Fishing With Hank Parker: How To Improve Your Flipping Technique
The first time I saw the flipping technique was on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee in 1975 when Dave Gliebe caught 95 pounds in a tournament under horrible conditions.
Shortly thereafter, I watched legendary writer Homer Circle pitch plastic worms into floating vegetation and catch bass after bass.
Needless to say, this old spinnerbait fisherman was impressed and has made flipping one of his specialties.
Flipping involves dropping a lure into the middle of thick cover by using heavy line fished on a long rod.
Pitching is a similar technique, but there is a difference. Flipping is a matter of engaging the reel, holding the line in your hand, and making a controlled flip or drop into a target nearby. Pitching involves making longer pitches of 25 yards or more, and it’s a technique anglers use when the water is extra clear or the cover can’t be reached with flipping.
Both tactics are deadly because they enable you to put a bait where big bass live under a variety of conditions. The fish spend most of their time in or around heavy cover so it works throughout the primary fishing season.
You have to become proficient with the flipping rod to become a good flipper, and that comes with practice around the yard.
After that, the most important step is to assess fishing conditions and determine the mood of the fish. Flipping is a matter of trying to draw the reactionary strike by dropping the bait into a fish’s safety zone and making it react. Some days they’ll react impulsively, and on others you have to work on them.
Take spring, for instance, when fish are hanging around bushes and are aggressive. You drop a bait onto their heads, and they are going to bite it. If you pitch into a bush and don’t get a strike, move to the next bush.
However, if a cold front comes through and the water temperature drops 5 degrees, that presentation isn’t going to work. You may have to flip there 15 times to get a bite, let the lure sit idle or shake it to attract the strike.
The same can be said for fishing during weekdays and weekends. You may get an aggressive bite during the week, but once boat traffic picks up or the fish start feeling a lot of fishing pressure, you have to coax them to bite.
I’m a big advocate of pitching directly into the thickest spot of the cover, while other anglers say you should pick around the edge of the cover before making the presentation to the heart. I believe the biggest fish in that cover is going to be in the middle, and he’s the one I want to catch first.
Lure speed may be the second most important factor. Years ago, Larry Nixon and I shared the same shallow-water area. He won the event, while I finished down in the standings. We both flipped black/blue jigs, except he used one that weighed 1-½ ounces, while mine was only ½ ounce, which is still pretty heavy.
Nixon discovered that the fish reacted better to the faster-falling jig, so he went to the heavier bait. Obviously, I didn’t.
To this day, I always ask myself if my bait is falling at the proper speed. That has as much to do with catching fish as anything else.
When flipping soft plastics, I usually use a heavy weight to help the bait penetrate grass and brush better. But I can control the rate of fall with the way I hold the rod, which eliminates the need to constantly change weights.
You can also slow the fall rate by using bulkier plastics with legs and appendages that create more resistance when the fall.
And by all means, experiment. Even if you’re catching a few fish, a slight adjustment in lure speed or presentation can turn a good day into a great one.