Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Feeling The Flipping Bite

Tim Zdrazil
Tim Note: These are my thoughts and are not endorsed and/or approved by any other fisherman. This is only what works for the Tim man... ; )

Recently on Twitter, F. Stillwagen (@Whostosay1   give a follow please) stated/asked the following:

Instead of trying to have a protracted Twitter discussion, I thought I would just jot down my thoughts on this topic. I don't think of myself as a master flipper, but I have been actively flipping for the past 8 years, and I have fallen in love with this technique.  I have a lot of confidence doing it and have caught a lot of nice fish flipping. There are a million explanations on the difference between flipping and pitching, so I'll leave that to you to go explore, but they are both short line techniques typically involving Texas rigged soft plastics or jigs. However you can flip or pitch just about any bait. I will focus on soft plastics with a brief nod to the difference in the hook set fishing jigs. 

"I guess it takes practice because when I flip I just can't feel the bite..."

Yes. Just like any other technique in bass fishing it takes practice to get bites and bites to gain confidence. I once went four straight fishing trips with only a flipping jig in my hand for the entire day in order to gain confidence with a jig. For me the biggest difference between casting a soft plastic stick bait like Mister Twister's Comida and Flipping the same bait is the presentation itself. With casting you are mostly working the bait back to the boat horizontally relating it to the bottom. You could be ticking it slowly through grass or simply dragging it over the bottom back towards the boat, but it is mostly a horizontal presentation. With flipping or pitching you are working the bait much more vertically.  This is where the practice and confidence is really important. With the short line techniques you are putting the bait through or over something. Here in Florida that is typically grass of many types or lilly pad stems. However this could be any kind of cover. It could be a limb of a fallen tree. It could be a dock cross beam. But you are basically working the bait almost in place over a piece of the structure. This feels much different, but you will start to 'feel' the difference and notice things like how the bait falls and what it feels like when it hits bottom. With this up and down bait presentation, I typically have three different 'bites' that breakdown as follows:

1. The 'arm yanker'. This is by far the easiest bite and does actually happen from time to time. You drop the bait in the right place and a bass literally grabs it and runs. If you miss this bite, I can't offer you much here. During the ABA Ram Trucks Open on the Kissimmee chain, I had one decent keeper do exactly that. I pitched into a small hole in the kissimmee grass, I jigged the bait up once and it stopped (we will talk about that again in a minute). It felt like the weight had wedged in the grass. Then the bass shot away with the bait in its mouth and nearly yanked the rod out of my hand. I snapped the rod back and hauled the keeper out of the grass and into the boat. You really can't miss this one and if you flip long enough you will get one of these for sure. 

2. The 'bump, thump, or tap'. This is the most traditional bass bite and is exactly how a bite feels on many baits and presentations. Sometimes this could be a couple of rapid taps or just one solid thump on your line. The point here is that it is literally the same bite you have probably felt many times. It really is no different. My kicker (pic above) in the ABA event was this bite. One sharp thump told me the fish was there. 

3. The 'stop or hey something is different'.  This one takes time and experience to truly understand, but I have a simple tip that will catch more fish. Once you get the 'feel' of what a bait feels like falling over a lilly pad stem or a thick section of grass edge this will be easier. If you are flipping grass that is in four feet of water over and over again you get a feel for how long it takes the bait to fall to the bottom. As your flipping along and that drop changes or the bait just stops(like mentioned above) you almost know at that point that a bass has grabbed it on the fall. You may not feel anything other than the fact that the bait stopped way too soon. The other thing that can happen is the bait just suddenly feels 'weird' or 'different'. My simple tip here is one told by many fisher folks. If it feel different or weird in any way. SET THE HOOK! I will say here though that you should be careful in heavy wood cover with that tip. You could hurt yourself if it's not a bass. I've done this. It isn't pleasant. 

"...set the hook properly."

