UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Inside flipping and pitching

FLW Tour pro J.T. Kenney tweaks his flipping method for heavy vegetation.

Having a hard time figuring out why you're not catching bass up shallow when guys are winning tournaments left and right flipping bushes and grass? Chances are there is some little nuance these anglers have figured out in the rigging or preparation for their flipping and pitching that is giving them an edge.

Professional anglers are much like NASCAR crew chiefs in their craft. They are studying and tweaking the minutest of details that will give them a slight advantage over their competition and, more importantly, the fish.

But you don't have to be a professional angler to employ a new trick or twist on your local waters that will lead to catching more and bigger bass.

There are endless ways to tweak your equipment and lures to get the most out of your presentations. We sampled some of the "big sticks" on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour for their "hush-hush" tweaks to flipping and pitching approaches.

J.T. Kenney's heavy vegetation tweaks

J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., has proven his prowess with a flipping stick on the mats and mazes of vegetation on Florida lakes like Okeechobee and Toho. But his success is as much about his preparation as it is about his tournament strategies.

J.T. Kenney will use a rubber peg to hold the weight in place while still allowing it to slide down the line when pressure is applied."The first thing I do is powder coat my tungsten weights," Kenney said. "From there, I tie a snell knot to my straight-shank hook. Then I superglue my knot and use a rubber stopper to peg my sinker to my bait. I also thread a Sweet Beaver, or whatever bait I'm throwing, on the hook so I can pull the eyelet completely through the bait before pointing the hook back into the plastic. At the angle the line comes off the hook eye, it will actually act as a keeper, holding the bait in place."

All of that sounds simple at first, but fully understanding the nuances of each element will help beginning anglers get more proficient with their approach. Kenney powder coats the weight to give it a slick finish, making his offering more streamlined for easier vegetation penetration. You can buy powder-coat paint for about $3.99 for a 2-ounce jar that will paint more than 100 jigheads or bullet weights.
J.T. Kenney will punch the hook eye out of the bait so the line and hook eye act as a keeper.
The key to successfully powder coating a weight is to heat it with a lighter or other heat source to a temperature hot enough to adhere the paint but not so hot that it scorches the paint when you dip it. It takes some practice and experimentation. The larger the weight, the longer it has to be heated. Using toothpicks or small nails to plug the ends will make life easier on you as well. Be sure to clear the holes before the powder paint dries.

Tying the snell knot is a little more difficult than your average Palomar knot, but the results can be outstanding when done properly. The adjacent illustration should help with the tying of the knot. The key is to keep each wrap on the hook shank snug and close to the last wrap. Then cinch the knot down by pulling the tag end through while holding the wraps in place. If done correctly, when you slide a slip-sinker down on the hook, you will see the hook point curl up like a scorpion tail. This action causes most bass to get hooked solid in the roof of the mouth.

The snell knot works effectively when you peg a bullet sinker as well, but precautions must be taken. The most important element is how tightly you snug the weight.

"If you peg the weight down so tight that it doesn't slide up the line, the hook won't kick, and you might as well just tie a Palomar knot on an offset hook," Kenney said. It has to have room to move so when you set the hook, it slams against the weight and shoots the hook upward.

"Lots of guys are putting hitchhikers on their hooks to hold their plastic in place on a straight-shank hook," Kenney said. "I do that when I'm practicing, but in a tournament I actually thread the hook all the way through the lure."

Andre Moore's heat shrink and homemade hooks

Who says all your fishing supplies have to come from the tackle shop? Pro Andre Moore buys a key component of his flipping equipment at the local electronics store. "I take a piece of small 8- or 10-gauge heat shrink that you use to insulate wires and melt it onto a straight-shank hook to act as a keeper," he said.

Andre Moore will add a piece of heat-shrink rubber tubing made for wire insulation to the hookMoore cuts the heat shrink into a small 1/8-inch piece at a very sharp angle. He slides the heat shrink onto an untied hook so that the sharp end is pointing up toward the eyelet. Then he heats the heat shrink until it melts onto the shank. As it cools, he bends the pointed end away from the shank so that when it hardens, it acts as a soft-plastic keeper on the hook. He's also careful to melt it onto the shank below the hook eye enough to leave room for the snell knot to be tied.

Many anglers have snapped off big bass in heavy vegetation on 65-pound braid, leaving them with that "gut-punch" feeling in their stomach. To their bewilderment they pull up their line to find it perfectly severed. Was it a sharp rock? No, it was the tiny gap that is found when manufacturers bend the hook shank to form the hook eye. While some anglers carry soldering irons to fuse hook eyes closed so braided line won't slip into the crevice and sever on the hookset, Moore went to work on a permanent solution.

The result of his work is the BMF Hook that is coming to market from Reaction Innovations. The hook has a solid hook eye and wide gap along with two barbs on the inside of the shank. In a black-nickel finish, the hook alleviates all of the problems with open-gap hook eyes.

Matt Herren's fluorocarbon line and jig hooks

"I've gone almost completely away from braided line since I've started flipping with fluorocarbon fishing line," said pro Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala. "I get all the advantages of braid as far as strength plus the benefit of having a smooth, invisible line. I just don't like braided line because of the sawing effect it has."

