The easiest way for me to get that nice zig zag going is to point the rod downward straight in front of me at about 4 ‘o clock, and twitch down to about 5 o’clock, back up to 4, back down to 5 and so on. The rod provides all the action, while the reel just gathers the slack. How fast or slow you twitch can make the difference though. Sometimes a quick walk will work, while other times a slow sashay may be the trick. Typically I walk slightly faster than every second. I like a baitcaster but have seen many anglers work a spinning outfit just as well. Either way, back to the retrieve. As with many artificials, let the fish tell you. No matter what lure you are using, try to remember what you did to get bit. I typically keep the same cadence throughout the entire retrieve…unless I get blown up and missed--which will happen…a lot. When it does, I’ll speed up my retrieve, and can often get another blast. I have seen where just one twitch will work after a miss. It’s worth mentioning that after a miss, if you are with someone who is throwing something that will sink, have them follow that miss as quickly as possible, and they might get bit. It works.
There are a couple of little tricks that most of you know but are worth repeating. First and foremost, don’t be tempted to set the hook on the initial blow up. Just keep working until you feel the fish pull, then you can give him a good jab and put the pressure on. Also, I like to let the lure settle before retrieving. Don’t pass up a point, and don’t make a cast until you can throw past that point and bring it back. If your plug does not have a split ring, tie a loop knot to help the action. Many times I’ll remove the split ring and tie a loop knot. Lastly, use the heavy weight of this bait to make long cast and stay as far away from your target area as possible, while still being able to hit it. (I like this philosophy for all fishing whenever practical).
Finally--shape. I started out with the Johnny Rattler’s and Excalbur Spittin’ Images, then to spooks (supers and jrs.), and now the Rapala Skitterwalk (pictured). A new lure on the market that resembles the spittin' image is the Badonk-A-Donk (my favorite-the speckled trout pattern pictured).