The hook set is also not much different than most casting applications. For me it is almost always the same. I feel the bite, I reel up slack while lowering the rod tip and 'feeling' for the weight of the fish on the line, then I make a very hard fast hook set to penetrate the soft plastic and bury the hook. There are many variables, but the vast majority of my fish come with this hook set. I do change this somewhat based on line type. With braid I go all out and don't care one bit how hard I hit the fish. However when I use fluorocarbon line, I try not to 'snap' as hard. It's still aggressive, but it is more of a hard fast pull than a snap. We will cover lines below. You might have noticed in the first fish catch mentioned above (arm yanker) was actually two types of 'bites' and I jumped right to the snap hook set. Like I said there are many variables. That fish was a stop first. I misread it as a grass stop and not a bass stop. Luckily for me the fish was dumber than I was because he turned into an arm yanker and took up all the slack for me, so all I had to do was hit him hard and swing him aboard. Again practice makes perfect. You will get the hang of it. Just do it and do it and do it until you have the confidence.  The one side note here is on jigs. When I am flipping or pitching a big jig, I hit every 'bite' immediately. I don't feel for the weight etc. I take up line and slam them as fast as possible. Now that I use Liquid Mayhem scents on literally every bait that goes in the water, I could probably give the jig bite more time, but in my experience the bite is too fast not to hit immediately.  Liquid Mayhem will help you learn this technique, because I truly believe the bass hold onto a bait longer than without. It gives you a little more room for error. 

"Is it the rod?"

It certainly could be. It could also be the line you use. I only flip with braid, gliss (new line type from Ardent that fishes and feels very similar to braid), or fluorocarbon.  There is very little 'stretch' in these lines and relay anything that happens to your bait very well. I know a few guys that flip with mono line, but for me there is simply too much stretch and not nearly the sensitivity as the others. If you are flipping with mono and having trouble feeling the bite. Give braid, gliss, or fluorocarbon a try.  It should improve your chances. The rod is also a critical element in all types of fishing, but particularly with flipping and pitching. For me, it's all about a very fast sensitive tip and a whole lot of back bone. My flipping rod of choice for most lighter flipping is a Big Bear 7' 3" 3/4 heavy rod with a fast tip.  The tip is all about sensitivity and allows the bass to take the bait without running into a wall. The tip has some give in it so it allows the bass to load up a bit before you hit them. This is especially helpful in the arm yanker. If the fish hits a brick wall when running away from you, they could throw the bait before you set the hook. A good flipping stick is just like the greatest hairstyle of all time, the mullet. A good flipping stick is all business at the bottom and a party at the tip. ; )  

These are just my thoughts and observations, but I truly feel like they may help those learning to flip and pitch. Short line fishing is like pure hand to hand bass combat, and frankly it ROCKS!!!

Fish on my friends!!!

Twitter:  @bassfisher3k
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Hottest Summer Bass Technique

When the water temps start raising during the summer months bass can be difficult to locate and catch.  For many years I always struggled in the hotter months here in Texas.  Just like when the water gets cold the bass become less active when it gets hot.  Night fishing can be great during these warmer months but there really aren’t any tournaments held at night, well few if any.   So if you are going to compete you have to locate these summer bass and get them to bite.   Sure in the early hours of the morning you might be able to put a few good fish in the boat.  However once that sun comes out and the temps start to rise those fish disappear, but where do they go?  I can tell you this they don’t go very far from their morning feeding locations.  The fish you are catching the first hour or so of the morning do not swim all the way across the lake once the sun comes up.  No those fish are in that location feeding because it is near where they spend the rest of the day.  They are going to move off into deeper water of some kind that is near their feeding grounds.  

So where do you start looking for the summer bass?  First off you need to look close to where they are feeding in the morning.  If the bass are feeding on a point with structure close to shore in the morning the first place I’d look is any deeper area long that point further from shore, but look for an irregularity. It is very unlikely there will be bass everywhere on the point as they will associate to something that is a little different from the rest of the point.  There may be a cut where the drop off is steeper, or a rock field along a drop off.  This difference doesn’t have to be huge, it could be as small as a lone tree stump in deeper water.    Take a look at the picture to the right is one for an example of a place that I'd try to fish.  If that is where they are holding then they might be stacked up ready to be caught.  

