Figuring Out Flipping Jigs

Posted by  Saturday, August 03 2013 7:00 am
expert
flippingjigs1
 This large bass that was on the weeds shows why the jigs need to have "weedless" features.

Flipping, pitching, or dunking — whichever you choose, they are all dynamite techniques that account for many big bass coming aboard the boat each season. Although the art of presenting the bait adds greatly to its effectiveness, the bait itself is certainly the deciding factor when it comes to ultimately setting the hook. And the wondrous bait that continues to take the angling world by storm is the flipping jig.

This weighted head and rubber skirt is pure magic below the surface of the water, fooling the most stubborn of bass with its tantalizing action and realistic look. 

Come and see what the flipping jig fuss is all about — but only if you're prepared to catch lunker-sized largemouth bass, and plenty of them.

The Anatomy of a Flipping Jig

A flipping jig is made up of four main components — a lead-molded head, weed guard, hook and skirt. Although many of these parts may look similar when viewed on the tackle store shelves, there are certain variances that will make a certain lure come out a winner. Here are some pointers on choosing the best.

The Weight Behind the Lure

A molded lead-head is standard on all flipping jigs. For the most part, this is used to get the lure down to the desired depth — no different from a standard jig head in design and function. (Tungsten is replacing lead in some lures, and may be of interest for those that reside in regions of the country that have a lead ban in effect.)

Although they come in a wide range of sizes, I've found that 3/8-, 1/2-, and 3/4-ounce weights will cover the majority of the situations that you might encounter. When dealing with deep water or thick cover, the heavier of the sizes will certainly come into play, while shallow water is best targeted with a lighter bait. Also keep in mind that the activity level of the bass should also dictate the weight of lure you toss. As activity and aggression levels rise, so should the weight (and decent speed) of your jig.

Another excellent attribute that is standard on some flipping jigs is a chip-resistant head.Your lure will be making contact with rock, wood and other structure when out on the water, so paint that won't peel is certainly a nice option to have.

There are many head designs that have come on the market, offering better penetration through weed and slop, while also allowing the jig itself to appear more life-like when settled on the bottom. Stand-up jigheads can be effective when working areas that contain a hard bottom, such as rock and sand. 

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Stand-up jigheads can be effective when working areas that contain a hard bottom.

By "standing" upright on the bottom, they will take on the form of a defensive crayfish, stirring up the curiosity and hunger in a passing largemouth. 

A "forward-set" line tie can also be useful for allowing your bait to come through the weeds more easily. 

Look for streamlined heads that will reflect cover. The more aerodynamic the head appears, the more weedless of a presentation you will ultimately be using.

The Hook

One of the most important parts of a flipping jig has to be the hook. This is certainly the business end when it comes to landing fish, and quality, strength, and sharpness must all be present for the package to work.

Get yourself some jigs with a name-brand hook. Cheap, inferior hooks will have you cursing your way back to the dock. Keep an eye out for the real-McCoy in order to raise your chance for success. Such brands as Owner, Gamakatsu and Mustad have all worked well for me, and are guaranteed to be laser sharp right out of the package. 

The words "chemically sharpened" also means a lot when it comes to hooks, as the manufacturer will sharpen these to a cutting edge point, negating the need for any supplementary sharpening for the duration of it's life. Added assurance when out on the water for sure.

Choose a hook that is wide-gapped in nature. This will facilitate the angle of the strike, allowing the hook point to penetrate the bony jaw of a bass. A number 5/0 hook seems to be the standard size with flipping jigs, so don't stray too far from this number.

Weeding Through the Guards

A weed guard has a simple job — deflect weeds from the hook and keep the lure snag free. For the most part, flipping jigs utilize nylon or plastic weed guards. Nylon gets the nod in my books, as they will offer a bit more resistance through their rigidness and durability. 

Try to stay clear of guards that are overly firm, as these will offer too much resistance in order to get a hook point into a fish. (If you can't expose the hook point with light pressure from your thumb, then look to the next manufacturer.) 

