-dog fashion over oyster shell banks, especially in smaller creek mouths that meet larger channels, is a great way to catch speckled trout this time of year. For anglers who have done it a few times, it’s unmatched for pure fun, and it’s a great way to introduce novices to topwater fishing.
But one problem that has always plagued topwater anglers is the inability to cast around spartina grass and other partially submerged weeds without the lure fouling, ruining an otherwise perfect cast. Treble hooks and vegetation simply don’t mix.
While many lure makers shrug that off as a necessary evil, others have sought a solution. Anglers are lucky they’ve got options now that they didn’t have just a few short years ago. Where they once said, “That would be a nice spot if not for all that cord grass,” they can now cast as deep into it as they want, fully anticipating a blowup without the worry of getting snagged.
Two companies in particular, D.O.A and LIVETARGET, have developed artificial baits that speckled trout love and that won’t foul up when cast into vegetation. The secret is in the soft-body design and the hidden hook points.
D.O.A.’s PT7 is a soft-bodied, torpedo-shaped lure with a single hook that’s connected to the lure with a hinged point in the nose. The business end of the hook passes through the bottom of the lure and comes out on top, with the sharp tip buried in a thin membrane of skin on top of the lure.
Upon first seeing the PT7, anglers like John Wessinger of Charleston, S.C., weren’t too impressed with its looks, but they changed their minds once they fished it.
“With all of today’s lures that look almost like the real thing, I was a bit taken aback by how plain the PT7 is, but it somehow appealed to me as well,” he said. “I could tell it would do well in the weeds, and I fish topwater lures faster than most people, so I figured the looks of it wouldn’t matter as much as the way it walks. But the main thing is, I knew I could cast into grass without getting hung up.”
Once he began using it, Wessinger was hooked.
“It’s even more weedless than I thought it would be,” he said. “I started off pretty cautious with it, only casting it a few feet into weeds and never into the stiffer and taller grass. But before long, I was casting it deep into all of it. As long as you don’t allow your line to get too slack, I don’t think you can get hung up if you tried.
The PT7 also has a rattle inside the hollow body; Wessinger said he puts it to good use on slow days.
“When the bite is slow, I’ll cast the lure into the weeds, and instead of immediately starting the walk-the-dog pattern, I’ll slightly shake the rod tip to make the lure rattle, then ease it through the grass for a second, then I’ll walk-the-dog with it. Sometimes that seems to draw their attention,” he said.
Wessinger also likes LIVETARGET’s Hollow Body Mullet; he said the two lures couldn’t be much more different.
The Hollow Body Mullet, which comes in three sizes and three colors, looks about as real as you’ll ever see in a lure. It has a unique hooking system, and it’s just as weedless as the PT7, even though the hook point is exposed. The dorsal fin of the lure actually protects the hook point from snagging.
“The fish hit them much deeper in the grass than I anticipated,” Wessinger said. “I thought they would only hang around the edges and bite there, but it’s surprising how deep you can cast and have fish just blow up on them. It really shows you how many fish you’ve never had a chance at catching because you can’t get close to them with treble hook lures.
“And out of the weeds, these lures walk the dog just like normal, and draw just as many strikes.
“Docks or overhanging limbs are no problem because you can also skip these lures. Try that with a Super Spook, and it’ll just crash as soon as it hits the water.”
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