Two techniques that go hand-in-hand, flipping and pitching. This method of catching bass is arguably the most satisfying and it gives anglers the powerful ability to cover a lot of water, quickly.
This power fishing technique has won millions of dollars on all circuits and continues to be the go-to method for fishing shallow vegetation and shore-based cover of all kinds. We look to explain the process of flipping and pitching, giving you the lowdown on the necessary tackle, zones, and other key considerations to take into account when taking on this epic method.
Although these are essentially two techniques, I’m going to refer to them as one technique as they rely on each other.
Flipping and pitching is an alternative method of moving your rod and handling your line for a cast. This technique gives anglers the ability to work shallow structure from a reasonably close distance.
The extended line that is pulled out before the cast, along with the upward movement of the rod to make the cast ensures a more delicate and soft landing - as mentioned, this means you can make these casts from a shorter distance without spooking fish.
The technique usually involves a Texas rig, but can also be used for jigs, or even spinnerbaits. The Texas rig is usually the quietest presentation for this technique, making it the go-to bait for many.
This technique is mostly used for working banks that have attractive forms of cover. When I say attractive forms of cover, I mean zones that are known to hold big fish. These heavy cover points could be docks, brush piles, bushes, grass lines, etc.
Flipping and pitching is an incredibly effective technique for covering a lot of water. There are however certain requirements in order to be successful with this technique and there are certainly anglers that are better than others when it comes to fishing this skill. We will look at some of the key elements later.
Flipping and Pitching Setup for Bass: Rod, Reel, and Line
Having the necessary confidence and trust in your tackle is absolutely vital in order to get the ultimate results with this technique. There are going to be times where you’re a bit uncertain about throwing your bait behind a threatening form of cover, as you know there’s a chance of getting cut-off.
One should make sure they have the necessary gear in order to remove that worry and throw the bait into any area where you think a bass may be sitting. Let’s look at some key requirements in all aspects of your tackle.
Best Flipping and Pitching Rod
Although a delicate casting method that certainly doesn’t require distance, flipping and pitching demands a longer, heavier baitcasting rod.
7’3” is the most all-round length for this technique as this will give you the necessary leverage for pulling fish out of some of the heaviest cover. Remember, you’re going to be casting into some sketchy situations, so you’ll want the necessary pulling power to get that bass into open water.
It is highly recommended that you go with a heavy power with a fast/extra-fast action as well. This gives that extra backbone for that sharp hookset and the required strength to get that big bass into no man’s land.
Sensitivity is a vitally important trait when it comes to flipping and pitching. You’ll often have a semi-slack line after you cast, so having a rod that’ll feel any kind of bite will drastically increase your hook-up ratio.
Best Reel for Flipping and Pitching
Having a reel specific to this technique is also notably important. You’ll want a baitcasting reel with a fast gear ratio, in order to catch up to fish as well as to take up slack quickly after getting bit.
Ideally, you’d want a gear ratio of 8:1+, but anything from 7.1:1 should be just fine.
Bass will often turn and swim toward to after getting hooked, so having a fast gear ratio will ensure that you can catch up to them and avoid the threat of giving slack.
Flipping and pitching involves having a semi-slack line after the cast. Most of the bites you’ll get when working this technique will happen on the initial fall. Having the necessary speed to take up that slack and set the hook will greatly enhance your chances of landing that fish.
Best Line for Flipping and Pitching
Once again I’m going to emphasize on trusting your tackle in tough situations, and the most important element of all: line.
Knowing you can pull hard on your line to get a bass over a branch or around a log will play a pivotal role in you landing that fish.
The most common line choice for flipping and pitching is fluorocarbon and between 20-25lbs. Modern fluorocarbon is incredibly strong and durable these days, so it’ll be able to deal with many types of cover. These lines also maintain an impressively thin diameter, giving baits a more natural and lifelike presentation.
Fluorocarbon has many other advantages, such as zero stretch and greater sensitivity. This helps ensure a cleaner hookset while not missing out on any bites.
Braid is also an option for flipping and pitching, but this would require more stained water. Guys will use braid when pitching into the hearts of vegetation or other thicker cover. The reason for this is that braid provides the ultimate in terms of strength and you can pull as hard as you like.
Terminal Tackle for Flipping and Pitching
The most popular bait/rig for flipping and pitching is the Texas rig. The Texas rig includes the following elements of terminal tackle:
Hook (preferably a straight-shank for flipping and pitching)
Bullet-style weight (tungsten is better)
The reason why we say a straight-shank is better for flipping and pitching is because a lot of the time you’ll be fishing heavy cover and you’ll need your bait to glide through vegetation effortlessly.
The straight shank hook also is preferred by many as they feel they get a more natural and lifelike action from their bait on the fall.
Hook-up ratios also tend to be better when fishing heavier cover with the straight shank hook.
The offset hook is also another popular option for the Texas rig, especially for traditional Texas rigging. The offset part of the hook by the eye allows for anglers to comfortably fit larger soft plastics on the hook. This also gives a comfortable space for the soft plastic to sit.
This style of hook is definitely better suited for more sparse cover and open water scenarios.
The bullet-style tungsten weight also plays a critical role in the action of your bait. Having the streamline shape of the weight helps get your bait through all kinds of vegetation such as mats or other thick cover.
The float stop is a must-have for any serious pitcher. This small little rubber cylinder keeps the weight and the hook in touch in order to get through any vegetation during the cast.
If the weight is separated from the bait/hook, it may result in the bait getting snagged while the weight falls through. The weight plays a crucial role in getting through any cover.
