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Flipping Techniques

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Hello everyone,

I was flipping over the past few days as this technique I've decided to learn this year.

I've caught fish doing this before but am havning trouble with consistency. Reason I say consistency is I believe with the low water level and cold temps here is south florida, I would think the fish would bury themselves in these mats. Although two days ago when I was out the water temp was 63 degrees, so maybe that is not cold enough in south florida for the fish to take refuge to the mats??

I have been practicing flippin a local canal here that is fairly narrow (50 feet wide) but holds good numbers of fish with the occasional 6-8 pounder caught every so often.

With the water level dropping, the canal has completely matted over with weeds with the depth anywhere between 1-6 feet below the surface.

As far as my technique, all the basics, flipping stick, tungsten weight 1-1.5 ounce pegged and a good stout flippin hook.

My question is, how do you break down an area to flip, I hit points of mats and then work in.

How often will you pump/lift/jig the bait, before pulling out for the next flip.

Of all the fish I've caught flipping, I have only felt the bite a few times, all the others were heavy when I went to lift the rod tip up. Is this normal?

I am using a netbait paca craw in red shad and pb and j colors right now, I'm not sure if the color is making a big difference opposed to bad technique?

Thanks for any input.

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In general, look for change and transitions within the mat. That could be in the form of points or cuts along the edge, or a transition from a thick mat to a thin area of the mat, or even a change in the type of plant material the mat consists of. Essentially, if it catches your eye, it probably des the same to a fish. Almost all of your bites flipping will either be on the initial fall, or within 1-2 pumps. I usually pump from the bottom all the way up to the mat and do it half a dozen to a dozen times, depending on when I'm catching fish. Your colors should be fine, I would worry more about zoning in on key fish areas within the mat, and learning to read and react to what the fish are doing.

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Bass holing up under grass mats is usually something they do after a good front moves through and usually once they've begun the spawning sequence. Earlier last week was a good example of such a front but I'm not sure if they would've started spawing yet where you're fishing. If they haven't you'll probably find more fish in deeper water (not sure that's possible in the canals?). Picture this: The fish is on bed and a big front moves through. Since the urge to spawn has been set in that fish's mind they're not going to move out very far if they don't have to. This is when they hole up in the nearest clump of thickness with a prime target being matted vegetation on top of the water. Now look at it the opposite way. If they're not spawning their first inclination is to always move to deeper water so flipping grass mats doesn't make much sense. But again, it depends on the body of water you're fishing.

Looking at your narrow canal I'd focus my attempts in the middle where the deepest water is most likely to be. There also may be a spot on the canal that has some change in contour. It may be a turn, a wider section, a spot with deeper water (even if only a foot), or anything that gives the bass something else to relate to. If the entire thing is, indeed, matted over with vegetation you may have few other options besides flipping.

Technique-wise: I find that nearly all my bites come on the fall and for this reason I try to use as light a weight as I can get away with. Sometimes you need that 1oz weight but other times you can get away with something much lighter. This isn't usually the case when punching through grass mats...you need weight. In cold or post-front conditions it may take a couple hops off the bottom and allowing the bait to sit still for a couple seconds to entice a strike.

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Excellent info guys!

James 14,

With the scenario depicted in your post, I'm thinking this weekend may be an exact situation in which you explained.

I'm probably heading to Okeechobee Saturday and it seems like bucks are on beds off and on lately. With the front moving in Saturday, do you think this will be a good time to flip mats?

All this practice is so my trips to Lake O aren't wasted with learning.

In the small canal I fish I know exactly where the deeper areas are and they are matted over. I will target this area a little more next time as I hit these places alot when I only have a couple hours to pass.

In regards to letting the bait sit on the bottom for a few seconds, in your opinion, do you think bass spit the bait almost immediately when they feel that one-two ounce tungsten weight on it? I have not let it sit for this reason, but I will let it rest on the bottom more next time out.

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Excellent info guys!

James 14,

With the scenario depicted in your post, I'm thinking this weekend may be an exact situation in which you explained.

I'm probably heading to Okeechobee Saturday and it seems like bucks are on beds off and on lately. With the front moving in Saturday, do you think this will be a good time to flip mats?

All this practice is so my trips to Lake O aren't wasted with learning.

Do a search for last year's FLW tournament on Lake O in January. It was a mat flipping parade with 8 foot rods resembling broomsticks and 80lb braid. They set the 4 day record with 106lbs. If I remember correctly the conditions were post front. Check the FLW site as I'm sure they'll have a complete run down that should help you out.

