So a friend of mine has taught us to pitch and punch (also known as “Flipping” in some areas).
In GP and surrounds, we have a lot of grass and reeds in most dams. Other dams have oxygen weed. Places like Hartebeespoort Dam has hyacinth. Some of this stuff is really thick, so you need to punch that stuff. What sits under this stuff? Usually, it’s BIG BASS!!
Punching is a great method for catching bass, as bass are predatory fish so they tend to hide under whatever they can to nail their prey.
Here’s a little insight to the why, when and how etc., of pitching and punching.
I don’t profess to be a pro at it, I’m just learning. I haven’t caught many huge fish myself using this technique, purely because I’ve only started pitching. However, I’ve been on the boat with guys who only pitch and GOLLY – I can tell you of some hogs they have pulled out while I’m trying to convince myself that spinnerbaiting was a better choice at the time …….. man have I been proven wrong on many occasions!
Rod: ALX iKos Hammer 73 - 7'3" Heavy action rod, loads of backbone!
Reel: any 7-ratio reel with a good drag (Curado E7, Lews Gold, etc.)
Line: 50lb Maji-Kamba braid (straight braid, no leaders)
Hooks: Any good punching/flipping hooks Get the ones wuth the “burr” at the back of the shank – helps to keep the bait in position while hitting the structure. I use the Berkley Fusion flipping hooks, either 3/0, 4/0 or 5/0, depending on what structure I'm fishing and general size of the fish in the area. I use these hooks because that’s what was available at the store near me at the time I was looking for hooks. I can’t say I’ve tried others, so look around and see what you like. Whatever you do though, make sure that hook won’t bend!
Weight: 1/2oz, 3/4oz or 1oz tungsten weight, depending on the thickness of the cover you need to get through. You can use lead, but you’re going to battle to get it through as easily as tungsten.
Some Gummy stoppers
Bait: any 3" - 5" creature bait of choice. Something that will get through the water column easy and not get snagged on the structure all the time, so make sure it doesn’t have big legs etc., unless you’re fishing in big holes. Big leg baits tend to get hung up on reeds that are laying down etc.
Bait colour: Depends on the water. Dirty water, go dark. Clear water – choose a few colours that resembles the baitfish in the dam
Knot: Snell knot. Why? Well, you have a big “goon” hitting the hook all the time – if you have line on the same spot, the line will frey and when it comes time to strike that fish, chances of losing the fish (and your whole rig = expensive), is a lot higher. The Snell knot is great as the stress is on the shank of the hook, and the weight doesn’t really come into contact with the line where it can damage it. It’s not to say the line will not get damaged – keep checking it every now and again to make sure it’s not damaged. Any sign of damage, rather re-tie – you don’t want to be sitting with your hands on you head in disappointment – rather with a smiling bass in picture!
Where: IN THE THINK STUFF, AT THE BACK OF THE BACK OF THE BACK – Why? That’s where the bass are hiding, not in the open sections. They’re hiding away, so throw the baits in the hardest places you can get to. If you think there’s a place you can’t reach, try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
I wouldn’t pitch in areas like dam walls where there are lots of rocks – it will keep getting stuck and you will lose lots of terminal tackle.
How: Pitch it into the area you are targeting - try and let the bait enter the water with the least amount of noise. Make sure you try keep contact as soon as it hits the water, as bites are usually lightning fast and on the drop. You can’t miss the bite – it will either be a good “thump” (thanks to the directness of the braid), or you’ll just feel the weight. If the bait hits the bottom, click over straight away. Make sure your rod tip is up. Bounce the lure once or twice in the area. If no bites, pull it out and throw elsewhere.
Repeat above, and be prepared for that arm to burn baby!
Striking: When you feel the bite, wind down (drop rod tip while winding up slack), and hammer the bass – don’t strike like a girl! Strike up if you can. Why?
Strike up to get that hook in the top lip. If you strike sideways, you risk hooking the fish in the soft area and losing the fish, or striking the hook right out of it’s mouth.
And then, you need to get the bass out of the thick cover it’s in. That’s why you have 50lb braid and why you need a good drag – haul that sucker out of there or you’re going to lose it if you try play games with it.
Lip / net that bass! Take pleasure in your achievement, take a few pics and let the fish go so it can get big and fat for another day.
Here’s a link of how I rig the Snell knot, It also shows a pretty nice bait, and tungsten. Shows the job of the gummy stopper too.
Punch rig knot and bait
A few questions:
- Do you punch / pitch / flip? If not, why not?
- Is it a successful technique for you?
- Have you ever tried it? Too scared? No cover in the dams you fish to use the technique? Fish off a float tube and can’t get elevation to pitch? Don’t have the rig? What’s your reason for not trying it?
- What can you add to the above, so that others can learn what works in YOUR area? Or in YOUR conditions. Or what are your experiences and tips?
You could, I used to. But the bait doesn't work so lekker.
- The gummy gets jammed and you sometimes want the tungsten to "clack" against the hook to make a slight noise.
- When the gummy stopper is underneath, the hook tends to pick up a lot more dirt and junk. With no gummy the junk usually tungsten bait , it prevents the clicking sound as well, and
- Without a gummy stopper, the bait bends a bit at an angle. Gives the bait some action by going down at an angle. The sideways bait also helps that the bait doesn't go deep into the mud, as the bait will hit the soft bottoms at an angle and stay on top. If it's too straight it will get buried in the mud
Oh! And another reason not to put the gummy stopper underneath is because, when you strike the hook is forced to go at an angle and it just happens to help with the hookup, and less lost fish compared to striking a fish with the hook in a straight line
I have indeed flipped/punched a lot. My rig is an ALX IKOS Hammer 73, Abu Garcia Revo SX gen 4 with 50lb braid. I flip with a Superline EWG hook, or a VMC/Berkley flippin hook, however I have bent the latter a few times. Snell knot is definitely the way to go, two gummies on top of the weight, and I've recently started experimenting with a bead under the weight (between hook and weight) a tungsten bead as glass would obviously shatter.
The technique does takes a lot of practice, but is super fun!! Below is a 1.8 kg fish, punched.