No Flipping Bites? Think Thin by Kyle Patrick
Stop number two of the Bassmaster Central Opens on Lewis Smith Lake proved to be an extremely challenging tournament. With water levels dropping throughout practice, it made finding a consistent pattern very difficult. I found out quickly that the shallow bite far up the creeks was likely to play throughout the event, but I knew it would be tough to find areas that had multiple keeper fish. I knew right away that if things went write I could cash a check in this tournament flipping. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as I had planned but despite that shortcoming, I did learn a great deal about sticking with flipping throughout a tournament.
Many fishermen have a favorite flipping bait: a jig, some sort of creature bait, maybe a worm. The hardest part about having favorites in bass fishing is that bass don’t share the same love for your favorite bait throughout the year or even the day. My favorite flipping bait is a jig. I love throwing the jig across the country at any time of the year. However, this tournament quickly eliminated that bite for me.
The spotted bass and largemouth that were positioned next to laydowns and other cover up the creeks were not interested in a jig. When the water cleared you could see their reaction to a jig, and it was consistent a negative one. I sat at one laydown and flipped many different baits into it. Ike mini flipping jig, no go. A Destroyer, no go. This went on until I started playing around with smaller finesse presentations. The bait that did it for me came from pure luck. I had switched to a ¼ oz tungsten weight with a 3/0 EWG superline hook. This was because I had downsized my weight and hook to accommodate any smaller baits I wanted to try. Finally, I got sick of getting no bites and put the Missile Baits Quiver 6.5 on. I flipped it in a laydown I had not gotten a bite in all day and got snagged. I got it off and my bait was messed up, so I took it off and bit about an inch off the top and rigged it. I flipped it back in and caught a 2 lb. spotted bass. Little did I know this would be the golden ticket to understanding the flipping bite.
The trial-and-error periods in any given event practice or during the tournament are key points that allow you to expand on a pattern. Knowing that these fish wanted a thin profile bait with a slower fall rate allowed me to expand on the flipping bite I had already found. The bass did not want movement in the bait when it fell. They needed a vertical and ultra-natural presentation which was what the Quiver 6.5 provided. (Many fishermen think about what looks good to them and not necessarily what the bass actually want)
I narrowed the technique down to a Quiver 6.5 PB&J on a 3/0 Superline EWG hook with a ¼ oz tungsten weight. I used a 7’4 medium heavy rod with 22-pound test fluorocarbon. The 22-pound test actually gave me that fall rate that I needed. 17-pound test was what I had started with, but it seemed like it was sinking just a bit too fast. I did not want to downsize my weight because the ¼ oz weight sat perfectly flush with the bitten-off Quiver 6.5. This resulted in fewer snags when flipping behind laydowns.
As expected after practice, the flipping bite proved to be the main deal for me. However, I needed to find something that could get bites in between the laydowns as I was transitioning. What I quickly resorted to was throwing a ¼ ounce buzzbait with a Missile Baits Craw Father on the back. This provoked pure reaction bites. However, the bass would not bite a ½ oz buzz bait due to the size of the blade and the noise it made. I downsized to a ¼ oz silent buzzbait with a slightly shortened Craw Father (3/4 of an inch bitten off) black red flake color. The rod I used was a 7’4 medium heavy paired with 17-pound fluorocarbon. Many people use braid with this setup. However, I feel as though you miss more fish with braid throwing a buzzbait. I also could make much more accurate casts with that 17-pound fluorocarbon.
My last technique that played on the main lake was throwing a light shaky head. My prior experience with the flipping bite allowed me to narrow down much more quickly what the bass wanted. I paired a ¼ oz shaky head with a 4.5 Quiver in Sunfish IPA color. This bait was the perfect length for my shaky head and the color was great for the clear water with the slight cloud cover we had. I threw this bait around docks that had brush piles submerged under them or close by. The rod I used for this technique was a 7-foot medium fast spinning rod with 15-pound braid paired with a 12-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Although this tournament didn’t pan out as I had wanted. I did learn a ton about ways to get bites sticking with what I wanted to do. There are fish in every lake that can be caught the way you want to fish. However, you must be open minded and ready to make subtle changes to any given technique to find success.
Here is what I did wrong throughout this trip:
- Committed to one area flipping for too long, cutting down on the time I had to find new water
- I got too comfortable in practice with what I found. Not having different water where I thought I could catch a keeper fish hurt me
- I did not cover enough water in the areas that I had found. I got stuck fishing too slow which is against my fishing style. NEVER GO AGAINST INSTINCTS!