Written by Andrew Schadegg (Follow @andrewschadeggfishing)
Bass anglers for decades have been flipping jigs and creature baits all around docks, trees, bushes or any cover they can get a bait around. It’s an awesome technique and one that produces a ton of fish, especially in the summer. A few years back, anglers in the big bass lands of California and Florida started experimenting with a technique called “punching.”
Basically, punching is flipping on steroids. It is a heavy technique for super heavy cover and it’s an essential tool to learn for catching bass when the water is the warmest of the year.
Don’t Wimp Out On Your Gear
The first tip is all about being prepared before you ever hit the water. Having the proper rod, reel and line is absolutely essential to this technique. With some methods, you can get away with various different equipment, but not punching.
Your rod needs to be a heavy flipping stick. For punching, your regular 7’4 or 7’6 flipping stick won’t do. You really need to get up in the 7’11 or 8’0 range to really be able to pull the fish out of the heavy cover. This is a big stick for pulling out big fish.
Likewise, you need a high speed reel like a 7.1:1 or faster. This means that every turn of the reel handle your spool will rotate 7 times (or faster for higher ratio reels). While punching your heavy weight through a mat or weed bed, when you get that bite, the higher ratio reel will allow you to take up a bunch of line and get that fish moving through the cover and towards your boat much more quickly.
Now, let’s talk about line size. You’ve got your heavy punching rod and your high speed reel, but the most important element of your setup is your line. Heavy braided line from 65 pound test to as high as 80 is what most anglers utilize. You cannot skimp on the line or you will break off tons of fish and get frustrated with the technique.
Be Ready on the Water
Once your gear is dialed in and ready to go, it’s time to get out on the water on those hot days to rip some big ones out of the weeds. To do that effectively, you will need to rig up a heavy duty bobber stop, 3/4 - 2 ounce weight depending on the type of cover you’re punching through (heavier cover needs a heavier weight to get through it), a stout flipping hook that won’t bend out and typically a beaver or creature style bait.
Be careful as you approach the mats or weeds your fishing and avoid bumping your boat into them. This can really spook the fish out, so maintain a good distance from your target. As you cast or drop your bait down through the weeds, always be ready for a bite. Many times, bass will sit underneath the weeds waiting for an easy meal to fall through. They’ll suck your bait in very quickly, so being ready to set the hook is really important to making sure you land your fish. A lot of anglers miss bites while punching by not being ready right as the bait enters the water.
Getting on the water in the summer heat is not always the most pleasant time to fish, but it can be really productive. Try using these tips and you’ll be pulling giants from the shallow water shadows in no time!