In the small canal I fish I know exactly where the deeper areas are and they are matted over. I will target this area a little more next time as I hit these places alot when I only have a couple hours to pass.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

In regards to letting the bait sit on the bottom for a few seconds, in your opinion, do you think bass spit the bait almost immediately when they feel that one-two ounce tungsten weight on it? I have not let it sit for this reason, but I will let it rest on the bottom more next time out.

I really can't say either way. I'm sure it doesn't help the situation when they feel that heavy weight but you can't catch them if the bait doesn't get down to them. Something I wanted to experiment this year was flipping with a heavy duty drop shot type rig. I would leave 4-5" of tag after tying my palomar knot and connect a heavy weight to the tag end. When the bait hits the bottom it sits a little more naturally in the water and right at eye level with the bass. Then you can jiggle it in place much easier and subtler than hopping a ounce+ weight. This would also alleviate most concerns with the fish feeling the weight in their mouth. Also, once you get the feel for the technique you won't be giving the fish much time to spit the lure out before you set the hook.

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Although two days ago when I was out the water temp was 63 degrees, so maybe that is not cold enough in south florida for the fish to take refuge to the mats??.

I was at Okeechobee a week ago Saturday. The water temp was 63, with air temp about 48 in the AM. The ONLY way I could catch fish in the morning was punching mats. Later when the water warmed up, I started catching them with moving baits.

To answer your question, I think 63 degree water temp is definitely cold enough for these (wimpy) South Florida bass to bury under those mats. Especially, if a drop in temperature preceded it.

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A flip is just a way to cast. Deliver the bait to the fish quietly, right in their wheelhouse, and be prepared to set the hook fast. The fight can be a little interesting with a big fish in cover on a short leash. I generally use a pitch to farther targets, but I'll use a flip to get to a close target that I over looked. It's also great to "poke and pray" when fish are scattered over a large weedy flat.

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"Wimpy fish" seems these Florida bass are so finicky for sure!

"Poke and Pray" is EXACTLY what I feel like when flipping or pitching.

I usually set the hook as soon as I feel the fish like I do when jig fishing, but there were several after pumping the bait a couple times I never felt anything and they were there holding the bait in their mouth!! I was wondering how many fish I have been missing on the drop, as that may be normal with this technique?? My concern, using the heavy weights similar to heavier jigs, the bass probably spits it quickly unlike texas rigged baits with 1/8-3/8 sinkers.

How many of you have had a bass hold a 1-2 ounce tungsten weight in there mouth for any significant amount of time before you knew they had the bait.

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Plenty of times. Smear Megastrike on the weight as a lube and hopefully for them to hold it longer.

Nothing so horrifying as seeing one of the most violent strikes while flipping, and realizing you never felt a bump, or saw the line twitch. If you're flipping a flat, and it takes a 3 count to hit bottom, and suddenly it gets there in a 2 count, set the hook, LOL.

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@1234567,

I live in Florida and fish canals just like you mentioned, I fish them differently. I use a fluke or any kind of plastic worm weedless and I cast on the opposite bank, I then slowly pull my bait back into the water, I get a lot of strikes as I'm entering the water. I don't use weight, I find since these canals are so shallow the fish will come up and grab it.

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@1234567,

I live in Florida and fish canals just like you mentioned, I fish them differently. I use a fluke or any kind of plastic worm weedless and I cast on the opposite bank, I then slowly pull my bait back into the water, I get a lot of strikes as I'm entering the water. I don't use weight, I find since these canals are so shallow the fish will come up and grab it.

his goal isnt to learn how to fish the canals neccesarily though. its about the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows to flipping. the canal is his practice spot, he wants to have the technique of flipping down before he takes trips to Lake Okeechobee so he will have an idea of what he is doing and what to look for...

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Flipping is something you want to have like a second nature. As I'm moving through a weed flat, I don't think, "should I make a flip or a pitch here." It's automatic - whatever works better. I think, "let me get my bait there," and whatever cast is best happens. Like driving, you don't think, "turn the wheel clockwise," you look right (well hopefully you look left first, LOL) and go there.

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Flipping takes time but once you get good at it it's like J says it becomes 2nd nature, it's good you are practicing but you can continue honeing your skill at home too, Glenn has a great way of doing this at home, he used 4" PVC pipe and cut them into I think he said 4 or 6" tall pieces and scattered them in the yard.

As far as the grass or mats are concerned I generally look for a small opening to toss into, if there are any, once I make my pitch or flip I treat it like a dropshot.

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his goal isnt to learn how to fish the canals neccesarily though. its about the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows to flipping. the canal is his practice spot, he wants to have the technique of flipping down before he takes trips to Lake Okeechobee so he will have an idea of what he is doing and what to look for...

Only suggesting another option.

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More great info guys!

