Doodle Socking 1961

Doodle Socking for Bass by Don Fuelsch. Don Fuelsch's 1961 Southern Angler's Guide.

Doodle Socking for Bass by Don Fuelsch. Don Fuelsch’s 1961 Southern Angler’s Guide page 2.

The controversy and allegations that flipping were just forms of doodle socking have been around since Dee Thomas won the 1975 Arkansas Invitational on Bull Shoals Lake. The short-line may have looked like doodle socking to the untrained eye but it was more of a system than doodle socking ever dreamed of being.

The interesting fact of the matter is that Thomas, who invented his technique, was a died-in-the-wool doodle-socker until his tournament competition made him move from his 12-foot Lew’s Hawg Hauler rods to something shorter. It was this, maybe, unwanted rule change that led him to develop one of the most widely used techniques in bass fishing history.

Doodle Socking for Bass by Don Fuelsch. Don Fuelsch's 1961 Southern Angler's Guide page 2.

Doodle Socking for Bass by Don Fuelsch. Don Fuelsch’s 1961 Southern Angler’s Guide page 2.

But pre-1974, before flipping was unveiled, anglers wanting to probe the shallows very often did so with the long rod. Standard equipment was a 12- to 16-foot cane pole with anywhere from 60- to 100-pound line attached to the tip. The length of the line ranged anywhere from a couple of feet to the length of the rod and the angler sculled the boat down the shoreline and probed openings in the grass, tulles or shoreline willows with a surface buzzer. Other baits used were spinners and a crazy worm developed by DeLong called the Jigging Worm.

Recently I was thumbing through the 1961 Southern Angler’s Guide by Don Fuelsch and saw an article he penned on doodle socking. Although it’s short, definitely fits within Bob Cobb’s “Rules of the Can,” it’s a great look back on a technique that’s pretty much gone the way of the paper graph.

DeLong's Jigging Worm circa 1961.

DeLong’s Jigging Worm circa 1961.

Another cool aspect about the article is it shows a couple of great vintage pictures of the technique in action. We all know what it’s like to hook a hot fish right at the boat as you’re pulling a bait out of the water – there isn’t much time to react at all. With this technique, though, you’re inviting that sort of heart attack material to happen.

Looking at the pictures, the angler has no more than two feet of line hanging off his pole as he fights what appears to be some decent fish. Makes me wonder how long they played them or did they just lift them out of the water as fast as they could?

The pictures also show that doodle socking wasn’t anything close to flipping at all. The major differences are:

  1. the line is attached to the end of the pole,
  2. the amount of line the angler’s able to use on each flip,
  3. the fact that in flipping, because of the shorter rod, you have more control over your bait,
  4. flipping allows you to work your bait back to the boat due again to the amount of line available.

Yeah, doodle sockers will always claim that flipping is just doodle socking, and maybe to a small point that might be correct in some instances, but overall they’re completely different means in which to present a lure to a shallow bass. Take it from the man who originated flipping himself. He started out as a doodle socker and with his knowledge of that technique, developed an even better one.

  • I learned a variation from an old Louisiana native back in late 60s or maybe it was early 70s. In this case, the lure was always a jig of some type, and there was only 18 inches or so of line between the rod and the lure. Sometimes less. But the line was tied 8 or 10 inches up the pole from the end. The jig was dropped into the water next to a likely target. If it wasn’t hit immediately, he would start splashing the water with the tip of the pole, creating a ruckus on the surface, then lift the jig to it quickly. He said it was imitating a “brim checking out the action.” When he hooked up, after the first burst of action, he just hand-over-handed the pole, pulling it in (with the butt end going over the other side of his skiff into the water) until he got the fish close enough to grab it.

    Another Louisiana guy created a lure similar to the Delong one in the ad. One time BASS pro Bobby Meador marketed a lure called (appropriately enough) the “Doodle Sock’r.” It had a single Sproat style worm hook instead of the treble, and a 1/2 oz bullet shaped head was molded onto that. The head was encased in the soft plastic “body” and there were six 3″ waving legs with little paddles on the end of each. But there were also six shorter, thicker legs between the active ones. The shorter legs acted as weed guards (Texas rig style). When one wore out, you turned the body on the hook to line up a different one. I actually caught quite a few fish on that, vertical jigging it in deep water. You should be able to find an ad for it in one of the early BassMaster magazines.

    • Terry Battisti

      “there was only 18 inches or so of line between the rod and the lure.
      Sometimes less……… When he hooked up, after the first burst of action, he just
      hand-over-handed the pole, pulling it in (with the butt end going over
      the other side of his skiff into the water).”

      Man that seems like such a pain Rich. LOL. I wonder how many fish were lost due to no give in the rod or line?