UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Kentucky / Barkley Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Flipping ‘Foil 101

Flipping ‘Foil 101

When bass heads across the country think of flipping vegetation, most turn immediately to the idea of fishing heavy cover in California, Florida or Alabama. Certainly, those are prime locations to do so, but throughout the country – and especially in the Northern states – milfoil is the most common grass and one of the best types of habitat for bass.

Ask any tournament angler from the North, and you can bet they have a story about cashing in on a solid milfoil (or “foil,” as it is affectionately referred to) flipping bite at some point or another. It can be an intimidating and daunting task to do so, but the reward is oh so worth it.

FLW Tour pro Austin Felix grew up perfecting the art of flipping foil on Minnesota’s famed Lake Minnetonka where every year loads of largemouths set up in the jungle to gorge on panfish and crawfish. Felix was kind enough to share some insight on how to hunt down and catch milfoil-dwelling bass.

 

When to do it

Being that the Northern climate has a limited window for open water and weed growth, Felix believes you can cash in on this bite through the majority of the season.

“I put a flipping stick in my hand as soon as the largemouths get off the spawn,” says Felix. “Usually the milfoil is still growing at this point. The curlyleaf pondweed is taller and growing in the same areas, but the fish still want to be close to the milfoil. When the pondweed starts to die off in late June the grass can get slimy, but you can still catch fish out of it as long as the bottom isn’t slimy, too.

“I’ll flip foil through the fall until the water temperature is in the upper 40-degree range and still catch fish. You may have to go a little shallower, but they still use it. You’ll also get some of the dead milfoil starting to mat on the surface, and you can catch them out of that as well.”

So, basically, if you can find some milfoil growing, you can catch a bass from it. Felix says he’s had success catching fish in milfoil all over the Northern states, from Minnesota and Wisconsin all the way east to New York. While he’s never done it in the South, yet, he doesn’t doubt the effectiveness of it down there at all.

Felix does point out that some of the best days of the entire year to flip foil are hot, sunny and flat calm. In those conditions, the fish pull tight into the grass, which makes them easier pickings.

 

What to look for

Though large, matted milfoil beds might seem like prime targets, and they no doubt hold fish, Felix likes to take a different approach.

“I really like to fish the visible edge of the grass,” Felix explains. “Obviously, water color may change where that is, but I’d say 7 to 11 feet of water is usually about where I’m fishing. From the weedline to about 20 feet inside the grass is where I spend most of my time flipping to find schools.”

Felix prefers to flip the outer edge of the grass where some of it may top out at the surface, but not necessarily mat up. He says you can usually find larger numbers of fish schooled up in the deeper grass. It's not that you can’t find the same in shallower mats, but these areas allow fish to transition from shallow to deep or to establish residency throughout the summer.  

“If I’m on a lake I’ve never been to before, or in an area of a lake I’ve never fished, I’ll usually start on the biggest flat I can find and zigzag back and forth across it on the visible edge,” says the Eden Prairie, Minn., pro. “On Lake Minnetonka, for example, the fish school up really good, so I may make a pitch every 10 or 15 feet to cover water. If there isn’t as big of a population in the grass, then you need to slow down and really pick it apart.

“A good grass bed will have a few sweet spots. It may be a rock or two in the foil or a high spot or a point in the grass. You’ll learn these areas after you fish the same places a couple of times. It’s really hard to figure out these sweet spots without just fishing. Even with great mapping you need to rely on your own work to figure a lot of it out.”

 

Bait selection

Felix keeps his milfoil offerings fairly simple. When he plans to attack foil, he puts four rods on the deck and is good to go for the day. All of them are 7 1/2- to 8-foot, medium-heavy or heavy-action rods with 65-pound-test braid and a high-speed reel (7.1:1 or higher). Two of them will be rigged with 3/4-ounce flipping jigs like a Strike King Hack Attack Jig or Dirty Jigs Tour Level No-Jack Punchin’ Jig. The other two rods will be set up with Texas rigs, one with a 3/4-ounce weight and the other with a 1/2-ounce weight.

“I like to start with the 3/4-ounce weight when I’m searching and trying to cover water because a Texas rig just gets bit more than a jig,” says Felix. “Once I figure out where a school is I switch over to the 1/2-ounce weight and fish a little more thoroughly. I like to use the jig when I know where some fish are and I need to coax some more bites. With a Texas rig you can basically yo-yo it, but you can snap a jig and pop it to get a reaction strike out of some fish that weren’t willing to bite.”