Other places you might want to look for them is any old pond dams, old road beds, creeks or river channels that might be near where they are feeding in the morning.   Like I said they won't swim all the way across the lake but the might travel some distance to a spot they feel comfortable spending the rest of the day. There is always a chance that that spot is 100-300 yards away from their morning feeding grounds.  If it has some type of structure in deeper water then it might just be holding some bass.  I like using maps like the ones you can find on the Fishidy App.  I use these maps to find these spots a day or two before as I'm planning my trip so I have a game plan before you hit the lake.

Now I know that most of you have heard of  mid lake humps, but what exactly are these humps?  They are a spot that is surrounded by deeper water that raise up in some cases to only 5-10 feet.  They really don't have to be in the middle of the lake, but in some cases that is where they are located.  The picture to the left is an example of what a hump would look like on a map or your GPS.  If it is associated to a morning feeding area then you have to give it a try.   That doesn't mean forget about those humps out in the middle of nowhere.  Those mid lake hump can hold bass all day long.  The fact is that these bass aren't likely to travel to a shoreline to feed in the morning then head all the way back out to the middle of the lake to a hump.   A lot of times these humps can hold large groups of bass.  I'm sure some if not all of you have see the bass pop up in the middle of the lake attacking a school of shad.  Did you ever question where they came from? It is very unlikely that a school of them were just roaming around out in the middle of the lake.  It is much more likely that they came from one of those mid lake hump.  The school of shad passed by the hump and those bass jumped on them.  Once they finish their attack they will return to the hump and can still be caught.

Now that you know where to look for these summer bass, lets talk about some of the ways you can catch them in their mid day holding areas. For many years about the only two effective methods for catching these bass were Deep Diving Crankbaits or Caroline Rigged Worms.   Now let me tell you both of these methods still work and work great.  Give me a Bandit Lures 300 Series or Flat Maxx-Deep crankbait and I'll catch some bass.  Also let me take a Creme Lures 8 inch Scoundrel Worm or 10 inch Same Thing Ribbon Tail Worm Carolina Rigged and I'm going to catch some bass too.  So if you love your crank baits or love fishing your worms do not fear you will be able to catch these summer bass, but hey don't forget to use some Liquid Mayhem Fish Attractants.

The title of this this article is "Hottest Summer Bass Technique" and so there is something else that I consider even hotter.  Will it catch bass every day, well maybe not but that is why I have my Bandit Lures crankbaits and Creme Lures worms in my boat all the time.  However when you get on the bass this technique tends to catch a lot more quality fish and we are talking some big girls.  I know, I know you are saying come on tell us what this new technique is already.  The technique is fishing football jigs.  Yes just when you thought jig fishing season was over, I'm telling you it is not over it is just getting as hot as the weather.  Though football jigs are technically a jig, you don't want to fish them anywhere in the same manner or same type of places you would a standard jig.  If you try and fish a football jig in heavy cover you are going to get really frustrated really fast.  A football jig will get hung up in heavy cover 99.99% of the time.  So are we going to fish these jigs, you are actually going to fish a football jig out in the open water locations I pointed out in the beginning of this article. However before we get into how they are rigged and fished, lets talk some about your rod, reel and line setup to fish these jigs:

Line - I use 10-16lb Fluorocarbon line when fishing a football jig.  10-12lb if the water is clear and also for when I'm fishing water deeper 20 feet.  I go to the 16lb if the water stained and water depth is less than 20 feet or if there are a lot of structure on the bottom.  There are two reasons I use Fluorocarbon; First it sinks and if I'm fishing deep water it gets my bait down fast and second it has very limited stretch so even on longer casts I still have good hook setting power.  There are some that will swear that braid line is the only way to go and I'm not saying they are wrong, but if you choose to use braid then go with nothing over 20lb test. This bait is going to be worked slowly giving the fish a chance to get a good look.  The heavier braids may stand out for the fish to see before picking it up.  Heavy braids might keep some bigger bass from picking up your bait up all together and that is especially true on clearer water.

