Flipping jigs in Florida is a little different than anywhere else. For starters, you’re fishing in nasty cover for monster bass. So the jig you’re flipping needs to be a hoss. A big hook, double weedguard, heavyweight hoss.
The one I use is made by a guy by the name of Joe Medlock down in Florida. I, like many anglers, had never fished a jig like this until Joe’s son, Brandon Medlock, started dropping 30-to-35-pound bags on us in tournaments down there. After watching Brandon win back-to-back EverStarts I decided I better call up ole Joe and order a few.
Since then I caught two of the biggest fish I’ve ever put in the boat on Okeechobee on the Medlock Jig and several other good ones on Toho and other lakes in Florida as you can see here in this video.
So What Makes Flipping Jigs So Effective in Florida?
Well, let’s start off by looking at when the jig is most effective, which is around the spawn. Florida lakes are littered with big largemouth bass. These bass, like all others, are looking to bulk up during pre-spawn and then replenish their lost energy from the spawn at the beginning of the post-spawn. So presenting them with a big meal like this is a great way to trigger strikes.
Keep in mind, when these bass are on a bed they are very territorial.
I would venture to say 75% of the fish I’ve caught on a jig like this were actively spawning when I caught them. Not all of those are giant females however. Quite often you’ll catch several small males between each big female. But that’s often a good sign, especially if you’re practicing for a tournament as a wave of big females are probably on the horizon. I’ve gone through an area on Lake Okeechobee before and had five 2-pounders one day only to come back through the same area the next day and catch 22-pounds of females.
Although I catch a lot of fish spawning when flipping jigs, I’m not actually sight fishing. Most of the time the water is a little tannic or black and I’m fishing in 3-to-5-feet of water.
So how do you know they’re spawning?
Well one of the telltale signs that bass are spawning in an area can be derived from the male bass you’re catching. If the males were trying to fertilize the bed when you catch them, they’ll still be doing so when they leave the water.
Where to Look When Flipping Jigs in Florida
Knowing where to look is one of the biggest keys when it comes to flipping jigs like this. You obviously want to fish in or around a spawning area.
But what does that look like?
Well bass in Florida want a hard bottom to spawn. Certain types of vegetation like Arrowheads tend to only grow in areas with a hard, clean bottom.
Once you find an area with signs of a hard bottom, you want to pitch your jig to anything a fish could spawn next to. These bass like to have their back up against something. It may be as little as one pencil reed if that’s all they have in the area or it may be a clump of reeds the size of a bass boat. Just be sure to never overlook the small, isolated clusters.
Also, if I’m fishing a line of cover, I like to focus on the irregularities. Whether that’s the occasional point that juts out or a cluster of a certain type of vegetation that’s appearing every 30-feet or so. I’ll still fish the whole stretch thoroughly, but become hyper-vigilant around certain aspects of the cover as patterns start to form.
As far as how you actually fish the bait, I often get bit on the initial flip. If not, I’ll almost swim it along the bottom for a few feet. Kind of like a slow hop with 2-to-3-second pauses in between hops. Usually the bite comes on one of these pauses and the fish is there when you pick your rod back up.
Gear for Flipping Jigs in Florida
One of the keys to flipping jigs is remembering that the bait is bulky. I use either a 3/4 ounce jig if I’m mostly pitching to the edges or a 1-ounce jig if I’m pitching into thicker stuff. The double weedguard is great for keeping trash off the hook, but a firm hookset is needed to make sure you punch the big hook past the weedguard and through the mouth. A lot of those bigger bass are gnarly and old. A good hook is key for punching through their mouths.
For the trailer, you also want something bulky.
I usually use a Gambler Mega Daddy for a trailer or a full-size Strike King Rage Craw. I always go black and blue when flipping jigs in Florida but I’ll mix up the trailer color sometimes, still always leaning towards something dark though because of the tannic water color.
You want a fairly long and strong rod, something in the 7’ 6” and up range with a pretty good bend to it.
The fish from the above video were caught on a 7’ 6” Extra Heavy Duckett Fishing rod that has since been discontinued. Though it was labeled ‘Extra Heavy’, it was really more of a heavy action rod. Fitzgerald Fishing makes a good rod for this in their 7’ 8” Big Jig Heavy Mat Flippin’ Rod which doubles as the rod I use to punch.
You also need a good strong reel and braided line when flipping jigs. I use a Lew’s Super Duty spooled with 65-pound Sufix 832 Braid. As you can see in the video, some of these fish will make really fast runs as soon as you hook them or even be toting the jig away from the bed before the hookset and have slack in your line.
The braid helps minimize missing these fish with it’s lack of stretch. But you also want a fairly fast reel so you can catch up to the bass quickly. The reel I was using in these catches has since been discontinued as well, it was a Lew’s Offshore Speed Spool. But I’ve always had just as much confidence in the Super Duty for big braid applications like this and punching.
With these tips, you’re ready to go! Remember to pay attention the what section of the reed clumps you’re getting your bites on so you can find the pattern within the pattern. You won’t catch fish in every reed clump, so keying in on areas where you find a cluster of fish will be important. Pick apart those areas with your hoss of a jig, and you’ll like the results!
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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