On his Texas rig, Felix prefers an EWG-style hook over a straight shank because it does a better job holding hollow baits like a craw tube, which is one of his go-tos. He also uses beaver-style baits and craws from time to time. Personal preference can be the best guide when it comes to picking out baits, but generally you want ones that are compact and don’t have too many appendages to get hung in the grass. He also keeps it simple with colors, selecting green pumpkin or black and blue the majority of the time and letting water clarity be the deciding factor – green pumpkin in clear water and black and blue in dirtier water.

Having four flipping sticks rigged may be out of the question for some, but Felix is a firm believer in having as many rigged as you can. Oftentimes when you fire a school up and catch the first fish, if you can immediately flip back in you can catch the biggest bass in the school. Felix has had consistent flurries of up to a dozen or more bass in as many flips simply because he was ready for it.

 

How to fish foil

Certainly, this style of fishing can sometimes be like finding a needle in haystack, but Felix has a few pointers for tackling a foil flat to ensure better success.

“I like to run a HydroWave the first time I fish through an area,” he adds. “I think it helps to fire a school up that may be inactive. And staying off your trolling motor as much as you can really helps, too.

“I also like to start downwind of the direction I want to go so that when I catch one I don’t blow over the school. All you have to do is get back on the trolling motor, follow your trail on your GPS back to where you got bit and catch another.”

A good GPS/sonar combo is without a doubt a huge benefit for keeping tabs on how deep you are and where the weeds are growing, and for keeping waypoints of where the schools of bass are when you find them. Despite the benefit of technology, Felix still likes to have a good ol’ marker buoy with him.

“I always have a marker buoy with me when I flip foil to kick over the side when I catch one. It helps to not only mark the spot, but also gives you perspective as to where you’re at. Then you can get back next to it and mentally grid off the area and flip around to make sure you covered everything.”

Felix stresses that it’s important to be aware of where you are getting bit in the grass. Patterns can develop from day to day. One day they might be on the outer edge, the next way up on the shallowest spot. Note where you are getting bites, and it can help weed out some unproductive water for that day.

Another thing the young pro points out is to not get discouraged by the size of the fish you catch from a certain school. Just because they are 14-inchers today, doesn’t mean the next day the big girls in the school won’t fire. Plus, those fish are there for a reason, so even if they aren’t big it’ll clue you into a sweet spot that could be productive for years to come.

“One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is that they don’t go into the grass far enough,” Felix says. “Often the bass are just half a cast into the heavier grass from where they are fishing. No doubt it can be a tough way of fishing because even on a good lake you may not catch much on a given day of searching. It is tedious, but the reward of catching up to 30 bass from a spot is worth it.”

Tags: kyle-wood  article 

Takeoff Delayed at Lake of the Ozarks

Takeoff Delayed at Lake of the Ozarks

The final Costa FLW Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks – which is presented by Evinrude – was originally slated to begin at 7 a.m. CT this morning, but Mother Nature had other plans. A massive thunderstorm has been rolling through Osage Beach, Mo., this morning bringing heavy downpours and lots of lightning. READ MORE »

Major League Fishing to Acquire FLW

Major League Fishing to Acquire FLW

Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization. The Letter of Intent (LOI) sets in motion the most significant brand merger in competitive bass fishing history, linking a tour and original, award-winning programming featuring the top professional anglers in the world to an extensive grassroots organization that serves tens of thousands of competitive anglers from high school and college students to weekenders and tour pros.  READ MORE »

How the MLF Acquisition will Affect Me

How the MLF Acquisition will Affect Me

The Thursday announcement of Major League Fishing’s acquisition of FLW signifies a historic shift in the landscape of competitive bass fishing. Here’s an overview of how the competitive circuits of FLW will operate. READ MORE »

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

It was sweet redemption in many ways for the Texas legend who still owns and operates his Houston-based HVAC company despite spending so much time on the tournament-fishing circuit. Redemption for missing out on the FLW Cup in his first season. Redemption for what Grand did to him earlier this year on Tour (dropping from sixth to 41st with only one fish on day two). And, in a way, validation for a career filled with big accomplishments. READ MORE »

