Before we go any farther I want to remind everyone that flipping mats is about having the right tackle in the first instance. It’s one of the few bass fishing techniques that I’d say absolutely requires the right rod, reel and line. Most techniques you can do with several different combinations and still catch plenty of fish. Not when you’re flipping mats.
And another thing: I’ve been talking about flipping mats in this series. What I really mean is flipping or pitching. It doesn’t matter how you get your lure to the mat so long as it gets there. Do whatever you’re the most comfortable with and you’ll be good.
OK, here we go…
Picking a mat is easy. If you see one, made out of anything, flip it. Don’t think about the season of the year, the weather or anything else. Mats are some of the most reliable places to catch a bass. Take advantage of that.
That sounds easier than it is for most anglers. It’s hard to handle a lot of weight at the end of your rod. If you have a sinker on that weighs an ounce or more and a Rodent in front of it you have at least an ounce and a half of weight out there. It’s not like flipping a worm. Practice at home so that you aren’t overwhelmed when you get to the water.
Make sure you practice with different size weights. You’ll want to change them around based on the hardness of the top of the mat. If the top is made of leaves and the wind isn’t blowing everything together, you can go light. If however, it’s made of floating, dead grass baked hard by the sun, you’ll need to upsize your weight.
Last week I talked about getting bites just as the bait dropped through the mat. When that happens, or even if it happens later on the fall, do not set the hook with a jerk. The weight and the plastic bait will get balled up and you’ll never get a good hookset. You’ll feel the struggle for a few seconds and then nothing.
Instead, reel down to the fish until you feel her. Then, use a steady pull back to drive the hook home. I’m not saying to be gentle, not in the least. Pull back hard, strong and quick, but don’t jerk. Do it right and the hook will slip into her jaw and you’ll be able to get her to the boat.
Make sure you pull her back, though. Don’t try to crank her back. The reel’s only function is to keep slack out of the line.
Like the heavy weight situation, this is something that requires practice. Unfortunately, you can’t practice it at home. But you can visualize it in your mind before every flip. I suggest you do that. If you don’t, it’s likely that you’ll reflexively jerk your rod when you get a bite.
I hope this answers your question, Mark. Thanks for asking.