Updated: Jan 28, 2019
Written by Sam M
Flipping and pitching have become interchangeable words in the fishing community but they are two separate techniques. The one hand on the bait, one hand on the rod making an underhand cast that we see called flipping is actually pitching. Flipping is using a set amount of line pulled out of the reel by hand to make extremely short, accurate casts with a long rod to shallow water cover. For the purpose of this article I will refer to flipping as fishing shallow cover without making a full cast. Flipping shallow areas is one of the most effective ways to target bass hanging tight to cover, docks, bushes, trees, stumps, and grass are all prime targets when flipping shallow cover. Dirty water, sunny days, and high water relative to normal lake levels are all excellent times to target fish that are hanging tight to cover as it will make the fish hang around cover much more predictably. The name of the game when targeting these fish is accuracy, putting a bait in the right spot as close to cover as possible, and to do this weedless baits are the best options.
Here is an image of the true "Flip" method. Bringing an arm length of line out of the reel, and gently placing the bait in the water.
Here's an image of "Pitching", which is what 90% of people are usually doing. Grabbing the bait, and letting it pendulum from the rod tip, and using your wrist to propel the bait further.
When flipping I like to keep my colors simple and universal. Black and blue has its place in the dirtiest of water but if it is not chocolate milk I opt for a lighter offering. Green pumpkin is the most universal color in fishing, everything in the water fish are eating has some green pumpkin shade in it, and this is my starting point. If I find myself near bluegill during the gill spawn I like to add a touch of orange to give the fish something to cue in on, and if I am seeing crawfish I am going to add in accents to match the local craws. Blues, reds, and oranges are my go-to colors for accents.
Here is an excellent image for what kinds of accents work well. This is a Strike King Rodent in Falcon Craw. It's red on one side, green pumpkin on the other, with a bit of gold glitter throughout. In some regions of the country, red craws are very common, however they have a bit of green in them, too. So this color scheme is killer.
Flipping jigs, Texas rigs, and punch rigs are my favorite ways to approach these situations in no particular order. As jigs are the least weedless of the bunch even with a weed guard I opt for them in what I would consider light cover situations such as docks or weed lines. The large profile of a jig is going to allow the bait to get to the bottom the fastest, allowing for a, eat or miss out situation for the fish and does a great job at triggering reaction strikes. To slow the fall down I will opt for a zoom speed craw or a fat albert twin tail grub if needed with very active feeding fish higher in the water column. Otherwise I opt for a zoom big salty chunk for the other 90% of my jig fishing. While there are plenty of jig heads to choose from I opt for a half ounce flipping head in this situation. When Fishing cover such as docks I am focusing on two spots, the front pilings, and the back pilings to fish as many as possible focusing on the shady side of the pilings exclusively. When fishing docks I am using a shorter rod that helps getting under and around docks easier, an ALX cyclone is probably my favorite rod I have used in this situation as it is a 6’10 heavy, giving me enough backbone for a hook set while still being short and manageable. I opt for 17-20lb fluorocarbon but people will push it up to 25lb for docks with metal wiring, ropes and the largest of fish.
When fishing heavier cover I am going to opt for a pegged Texas rig or punch rig on heavier setups with heavier line in order to remain weedless and ensure I am going to get the fish out of cover. When the fish are extremely active I am opting for a bait with a lot of action such as a speed craw or a rage craw. When they are less active and tight to cover I am using a beaver bait, while I personally believe these are personal preference Missile Baits D bombs, Zoom Z Craws, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beavers as well as Strike King Rodents are my personal favorite. Not only do they have less action but also the tight profile allows the bait to come through the thickest cover without snags. Thick laydowns, bushes and standing timber can have some really nasty snags that will eat jigs alive but an embedded hook in a Texas rig comes through no problem. While the punch skirt is meant for punching first and foremost I love to use them when flipping cover that does not allow for a jig, while still getting the jig profile. When flipping in these heavy cover situations once again accuracy is the name of the game, even more so than docks. In the thickest of bushes or laydowns you may have a cereal box sized opening to put your bait, and if you miss you’re going to shake up the cover trying to get your bait back, and you will lose your opportunity to fish them. When fishing these types of cover I want to fish outside to inside, ending at the base of the structure where the biggest fish are going to be holding tight, and in short time situations I will skip the outside completely aiming for the dead center for the biggest bites. A half ounce weight pegged on 20lb fluorocarbon is a minimum for me and I will bump up to 25lb in the nastiest of cover, such was the case I faced on Kentucky lake this past spring, breaking fish in cover on 20lb. The key for me when fishing these types of cover is making one perfect cast to the dead center and making sure the bait has enough free line to get to the bottom of the cover without swinging freely back to the boat, not only pulling the bait out of the strike zone but also pulling the bait into snags. I am using a 7’1 G Loomis NRX heavy rod as my lighter cover rod in this situation stepping up to a 7’3 JB custom Rods frog n’ rat for heavier cover. For the heaviest cover I am opting for an ALX Zolo Brawler or a Dobyns Champion Extreme 746 in order to drive the hook home and either yank the fish out of cover, or use the rod to keep the fish pinned while I go in and get them by hand.
For both this and jig fishing I am using the fastest reel I can, either a Shimano Chronarch MGL 8.3:1 or a Shimano Curado 200i xg both with upgraded drag washers so I can absolutely lock down my drag and ensure the fish can’t turn their head back into cover. The brand is not important in either category but I would much prefer my flipping setups to be my highest quality setups. The amount of sensitivity required in the rod to detect subtle bites as well as a reel where the drag is going to be rock solid and the gears aren’t going to be destroyed by winching on fish hung up in heavy cover.