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Bass Crash Course: How to Flip & Pitch

Stealth presentations for up-close encounters with bass hiding in cover.

When getting up close and personal with bass in shallow cover, nothing beats the precision and quiet entry of flipping or pitching a worm or jig right into the heart of the cover. The terms "flipping" and "pitching" are often used interchangeably; however, there are differences in the two approaches, which we'll define after discussing their similarities.

Whether flipping or pitching, the lure is swung in a pendulum motion from the end of the rod tip toward the target. To allow for enough "arc" to the pendulum swing, start with the lure approximately at the reel while the rod is pointed toward the sky. A shorter length of line makes it hard to generate enough forward motion with the lure. If the lure drops much beyond the reel, it simply becomes awkward to handle.

With both techniques, the forward pendulum motion is initiated as you break the wrist of your rod arm, drop the rod tip and the lure starts swinging forward. As the lure is heading toward the target, a lift of the rod tip will build momentum and accelerate the speed of the lure to reach the distance to the target. As the lure nears the water, continuing this lifting of the rod tip can also slow the lure to allow a soft, quiet entry.

The extension of the arm and elbow can assist in widening the arc of the lure and generate added momentum into the lure's approach to the target. A lifting of the casting elbow can also provide the necessary clearance for swinging the long rods useful for both flipping and pitching.

As mentioned, there are differences to the two techniques. Flipping is accomplished by depressing the thumb bar and stripping out a few feet of line just above the reel with the non-casting hand, maintaining the length of line to keep the lure in close proximity to the reel. As more line is needed to reach the target, strip additional line with the opposing hand and arm. The line is "fed" into the presentation with the opposing hand as the lure is going forward and controls the lure’s entry into the water. Therefore, it's important to not release the line until the lure touches down. Otherwise, the lure will freefall into the water and create the loud splash we're trying to avoid.

Developed in the 1970's, the flipping technique is somewhat of an old-school method, but it allows for very precise lure placement and provides an extremely quiet lure entry on top of bass positioned in shallow cover. However, because the line is stripped from the reel with the opposing hand and arm, the technique is limited to distances of around 15 to 20 feet from the angler and boat. For this reason, many anglers have adopted the "pitching" technique as the go-to approach for methodically picking apart shallow cover.

Pitching uses the same pendulum motion to propel the bait forward, with the lure starting at the reel and the rod tip high. With the reel spool disengaged and the lure resting in the opposing hand, flex the wrist downward to lower the rod tip toward the water, then lift toward the target while releasing the thumb from the spool to send the lure forward. The speed of the lure is controlled with the thumb on the spool, as opposed to feeding line from the opposite hand. In essence, it's like an underhanded cast that keeps the lure inches above the water's surface as it moves toward the target, while the thumb controls the lure entry by feathering the spool as needed.

An advantage of the pitch cast is its ability to keep the low angle of attack and soft lure entry, yet cover distances 30 to 40 feet away. The further away from the bass an angler can remain, the less likely a fish will detect the presence of the boat and associated noises from the trolling motor.

Flipping and pitching are techniques enhanced by specialized equipment. A rod length of 7 to 8 feet can be a big asset, as the longer length allows increased distance with the presentation and provides greater leverage when muscling bass out of shallow cover. Additionally, medium-heavy to extra-heavy rod actions are useful in driving the hook home and leveraging fish out away from heavy cover.


Modern baitcasting reels are offered in increasingly faster gear ratios, with 8:1 and above being available from several manufacturers. These higher retrieve speeds can be a benefit when pitching shallow cover for long periods of time, as they get the lure back to the boat quicker for the next presentation, thereby offering greater efficiency.

Like any technique, practicing in the backyard with a practice plug can pay dividends. Place a coffee can in the yard and simply start making presentations to the can with increased distances. Start from 15 to 20 feet away with the pitch cast and you'll soon find that covering distances of 30 feet and greater is possible. Again, maintaining a very low angle of attack is the desired approach, so gaining a sense for the proper release point for the thumb, combined with the right amount of "lift" to the rod tip, is important for distance control and a quiet lure entry.

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