When the bass go deep, go after them with a flip!
When bass feel pressured they often bury themselves deeply in heavy cover, usually in shallow water where conventional casting is either impossible or at best impractical, due to dense brush piles, overhanging limbs, thick weeds or flooded timber. Since bass feel relatively secure in their deep lair, they can be fished from very close proximity, with a delicate presentation that won’t spook them.
Flipping is a specialized method of targeting bass in heavy cover and it’s done exclusively with baitcasting reels. The flipping technique is very simple, especially if you use a reel that has a flipping button. Rather than the traditional overhand cast, you use an underhanded approach that is more easily controlled for precise placement. Release the length of line necessary to reach the spot you want to target. Generally you won’t be working with more that a foot or two more line than the length of your rod. With the line held in your non-casting hand, extended off to the side a little, and the flipping button engaged, you lower your rod tip then raise it and release the line in your hand at the same time to create a slow arch. As the lure reaches its destination, lower it gently to the water surface and allow it to sink to the bottom. Basically you’re targeting holes in the cover, letting the lure sink to the bottom, hopping it a few times and moving on to the next hole. The flipping button will not allow the spool to turn, ensuring solid hook-ups and a quick extraction.
When flipping, you’ll be working with very short lengths of line and often fighting very large fish, so the first step to successful flipping is having the right gear. Flipping rods are specially designed with long handles and heavy actions to handle the stress of jerking a big bass when it becomes tangled in weeds, or wrapped around a stout limb. Heavy line of at least 17-pound test is a minimum, and going with 30- to 40-pound test would not be excessive. There’s no opportunity to play a fish and tire it out before boating it. Once you get a strike, set the hook immediately. It is not uncommon to jerk a bass straight out of the water and into the boat in one motion of the rod. Reels with flipping buttons are preferable, and since you’re working with short lengths of line, line capacity isn’t an issue. You want a reel that’s sturdy enough to withstand a lot of shock and not come apart in your hand or break off the mount.
Flipping lures are, first and foremost, weedless. Soft plastics are standard fare for flipping, and worms are one of the most used styles, but rubber-skirted jigs or a jig and a pig or soft plastic trailer are also very effective. When fishing soft plastics, use bullet weights inline, above the lure and insert the tip of your hook into the body of the plastic bait. Bullet weights that are free to slip on your line can drop over a limb, falling on the opposite side from your lure and increase your chances of becoming snagged. When flipping, some anglers like to secure the bullet weight to the line so that it doesn’t move. You can accomplish this by inserting the tip of a wooden toothpick into the hole and wedging the line tightly. Break off the toothpick flush with the hole so that the frayed end of the toothpick doesn’t snag on weeds and you’re ready to go flipping.