A North Carolina Grass Mat
As summer begins to set in, many bass will seek shelter and forage under various types of grass mats. But not all mats are created equal. Grass type, maturity, location, thickness, depth underneath and many other variables must factor in to your approach when targeting a mat. With that being said, I still see bass anglers (even really good ones) focus more on what bait they’re going to throw at a mat than what weight they’re going to use. Huge mistake. As far as I’m concerned, the wad of plastic you pitch needs to be roughly three inches long and have the ability to penetrate the mat effectively over and over. That’s it. Criteria met regarding the lure. Pick any color you like. Choosing a weight, however, is actually more complex.
Look at the mat in the photo above. It’s seems super-thick in sections at first glance, but I know from experience (because it’s the lake in my backyard) that a ½-ounce weight is plenty to punch through even the thickest areas. I know that this particular mat is viney and porous, so there’s more open space below than it might appear at the surface. I have favorite baits, no doubt, but the larger task when I first started fishing here was delineating what size weight would provide the perfect punch and presentation. I’m not afraid to tackle the mats with two or even three rods rigged with different weights on first-time lakes, but it’s not impossible to narrow your weight selection down to one weight that does the job done 95% of the time.
The important thing to understand about weight selection is that it’s not just about getting through; it’s about the presentation after the punch, and making sure you punch every time. Believe me, it’s easy to goof this up if you’re stubborn or just inexperienced. You want your bait to be heavy enough to slip through ever so perfectly, but do so statistically flip after flip. That’s because this is a “grinder” technique. It’s a presentation that requires the perseverance of repetitiveness, pitch after pitch. I always tell people that I could give them the winning bait, line, rod, reel and location for every tournament that’s ever been won flipping mats. But if the weight is wrong, your presentation will ultimately be grossly off the mark, and your hook up numbers will consequently not be the same.