Any angler can randomly flip soft plastic lures around grass or cover and catch a few bass. That should not surprise anyone, but why settle for a few fish when you can catch more and bigger bass. The key to better ‘flipping’ comes from knowing when to choose between a quick-sinking lure and a slow-falling lure, and then what to do after the lure settles to the bottom.
FLW Tour and B.A.S.S. professional angler Jason Christie always thinks flipping first when approaching a tournament. His skill and commitment to the tactic is demonstrated by a new signature series flipping rod that he will introduce soon.
Christie is a product of Eastern Oklahoma who hunted on family land and fished in a local lake. His professional career encompasses both FLW and B.A.S.S. tours. On the FLW Tour he won eight tournaments, finished in the Top 10 34 times, and appeared in the Forrest Wood Cup four times – all this in only six years.
In one year on the B.A.S.S. tour Christie won two tournaments, finished in the Top 10 three times, and finished seventh in the recent Bassmaster Classic. He also won a Professional Anglers Association event on Lake Ray Hubbard near Dallas, Tex.
For Christie, catching bigger bass comes down to how fast the lure falls. “I pick the lure and weight by the water clarity,” he said. “The clearer the water; the faster I want the lure to fall.”
Christie says that when fishing impoundments with gin clear water, like Arkansas’s Beaver Lake or Missouri’s Table Rock, he wants a fast falling lure if the water temperature is more than 70 degrees. When water temperature gets very cold, however, he considers a slower-sinking jig.
Flipping is a technique where the angler makes a carefully controlled underhand cast. With the reel in free spool and thumb holding the spool motionless, the angler takes the jig in his off- hand (the one not holding the rod), and swings the rod forward to pendulum the bait toward a target while removing the thumb’s tension on the spool.
As a result, the lure hits the target as quietly as possible, right in the face of the bass. Bass then strike the lure out of a feeding response or reaction strike. Christie believes that more than 75 percent of the strikes he gets while flipping are reaction strikes.
“You know, it’s hard to tell if it’s a reaction strike or a feeding strike when you flip it in and you get a bite,” he said. “In practice sometimes, I’ll flip the jig in there, get a strike, and not jerk; if the bass swims a couple feet and drops the lure. I think that is a reaction bite. Then, sometimes the bass will swim and swim and swim with it. I think that’s a feeding bite.”
Christie believes that flipping a lure next to cover or structure is like putting it into their living room. You will get a reaction of some kind from the bass. “That’s why it’s such a good technique to catch bass everywhere across the country. It can be either a feeding response or reaction strike,” he said.
For Christie, lure selection depends on the time of the year. A large percentage of the time, Christie uses a heavy BOOYAH jig with a soft-plastic crawfish trailer, or simply the soft plastic alone. Recently he has been using a Texas-rigged YUM Wooly Bug. Color combinations are black-and-blue or green pumpkin.
Selecting line for flipping is a challenge for every angler simply due to the massive number of styles and sizes. Christie keeps it simple, which is the foundation of his success.
“I like to use fluorocarbon fishing line when flipping; in fact that’s what I use almost always, regardless of technique. Although, I do use braid when flipping grass mats or sometimes around vegetation,” explained Christie.
He advises anglers, “When considering sink-rate, think about more than just the weight of the jig or sinker. A bulky trailer like a 4 1/2-inch YUM F2 Mighty Bug is going to fall a lot slower than the 3 1/4-inch Wooly Bug.” The number of appendages, and shape – flat versus round, will also make a difference in the sink rate.
The style of the lure can also make a difference. A ribbon tail worm flipped into a grass mat just does not work. The tail wraps around every little piece of grass, preventing the bait from reaching the bottom.
“Good soft plastics for flipping or ‘punching’ grass features a compact body and short appendages like the YUM F2 Big Show Craw,” said Christie.
Randomly flipping around cover or structure catches a few bass, but you will catch more bass by following Christie’s advice and accurately flipping the right lure. It takes practice, but when you can put a jig into a coffee cup from 10-feet away, nine out of 10 times, you will be ready.