Fall has officially arrived! Bass are feeding aggressively, trying to bulk up for winter. It’s the best time of year to experiment with literally everything in your tackle box, including flipping baits, believe it or not. Where most anglers would be quick to throw a jerk bait or a topwater, I find that flipping into cover is still effective, and it’s something I look forward to all year!
Let me explain.
In most places, submerged grass has already died off. In response, the bass will move toward harder structures and also begin chasing baitfish. At this time, many anglers lay aside their flipping setup for a more accurate bait fish representation like a crank or jerk bait.
And why not?
These fish have seen hundreds if not thousands of different soft plastics during the year. Jigs, Senkos, speed craws, creature baits, you name it! Additionally, Most lakes have made the fall transition and the fish are acting accordingly, shifting their attention to shad.
But this isn’t the case everywhere.
Flipping Baits: Fish The Conditions
I recently fished a small pond nestled into a golf course ( a little secret spot I know) in the Sierra Nevada. The vegetation there was still healthy; topped out, green, and able to circulate oxygenated water. The bass seemed to be in the fall swing, as they were blowing up on baitfish and shoaling schools right up onto the shore.
I could see lumps forming under grass mats that would disappear and then emerge in open water in streams of zig-zag patterns and boils followed by large blowups. It was like watching biological combat.
However, these fish were exhibiting a grass-oriented, ambush behavior. I realized this after flipping a creature bait around some of the healthier patches of grass and receiving a few smacks. Now, before you pass me off as uneducated, I had already thrown a weightless fluke and caught quite a few fish ( almost every cast). It’s a perfect bait for heavy vegetation. I even managed to fish it as topwater, skeet the thing across the top and landed a few dinks. Allowing the bait to sit motionless on the bottom even received a few hits.
My point is that not every lake is the same. And not every fish on every lake are the same. At my secret pond, these fish were moving around aggressively and feeding on baitfish but still using the grass as cover and were just as reactive to a craw as they were to a baitfish imitation.
Many locations still may have a healthy area of submerged vegetation. Docks, boat lifts, ramps, and stumps still play a crucial role even at the tail end of the transition. That’s why in the fall season, I always have a rod set up specifically for flipping into cover as well as the four lures that follow.
1. Creature Baits
In many cases, bass will suck deep into the last bit of healthy grass they can find. This will often be located close to hard bottom, or even better- where the hard bottom meets grass, or where two vegetation lines join. This is where I would recommend you begin hunting if that fluke or crankbait only receives a few short strikes.
Bass Fishing Rods
If I’m flipping into cover, I’ll typically use a 7′ 2 medium-heavy with a faster gear ratio and 30lb braid to a 20 lb fluorocarbon leader.
Brands I like to fish when flipping into the grass;
- Bio- Spawn Vile Bug
- Reaction Innovation Sweet Beaver
- Big Bite Craw Tube
These baits are all pretty well streamlined and lack any flailing appendages, making them perfect for slipping in and out of thick cover without the hangups.
Flipping Baits: Terminal Tackle
I almost always go with a texas rig, Gamakatsu heavy cover straight shank flipping hook, and for craw tubes, I will stick to a VMC heavy wide gap hook, size 4. Weight selection is mostly dictated by the grass you’re flipping into. As vegetation thins out, I’ll go with a 3/8 – 1/2 oz tungsten weight, pegged.
So, next time you’re making those long casts with a moving bait and only receive a few sparse strikes ( or none at all), consider the possibility that your lake hasn’t fully transitioned. Those Bass might still be hiding out in some thick, hidden patch of grass nearby. Switch to a flipping set up and you won’t be disappointed!
2. Flipping Jigs
Never forget the power of a jig! Whether you’re fishing the California Delta or the Lake Okeechobee, Jigs are a universal lunch item for Bass. In fact, I can’t think of a more versatile and effective lure that works year-round. It represents both baitfish and craw, thus it appears to be whatever the fish wants to see. Some amazing areas to target with a jig in the fall are docks, boat ramps, and boat lifts, and of course, grass. And trust me, bass will still use these as cover.
Some awesome brands;
- Strike King Hack Attack Jig
- Dirty Jigs
- Outkast Stealth Fieder Jig
A jig is often the second best bass lure I’ll tie on after a texas rig or after I’ve caught a few in one particular place. As I mentioned, these fish have seen a lot of fake prey during the season and many can spot the difference between what’s real and not. If I manage to pull one out from an area on a texas rig, ill follow it with a 3/8 oz flipping jig to switch it up. It’s an essential piece of bass fishing gear you need for the fall.
3. Hollow Body Frogs
This may come as a surprise, but a hollow body frog can be effective when skipping under docks, and who doesn’t love skipping! The traditional idea behind this lure is that it should be used in and around heavy vegetation and thrown long distances to cover water, I know that! It also happens to be the most rewarding, most gratifying style of bass fishing.
However, taking them by surprise may just be the key to a solid bite among pressured fish. By the end of the season, every worm and jig and soft plastic creature bait has been thrown on them and a frog is an awesome way to switch it up.
4. Flipping Baits: Senko
Nothing surprising, right? When all else fails, turn to the basics. Thrown on a wacky rig, the Senko is a perfect last resort, or as Seth Feider would call his “clean up crew.”
For me, it’s effective when thrown after I receive a short strike from a fish too smart or not hungry enough. If I know an area holds bass but they’re not responding, I’ll throw a Senko and play with different presentations, usually a slower one. Much of the bass fishing near me is difficult in this way. I often have to rig and re-rig until I find what works but using the Senko as part of the big guns seems to be effective.
These baits will produce bites when nothing else will. Of course, it’s far more gratifying to experience that massive load-up on a chatter bait. But I like to have a backup if those fish are pressured into seeing countless shad imitations among schools of thousands of actual real baitfish; something that catches them off guard, something they’ve possibly forgotten all about!