(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bill Lowen loves to talk about how his Ohio River upbringing influenced his success on tour. He knows that catching five a day is a recipe for success, and oftentimes that means flipping baits into thick cover.
“So many times when we talk about flipping, we talk about big, heavy rods and big, heavy line and big baits,” he said. He keeps the first two, but when bass aren’t aggressive, he’ll replace the bubba baits with smaller offerings. Same gear, same concept, snack-sized treats.
It starts with the same 7’6” heavy-action Lew’s Custom Speed Stick that he uses with 3/8- and 1/2-ounce jigs. “This is my confidence rod,” he explained. Except that instead of the 20-pound Seaguar InvizX he otherwise flips, he might drop down a size to 17. “I’ve never been broken off on 17-pound line flipping into heavy trash,” he explained, noting that he believes most of the difference between the two might be in your head.
His first choice for this technique is his 5/16-ounce Lure Parts Online Signature Series Finesse Flipping Jig. He might also have a standard-sized jig on the deck, but when facing heavy pressure or if a cold front rolls through, he feels the need to drop down. He pairs it with a mini Strike King chunk-style trailer, but notes that it’s still a heavy-duty lure with a stout 3/0 hook.
Another favorite is the Strike King Baby Rodent. It may be small, but once again he comes prepared for battle, pairing it with an appropriately-sized Reins Tungsten weight and a 4/0 straight-shank Hayabusa flipping hook. When fish are even more skittish, he’ll flip a Strike King Shim-E-Stick. “It’s very subtle, very natural, doesn’t have a lot of kicky action, doesn’t have a lot of vibration,” he explained. He keeps the same weight and same hook as with the Rodent, though, because he wants to stick it in the nastiest laydowns and bushes. “This is the meat and potatoes of flipping.”
With the jig, especially in super-shallow, an added bonus of the light weight is that it has less of a tendency to hang up in rocks. “I can almost float this jig through those cracks,” he said. He tends not to hop it as much as “shake and slide” the jig through likely areas. He advises that anglers envision that they’re presenting the lure to a bedding bass – that means you don’t move it as much as get it to shake in place.
When it comes to setting the hook, he utilizes a “short snap sweep.” The hook won’t straighten out on you, but “it’s not necessary to crack the whip.” The hook is sharp and will do all of the work for you. “Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s going to get him right there in the roof of the mouth.”
If you want to learn some of the other secrets of how Lowen flips downsized baits on man-sized tackle, including his secret tip to make even your most high-end rod substantially more sensitive, check out his full on-the-water video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.