Rod - I want a 7'3" Medium Heavy rod that has a parabolic action, meaning that the bend in the rod is throughout the top 60-70% of the blank.   This does a couple things for you, first it enables you to make very long casts and second when the fish hits it isn't so stiff that it spooks them but it still has the backbone to set the hook on long casts.  Rod length and action is another point folks tend to disagree.  Really any rod that is 7' to 7'6" and Medium Heavy to Heavy can work.  However with a stiffer rod you risk the chance of the fish feeling you and spiting the bait. These football jigs are heavy so which ever rod you go with it needs to be able to handle a bait up to 3/4 of an ounce.

Reel - I want a reel that is around 6.5:1 so I can pick up slack fast.  Some folks like a faster reel but the reason I use a 6.5:1 is this rod can double as be my Swim Jig rod.  Your reel should also be able to hold at least 150 yards of 16lb Fluorocarbon.

I realize that the rod, reel and line I talk about above may not be what some prefer but it is what I have used very effectively.  My current setup is an Ardent Outdoors Apex Magnum Reel 6.5:1 on a Custom Dunamis Rod.  The fluorocarbon I use is K9 Fishing as I have found it out lasts all the other fluorocarbons.  I should also mention that this setup makes a very good Carolina Rig setup as well.

Now that we have discussed the rod, reel and line I think is best for fishing football jigs it is time to talk about the jigs and trailers themselves.  There is no end to the supply of different brand jigs and trailers out on the market today.  However though they may look good in their package or in that on-line pictures not all of these jigs and trailers measure up to my expectations.  That is why all the jigs I fish come from Santone Lures and all of my jig trailers come from Creme Lures.  Why is this you might ask, well it is because of the quality of their products and customer service of both these companies extremely excellent!  Santone Lures produces over and above the highest quality jigs I've ever fished and their selection of colors and weight is unreal.  Creme Lures has been in business since 1949 and it was this company that invented and gave the bassing world the original plastic worm.  They are still in business today because they know how to make the highest quality soft plastic baits on the market. Creme's Same Thing line of plastics not only catch bass but they also save the fisherman money.

Santone Lures has two types of football jigs available and I use both of them depending on where I'm fishing.  My favorite is the Pro Series that are built around super sharp, heavy-wire Gamakatsu hooks for lightning-fast penetration and rock-solid hook-sets. The heads are  finished with a durable powder-coating, and they come with premium silicone skirts in more colors than I can count.  You can order these with or without rattles, but I always want rattles on mine and I'll explain why later when we get into the technique I use to fish them.  I use the Pro Series the most because of the type of lakes and bayous I fish where the water isn't very clear and there is a lot of structure.  The stained water allows me to fish these on heavier line so if the fish are in structure I can get them out fast. Their other football jig is the M Series 
that were designed with the help Elite Series Pro, Matt Herren.  These have a 5/0 medium-wire Gamakatsu hook that allows them to be used on lighter line as the medium-wire hook will penetrate faster with less force. The heads on the M Series are also finished with a durable powder-coating, and they still come with premium silicone skirts. They are a great choice if you are fishing clear water lakes where lighter line is required to get the bass to hit. The colors I fish mostly on both of these jigs are the more natural greens and browns.  However when the water is really stained or even muddy then I'll fall back on darker colors.  That doesn't mean the darker colors don't work in clear water.  Really it depend on the bass themselves and also the color of the crawfish in the waters you are fishing.  These jigs are meant to look like crawfish when they are fished and you should try and match the color of the crawfish in the body of water you are fishing.  I know that can be difficult at times unless you are lucky to actually see one.  However if you research the body of water before you go fishing you might be able to determine which colors might work best.  If you can't find any information then go with your gut, then switch up as needed to find what they want.  I fish both the 1/2 ounce and 3/4 ounce versions of these jigs.  I like the 1/2 ounce when fish clearer water or when the depths are less then 20 feet.  I use the 3/4 ounce when I have stained water or when the depths are over 20 feet.

