Flipping mats, part 2

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Steve Bowman

The keeper comes flying into the boat.

My reel choice is pretty simple. I use a high-speed, 7.3:1 gear ratio model, Quantum SHD200HPT. The thing with the really high gear ratio is that I can get the slack out of my line quickly. I’m not worried about handling a giant bass with high ratio gears because I don’t crank them out. I pull them out with the rod. My reel is a Quantum.

Editor's note: Read part 1 here.

When it comes to line I only use braid, nothing else under any circumstances. I don’t want the slightest bit of stretch I want something that slides through the mat with minimal resistance. I use either 50- or 60-pound test. The only time I go higher than that is when I want to slow the fall of my lure. Then I might go as high as 80-pound test. I use Gamma line.

To be fair, there are some Bassmaster Elite Series anglers who say that they get more bites flipping mats with fluorocarbon than they do with braid. I respect their opinion, but I disagree.

My hook, weight and bait choice all come from Strike King. I designed a flippin’ hook for just this sort of fishing. It’s heavy, and it’s serious. I go with a 6/0 size because I don’t want any flex in the hook. If it does flex, it’ll wear a hole in her mouth, and you’ll lose her sure as the devil.

Weights are a little more complicated. We’ll start with material. I always use tungsten. I don’t have a lead weight in my boat. Tungsten weights are more sensitive but, more important than that for what we’re into, they’re smaller so they penetrate the mat easier. The Strike King weights were designed by Denny Brauer. Do I need to say anything else?

When you choose a size — mine are almost always between a 3/4-ounce size and a full 1 1/2 ounces — you want the lightest weight that will just barely penetrate the mat. You don’t want to crash through it, and you don’t want your plastic to drop quickly to the bottom. You want to just barely get under it because a lot of your bites will come from fish that are suspended right under the bottom of the mat.

This is not about startling them into biting. It’s about giving them an opportunity for an easy meal.

My primary mat flipping bait is a Rodent. I go with it most of the time because it slips through the mat easily and it looks like something I’d want to eat if I was a fish. If the bite is a little slow, I’ll downsize to a Baby Rodent. And sometimes when they aren’t biting at all I’ll switch to a Twin Tail Menace Grub. The idea is to have some bait movement but not too much.

Black and blue is the color for flipping mats according to most anglers. I agree — to a certain extent — although I have to say that Black Neon is just as good in my opinion. And, I think it’s a mistake to only use one color. I frequently pick colors for flipping mats just like I do for any other lure. I match the hatch, and I pay attention to the water color. The more natural a lure looks the more likely it is that a fish will want to eat it.

Next time we’ll wrap this up with a discussion about how I target a mat, get a good hookset and get the big one to my boat.