Large-diameter fluorocarbon line withstands a ton of abuse with its abrasion-resistant coating. Because of the invisible properties of fluorocarbon, it's easy to upsize your line without compromising stealthy properties of thinner monofilaments. The trick with fluorocarbon in large diameters is to condition the line to make it easy to cast and pitch. Sometimes the bigger line is hard to deal with, but using a line conditioner can alleviate some of the "memory" problems with large-diameter fluorocarbon.

"I'm also a firm believer in flat-eye jig hooks on all my jigs," Herren said. "With a straight eye that is perpendicular to the hook shank, your knot can slide up or down on the eye and change the angle of your jig. Then, you go to set the hook, and the point is actually snapped down and away, and you'll miss a fish completely."

Andy Morgan's brass wire and jig strands

Andy Morgan coils copper wire around the shanks of his worm hooks to act as plastic keepers.Another option for a plastic keeper on your hook is easily made in seconds with common brass or copper wire. Pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., takes a small-diameter brass wire and wraps it around the shank a few times just below the eyelet and leaves the tag end sticking out. Then when the plastic bait is threaded onto the hook the wire holds it in place.

Morgan fishes jigs more than anything and has taken to tying custom skirts with meticulous precision. "I get real picky about how many strands my jig skirt has and how much of each color it has in it," Morgan said. "Sometimes I might only have one little strand of orange in there for contrast. But the main thing I'm concerned with is altering the fall of the jig. A lot of times I just go up on line size to slow the fall of a small jig. But adding extra strands to the skirt can also slow a jig's fall."

He admits there are times he wants a fast fall on his jig, and he'll tie a real thin, low-strand-count skirt. "When everyone is catching fish, how your jig falls really may not matter," he said. "But in tournaments like the FLW Tour event on Pickwick this year, I was catching bass and lots of people were struggling. In those tough tournaments I think it does matter. And it gives me a lot of confidence with a tough bite."

Jay Yelas' braided line notes

"I flip braid a lot in dense cover," said pro Jay Yelas of Tyler, Texas. "I don't always peg my sinkers though. Sometimes I like the weight to be free, like when I fish a worm. Other times, like when I fish a tube, I want the weight pegged to the hook because the tube has a more tantalizing spiraling action when it's pegged.

FLW Tour pro Jay Yelas often colors his braided line to give it a camo appearance."A lot of people use fluorocarbon leaders tied with blood knots when flipping and pitching braided line," Yelas said. "I just don't trust that knot."

"Lots of guys will also opt for camouflaging braided line with a colored marker," Yelas said. The marker can help mask the line and sometimes even marking the line in patches makes it more concealed in heavy cover.

"I will always tie a Palomar knot when I fish braid because a clinch knot will sometimes slip with it," he said. "I still use a clinch knot or a Palomar knot with monofilament, but that's mostly when I'm fishing in shallow water with sparse cover."

Yelas has also employed new technology in his flipping and pitching. "Many guys who cast right handed will flip with left-handed reels so they never have to switch hands to reel. This is critical when you flip or pitch because often the bite comes as soon as the bait hits the water," he said.

"With a Daiwa Viento reel, I can actually flip, engage the reel and even jig the bait all with one hand." The Team Daiwa Viento reel comes with a "Twitchin' Bar" that allows anglers to take up line by pressing a button.

"It's perfect for flipping," Yelas said. "You can take up as much or as little line as you want by how hard you press on the bar. If you just tap it, it will engage the spool, and if you press it hard it will turn the spool five or six times."


Snell knot

Insert one end of the leader through the hook
Insert one end of the leader through the hook's eye, extending one to two inches past the eye. Insert the other end of the leader through the eye in the opposite direction pointed toward the barb of the hook. Hold the hook and leader ends between your thumb and forefinger and left hand. The leader will land below the hook in a large loop.

Take the part of the large lower loop that is closest to the eye and wrap it over the hook shank and both ends of the leader toward the hook
Take the part of the large lower loop that is closest to the eye and wrap it over the hook shank and both ends of the leader toward the hook's barb.

Continue to wrap for seven turns and hold the wrap in your left hand. Grip the end of the leader that is through the eyelet with your right hand and pull it slowly and steadily. Hold the turns with your left hand or the knot will unravel. When the knot is almost tight, slide it up against the eye of the hook.

Continue to wrap for seven or eight turns and hold the wrap in your left hand. Grip the end of the leader that is through the eyelet with your right hand and pull it slowly and steadily. Hold the turns with your left hand or the knot will unravel. When the knot is almost tight, slide it up against the eye of the hook. Grip the short end lying along the shank of the hook with a pair of pliers. Pull this end and the standing line at the same time to completely tighten the knot.

Many pros, including J.T. Kenney and Andre Moore, use a snell knot for flipping rigs. They claim it produces better hook sets.
Many pros, including J.T. Kenney and Andre Moore, use a snell knot for flipping rigs. They claim it produces better hooksets.

Tags: jason-sealock  tips-and-techniques 


1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update



1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST



2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »


Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »


5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin



Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »


Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »


2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »


FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »


FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer



Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »


Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »


Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »


How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »


Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »


Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »


Waunakee HS Wins WI Title

The Waunakee High School duo of Colin Steck and Nathan Lorenz brought a five-bass limit to the scale Sunday weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Wisconsin State Championship on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes. The win earned the team trophies, the title of state champions and advanced the team to the High School Fishing Central Conference championship on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 23-24. READ MORE »