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Fishing Tips

SLOW, CAREFUL FLIPPING WILL CATCH WINTER BASS

Posted 12/30/2009

One of the reasons veteran angler Bobby Lane enjoys winter fishing so much is because it means flipping is the only lure presentation he usually needs to consider. The Yamaha pro keeps a flipping rod with him throughout the year, but when the water turns cold and the skies are bright, it may be the only rod he has in the boat.

"I don't believe there is a better overall presentation than flipping," laughs Lane, who readily admits the long rod, short line technique ranks as his favorite way to catch bass, "but in winter, there simply aren't any other techniques that offer the advantages flipping does.

"Winter bass become almost lethargic in the colder water, so it becomes necessary to not only make sure you get a lure right in front of the fish but also that you can keep it there. The strike zone is usually very small, and that's what flipping allows you to do."

Many anglers are surprised to learn they can often catch bass in shallow water on the coldest winter days, as long as the fish can hide in thick cover, particularly vegetation. Flipping allows a fisherman to present a large lure very quietly and accurately, control its rate of fall, and then keep the lure in the potential strike zone with as much or as little action as necessary.

"Jigs are a long-time favorite flipping lure," continues the Yamaha Pro, "but soft plastic lures offer the added advantage of being weedless. With plastic, you can literally flip a bait into a jungle of vegetation or limbs, and it will slide right through without snagging. These are the kinds of places bass like in the winter, and you have to get your lure to them because they won't leave to chase it."

Like many bass fishermen, Lane has also learned to love the technique of flipping lures through extremely thick, matted surface milfoil or hydrilla, which is common on many lakes throughout the nation. The water beneath a matted canopy is actually relatively open and often holds both bass and the smaller sunfish they feed on.

"We call it 'punching the mats,' and the primary ingredient is a heavy sinker weighing at least a full ounce and sometimes more," explains the Yamaha Pro. "You need the heavier weight to break through the vegetation because a lighter one will simply get caught in the grass and never reach the open water or the fish.

"The heavy sinker literally punches through and pulls your lure with it to the bass down below. Sometimes I let my lure fall to the bottom, then hop it several times before reeling back for another flip. Other times I'll reel it slowly back up to the underside of the vegetation and just start shaking it. How I actually work the lure depends on what the bass are doing."

Lane prefers large soft plastic creature baits with extra legs that give the lure more action, and because of the thick cover he also fishes with 65 pound braided line and a heavy action 7'6" flipping rod.

"For cold water flipping, it's important to fish more slowly and carefully than usual," concludes Lane. "Bites will normally be light, too, so you need to watch your line carefully. The main thing to remember, though, is that you can catch bass in thick vegetation in shallow water."