Make the Most of Your Brief Time on the Water by Practicing at Home
Pitching and Flipping By Ben Team
Be honest. If you had your way, the only time you’d put down your pole and leave the water would be to refuel and grab more tackle. But the real world has a way of thwarting the dreams of anglers, and unfortunately, we’re all stuck at home from time to time.
It is during times like these that most among us read how-to articles, re-organize tackle boxes and brag to friends about the biggest fish we almost caught. These are all worthy and noble pursuits, but one of the best things you can do during down times is to practice the pitching and flipping skills you will use once you are back on the water.
While you can’t practice hook setting or walking the dog on dry land, you can practice your pitching and flipping skills miles from the lake. Check out some of these ideas (and be sure to share your own in the comments) the next time you’re stuck far from the fishes. (If you need a quick pitching and flipping refresher course, check out this very brief video.)
There are a variety of ways you can improve your pitching and flipping accuracy by nailing targets in your back yard. You can practice pitching lures or weights into cans or cardboard boxes of decreasing size or from increasing distances until you can drop the lure into a thimble from thirty yards away.
You should probably start your target practice in a wide-open area in the backyard, but once you become a bait-pitching sniper, try to make the activity more realistic by placing the target in and around vegetation. Alternatively, you can set up obstacles (like other boxes, hay bales or milk jugs) near the target.
Be sure to practice with lures of different weights, including unweighted soft plastic rigs. Things like wacky-rigged trick worms and stick baits become even deadlier than usual when you drop them silently right by ‘ol bubba bass.
The Thumb-Free Challenge
Most anglers thumb the spool to stop the lure’s flight and drop it in the water precisely where they want it to go. But this stops the lure suddenly, causing it to crash into the water, when you are looking for a silent, splash-free entry.
The ideal pitch causes the reel to spin just enough to get the lure to its target, at which time it should slow to a creeping halt. To achieve this, you must practice adjusting the brake system on your reel and refine your pitching technique until you can toss the lure with just enough force to spin the reel at the appropriate speed.
Now, this is not an easy accomplishment, and it is going to take practice. You will probably get an overrun or two (or three…) during the practice session, so be forewarned. However, mastering this skill can elevate your pitching game enough to “paint the corners” like a pro.
Flipping and pitching (particularly the latter) are very useful techniques for bank-bound anglers trying to sneak up on wary fish. However, bank fishing presents some challenges that don’t exist for fishermen and fisherwomen working from a boat. Many times, anglers working the bank are forced to pitch from the level of the water, instead of being several inches (or more) above the water, standing on the deck of a boat. This makes the process a bit trickier, as you have to make sure the bait doesn’t hit the ground or water as you pitch it. At other times, bank anglers have to pitch their lure from several feet (and occasionally many, many feet) above the water.
The answer to these challenges is to practice your pitching from different heights off the ground. You can do so by practicing from atop a milk crate (just be sure that it is stable) for a while, then moving back to ground level. Bank anglers should also practice while standing below ground-level (for example, by standing in a drainage ditch) to prepare themselves for such circumstances.
Make a Game of Pitching and Flipping
With a few minor adjustments, you can convert these drills into competitive games among your fishing buddies. For example, you can gather your pals and have everyone stand at a designated casting spot (mark it with a piece of tape or something – you know your buddies will try to cheat by inching up a little bit). Set up a tin can (or garbage can, depending on the group’s skill level) about 10 yards away. Take turns pitching a weight or hook-less lure (safety first!) into the can. Miss the can and you are “out.”
Once everyone has had a turn, move the can back 5 or 10 more yards and let the winners of the first round repeat the process. Keep doing this until you eliminate all but one participant, who should then be crowned the king of the pitch until the next rematch.
What kinds of things have you done to hone your pitching and flipping skills? Let us know in the comments!