Ontario Bass FishingLargemouth & Smallmouth Bass Fishing Techniques
Toss the Versatile ‘Flipping Jig’ for More and Bigger Bass
The flipping jig, or jig-and-pig as it is commonly called, is one of the simplest looking baits on the market that routinely accounts for huge stringers of bass year after year. For the majority of anglers, throwing the bait to the odd dock or tree is the extent of its usage. For those in the know, however, the sky is the limit when it comes to where and how to throw this versatile lure. Learn the ins and outs of the ‘jig-and-pig,’ and watch your catch rate grow in leaps and bounds.
The Lure at a Glance
The flipping jig is a basic bait that is made up of a weighted head, oversized hook and skirting material while relying on a plastic or pork trailer to finish the package off. Make sure your collection has an assortment of jigs that weigh between ¼ and ½ ounce and are in a variety of colours. (Black, blue, green and brown are my most productive hues.) For trailers, the choices are endless. Try any of the pork or plastics available including craws, frogs or lizard shapes. Experimentation is definitely the key when it comes to types, colours and size, and finding what produces best is all part of the game when it comes to flipping for bass.
The Shallow Water Game
This is the most commonly utilized aspect of flipping jigs. Docks, moored boats, blown-in slop and trees are all excellent structure to target, in fact, anything a bass can seek shelter under will work fine. A flipping jig allows the angler a quiet, stealthy approach while offering the bass a large, slow-moving target to strike. The majority of shallow water cover you find on a lake can be hard to fish with conventional lures due to the small strike zone and hook-fouling structure – not so for a flipping jig as the weedless design and vertical presentation make getting at Mr. Bigmouth a breeze.
Shallow water fishing with a flipping jig calls for a quiet presentation (little or no splash is best) and accurate casts (as close to cover as possible.) Making a large splash or dinging your bait off the side of a tree will usually result in a largemouth fleeing the scene. Practice your flipping and pitching techniques before you hit the water to ensure a productive day on your home lake.
Weedlines and Clumps
This is one of my favourite areas to throw a flipping jig, and has accounted for many large fish coming into my boat over the years. Largemouth bass are ambush feeders, meaning that they will conceal themselves in cover and wait for prey to swim by before striking. Weedlines and weed clumps, both in shallow and deep water, hold an enormous population of bass waiting for an easy meal. Not all weed areas are created equal, however. Check that the weeds you are fishing are healthy and green, exhibit a definite edge, and have holes and pockets throughout. These are the type to key in on.
When fishing weedlines, I prefer to work parallel with the edge, flipping my bait ahead of the boat and bringing it slowly back. Letting your jig fall on a slack line to the bottom before giving it a few lifts and hops is a tried and true technique. Many times the bass will clobber the jig on the initial fall, so be ready to set the hook hard if this occurs.
I fish weed clumps a bit differently as I like to fish the edge first, making my way around the entire clump, before literally dunking the inside of the weeds with a jig. Depending on the mood and conditions you are faced with, fish may be stationed on the outside of the clump, or buried deep in the core. Dropping your flipping jig into each and every hole and pocket that you come across will ensure that you have worked the area over thoroughly.
This can be a deadly technique for largemouth bass, especially during the spring and fall periods. While the water is generally cooler, rock slabs and shelves attract and hold the warmth of the sunlight, making the water surrounding them significantly warmer. Largemouth bass flock to these areas during prime times like this to soak up the sun, leaving the angler an opportune moment to “flip” some into the boat.
Tossing flipping jigs around these rock areas is a great way to thoroughly cover the entire area in a slow and methodical manner. A flipping jig represents a crawfish perfectly during these conditions, and you will find that this is the major prey species for these “rock-orientated” bass. A slow drag and lift seems to be the best approach when hitting the rocks, as does “dead-sticking” the bait for a short length of time. Pay attention when working the lure, as many times hits will be light, resulting in a “spongy” feeling at the end of the line. (If in doubt, set the hook on everything…)
Choosing a flipping jig with built-in rattles is a plus as the sound they produce acts as an attractant. Applying a commercial scent product to your bait will also trick the fish into holding on to the bait a little longer to ensure a positive hook set. (Crawfish scent is the only product I use.) One thing I can’t stress enough is to use flipping jigs with high-quality hooks – Owner and Mustad are both reliable and sticky sharp.
Flipping for bass in overlooked areas is a sure-fire method for catching non-pressured largemouth. Next time you hit your favourite lake, do so with a flipping stick and a handful of jigs, and prepare for a day full of surprises.
by Justin Hoffman