Trimming is always an option, and weeding out a few strands and altering the length slightly can make for an even better lure. Experiment with the scissors, and see what kind of weed guard works best for you.

Showcasing the Skirt

A flipping jig skirt is what gives the lure its body, and generally, larger is better. 

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Flipping jigs are usually equiped with nylon or plastic weed guards.

A larger skirt will offer the fish a bigger target, as well as a more prominent silhouette when moving through the water. (Smaller, less bulky skirts do work well when dealing with inactive fish, especially in cold front conditions.) 

Silicone is the material of choice for jigs, as it is more durable and fade-resistant in comparison to the earlier prototypes, such as vinyl or plastic. At the bare minimum, look for a 40-strand count when choosing your bait. This will offer a full body and great appeal. If you want to bulk up more, go with a 50- or 60-thread count.

Choosing a color always leads to an interesting discussion, but there are a few combinations that have proven themselves over the years. Black and blue is an old standby, and is one of the most popular styles to hit the market. Solid blacks, browns, and green and chartreuse also have their place, especially under different water conditions and around various structure types. 

I tend to choose a skirt that is natural in appearance when faced with clear water, and will brighten things up when the water is more stained or murky. 

Oddball colors certainly have a place in your arsenal. Purple, red and pink have all hooked fish, so make sure you experiment when out on the water until the bass dictate what they want most.

Rattle Them Up

Bass like to key in on food by using their lateral line, a sensitive "hearing device" that runs the length of the body. Many times, bass will actually hear their prey before seeing it, a valuable function when largemouth are faced with heavy cover or murky conditions.

Using a flipping jig with a rattle chamber will help bass hone in on your lure — no doubt about it. Many scientists believe a built-in rattle mimics the sound that crayfish give off with their pinchers, just the object that a flipping jig is trying to replicate.

Rattle chambers come in either a plastic or metal variety. Both work well, and are a matter of personal choice when making your decision. The metal style might be a bit louder, but the differences will often be negligible.

Make sure that the chamber is secured firmly to the shank of the hook. It shouldn't move or twist, yet sit firmly in place. You will also want to ensure that there is adequate clearance between the shank and chamber, as this will allow you to slide your trailer up the length of the hook for a steadfast hold.

Tipping Options

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Pork or plastic chunks, lizards, craws or frogs are all effective when used to tip jigs.

Flipping jigs are meant to be fished with a trailer. This can take the form of plastic or pork, yet will often follow the basic design of a frog or crayfish. A trailer will offer scent and taste to your presentation, while also slowing down the rate of decent.  

Pork or plastic chunks, lizards, craws or frogs are all effective when used to tip jigs, and again, is mainly a matter of personal preference. 

For myself; a plastic chunk is a mainstay when I am out flipping, although this may be because I feel confident when out tossing it.

When choosing colors, either match your trailer to the color of the skirt, or use an opposite shade. By this I mean, if you have a dark skirt, use a light-colored trailer and vice versa.

Flipping jigs are definite money baits when targeting largemouth bass. 

Their ability to lure big bass from their lairs is second to none, making this bait a must-have for the upcoming season. Stock up your box and spool up the flipping stick — the bass are waiting patiently to play!

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Last modified on Thursday, October 03 2013 3:36 pm
Justin Hoffman
expert

Justin Hoffman is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer, with a fishing specialty, based in Ottawa Ontario, Canada. A graduate of the North American School of Outdoor Writing and currently a field editor with Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine, outdoor pursuits with a journalistic approach keep him returning to the field week after week. A well-established freelance writer since 1999, Justin has publishing credits in many North American magazines and web sites. His photographic stock work also appears regularly. In addition to his writing and photography work, Justin is also a Pro Staffer for TUFF-Line and National Pro Staff. For more information visit www.JustinHoffmanOutdoors.com.

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