February 25, 2022
By Colin Moore
Retired professional bass angler Denny Brauer has won many national professional bass tournaments and Angler of the Year titles over the years. Ask Brauer what has been the fundamental driver behind his bass-fishing success and he’s quick to credit his ability to flip.
Brauer, the 1998 Bassmaster Classic winner, wasn’t born with the ability to flip jigs and other baits accurately, nor did he gain the skill simply by going fishing as often as possible.
When he was growing up in southeastern Nebraska, and through his early years as a professional bass fisherman, Brauer developed a practice regimen that helped him keep his flipping talent sharp regardless of the season.
"The best way to practice flipping is to go fishing. But when I was a kid, a lot of times in the winter we didn’t have open water to fish," says Brauer. "So, when I was just starting out, I would make myself a practice course. Like a lot of other skills, you have to practice flipping regularly to get good at it. Then, you develop confidence in yourself that helps when you do get to go fishing."
Most of the year, fishing with a flipping outfit poses no problem in the South, but there are the occasional times when bad weather or bitter cold can make it impractical. Likewise, flipping shallow cover during a long cold snap in early spring might not be on an angler’s menu when the water temperature is cold and the fish are just starting to move up from offshore.
However, it’s to an angler’s advantage to prepare for the upcoming fishing season, especially when the bass are holding shallow, by developing his or her presentation skills whenever and wherever possible.
As Brauer learned long ago, practicing indoors helps an angler focus solely on flipping and refine his or her expertise. Here’s some practical advice from the flipping maestro himself.
1. GIVE YOURSELF SPACE
Don’t try to practice in a room with an 8-foot ceiling. Given that most flipping rods are in the 7 1/2-foot range, it just doesn’t work. Better options include a house with a cathedral ceiling, a pole barn, a tractor barn or anywhere else there’s plenty of room to maneuver. It’s best to practice where it’s warm, too, because cold temps will affect your concentration.
2. GET OUT OF THE WIND
It’s OK to practice outside if the weather’s mild and the wind isn’t blowing a gale. Otherwise, it’s hard to develop consistent accuracy if the wind is pushing on you and whatever you’ve got tied on. If you can practice outside, put your targets under lawn chairs or other obstacles. That way, it’s like you’re going down a row of docks, and it gives you a level of difficulty that will help you on the water. If practicing indoors, flip at targets that are under tables and chairs.
3. SET PLENTY OF TARGETS
Set up 20 targets or more. Coffee mugs or foam cups that have been weighted work pretty well. You want an opening of about 3 inches across, because sometimes that’s about your target size when flipping weed mats, docks or bank cover. The fisherman who can hit the smallest targets quickly, consistently and quietly is the one who usually catches the most fish when flipping.
4. SPACE THEM OUT
You don’t want to set up a straight line of targets. They should range from close to fairly far away (whatever distance you feel comofrtable flipping out to) because that’s the way flipping targets are on the water. You can arrange them in a horseshoe pattern or even haphazardly. Move the targets around from time to time to challenge yourself. Use pieces of tape or other small objects to mark the spot where you’ll stand as you make your rounds. While you’re at it, you might as well practice pitching, too, if you’ve got the space.
5. GEAR UP
When practicing, use whatever you’re going to be fishing with. The baits and their weight will change some, but otherwise stick with the same rod-and-reel outfit and the same line. Also, use the same pound-test line you’ll fish on the lake.
This winter, when the weather turns nasty or cabin fever hits, set up an indoor course and practice your flipping. You’ll be glad you did when the flipping bite turns on this summer.