by Josh Unruh
The dog days of summer are now here and bass are getting lazy. Long, hot days and increasing water temperatures keep bass tucked away in thick, matted vegetation which offers shade and cooler water. This usually means it’s time for the two “F”s of bass fishing…frogs and flipping.
To some, punching matted vegetation can be a daunting and often monotonous task. Attempting to do so behind an experienced flipper adds certainly adds a level frustration. The angler on the back of the boat may feel the chance of catching a good fish under these circumstances nearly impossible. The solution: power-shotting is an extremely effective technique to catch those lazy bass in an area already worked over by the pro.
“Power-shotting” is a beefed up version of a drop shotting. We all know the finesse involved in 6 pound test line on a flimsy spinning rod in deep, clear water. Power-shotting is the exact opposite. The set-up is the same except it is magnified by using heavy tackle, heavy line, and big baits.
The first step is using the right rod. I prefer a 7’6″ Abu Garcia Veracity in heavy action for this technique. I have found that this rod is very light and sensitive for the more subtle bites yet it has a great backbone for hauling big fish out of thick cover without difficulty. If I am making exceptionally long pitches to thick cover and need a bit more line pick up I will switch to the 8′ Abu Garcia Villain in heavy action.
You must always pair a good rod with a good reel. I have found that the new Abu Garcia Beast is perfect for this technique. It has a larger spool for heavier line, bigger reel grips yield better fighting performance, and strong gears and drag overpower big fish in heavy cover. Together this combination aids an angler to effectively get big fish in the boat.
Line size is dependent upon the thickness of the vegetation in the area. If it is more sparse like tule lines or sand grass then I will opt for 17 or 20 pound 100% Berkley flourocarbon line. However if the cover becomes very thick that is when I switch to braided line of which my favorite is 65 pound Spiderwire Stealth. This allows me to hook fish and keep them on while pinned in thick cover without fear of the fish breaking off.
The bait set up itself is very similar to that of the finesse version except for a few changes. As I mentioned above we have heavier line and bigger gear. Hook style and size depends on the bait I am using. One of my favorite power-shotting baits is a 6″ Yamamoto Senko. We all know how well this bait works in every other situation and it gives anglers a great option when traditional punching methods are not working. When I use the Senko I usually use a 5/0 Mustad Ultrapoint Widegap hook. My tag line from the hook to the sinker is only a couple of inches long which allows the bait to punch through the matt without getting caught up. Yet it keeps the bait a few inches off the bottom giving the fish a different look.
If I switch to beaver style baits I prefer a traditional straight shank hook. I have found that with 4.5 inch baits a 4/0 Mustad Grip-pin Flipping hook works best. If I down size to 3.5 inch baits then I also downsize my hook to a 2/0 Mustad Grip-pin flipping hook.
Almost as important as the hook is the weight itself. I always opt for larger drop shot weights for this technique. Typically I will use no lighter than a 3/4oz cylinder drop shot weight. The shape of the weight allows it to slide through the vegetation with minimal resistance and the heavier weight pulls the bait to the bottom. Sometimes I prefer to go with the same weight in a bell sinker so I can tie directly to the weight instead of using the crimp of a drop shot weight.
Using this technique from the back of the boat requires careful attention. Watch what the guy in the front is doing. Watch the targets he is hitting and try to choose different targets. For me this usually means making a longer flip or punching some of the harder to reach areas. Sometimes gambling with longer flips will pay off in bites. My experience has shown that doing this will produce good fish from the back of the boat.
The presentation itself is pretty simple. I have a cadence that I like to use which gives me the opportunity to maximize the number of flips I get to make on any given matt. I pick a target and flip to it. Once the bait settles to the bottom I give it 3 or 4 shakes. Before I even pick the bait up out of the matt I am looking at my next target. Then I repeat the presentation. Fish will usually bite on the initial fall and when you pick your bait up on the first hop you will feel the fish. When you set the hook you want to apply constant pressure until the fish comes free of the matt.
The heat of summer can push some fisherman away from the bright sun reaching for the air conditioner instead of their flipping stick. I assure you that adding power-shotting to your punching arsenal will put many extra fish in the boat and give you the opportunity at a summer time slaunch! GAME TIME!