Jim Eakins on finesse flipping

BASS Signature Series: Jim Eakins on finesse flipping and Pitching

Name: Jim Eakins
Hometown: Nixa, Mo.
Technique: When Dee Thomas invented flippin’ in the early 1970s, it was a heavy line, heavy tackle technique designed to pull bass from the densest cover. It worked terrifically well on dingy waters with lots of cover, but was a poor fit on clearer waters. Jim Eakins saw the value in the precision and presentation afforded by flippin’ and adapted the technique to the clear waters where he did most of his fishing by using a small, specially designed jig and 10-pound-test fluorocarbon line.
History: In the mid-1990s, Eakins wanted to create a jig that he thought best imitated a crawfish. The result was a 5/16-ounce, round head jig that, when paired with 10-pound fluorocarbon line, sank at the same rate as a live crawfish. Shortly after, he and his son Troy began winning tournaments with their new design. Since then, demand for his jig has skyrocketed, leading him to sell the idea to Jewel Bait Co., which currently produces the Eakins Jig, now the number one selling jig for Bass Pro Shops.
When to Use: Eakins prefers finesse flipping and pitching over its stouter counterpart for one reason: numbers of fish. He says you will get more bites with smaller baits. Eakins says since bass feed on crawfish all year, he uses them just as much. He says they account for 95 percent of his fishing, and one only needs to adjust where they are fished to be successful. He simply follows the fish. In the spring and summer he will concentrate on shallower water, and in the cooler months he fishes deep.
Where to Use: Eakins says his jigs are extremely versatile, and he will fish them from six inches of water to 60 feet. He keys in on deep structure and shallow cover. Eakins uses this technique in any situation that calls for flipping or pitching. Using anything less than 25-pound-test line for flipping and pitching is enough to make any angler leery, but Eakins says he has landed many 7- and 8-pound fish out of the heaviest cover using his lighter tackle. If you cannot get a lunker out of the cover, he advises that you simply hang on, motor over and dig the fish out.
Tackle: Eakins uses a specially designed rod made by Falcon Rods — the Eakins’ Jig Special. It’s a 6-foot, 10-inch medium-heavy action rod optimized for this technique that was created with his input. Eakins uses a 6.3:1 Shimano Chronarch reel spooled with 10-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon regardless of where or how deep he may be fishing.
  Jewel Bait Co. makes Eakins’ jig in two sizes: 5/16-ounce and 7/16-ounce. Eakins tips the jig with an Eakins Craw, also made by Jewel.
Basics: When fishing shallow, Eakins will target visible cover such as docks, stumps and laydowns, and targets points, bluffs and hard bottom such as gravel or shell beds when fishing deep. He will pitch or flip the jig close to the cover as quietly as possible, let it fall on a slack line, then once on the bottom he will reel in the slack and begin crawling it slowly back to the boat. Fish will sometimes follow the jig without striking, so he crawls it until it is under the boat, then hops it before bringing it up to entice a wary follower. A slack line is crucial to making the jig appear as natural as possible. When he feels a fish, he will jerk straight back, careful not to break the light line. Eakins leaves the reel’s drag fairly loose to prevent line breakage.
One More Thing: Eakins says that the most difficult part of finesse flipping and pitching is feeling a strike. There is no “thump” to speak of most of the time. The strike is very subtle as fish pick it up and start swimming with it, so watch the line for any sign of movement. If something feels different during the retrieve, set the hook!