An Expert Guide to Flipping Baits for Bass
Fishing Expert Brayden Sharp covers the different rigs and baits to use, where to fish, and the gear you need to be the most successful when flipping baits for bass.
It’s the hottest time of the year right now pretty much all across the country. The water is at its peak temperature and the oxygen level in the water is as low as it will get. That means only one thing: bass are moving extra shallow to find shade from the sun. Bass are going to stick tight to cover, especially grass, because grass produces oxygen for them, so they will sit in the thick vegetation during this time of year.
Let’s flip into the details and cover everything from different rigs and baits to use, where to fish, and the gear you should use to be the most successful when flipping baits.
Jigs are probably some of the oldest baits ever fished. Jigs consist of a lead or tungsten head, a silicon or rubber skirt, and some form of a plastic trailer. Jigs overwhelm some people because you can do just about anything with one. There are so many different styles of heads and different purposes for each one. My favorite head is anything that is pointed. A pointed head is a must because it can bust through grass or any type of cover. Jigs work great for a bigger profile compared to the other baits on this list. Jigs will forever catch bigger fish than any other.
The Texas rig is a tried and true bait that can be used in any situation. The Texas rig consists of a lead or tungsten weight threaded on the line and a straight shank or extra wide gap (EWG) hook tied on, paired with your favorite plastic trailer. Texas rigs are versatile because you can get a weight as small as one-sixteenth-ounce all the way up to two ounces.
An advantage of throwing tungsten is that the size of the weight is smaller since tungsten is a dense metal. The added density also increases sensitivity, which allows you to feel even the smallest of bites. WOO! Tungsten™ is my favorite brand of weight to use because it never chips and it includes the weight label on each piece of tungsten to ensure that I know what weight I’m throwing.
The Tokyo rig is a newer type of bait that has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. The Tokyo rig is very similar to the Texas rig in that they both include a hook and lead or tungsten weight. The difference in the Tokyo rig is that it includes a stiff dropdown wire to allow the weight to be just a few inches below the bait. The biggest advantage with the Tokyo rig is that bait can stay a couple of inches off the bottom, which is especially useful in soft bottom areas.
Right now is the best time to throw craw baits. Craw baits have the most action and really entice the fish to bite. Craw-style baits have longer arms that move and flare to create movement. I throw darker colors when there is low light (if it’s cloudy or in the morning or evening) and dirty water. Then I’ll choose a natural color (like in the image below) when it is nice and sunny or if I’m in cleaner water.
In cleaner waters, I will throw more bait in watermelon or green pumpkin colors. My favorite baits to use are by the brand ZMan® because the baits are incredibly stretchy, which saves a lot on plastics.
Creature bait is also a type of bait that moves and flaps a lot. Creature baits are any baits that have several appendages. These baits are typically long, slender, and feature several arms that move. Below is an example of black and blue or Junebug-colored baits that work for fishing in darker areas.
Beaver-style baits are probably the most used plastic when flipping heavy cover. These baits are big and bulky and attract some of the biggest fish. While these baits do not have the most action, but they thrive by being a big bait and they are able to fish in any season.
Senkos are the most versatile, soft plastic baits across all categories. Senkos can be fished in a variety of techniques, which makes that type of plastic one of the most well-known. These baits have the least amount of action, making them perfect for stubborn fish. Senkos also thrive in the thickest of cover because of their appendages.
Tube baits are probably the least used bait when flipping, but this can sometimes make them the best bait to use. Tube plastics are typically known to be thrown on a jig head in rocks, but next time other baits aren’t working for you, pick up a tube on your flipping rig and try it out — maybe that’s just what you need.
Grass is probably the most popular cover across the country. Grass in the summertime is as thick as it will ever get throughout the year. Bass will sit in the very heart of grass patches to keep cool and to get the most oxygen. Braided line works best for this location because the braid will rip through the grass to get a good hookset.
Wood can be tricky to flip, but once you figure it out, you will stop by every tree. Wood can cast the biggest shadows, which allows bass to sit under its shadow. Some of the biggest bass will be found under tree arms. When you can get away with it, using a fluorocarbon line works best because the plastic line does not dig into the wood as braid will.
Weeds and Lily Pads
Weeds and lily pads can provide some of the thickest cover you will ever fish. This stuff is nasty. This type of cover requires you to throw heavier gear overall. However, because this type of cover is so thick and gives off a lot of shade, it can allow the bass to spread out across a big lily pad flat, so it’s worth trying.
Selecting a rod is probably the most important decision you need to make from all of your gear. Since the flipping technique is throwing the bait in the thickest of cover, you need a heavy enough rod to get those fish out of the cover. The best rods for flipping specifically are seven feet, six inches to eight feet long, heavy or extra-heavy rods in a fast or extra-fast action. These will help you get a solid hookset even in the thickest of cover. The extra-fast action creates a soft play in the rod tip but hits the backbone very early. These will provide the best flipping stick setup and are used across the industry.
A high-speed gear ratio reel is a MUST. With flipping, you are making several short flips rather than long casts covering water. Going with an eight-speed reel or faster helps you to get the bait in the boat quickly and back out again to have the opportunity to catch more fish. Daiwa makes a “Pitching and Flipping” special reel that has a free spool to make flipping effortless. This reel also has a 100-millimeter handle to really give you the power to winch those fish in.
Since flipping is in the heaviest cover, you need your line to hold up against the hardest hooksets. Braided line works the best for most applications. Throwing a 50- to 70-pound braided line will allow you to pull those fish out of any type of cover.
In some applications, fluorocarbon can work the best, such as in sparse cover with cleaner water. That being said, using a 17- to 30-pound line can keep your line invisible when throwing at bass in cleaner water. Fluorocarbon lines do have stretch, so that would not be the best in heavy cover and water deeper than 10 feet.
The hook is one of the most underrated pieces you have in your gear. This is the piece of equipment that connects you to the fish. When flipping, you can either go with a straight shank hook or an extra-wide gap (EWG). Straight shanks have a typical round bend. Special flipping hooks have big bait keepers to hold that bait on while it takes a beating from going in and out of thick cover.
You can also go with an EWG; these keep the bait level and save on plastics for the most part. EWG hooks have a deeper bend to allow the plastic to fold down much further than a typical round bend or worm hook would. On both of these hooks, I’m throwing at least a 4/0 sized hook, but most often a 5/0 or 6/0 size is what really has the strength to hold up to those bigger fish.
For weights, you can use either lead or tungsten. Lead is more common because it is cheaper. If you can make the jump to tungsten though, you will not regret it. As I mentioned earlier, WOO! Tungsten is definitely my favorite brand of weight to use; it doesn’t chip, and it includes a weight label on each piece of tungsten so you always know what weight you’re throwing.
If you have any questions or want to find the perfect tackle for your situation, reach out to a Fishing Expert here on Curated. We'll be happy to get you all geared up!