Let’s dive in to how to flip and pitch bushes. This is something I haven’t done a lot, but when I do it, I’m apt to catch a big one. Flipping bushes is a dangerous game to play if you’re an emotionally unstable person. There’s a good chance throughout the course of a day that you’ll get hung up a couple of dozen times and, when the eventual big bite comes, about a 50/50 shot you’ll see her but never touch her.
That’s when a person less in control of their emotions might string together a tapestry of obscenities that would make Ralphie’s dad from a Christmas Story blush. But that’s not me… no, I would never.
The fact of the matter is, this style of fishing is grueling and tedious. You need to be accurate and thorough. Patient. But it is an effective way to get a big bite, especially in shallow, cold and muddy water.
How to Flip and Pitch Bushes: What Conditions to Look For
Typically, given this set of conditions, I prefer to throw a square bill or spinnerbait. That’s because I like to keep a bait moving, even if it’s moving very slowly, both to help the fish track the bait from the constant vibration and to allow me to cover water a little quicker. However, these two baits are also better suited for horizontal cover: laydowns, seawalls, riprap, etc.
For more isolated targets like bushes and sometimes even stumps, I will slow down and pick them apart with either a jig or a soft plastic pitching setup.
Overhanging bushes are hard to fish, especially in the wintertime, since the fish will often bury up in the middle of them and under them. Those fish are extremity lethargic in cold water and not typically willing to rush out and attack a passing spinnerbait or square bill. So you need to go in and dig them out.
How to Flip and Pitch Bushes: The Similarities to Punching
That’s where you can draw a lot of parallels between this style of fishing and punching. The gear isn’t quite as heavy. Where I use 1&1/2-ounce tungsten, a 7’ 8” Fitzgerald Big Jig/Heavy Mat Flipping Rod and 65-pound test Sufix 832 braid to punch, I’ll go with a 7’ 6” Heavy Vursa rod, 50-pound Sufix 832 braid, and a 3/4-ounce bait. But the reel is the same with a Lew’s Super Duty and a lot of the basic principles apply to how you target fish.
Sure, when I’m punching we’re talking about hyacinth, hydrilla, or some other matted vegetation. Obviously, with flipping bushes, there is rarely any of that. But you can still treat the bank like a line of vegetation and the particularly thicker bushes over a little deeper water like the mats.
Those are the higher percentage areas and should get the majority of the focus.
Similar to when you’re punching vegetation, you don’t want to dob the bait all around the edges first. That will just distract the fish or likely draw them away from the sweet spot. No, you want to go dead center right out of the gate. That’s the best way to surprise the fish and get a reaction strike.
The same basic principle holds true when learning how to flip and pitch bushes. Try to put the bait right in the middle of the bush, or as best you can while still leaving a reasonably good exit strategy. Then I’ll yo-yo the bait a few times the same as when I’m punching. Only then will I toss the bait around a bit in some of the less probable places or perhaps even further back into the cover from time to time.
When you get bit, be sure to keep pressure on the fish. It’s best not to hammer them on the hookset, the same as punching. This will give you a better chance to start the fish out of the cover before he even knows what’s happening. And it will prevent the braid from cutting down into the wood like it did here on this fish catch.
How to Flip and Pitch Bushes: Using Fluorocarbon Instead of Braid
Another tip to prevent that, use heavy fluorocarbon instead of braid. This tip comes from Brandon Palaniuk and is advice that you should definitely consider. Again, I don’t fish this way often but I do know that a lot of anglers who regularly fish bushes prefer the heavier fluorocarbon to the braid for the fact that it doesn’t cut into the wood as bad. Often times these fisheries are also clearer than what I’m focusing on in this article, so the fluorocarbon is less visible too.
I’m a braid guy. That doesn’t mean I’m right though. I’m just stubborn and that is what I’m most comfortable with. But as you can see from that video, braid and poor hookset technique nearly botched that fish catch for me.
But the proper technique is a lot easier to talk about than employ when a 5-pounder rocks your jig.
Still, do as I say and not as I do. It’ll likely be better for you in the long run.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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