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Flipping puts the biggest bass in range

The flipping technique accounts for more big bass and tournament wins than any other method.

By LENNY CRISPINO

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000


As I flipped the 4-inch crawdad into a reed patch, the grass began to shake. I lowered the rod and jerked hard. The lunker bass on my line swam through the vegetation, the line popping reed stalks. I reached down and lipped the 8-pound beauty.

The flipping technique accounts for more big bass and tournament wins than any other method. Flipping often is called short-line fishing. It is common to be within 20 feet of your target and have less than 20 feet of line out.

A heavy-action rod -- 71/2 to 8 feet long -- matched to a conventional reel with 20-pound line is the most popular combination for flipping. You will be placing your lure in heavy grass, wood or some type of cover and will have to wrestle the bass out. You also will need 3/0 to 5/0 extra-strong worm hooks, an assortment of bullet weights and soft-plastic lures (worms and crawdads).

When rigging your lure, you want a weight heavy enough to penetrate the cover. This ranges from an 1/8-ounce to 1-ounce weight. If you can't get the lure in the cover, it's too light. Next, tie on a 4/0 hook. This is the most popular size, but you may have to adjust to match the size of the lure. I rig a plastic worm or crawdad on the hook Texas style.

To select a color, look at the water. In dark water I use a dark lure, and in clear water I use a translucent lure. I place a rattle in the lure just behind the hook. A rattle can be crucial to getting a bite because the noise helps the bass find your lure in heavy cover.

I spray scent on the bait. The scent causes fish to hold the bait longer, giving you a chance to set the hook.

Tighten the drag on your reel. With this technique, there is no give-and-take. If you give the fish line, he will bury in the cover and break you off or spit the hook.

The type of cover you fish will vary from lake to lake and season to season. Hydrilla and coontail moss is the grass most often fished in summer. These grasses form a canopy, which creates good ambush points, provides shade and gives off oxygen. During other times of the year, reeds, boat docks or grass mats may be a better choice. The best way to determine this is to fish a variety of grasses until you find the fish. When flipping, be as quiet as possible. Ease the boat to within 15-20 feet of the cover and hold the rod in your strong hand. Let out a rod's length of line and, with your other hand, pull out about 2 feet of line. Keep the reel in free-spool with your thumb on it. Swing the rod so the lure pendulums toward the cover. When you have the lure where you want it, move the hand with the line toward the reel. This allows the lure to fall into the cover with little disturbance. Always watch the water. A twitch in the line or just a movement of the grass can signify a bite. If you think you have a bite, drop the rod tip low, reel up the slack, set the hook hard and hold on.

Remember, when you're flipping, you're putting your lure where the big bass live. So be patient and persistent, and the rewards will be great.

- Lenny Crispino guides on Lake Tarpon. Call (727) 938-2379.

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