What Is Flipping and Pitching: A How to Guide

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Flipping and pitching are two of the most popular techniques in big bass fishing and for good reason. These techniques allow anglers to present their bait or lure to fish in a precise and controlled manner, making them an effective way to catch fish in a variety of conditions and heavy cover. 

Whether you’re fishing in shallow areas or deep water, in open water or heavy cover, mastering the art of flipping and pitching can greatly improve your success rate on the water. 

In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to these two techniques, covering everything from the basics of each technique to some rigging information and tips for improving your success rate in catching those big fish.

What Is Flipping?

Bass in heavy cover flipping and pitching (1)
Flipping uses a short rod to accurately deliver bait into hard-to-reach areas, enticing bass in tight cover without causing disturbance.

Flipping is a fishing technique used primarily in bass fishing where you would use a short fishing rod, typically between 6 and 7 feet in length, to deliver a bait or lure precisely into tight or hard-to-reach spots such as under overhanging trees, around docks, or in thick cover and weed beds.

You need to have the lure resting in one hand and use the other hand to hold the rod as you normally would, then lift the tip of the rod so the bait or lure swings towards the target area in a pendulum-like motion. As the bait or lure approaches the target, the angler releases it allowing it to fall naturally into the water with minimal disturbance to entice bass hiding in the area.

Flipping requires a high level of accuracy and finesse and is typically used when fish are holding in tight cover or in areas where a longer cast is not possible. It is a popular technique among bass anglers because it can be an effective way to catch big fish that are difficult to reach with other techniques thanks to the quiet lure entry that won’t spook fish from their heavy cover hiding spots.

What Is Pitching?

Bass in heavy cover flipping and pitching (2)
Pitching uses a longer rod for precise long-distance casts to reach dense cover while minimizing water disturbances.

Pitching is a fishing technique similar to flipping, but it involves using a longer fishing rod, typically between 7 and 8 feet in length, and making longer casts to cover more water.

To pitch, you use a similar pendulum motion as you would with flipping, only in this case, you want your pitching technique to deliver the lure to thick cover at further distances. In a way, you would be underhand casting the lure forward with more line while still getting a quiet lure entry.

The point with pitching is to get considerably more distance from the cast while still keeping the overall water disturbances low. As the lure swings out from the pendulum arc, you would quickly raise the rod up to increase the speed and distance the swinging lure is getting to ensure a smooth and solid long-distance cast.

When to Flip and Pitch?

Flipping and pitching are both best used when fishing in cover such as brush piles, weed beds, fallen trees or overhanging branches, or under docks where fish are likely to be holding. Both techniques are effective for getting lures or bait into tight spaces that other techniques can’t reach with more control overall, which can help to target large trophy fish that may be more difficult to catch.

Flipping and pitching can both be used year-round, but they are most effective during the spring and summer when fish are more active in shallow water or in close proximity to the shore. They can also be effective during the fall when fish are moving towards deeper water and seeking heavier cover or a faster-moving bait.

The decision to flip or pitch depends on the type of cover and the distance from the angler to the target area. Flipping is generally used for shorter casts of up to 20 feet in tight cover while pitching is used for longer casts of up to 30 feet and in areas where more distance is required to reach the target.

Where Should I Be Flipping and Pitching?

When flipping and pitching, it’s important to focus on areas where fish are likely to be hiding, such as cover or structures such as:

  • Weed beds
  • Docks
  • Fallen trees or logs
  • Brush piles
  • Rock piles or ledges

Mechanics of Flipping and Pitching

Here’s How to Pitch:

Hold the Bait or Lure

Rest the bait or lure in your non-dominant hand’s palm while holding the rod in your dominant hand as you normally would.

Raise the Rod

Raise the rod tip upwards to create a very slight tension on the fishing line, and let the lure slide gently out of your hand.

Swing the Bait or Lure

Use a pendulum motion to swing the bait or lure towards the target area, keeping the rod tip high and pointing towards the target.

Drop the Rod

At the appropriate time in the swing, drop the tip of the rod slightly, allowing the lure to fall naturally towards the water with less noise, where it can sink or be removed to repeat the process again.

Here’s How to Flip:

Lengthen the Line

Keep the bait or lure at the same length as your rod by allowing enough line out so that the lure is able to touch the base of the rod’s handle.

Lock the Line

After the lure reaches the end of the rod, use your non-dominant hand to take out a length of line about as long as your arm is outstretched. Lock the line so no more lines will be released.

Lift the Rod and Swing the Lure

Point the rod tip upwards and allow the lure to swing out over the water. Use your other arm to control the line length instead of the reel, and drop the bait in the right area near the boat.

Rigging Flipping and Pitching

Rigging for flipping and pitching is quite simple since both techniques are very versatile and can be used with a range of different rigs. Some common rigging techniques used for flipping and pitching are:

Flipping and Pitching Tips

Bass in heavy cover flipping and pitching
Practice flipping and pitching techniques with the right gear, and maintain a low profile to improve accuracy and avoid scaring fish.

Practice Your Technique

Flipping and pitching can be challenging techniques for beginners to master, so practice as much as possible to improve your accuracy and consistency.

Use the Right Gear

Make sure you have the right equipment, including a rod with the appropriate length and action and a reel with a good drag system (see here for our best pitching and flipping rods and the best flipping and pitching reels).

Start Close

Start by flipping or pitching to areas that are close to your boat or the shore, and then gradually work your way out to deeper water and longer casts.

Be Patient

Flipping and pitching can require a lot of patience, so be prepared to spend some time working on an area before moving on.

Keep a Low Profile

When flipping or pitching, try to keep a low profile and avoid making sudden movements with your lures that could scare off fish.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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