While filming a fishing show, I was amazed that my guest did not know how to pitch a jig. This was someone who has most likely fished as many years as I have and is considered a fairly good angler by their peers.
Now don't misunderstand. I certainly don't claim to know everything there is to know about fishing, but pitching is such an important part of the sport, I can't understand how anyone can get by without knowing how. There's just so many times, at almost every lake I visit, targets can only be reached by pitching. Even if you can get a lure into the water by other means, such as flipping, pitching almost always allows you to do so from a greater distance which can be less disturbing to a bass.
Jig-and-pork combinations, Texas-rigged worms, spinnerbaits, even crankbaits can be pitched back into boat stalls, under tree limbs and docks, just about any place you can see, and some you can't. I will caution you to use great care when pitching a lure with gang hooks, but with a little practice it really can be a great trick to add to your resume.
But there's the catch, and the reason I decided to write about the subject. Practice.
How many anglers do you know who practice? No, I'm not giving you credit for practicing at the lake when you and your chosen partner are out there searching for bass. That is called fishing, not practicing.
The top athletes practice, and that's just about anyone who is good at their game. Football players, tennis and golf enthusiasts, just about every game played with a ball calls for practice. Even hunters practice. No one expects to come home from the woods with supper, or a trophy, unless they practice shooting before they fire their gun. Think about it.
Some people buy a bass boat and, then with no experience, go straight to the lake and practice driving. That's scary, but it's a thought for another column. But why do most "fisher(wo)men" reserve their practice time for when they are fishing?
You get to the lake determined to practice, but your partner sticks a fish, and that has you feeling like you're missing out on the action or, you try a few times, but you're not very good at it. What happens of course is that you soon revert back to what is easiest for you to accomplish.
It's human nature. To learn anything properly you have to concentrate. To concentrate means you have to focus your attention on one thing. How do you accomplish that when nature is surrounding you with its beauty or your buddy is catching fish, and you're not? Plain and simple, you don't. You may try, and eventually succeed, but not without extra time and effort.
Pitching is so simple that sometimes people make it hard.
You need your favorite worm rod. Doesn't matter if it's long or short, but it does need to be stiff enough to pull a bass out of heavy cover once you get it on the end of your line.
You need a jig with the hook bent down so it doesn't snag "the Bosses" new carpet if you are in the den, or just a worm weight tied on with a granny knot. Do start out with something heavy enough that you can let the weight do the work instead of your shoulder - say a half- or even 3/4-ounce.
Stand on a short stool or the coffee table, if the wife's (the Boss) not home, so you have a foot or so between your feet and the floor. This is to replicate the difference between the deck of a boat and the surface of the water.
Knowing how to pitch does you no good if you can't hit what you are aiming at. Like pulling the trigger on a gun, any dummy can shoot a gun. It takes practice to hit something on purpose.
So, you need to have a target. Don't pick something too small and then beat yourself up because you can't hit it. Start out with something like a magazine or the jacket you left laying on the floor when you came in from work. Anything will do really, but do place your target about 10 or 15 feet from your perch. You can work on distance once you get the hang of it.
Now for the mechanics. Face your target with your rod tip pointed at about 10 o'clock. Hold your "lure" in your left hand, loosely. The important thing is to hold it no more than two or three inches in front of your reel, and close to it. One of the biggest mistakes is having out too much line.
At the same time, have the butt of your rod close to, but not touching your stomach.
Now, with both hands at the same time, move them no more than six or so inches towards your target with a bit of a downward and then upward motion at the end of this short swing. Like a half circle from about five- to 10-o'clock.
When you are about half way in this arc, release your grip on the lure, but continue through with your reel hand to the 10 o'clock position. Of course you need to release the button on your reel just as the lure is starting to swing out and pull your line off the spool. Nothing to it.
Well, at least you've started and if you didn't break a lamp or vase you can claim some amount of success. Sure, the wife is right, you could be outside pestering the dog in the back yard instead of the cat in the house, but the cat is probably more interested than the dog, or your wife for that matter.
Regardless, do it till you get it right. Practice. Practice at least until you can hit something as big as a gallon bucket at 20 feet without backlashing every time. Then, try it at the lake. Your buddy will be impressed, and so will the bass.
All the high-dollar gear and dozens of lures you own are tools. Techniques are what we use to accomplish a desired end result by utilizing those tools. Pitching is one of the most important techniques you will ever use while bass fishing. Don't go to the lake without at least knowing the fundamentals of how to utilize this skill.