I’m going flippin’ crazy. I can’t stand the flippin’ wait. All I want to do right now is catch a flippin’ bass out of a flippin’ bush, preferably a flippin’ 8-pounder, and naturally on tournament day if it’s not too flippin’ much to ask.
The flipping and pitching bug can be hard to shake in the spring time, especially if you’re fortunate to live around a fishery known for big bass around shallow cover. The bass have been held up by rising and lowering water levels. Then the cold fronts have knocked the water temperatures back. So even though the lake looks primed for flipping, it’s not quite right, and the anticipation is like an itch you can’t scratch if you love to flip and pitch like we do.
But the long wait got us pulling our plastics to get ready for some hardcore flipping over the course of the next several weeks. We started analyzing how we flip and what baits we choose and why.
Really I keep it pretty simple. It’s all about profile first and color second. Then from there its figuring out the mood of the fish and choosing a bait that fits the cover.
As far as profiles, we really stick with five bait profiles for our flipping and pitching.
1. The Jig – A Jig is a great flipping bait given you choose the right head. The Arkie head style is extremely snagproof, but we have our own favorites for flipping jigs. You want a strong hook that won’t bend out on heavy line in heavy cover. You want an angle that slightly tilts the hook upward away from cover, and you want a head design that will slide through the cover.
Often around grass a pointed nose jig pulls through better. A jig with a plaining surface on the bottom, however, will pull over wood more efficiently. Both should have good weedguards to keep the hook point away from snags. Check the angle and spread of the brush guard often as you fish, especially if you notice the jig is suddenly snagging more. Fish can sometimes bend your weedguards.
2. The Beaver – The Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver gave us flippers a new toy to play with. Before that it was often a craw bait that took this spot. And I still use a craw like a Berkley Chigger Craw or the Big Bite Yo Daddy when I want a more bulky profile like a Beaver but some more leg action on the drop. But a Beaver-style bait is a compact package that when a fish bites, you can be sure they have the hook. It’s more finesse than a jig although we often add a punch skirt to this rig with an Eco Pro Tungsten weight and a straight shank Trokar flipping hook snelled onto braid or heavy fluorocarbon.
3. The Creature – Sometimes the fish are looking for a longer profile with a lot more water turbulence, this is a case where something like a Zoom Brush Hog really shines. It’s long but bulky and has multiple flappers on it that really move the water. We like this bait when we’re flipping around the spawn. You can flip big trees and stumps and objects where you think a bass would make a bed. It’s nice because you can flip and pitch or you can just cast it to spot where you think a bass made a bed on a flat gravel bank.
4. The Lizard – When the water is a little more clear and the fish are a little skittish a lizard is a good subtle offering that you can flip and pitch in cover. It’s longer profile with small appendages that give it a lifelike action when dropped in on an unsuspecting fish. We like a widegap Mustad KVD Grip Pin hook and a little lighter Eco Pro Tungsten weight to get the bait in and around cover. It’s a subtle flipping presentation that can really make a difference when the bass are in a funk and not reacting to bulkier offerings.
5. The Stickbait – Finally I’ve found that a Yamamoto Senko with a small weight pitched around obvious targets can really pay big dividends. It has a unique spiral fall and tail whip. It can be hard to pitch around in the wind. Yet when it’s flat calm and clear and the bass don’t like a big bait in their strike zone, this subtle offering has bailed us out on many occassions where the fish wouldn’t react to other offerings with a lot of appendages or squattier profiles.
(from left to right: Yamamoto Senko, Big Bite Baits Kriet Tail Lizard, Zoom Baby Brush Hog, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, and a Cumberland Pro Lures HD Jig)