Flippin’ in the Thick Stuff – with Chris Lane

Power Pole

by Dan O’Sullivan

Chris Lane Flippin' a Grass Mat - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Chris Lane Flippin’ a Grass Mat – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

Any angler that seriously competes in bass tournaments knows that catching the five biggest bass is most certainly the goal of a fishing day. However, knowing that is the goal and having a clue as to how to go about doing that are two different things.

For an angler who makes his living on the Bassmaster Elite Series, the FLW Tour or any other professional circuit; figuring out how to do that is a must. Throughout the season, there are techniques that give an angler the best chance at achieving their goal. In the late winter, lipless crankbaits are a good choice, in the early prespawn, swimbaits are excellent in prespawn; in postspawn, a topwater bait can be great. In the summer, though, there may be no more consistent big fish producer than a Flippin’ pattern in grass.

For six-time B.A.S.S. winner and the 2012 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Chris Lane, Flippin’ a grass bed is like being at home. “When I look at what I need to fish to have the best opportunity to produce big fish, there’s nothing like grass,” said Lane. “There is nothing else in fishing habitat that provides everything that fish need to survive; grass can produce a giant bite at any time.”

Chris Lane Concentrating - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Chris Lane Concentrating – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

Why Grass?
Lane explained that aquatic vegetation provides any things that a bass needs to flourish. “Grass provides cover for a bass to hide in, it provides plenty of oxygen because of the plant life, and with that it provides food,” he said. “You find all manner of forage in the grass, minnows, baitfish, bluegill and crawdads. Every one of them can sustain large bass all summer.”

What Kind of Grass?
With that in mind, Lane selects grass beds that show a lot of activity. If there are bugs flying above it, and the audible sounds of bluegill popping near the surface sucking bugs off the edges, and baitfish swimming the edges, then Lane will spend time seeing if he can find a bite.

“There are some types of grass that hold bass better than others in different regions,” he said. “But, if there is activity in a field of grass, then I am going to fish it.”

Chris Lane with a Bass from the Grass - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Chris Lane with a Bass from the Grass – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

Grass Flippin’ Setups
Lane said that he likes a Flippin’ rod that provides strong backbone, but enough tip that he can manipulate the lure and give the bass some room when they strike to not feel pressure immediately. His rod of choice is a 7’6″ to 7’11” All Star ASLite or ASNano. He matches that with a 7.1:1 Abu Garcia Revo MGXtreme spooled with 65-pound-test Stren Sonic Braid for his line.

His favorite bait choices are a small crawdad for when the bite is tough, and a larger creature bait whenever he feels the fish are aggressive or he is looking for a bigger bite. He opts for a 4/0 straight shank hook in the smaller craws and 5/0 to 6/0 hooks in the larger creature baits.  He is currently using a pair of prototype baits he is working with Luck-E-Strike in his Fast Lane collection.

He rigs all of his baits with a pegged, Reins Tungsten TG sinker. The decision on which size to use depends on the density of the cover. The rule of thumb is to use a light a sinker as possible to penetrate the cover, so anything from 1/2-ounce up to 1.5-ounce and above are the selections. If he feels the bass are on a shad bite, then he uses the bare metal sinker, if they are on a bluegill bite, then black or green pumpkin gets the call.

Like most anything else, he selects his colors by water conditions and available forage. He looks at black and blue or junebug in dirty water or heavy vegetation. If there is clearer water, or he is anticipating that the bass are on a bluegill pattern, then he turns to green pumpkin an watermelon shades.

Chris Lane Big Flippin' Bass - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Chris Lane Big Flippin’ Bass – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

Experience Matters
Lane said that his years of experience fishing the vast grass beds of Florida; where he grew up fishing, have made the biggest difference for him in finding bass in grass. “It takes some time to really get to know how to select good grass beds,” he said. “The only way to truly get better at it is to go ahead and fish a lot of it.”

He suggested that anglers first begin looking at the seasonal patterns of the bass, and try to pick out grassbeds that are nearest they migration routes they might use for moving in and out of the shallows. Find shallow beds during the immediate postspawn and move deeper as the summer progresses.

Wrapping Up
Lane loves Flippin’ because it produces under a variety of conditions. He also said that it can be a technique with a very high percentage when it comes to hook to land ratios. “I know of no other technique that provides anglers so much potential to hook a lot of bass, but to also catch a few really good ones,” he said. “Pay attention to the bites, realize if they are aggressively eating the lure or they are just bumping it.

“If they are just bumping it, a color change may be key, or the size of the weight may need to be changed,” he said. “Pay attention to the clues that bass are providing you, and you can start putting together the kinds of stringers that win tournaments.”