The Creme Lures Same Thing Craw is my preferred trailer when fishing football jigs.  Really I can' t think of a better trailer out on the market today.  The ST Craw resembles a crawfish extremely well, they offer enough colors for you to match your jig well and most importantly they don't hurt your wallet! The ST Craw also gives you great action even when it is not being worked fast.  They are the right size for this type of fishing and they stand up to multiple catches most of the time.   I use them from clear to moderately stained waters very effectively.  Now if the water is heavily stained or even muddy then I go to a little bigger trailer to give the bass a little more to see.  That is also a Creme LuresSame Thing bait but this time it is their Beaver, also know as the "Badd Bugg".  The Badd Bugg has a bigger profile than the Craw which gives you a little added size to your overall bait.  This can make a big difference when your water conditions are less than the best.  Just like with the Craw, the Beavers are offered in colors that will allow you to match your jigs and they also will not hurt your wallet!!  The Badd Bugg also give you good action and some added vibration for the poor water conditions.

Now we have discussed where to look for these summer bass as well as the tackle needed to catch them.  It is time we discuss how you actually fish or work these jigs to get the bass to bite.  Really it is very simple and anyone can fish a football jig effectively.  In other words there isn't anything really special to this technique.  Basically once you locate a spot that may be holding bass and then position yourself in the deeper water.  You will want to cast into the shallower water and work your bait down the slope.  I prefer locations where I am casting into the wind.  Now I know a lot of you may not like casting into the wind, but bait fish even crawfish will work with the currents even if the currents are very subtle. Believe it or not even a light wind will create water currents and you want your bait moving with and not against this current.  Besides you are fishing very heavy 1/2 or 3/4 ounce jigs that will fly well even if the winds are blowing pretty strong.  You want to position yourself so you can make as long of a cast as possible to put your jig at the top of the drop off.  Then allow your jig sink all the way to the bottom.  Be ready though as it falls because I can't tell you how many bass have hit my jigs on the initial fall.  Once your jig is on the bottom you can start working it down the slope.  This is done by simply dragging the jig on the bottom.  Yes you want to drag it and not hope or stroke your jig you want it in contact with the bottom 98% of the time. The football head is doing the work for you as you drag it along.  Picture a football rolling along the ground, it is wobbling back and forth very erratically.  It will move even more erratically as it hits objects on the bottom.  The jig is also making noise on the bottom as it hits things and those rattles I mentioned above really come into play as well.  With a good trailer like the ST Craw you even more action from the setup.  As your jig is being dragged on the bottom it is stirring up silt and other small debris just like a crawfish would as it moves along.  Now I said you want your jig in contact with the bottom 98% of the time, but what about the other 2%?  When your jig comes to a bigger rock or other structure on the bottom I like to stop moving it for a moment or two and just shake my rod very subtle to make the jig and trailer twitch.  If a bass had been following it then they will likely inhale it when it starts to twitch.  If a bass doesn't hit after a few seconds of twitching then I'll raise my rod tip and pop the jig up over the structure and let it fall while maintaining contact and ready to set the hook.  A lot of times there will be a bass stationed on the down slope side of this structure and your jig falling over the top will trigger a strike, so be ready.  Speed of your drag varies from day to day depending on the conditions.  If the bass are active then a fast drag may be the ticket, but if you are fishing very high pressure and the bass are not really active then you want to move your bait slower.  The longer you keep your bait in front of an inactive bass the better the chance they will eat it.  As far as how I drag my jig, I like to move it with my rod.  I will hold my rod tip just under my waist height and use a swiping motion to the side when dragging.  I never drag my jig the same distance with each movement.  I may move it a foot to foot an a half overall but I tend to break that up some like 3 inches then 6 then back to 3 then 10 inches.  Something that is never the same so the jig doesn't look like some robot, but more like a real crawfish.  Also if you want your jig to be more realistic then you will need to put some Liquid Mayhem Crawfish or my favorite Garlic Crawfish attractant on them.  Just apply it to the trailer and when the bass pickup your jig they will taste crawfish!!

