By I.M. Bradley
Any angler can go randomly flipping around grass or cover and catch a few bass. That should not surprise anyone, but why just settle for a few fish when you can catch more and better bass. The key to better flipping comes from knowing when to fish a quick-sinking lure or a slow-falling lure, and what to do after the lure settles to the bottom.
FLW Tour and B.A.S.S. professional angler Jason Christie always thinks flipping first when approaching a tournament. He’s so good at it, he even has a new signature series flipping rod coming out.
Christie has made his living fishing shallow.
Catching better bass for Christie comes down to how fast the lure falls, or “rate of fall.”
“For me, I pick the lure and weight by the water clarity,” he said. “The clearer the water; the faster I want the lure to fall.”
Christie says that when fishing impoundments with gin clear water, like Beaver Lake and Table Rock, he wants a fast falling lure anytime the water temperature is more than 70 degrees. When water temperature gets very cold, however, he’ll begin considering a slower-sinking jig for his flipping.
The technique of flipping is done on a short line. With the reel in free spool and thumb holding the spool motionless, the angler takes the jig in his off hand (the one not holding the rod) and swings the rod to pendulum the bait toward a target in the cover, while removing the tension his thumb has been applying to the spool. The result is that the lure hits the target as quietly as possible, right in the face of the bass. Bass then strike the lure out of a feeding response or reaction strike. Christie believes that more than 75 percent of the strikes he gets while flipping are reaction strikes.
“You know, it’s hard to tell if it’s a reaction strike or a feeding strike when you flip it in and you get a bite,” he said. “In practice sometimes, I’ll flip the jig in there, get a strike and not jerk; the bass swims a couple feet and drops the lure. I think that’s a reaction bite. Then, sometimes the bass will swim and swim and swim with it. I think that’s a feeding bite.”
Christie believes that flipping a lure next to cover or structure is like putting it into their living room. You will get a reaction of some kind from the bass.
“That’s why it’s such a good technique to catch bass everywhere across the country. It can be either a feeding response or reaction strike.”
Big Show Craw
For Christie, lure selection depends on the time of the year. A large percentage of the time, Christie uses a heavy BOOYAH jig with a soft-plastic crawfish trailer, or simply the soft plastic alone. Lately, he said he’s been using the YUM Wooly Bug (Texas-rigged, sans jig). Color combinations are black-and-blue or green pumpkin.
Selecting line for flipping is a challenge for every angler simply due to the massive number of styles and sizes. Christie keeps it simple. (Why not? It’s been the foundation of his success.)
“I like to use fluorocarbon fishing line when flipping; in fact that’s what I use almost always, regardless of technique. Although, I do use braid when flipping grass mats or sometimes around vegetation,” explained Christie.
Christie warns anglers considering sink-rate to think about more than just the weight of the jig or sinker. A bulky trailer like a 4½-inch YUM F2 Mighty Bug is going to fall a lot slower than the 3 ¼-inch Wooly Bug. The number of appendages sticking or shape – flat versus round -- out will also make a difference in the sink rate.
The style of the lure can also make a difference. A ribbon tail worm flipped into a grass mat just doesn’t work. The tail will wrap around every little piece of grass not allowing it to fall. Good soft plastics for flipping or “punching” grass features a compact body and short appendages, such as the YUM F2 Big Show Craw.
Randomly flipping around cover or structure catches a few bass, but you’ll catch more fish by following Christie’s advice and accurately flipping the right lure. It takes practice, but when you can put a jig into a coffee cup from 10-feet away, nine out of 10 times, you’ll be ready.