When to Flip and Pitch for Bass?
As mentioned, flipping and pitching thrives in shore-based cover. It works best when bass have moved into shallower water, which ultimately occurs when water temperatures have warmed up slightly. Here are some great times and zones to pitch your Texas rig:
A fruitful time for many techniques, but this is when flipping and pitching really stands out. Water temperatures are heading toward to 60+ zone, and bass start moving shallower.
The warmer water also causes bass to feed aggressively as they prepare to spawn. Making your way to a bank with plenty of vegetation and other bass-hugging cover is never a bad option during this period.
The beauty of flipping and pitching is that you can cover a bank extensively and efficiently.
Vegetation of all sorts
There’s nothing quite like casting into an area that just looks like it holds bass. Bass will often hang around bushes, logs, and other forms of vegetation. They feel comfortable here, and also like to ambush prey around these areas.
Flipping and pitching go hand in hand with vegetation and there’s nothing more satisfying than getting bit after casting into the heavy stuff.
Docks and other manmade cover
Working a bank that is filled with docks is always a pleasure. Bass will hug these structures either for shade or for warmth.
Many anglers would rather approach a bank of docks with finesse techniques, however, if water temperatures are ideal and bass are feeding, one can cover a lot more water with flipping and pitching - they may also get more fish.
Patience and persistence are two key traits when working any bank. The guys that keep confidence in what they’re doing while covering loads of water will often come out with the best results.
Looking for inlets, pockets, or a change in structure is key when flipping and pitching. Bass will often look to sit in these areas as it gives them more cover while again, being an ambush point.
One should always look out for current (if applicable) when working a bank. Bass will generally always face current when holding cover. This way they can preserve energy while keeping an eye on any food that may be coming their way.
Look out for inlets or pockets that have current. The chances are, there’ll be a bass there.
Rate of Fall and Bait Selection
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting your bait is the rate of fall you’re looking for after your cast. This is the speed at which your bait drops to the bottom and this should be varied with regards to different conditions.
Bait selection plays a large role when it comes to this. Thinner baits, with less bulk, will fall more freely through the water column, meaning a faster rate of fall. Bulkier, thicker baits with more limbs will have more resistance, leading to a slower rate of fall.
Anglers need to consider the conditions they’re fishing in when deciding on what bait to put on. In more ideal water temperatures, one can look to a faster rate of fall as bass are feeding more aggressively and won’t resist chasing down a faster-moving bait. Anglers can look to a more streamlined, less bulky profile for these conditions.
In colder conditions, bass will be more lethargic and less willing to react to a faster-moving bait. Having a slower rate of fall presented right in front of a bass in conditions like these will greatly increase your chances of getting bit. Choosing a bait with a bulkier profile may be a better option.
Flipping and Pitching Tips
There are many things to consider while flipping and pitching. This technique requires more patience than you think and you’re going to cast a lot more than you’re going to get bit. Having patience and trusting your technique goes a long way in becoming a successful pitcher. Let’s run through some tips:
Zone in on high percentage areas
By high percentage areas, I mean cover that just looks ‘bassy’. We all know bass enjoy hugging vegetation and other cover. Work these high percentage areas more than others and make sure you cover each spot.
“It’s a game of keeping your bait in high percentage areas” - Caleb Sumrall
Start from closest to the boat
You’ve just arrived at a little bay along a bank that is packed with mats and other heavy vegetation. You know there are bass around there, but where do you start?
Always begin with the zone closest to the boat and keep casting from there. Don’t feel like you need to rush a cast right into the heart of the cover. You love that bay for a reason, so make sure you cover every little bit of it.
Just keep on castin’
Watching some of the best in the business work a bank is really something else. They’ll make hundreds of casts, covering each key zone. One should practice flipping and improve their ability to cover water quickly while being accurate.
Probably around 98% of their casts will have no bite following it, but they remain confident in their strategy and keep working, knowing they’ll eventually get one for their bag.
The fact is, it may not be as attractive as a drop shot or a delicate shaky head. But these guys are covering crazy amounts of water and will eventually get a reaction bite from a fish.
Trust the technique and work the whole bank until you can’t no more. Each bite you get will add to your confidence within this skill.
Where there’s shade, there are bass
One of the first things to keep an eye out for when fishing a bank is shade. Bass will hug shade to keep cool in warm conditions, but also feel more comfortable when being covered by something.
Shade can come from many sources. Whether it’s a dock, a bush, or even a boat. Pitching under a dock or just under a bush/tree is always a good option.
Always eye out your next cast
Anglers should always be fully in the zone when working a bank. Looking for those cover areas or attractive inlets should become second nature and this comes with time on the water.
Always keep a lookout for your next cast, analyzing where you think a bass may be sitting. This will help with your efficiency while covering water and you’ll make more pinpoint casts.
Color is key
Color choice with bait selection is also another factor that we haven’t spoken about properly. This should be based purely on water clarity and should be kept simple.
For more stained water, one should look to a darker pattern. Junebug is always a favorite of mine for these situations.
For clearer water conditions, one should look to go as natural as possible. You simply can’t go wrong with a green pumpkin.
Pitching and flipping is a technique that every bass angler should at least try. Getting in the zone and working a favorite bank of yours could easily become one of your favorite forms of fishing, and it remains an incredibly effective technique for catching bass.
It does however require persistence and patience. You’ll end up making hundreds of casts and almost all of them won’t be successful, but once you get that bite, it makes it all worth it.
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