Flipping Weed Edges for Summer Bass

By Dave Lorier - July 1, 2013
One of the most exciting techniques for catching largemouth bass is flipping. If done correctly, this close combat style of fishing results in intense battles and big bass in the boat. The premise of flipping is to make relatively short casts (less than 20 feet) using bass jigs or Texas rigged plastics to precise structures or pockets in thick cover. Flipping can be effective in a wide variety of angling situations, from dock fishing to working deep offshore points. During the month of July and into early August, I primarily flip weed edges because of the sheer number and size of bass that can be boated utilizing this relatively simple technique.

The type of edge that I am looking for is pretty easy to find because weeds reach all the way to the surface. After locating such a bed, simply troll along the outside edge and use your electronics to see what depth the weeds are growing from. I have had the most success fishing edges where vegetation reaches the surface in eight feet or more of water. Sometimes the abrupt change from weeds to fairly "clean" bottom is the result of a change in depth, or because of a change in substrate to rock from which the weeds cannot grow. Either of these scenarios are a great place for bass to ambush prey - and for anglers to catch them!

Sometimes it is as easy as pulling up to a weed edge and flipping to catch bass, but other times it requires finding the spot on the spot. A weed point jutting from the bed, a turn or "cove" cutting into the weed edge, or even an abrupt break and then continuation of the weed bed are all likely to hold numbers of bass. Position the boat about ten feet from the vegetation and work the cover by precisely flipping to the countless visible little nooks on the edge, and pockets just inside the weeds, where bass are likely hunkered down waiting for their next meal. Make a precision cast to such an area and let the bait free-spool to the bottom watching carefully for the line to jump. If the line moved on this initial drop it likely means that a bass has picked up the bait and you should immediately set the hook. If the bait gets to the bottom without a strike indication from line movement, quickly remove any slack in the line and double check for a bite (if you feel a weight or headshake - hookset). Next, shake the bait for a few seconds, if no takers, reel in quickly and flip to the next likely spot. Anytime a bite is detected, it is important to set the hook immediately as finicky fish may feel the heavy weight it takes to get down through the weeds and spit the bait. Keeping your rod tip low makes it easier to make a fast and strong hookset and quickly get the bass headed out of the heavy cover. Once the fish is in the boat, flip back as quickly as possible to keep the school ignited! Bass inhabiting weed edges move often and it may take covering a lot of water to get on a good bite. Don't get discouraged though, bass on the edge are usually schooled up and numerous largemouth can be pulled from a small area in a very short period of time, you just need to find them.

Because of the close proximity of strikes and heavy cover being fished, stout tackle is required. I prefer to use a 7'6" heavy or medium-heavy action rod and braided line ranging in strength from 40 - 80 pound test depending on the thickness of weeds and clarity of the water (this is primarily a reaction bite style of fishing and I error on heavier gear to prevent losing fish). My go-to bait for flipping weed edges is a ½ oz. Grass Stalker Jig because the V-shaped head design and forward eyelet positioning allow the bait to cut through the weeds and get into the strike zone fast. In stained water, added sound can be the ticket to eliciting strikes - Grass Stalkers come with a rattle harness that can be easily attached to match such conditions. Grass Stalkers come in a wide variety of colors that perfectly compliment the myriad of pork and plastic trailers on the market. I am a firm believer that flipping pork is a better option than plastic in this situation because of the realistic taste and texture which bass hold onto longer - greatly increasing the odds of me getting a hook into them. Excellent trailer options include the MEAT Craw and the Original Pork Frog by Uncle Josh. Another bonus is that pork is very durable and you don't waste time re-baiting when you could be hooking into the school below your boat! Good color combinations are black and blue or crawdad brown on most lakes. When the weeds slime up with algae I will switch my presentation to a Texas rigged Kalin's Tube. A black neon or green pumpkin tube paired with a ½ or ¾ oz. tungsten bullet weight (pegged so the weight does not slide) is a compact presentation that gets through the weeds, doesn't collect too much slime, and flat out catches fish. Be sure to use superline hooks so you don't straighten a hook and lose a lunker.

Try these techniques and the dog days of summer will be packed with fishing action.

Tight Lines!

Author Dave Lorier
Dave Lorier
Dave Lorier lives in Oconomowoc and has been hunting and fishing in Wisconsin since his childhood. Dave earned his degree in wildlife ecology from UW Madison and then went on to work for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Fisheries Research and Management. Presently Lorier is a high school science instructor and also teaches youth outdoor education courses. Dave enjoys all types of fishing and hunting, especially competitive bass fishing, bow hunting, and ice fishing for bluegills.