The terms flipping, pitching, and punching are often used interchangeably by bass anglers. However, in reality, all three of these techniques are different and unique to specific situations. One thing they do have in common, though, is that they can all be used to catch monster largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass. You just need to know when and where to implement each tactic.

The trick to mastering flipping, pitching, and punching is learning what habitat and cover is best suited for each technique. I put together this guide to walk through each style of fishing, including when and where to fish it. Plus, all the best gear you need for each technique. Master the flip, pitch, and punch, and you’ll be able to stick giant bass all year long. Here’s how to do it.

Flipping, Pitching, and Punching Explained

Flipping, pitching, and punching are terms that are often used as synonyms in the bass fishing space, but these three are not the same. “Pitching” is the most common of the three techniques. This method involves some type of Texas-rigged soft plastic or jig that is “pitched” using an underhanded cast to some type of cover a short distance from the boat. 

“Flipping” is an old-school technique that is rarely used anymore, but works really well when fishing several pieces of cover that are close to the angler. To flip a bait, let out a few extra feet of line and then engage the reel. Then, using your non-dominant hand, pull the line between your reel and the first guide of the rod. Next, in one fluid motion, swing the bait back like a pendulum and out while smoothly and simultaneously dropping your rod tip. This will allow you to precisely and gently place your bait alongside the cover. 

“Punching” can actually be flipping or pitching. The only difference is that you’ll use a heavier weight and beefier gear to punch through thick, matted cover.

When and Where to Pitch

Pitching is a great technique to use when bass are holding near isolated cover. This can be during the spawn, the heat of summer, or the dead of winter. Anytime that bass are hanging close to stumps, reed clumps, dock posts, or other shallow cover, it’s a great time to pitch. Jigs are great for pitching, and so are Texas-rigged worms, tubes, and creature baits. The gear you need to pitch will vary based on the size of fish you’re targeting, the water clarity, and the density of the cover. A good place to start is a quality fluorocarbon in the 17-pound test range with a strong baitcaster and a 7-foot medium heavy to 7-foot, 3-inch medium heavy action rod.

Recommended gear for pitching: 

The author holding a Clausen compact pitching jiig.
The author holding a Clausen compact pitchin jig. Shaye Baker

When and Where to Flip

Flipping is most effective around shallow cover. This technique was a staple in the 1990s and decades before. But with the modern advancements of bass gear and the shift in focus to the offshore bite, very few anglers get close enough to the cover to flip effectively. 

Still, if you’re in a situation with an abundance of cover, moving in tight and picking it apart with a flipping rod is a great way to efficiently process a lot of water quickly. You can use the gear similar to what you would pitch with, beefing it up a little due to the close quarters and the presence of additional cover. Fish will also be lively when you hook them close to the boat, so a stronger line and a slightly bigger rod are helpful in taming and landing big bass.

Recommended gear for flipping: 

When and Where to Punch

Punching is a modified version of pitching or flipping. Using a big tungsten weight (1 ounce and up), you can Texas rig a soft plastic and punch it through thick mats of vegetation or debris. This technique is extremely effective wherever heavily matted vegetation is present. It is especially effective in the spring and fall when the majority of bass are shallow.

In the spring, when bass are working through the pre-spawn, spawn, and immediate post-spawn phases, they’ll often hunker down in thick mats of vegetation. They’ll do this again in the late summer and through the fall when bluegill and other baitfish also mix in with the thicker vegetation. During these times, there is no better way to dig big bass out of dense cover than punching. But you’ll need some really stout gear to get them out.

Recommended gear for punching: 

The author holds up two nice bass caught pitching and punching.
The author holds up two nice bass caught pitching and punching. Shaye Baker

Catch More Bass Flipping, Pitching, and Punching

Whether you prefer to flip, pitch, or punch, all of these methods are great ways to catch big bass in shallow. And they are all advantageous at different times as well. Punching allows you to present a bait to a bass in areas that are inaccessible via any other technique. Flipping is a great way to attack a shallow, target-rich environment. And pitching is one technique that every angler should learn in order to fish shallow cover year-round. No matter the method you use, make sure your equipment is well-suited for the task, and you’ll find success with every technique.