Four Keys for Flipping Out on Summertime Bass
From Major League Fishing
Just recently, the 2013 version of the summer solstice arrived at a bass lake near you. And that means it's time to flip out for monster bucketmouth bass hiding somewhere deep, dark and nasty on your favorite water body.
To catch that bass, a good bet is to turn to what was once a relatively obscure technique that angler Dee Thomas helped to create years ago. Since then, the flipping technique has gone on to become one of bass angling’s most tried and true methods.
In fact, it may have become THE method necessary to know in order to catch a stubborn bucketmouth hiding out in the aquatic version of a back alley. The reasons why are easy enough to understand when one reflects on some basic tenets of bass biology.
In a nutshell, bass are ambush feeders, lurking in the shadows while waiting for an opportunity to pounce on an unsuspecting baitfish or tasty morsel.
While true just about any time of the year, the above is especially so during the summer months.
As the heat rises, bass will often bury themselves in foreboding places containing low light conditions, cooler water temperatures, and the opportunity to whack an unsuspecting baitfish "Happy Meal" that wanders by.
Unfortunately, while such spots are great for hiding bass, they typically are not the easiest places for an angler to get a lure into. Unless that angler has a graphite flipping stick in hand.
By using such rod and a heavy-duty baitcasting reel, an angler can underhandedly “flip” (or pitch) a jig-and-pig combination, a tube jig, or even a Texas-rigged 10-inch plastic worm into a tight spot where a warm weather largemouth lurks.
Need proof of how effective the technique can be? Look no further than Major League Fishing legend Denny Brauer's runaway win last September at the 2013 Summit Cup on New York's dock-infested Chautauqua Lake.
But after considering Brauer's virtuoso performance, keep in mind that flipping isn't a technique reserved solely for the sport's all-time greatest anglers.
By mastering a few simple ideas – how much weight is necessary to penetrate the cover, where the best sweet spot lies, what the fish want in terms of presentation, and what type of bait profile you need – just about any weekend warrior can learn how to flip out for a big summer bass.
MLF pro Kelly Jordon, one of professional bass fishing’s best anglers over the past 10 years with four B.A.S.S. wins and one FLW Tour win on his resume, excels at flipping out for summertime bass.
A nine-time Bassmasters Classic qualifier from Palestine, Texas, Jordon will often flip a white or black jig with a black/blue or pumpkin green-flecked skirt tipped with a plastic chunk trailer.
But jig-and-pig combos aren’t the only way that Jordon will flip for bass, the 42-year old pro also will use a Texas-rigged plastic worm when it comes time to flip and/or pitch for a big bass on a favored water-body like his home turf of Lake Fork.
The first key for Jordon is to get the weight right.
“The weight depends on the depth,” said Jordon. “I’ll use anywhere from a ½-ounce to ¾-ounce to even a one-ounce jig (depending on the circumstances).”
A second key according to Brauer, the 1987 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and a winner of nearly $3 million in career earnings, is to decipher where the "sweet spot" is on a dock, a patch of cover, or in a vegetation mat.
"The biggest thing is to really try to pick out the darkest areas," said Brauer. "Once the sun gets up, that's where those fish are going to get."
Brauer admits that it can be tough to get a bait, even a flipping bait, into such spots. But he also says that it is more than worth the trouble necessary to do so.
"A lot of guys just don't practice their pitching enough to be able to get it into that target zone," said the 1998 Classic champ and FLW Angler of the Year. "If they'll practice their pitching and then really concentrate on where should that fish be, the darkest, baddest, hardest to get to area, then they'll start catching a lot more fish."
What's next in mastering the art of summertime flipping? Figuring out how bass want the bait presented to them on a given day said Jordon.
Sometimes they are active, aggressively looking for a quick snack. Other times, their mood is different and matches the often lazy and hazy conditions of summertime.
“Sometimes the fish want a slow fall and sometimes they want a fast fall," said Jordon. “Sometimes they want a ¼-ounce (jig) in 30-feet of water and it takes an hour to fall and hit the bottom, but that’s what they want and (then) they’ll hit it."
A final key to consider is using the right bait profile at the end of your line to entice a big bass strike.
When using a jig, legendary bass pro Larry Nixon, a member of the exclusive $3 million dollar career earnings club, will tie on one that is heavy enough to penetrate the grass or vegetation mat.
But an equally key consideration for Nixon is to rig the jig with a plastic worm trailer, something that he believes helps to streamline the bait’s profile. That's especially important at this time of the year.
“(It helps give the jig) better penetration in the summer with a bait that is long rather than one that is bulky,” said Nixon, who has 14 wins on the B.A.S.S. tournament trail and four wins on the FLW Tour. “It helps them penetrate into holes that it’s hard for a (bulkier) bait to fall into.”
To be sure, the art of flipping for bass isn’t the end-all technique that solves every dilemma that a bass angler can be faced with on a given summer day. But it comes pretty close, no matter what type of tepid bass water you happen to be fishing.
And whether your goal is to simply enjoy a relaxing day off from work, to top an MLF pro in the next MLF Summit or Challenge Cup competition, or to one-day become one the all-time greatest fishing legends, the art of flipping out for a summertime bass is a must have technique in your angling arsenal.
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