The birth of flippin’

Editor's note: 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of B.A.S.S. As part of our celebration we’re publishing stories, videos and photos about the history of the sport, including the one below. 

It is 1973. A 15-year-old Gary Klein is in a 14-foot aluminum boat on the California Delta with his fishing mentor, Dee Thomas. Thomas sits on the bow and sculls close to a line of tules with a paddle in one hand. In his other hand is a stout 12-foot rod connected to 12 feet of 25-pound line knotted to a jig. Klein wields an identical rig.

They quietly ease the boat along and dip their jigs into dark openings in the tules. Every so often one of them sets the hook into a sizeable largemouth bass, horses it out of the dense vegetation and swings it aboard. The sudden, intense commotion threatens to overturn the small craft amid laughter and cheers.

They didn’t have an inkling then that Thomas would become known as the Father of Flippin’. Or that Klein would become one of the most successful Bassmaster pros in history, earning 30 berths to the Bassmaster Classic, and counting.

Thomas had already begun using his “tule dipping” method to dominate local California bass tournaments. His frustrated competitors demanded that the rules be changed to make rods over 8 feet long illegal.

Undaunted, he found a 7 1/2-foot striper rod that was, “…long enough for me to reach some stuff…” and continued his winning ways.

Dave Myers, a savvy Fenwick marking rep, brought several long rods to Thomas to try. The one he liked was a stiff, brown, 7 1/2-foot fiberglass rod. Fenwick dubbed it the Flippin’ Stick.

Thomas soon discovered that he could swing the jig out several feet beyond the tip of the Flippin’ Stick. He did this by pulling the line above the reel back as the jig swung back and feeding the line forward as the jig swung toward the target.

Hence, the flip cast was born.