While the Memorial Day weekend has plenty of burger flipping, tent pitching and skipping with joy for the start of summer on land, the techniques of flipping, pitching and skipping that pay off with big fish come on the water. Including these techniques along with standard angling practices will help catch more fish in close quarters and hard to reach areas, providing fast action from the unofficial start of summer all the way to Labor Day.
The flipping of jigs and soft plastic lures has been refined to an artform on the various bass fishing tournament trails. Using a longer baitcasting rod of eight feet or so with a reel spooled full of heavy braid or fluorocarbon line (25 to 30 pound-test or stronger), anglers can precisely drop jigs or weighted plastics into tight cover with the flick of the wrist. The longer rod provides a bigger lever for getting the bait out, helps deliver a powerful hookset and better hauls fish out of heavier cover.
Flipping is typically done over a horizontal distance of 10 to 15 feet and takes a bit of practice to get it right. Once the casting mechanism is engaged on the reel, use the left hand to pull line off and gently hold it. Then drop the rod tip to create a pendulum-like motion in the bait and allow the lure to flip forward. The inertia of the bait will pull the line from the left hand and the lure will land in the target area, with the left hand serving as a brake of sorts. Being able to accurately place a large, fast-falling bait in known bass haunts triggers massive strikes that are some of the most exciting in angling as fish plow through reeds, stumps, branches and other cover to smash a jig or soft plastic.
The same technique can be used to sling baits a bit further with the movement of the rod tip at the end of a basic flip motion. Employ the pitching technique in shallow areas that are close to a boat, but can’t be immediately accessed due to depth, cover or other sort of structure that may prevent a closer accessing of the target area.
Start the pitching cast in the same manner as the flipping technique, by pulling some line off the reel and dropping the rod tip to start the bait in motion. As the lure reaches the far side of the pendulum swing, give it some extra oomph by moving the rod tip out and sending it flying at the target area. This slight tweak will open up access to shallow spots and structure that bass key in on. For both flipping and pitching, practice the technique from a deck or other elevated structure into a pair of buckets on the lawn, with one positioned at 10 feet, the other at 20. Then take the show on the water.
Skip A Meal
Skipping can be done with both the baitcaster and a spinning combo, but the latter is easier to learn for anglers looking to send their baits under trees, docks, bridges and other overhanging structure. Select a soft plastic, such as a tube, that is hydrodynamic (ie: smooth and round) and easily skips and skitters across the surface of the water. With the bail of the reel open and the line held lightly between the index finger and the handle, load the rod with a sideways back cast. Once loaded, zip the rod forward at a 90-degree angle to the body, in the same motion used to skip a stone and release the line.
The weight of the bait will pull the line off the reel and it the offering will fly over the water and skip along the surface until it runs out of speed. Hopefully by that point the bait will have found its mark under a dock or tree limb. Allow the bait to fall under the structure for a few seconds, as nearby bass may be wary or spooked by the splash and may take a moment or two to come back and bite. A hard hookset is key in getting them out from under the metal bars, posts or sunken branches and roots where they can be battled in open water.
As fish move shallow this time of year and relate to structure in the summer, these three techniques will come in handy. Practicing and applying them will help expand potential offerings for bass and increase positive hooksets and provide a season to remember.
(Featured Photo: Learning to skip smooth lures such as tubes under shallow structure like docks and overhanging trees will put baits in place for a bite. Simonson Photo)