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

After winning a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell a few weeks ago, Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C., was certainly one of the favorites heading into the BFL Regional on the same pond this past weekend. Lo and behold, he wouldn’t disappoint, and notched his 11th career BFL win – five of which have come on Hartwell – and won a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower motor, plus $20,000 cash for his efforts. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 3 Airs Friday 

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 3 Airs Friday 

Join FLW for a Rapala Varsity Bass watch party on Friday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. CT for the premiere of Episode 3 in the series. READ MORE »

Valdivia is Best in the West

Valdivia is Best in the West

California pro David Valdivia has consistently finished near the top of the standings in the Costa FLW Series Western Division. This year he finally won his first Strike King Angler of the Year award, and he did it by just one point in the standings. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

The final five T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournaments took place over the weekend, bringing BFL regular-season competition to a close. Regional tournaments will kick off Oct. 10, and by the end of the month the majority of the field for the 2020 All-American will be set.  READ MORE »

Wild Card set for Kentucky Lake

Wild Card set for Kentucky Lake

Fishing League Worldwide, the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, announced Sunday that the 2019 T-H Marine BFL Wild Card tournament will take place on Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, Nov. 8-9. The two-day event, hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, will launch from the Kentucky Dam Marina in Gilbertsville. READ MORE »

Dobson Wins First FLW Series AOY

Dobson Wins First FLW Series AOY

Scott Dobson has earned a pile of accolades up north, but this year, he earned his biggest title yet. Winning the Strike King Angler of the Year in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits, the Clarkston, Mich., angler finished third at Lake Champlain, 13th on the Potomac River and wrapped the season and the title with a second-place showing on the St. Lawrence River. READ MORE »

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

This week the Costa FLW Series Western Division will conclude with the final event of the season on the California Delta. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, should showcase a different side of the Delta, given that most of the Western Division tournaments on the famed fishery take place in the spring. That said, last year’s event on the Delta fell on nearly identical dates as this year and could be a good tease for how things may shake out this time around. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

The third round of T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament action saw smallmouths, spotted bass and largemouths all make an appearance as six divisions put a bow on the season with their respective two-day events. Here’s a quick recap of what all played out in the action spanning from the Detroit River down to Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

Buy a Hat, Help USA Bass 

Buy a Hat, Help USA Bass 

Bass fishing fans have a chance to help the USA Bass team achieve its goal of winning the 2019 Pan American Championship in Canada next month. To help fund the effort, USA Bass, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, recently launched a limited edition hat drive with the goal of selling 1,000 USA Bass hats. READ MORE »

A High School Kayak Tournament Experience 

A High School Kayak Tournament Experience 

A recent high school kayak bass fishing tournament showcased the potential of kayaks to get more young anglers on the water and competing. READ MORE »

Hough is Fighting to Fish

Hough is Fighting to Fish

Fishing just her second full season as a co-angler in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) South Carolina Division, mother of two and first-grade teacher Kate Hough was planning and preparing for a chance to do something no woman has ever done in her division: win Co-Angler of the Year. Instead of preparing for the Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell on Sept. 28, however, Hough is simply fighting to leave her hospital bed. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

The second weekend in September saw seven more T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) divisions conclude their seasons with two-day Super Tournament events. From the Tennessee River to the St. Lawrence River and a few places in between, here’s a quick look at how the seven events were won. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Matt Reed

Check-in Time: Matt Reed

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Texas pro Matt Reed.  READ MORE »

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Any tournament with smallmouths in it is a good one, but when the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits heads to the St. Lawrence River it's usually a show-stopper. This year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, shouldn’t be any different as the Northern Division looks to close its season out on one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the world September 19-21. READ MORE »

When to Fish the Flashy Swimmer

When to Fish the Flashy Swimmer

In April, FLW Associate Editor Justin Onslow documented how Gross likes to cut the belly of his two favorite hollow swimbaits – the Scottsboro and the Zoom Swimmer – when rigging on a weedless hook to achieve a high hook-up ratio. However, that article didn’t break down where and why Gross prefers to use the Beast Flashy Swimmer hook versus a standard weighted, weedless swimbait hook. So we reached out to Gross for more info. READ MORE »

FLW Mourns Passing of T. Boone Pickens

FLW Mourns Passing of T. Boone Pickens

Businessman T. Boone Pickens, who in 2010 partnered with FLW to promote an alternative energy plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, passed away Wednesday at the age of 91.  READ MORE »