As far as looking at a mat and breaking down an area to pitch that looks best is like a new fisherman arriving on a new lake and wondering where to start.

I see the mat and flip the heck out of the whole thing, now that you guys have explained a little more what to look for maybe this will help locating spots in the mat without having to really think about it.

At first it was inconceivable to me that a 1-2 ounce weight feeling as connected to it as you do that you couldn't feel the slightest bite when pumping your bait and that is what really puzzles me.

Lately, this slump the fish here were biting so light I never felt them??

Next I have to learn what aquatic plants these mats are comprised of to help me break them down a little easier. Right now it just looks like one giant weed!

I watch alot of Mikeybalzzfishing on youtube as he has 100's of flipping/punching vids on there.

I analyze the heck out of these and apply what I learned when I'm out. The bad, in the vids I can't see the breakdown of the mat to which he's fishing usually. I do like that sometimes he gives an explanation of what he's doing and what the bite is like.

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<p style="margin-left: 40px">Always think about what the mat is giving the fish and look for things that meet that same need. It's basically blanket over the water. A lot of times when you have a mat on top you have very thick vegetation underneath it. Some might disagree and I'm sure its not always true but I think the fish would want a little more room. They certainly won't sit with their eyes covered up. The ideal situation would be a mat of hyacynths on top that leave open water underneath. The mat provides a good blanket while allow the bass to see and "hear" without the wad of grass all around them.</p>

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Mats close to points,channels and wood are what I look for. As far as flipping vs pitching I do both depending on how far my target is. I may flip the front of a mat then pitch to the back or closer to the bank. You can cover an area much quicker flipping if your not out of flipping range.

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There is one other thing that I do when im in thick grass, I do not know how it compares to your mat but I will tie on a heavy jig and tie a dropshot lure just above it, depending on how deep the mat is determines how far up the line I tie the dropshot.

If you get bit this will let you know if they are on the bottom or suspended in the mat.

Once I flip it in I let it sit for about 5 seconds and give it 2 or 3 twitches on a tight line, moving the jig slightly, let it sit again and 2 or 3 more, if I do not get a reaction I will move to another spot or move to the outside of the grass or in your case the mat.

Good luck and be safe!!!

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I really like the idea of tying off a second lure above the weight or off the longer end of the tag.

I know I will try this later on but as for now, maybe it's better to learn one bait on the end of my line??

I would assume the second bait or one hanging off a longer tag doesn't get caught much on the top of the mat. It seems some of the mats around here, I'm using at least a 1.5 ounce and still getting stuck on top some of the times. Im making my entry into the mat at a very low trajectory slowing the bait down, thumbing the spool as it gets close to the target. I've seen some people make high pitches to get it to penetrate and I'll experiment with that later. As for now I'm just increasing weight to keep the entry low and softer on impact.

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I really like the idea of tying off a second lure above the weight or off the longer end of the tag.

I know I will try this later on but as for now, maybe it's better to learn one bait on the end of my line??

I would assume the second bait or one hanging off a longer tag doesn't get caught much on the top of the mat. It seems some of the mats around here, I'm using at least a 1.5 ounce and still getting stuck on top some of the times. Im making my entry into the mat at a very low trajectory slowing the bait down, thumbing the spool as it gets close to the target. I've seen some people make high pitches to get it to penetrate and I'll experiment with that later. As for now I'm just increasing weight to keep the entry low and softer on impact.

Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on what your doing, Nice job!!

But if the mat is that thick and you know they are in there I would throw a spinner around the very edge to draw them out that way.

Not sure if you have tried that yet but just a suggestion.

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Flipping is something you want to have like a second nature. As I'm moving through a weed flat, I don't think, "should I make a flip or a pitch here." It's automatic - whatever works better. I think, "let me get my bait there," and whatever cast is best happens. Like driving, you don't think, "turn the wheel clockwise," you look right (well hopefully you look left first, LOL) and go there.

This can't be overstated enough for ANY method of fishing, and to get to that level takes one thing: practice!

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This can't be overstated enough for ANY method of fishing, and to get to that level takes one thing: practice!

LOL, I talk the talk, but you should see my 1st couple trips bass fishing in April. Talk about knock the rust off! Man, it's ugly. Long winters erase skill.

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LOL, I talk the talk, but you should see my 1st couple trips bass fishing in April. Talk about knock the rust off! Man, it's ugly. Long winters erase skill.

LOL, we must have similiar April outings. No matter how much I "prepare" for the first day of the season, the first cast is almost guaranteed to find the nearest tree.

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No matter how much I "prepare" for the first day of the season, the first cast is almost guaranteed to find the nearest tree.

Even if you're dropshotting over a midlake dropoff ;)

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