In closing I sure hope this article will help you catch more and bigger summer bass.  I know there is a lot of information here, but it can be really easy after you have spent some time to refine this type of fishing.  In fact it can be so easy that you will be fishing football jigs like a pro in no time!!

Until next time Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing!!!

You can follow me on:
Twitter - @BHOAdventures

Also check out the great folks that help make my fishing adventures possible and the tackle I use and trust.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Fishidy - A Must Have App!

I'm always looking for tools that will help me catch more fish.  One of the tools that everyone needs is a means to plan a trip on a new body of water.  In the past 10 years or so the internet has really helped a lot of us step up our game in the planning department.  There is tons of information on the net about almost every body of water.  However you have to do a lot of searching and digging to find the good data and that can be time consuming; that was until I found the Fishidy App.  This App is a source that puts almost all the information in one convenient location and the best part is the App very usable on Smart Phones.  The Smart Phone App means you can this information at your fingertips anywhere and anytime which is huge!!

So what exactly is Fishidy?  It is a combination of a Forum, Hot Spot Map, Weather Report, How-To Technique and Tackle Reviews all in one neat package.  The best part is information on Fishidy grows more and more each day as anglers using the App enter more useful data.  When new anglers find this great App and start using it to mark spots they have caught fish, structure that may hold fish or techniques they are using the information grows even more.  Every day anglers provide how and where they are catching fish on given bodies of water and what bait and techniques they are using.  In short the possibilities are limitless with this App.  Sure it may not have all the information you need today, but as it grows and more and more anglers find and start using it the information it holds has unlimited possibilities.

Let’s look at some of its features:
First of all there are detailed Lake Maps.  More and more lakes are being loaded that have some of the best details I've ever seen.  In fact Fishidy takes a satellite map and overlays a detailed contour map from “Hot Spots” on top of it. In addition when the map comes up it will give you the current weather conditions as well as some of the recent catches on the body of water.  You will see "Hot Spots" marked as well as locations where real people have caught fish.  If you click on these they will give more details about the what, when and how these catches were made.   Also you will see other places marked that may be some type of structure that might hold fish or it may be some type of Hazard that you need to avoid.  The member posts will also include lures and techniques used to catch the fish at these locations.  Oh and the best part is they also include a picture of their catch so anglers have some bragging rights.

Now if you want to keep your hot spot private then there is an option for you to post the location but only you can see it when you call up the map.  This makes it nice as you can enter all the specifics about the catch including the weather so you have a handy log that you can go back to for planning future trips.

The next feature is the ability to follow specific lakes, rivers and streams.  You also have the ability to follow the members that are interested in these same locations and types of fish.  There is a messaging system so you can converse privately with another member and plan a trip to a secret hole.   However if everyone keeps everything secret then the maps don’t get better.  That is why you have folks like me on Fishidy that are more than happy to share our information to help other fishermen catch more fish.  To the left is an example of one of the posts I made recently after a trip to Lake Fayette.  It includes how, where and when I caught that bass.

There is also an added bonus; there is a team of great folks always looking for more ways to make this App better.  They are always adding great features that make the App easier to use or give you more functions that you need.  I sure wish I had something like this many years ago when I was a young man.  Let me tell you I would have been really dangerous on any tournament circuit!!

In closing I’ll say that this App is Derek Herring Fishing approved.  I have it on my computer at home and on my smart phone with me all the time.  I do use it to plan trips to new bodies of water I haven’t fished before and so far it has helped me get on fish quickly on those trips.  I can’t think of anything I’ve left out, but they are likely updating it as I type this article.  There is also someone likely making a post on one of the bodies of water I follow so I’ll have even more info the next time I plan to go there.  Bottom line is grab this App for your phone and/or home computer, then look me up so we can follow each other!

Until next time Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing!!!

You can follow me on:
Twitter - @BHOAdventures

Also check out the great folks that help make my fishing adventures possible and the tackle I use and trust.