Pitching and flipping a soft plastic lure on a Texas rig or a jig are great techniques for catching largemouth bass. Though many anglers are already familiar with this process, there is always room for improvement, so this week we will be giving our tips on how to improve your pitching and flipping game.
These techniques usually rely on having a decent baitcasting reel, but the rest of your gear is going to depend on several factors. If you are pitching and flipping into heavy vegetation and cover, you'll likely want a heavier tungsten weight, stronger line such as braid, and a longer heavy action rod. If you are working around and under docks, you'll probably want to have some good fluorocarbon, a smaller tungsten weight, and perhaps a 7.5' heavy action rob.
Some of these options are going to be based purely on preference, but it is crucial to use strong line and a sturdy rod when working heavy vegetation. Nothing will put a pit in your stomach worse than hooking up with a monster, only to have your line break when you try to pull him out of the thicket.
Pitching vs. Flipping
These terms often get thrown around interchangeably, but they are in fact two different styles. Though similar, each technique has its time and place and its individual merits.
Let's start with pitching. Pitching is probably the most used of the two on a day to day basis.
To pitch a lure, you'll swing your bait out to where you want it. Now you'll want to engage the reel and jig it up and down a bit. When you're done with that spot, you'll want to reel in the lure and hit another spot. With pitching, you can hit targets as far as twenty or thirty feet from your position.
Flipping is a little different. With this style, you'll flip your lure out a much shorter distance. Five feet is a good rule of thumb as to how far you'll want to put your bait away from the boat.
This is where the difference between flipping and pitching really stands out. Instead of reeling your lure back to the boat, you're going to take the line at the base of the rod with your reeling hand and pull a loop out while bringing your rod tip up. This will bring the lure back to you without ever reeling it back in. Now you are ready and in position to make another flip. Swing your rod tip back out while letting the loop in your line fall back towards the rod, creating another flipping cast. This is a faster technique for hitting several spots in quick succession or working the same spot to really fluster a stubborn bass.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The most important part of these techniques is also the most overlooked. Practice is crucial to improving these precision based styles. And the best part is that you can practice virtually anywhere.
One way to practice is to go outside with the rod and reel that you plan on using. Throwing rubber casting plugs is a great alternative to pitching a jig or weighted hook. These plugs are safer and easier to practice in the yard, and they are relatively inexpensive. They also come in a variety of sizes, so choose the one that is going to best mimic the weight you will be using come time to fish.
Set up a milk crate or a short step stool to stand on and set a coffee can five to ten feet away from where you will be. I've seen people practice without the step stool, which is fine, but I like to be elevated to simulate being on the deck of a bass boat.
You can set the can on its side to practice skimming the water before gently putting your lure in the exact spot that you want it. After you've got that technique down, you can stand the can upright and practice dropping your lure into a pocket.
Now that you've got proficient at this distance, you can move the can further away from yourself and practice at longer ranges.
It is important to keep this skill set sharp, so practicing even after you've got the techniques down is crucial. One way to make this exercise feel less like a chore, and more like a fun activity is to get a few of your more competitive bass fishing friends to join you and make it into a game. Be careful though, this game can become intense and addicting!
Now that we've gone over the differences between pitching and flipping and have offered a few ways to practice these techniques, go out and try them out on the water. And be sure to check out our Store to pick up some tungsten bullet weights for your pitching and flipping!
Remember, the catch of a lifetime can happen at any moment!
Chase Buie is Co-Owner of Flipside Outdoors and writes for the website’s blog.