As I sit and watch all the FLW and BASS Tournament shows, it amazes me to see the “Elite” and the “Superstars” of our sport make some of the basic mistakes that they make. Granted they are where they and many of us would love to be competing at that level. They are obviously skilled anglers but watching their mistakes makes me wonder what could have been. Surprisingly most of the mistakes I see these guys making are when they are pitching/flipping. Some may think who am I to point out their mistakes, they are already where I wish to be, well I use their mistakes as lessons not to be repeated by me when I get there and maybe some of you can benefit from my observations.

It was a year or so ago at Clear Lake, Skeet Reese missed or lost four fish. Last year’s Amistad tournament Ish Monroe almost gave away the tournament by loosing a couple of big fish. At the Potomac River last year Steve Kennedy finished third, who knows what would have happened had he not lost that one good bite he had. There are a couple of common factors between all these anglers and the situations where they lost the fish. They were all in contention to win the events.  They were all pitching/flipping, using right hand retrieve reels and holding their rods in their right hand. All the bites came shortly after the bait hit the water. The anglers were not in a position to set the hook and take up line/move the fish.

Pitching/Flipping is an essential tactic for bass fisherman and for a tournament fisherman; I can’t even begin to quantify the value of the technique. It’s not enough to just be able to present your bait in this manner, you have to be able to execute when the bite occurs. This is a short line, precise presentation where everything happens fast and the margin for error is less.

As I sit here at my computer writing this I think what is the real point of this article, where am I going with this. Well here goes: If you want to win more tournaments, be more competitive or just catch more fish to have to learn to pitch/flip correctly!

To pitch/flip correctly you either have to learn to hold your rod in your left hand and pitch left handed or get a left hand retrieve reel. Why? The above mentioned anglers all lost/missed the fish because the fish bit as or before they could switch hands while they were pitching with their right hands. YOU PHYSICALLY CAN NOT SWITCH HANDS AS FAST AS A BASS CAN EAT OR SPIT OUT YOUR BAIT! With this technique you are placing the bait where the fish is, its reaction to the bait in most cases is immediate and you have to be able to set the hook AND take up line right then!

I often hear from folks that they can’t use their left hand for this or that. It surprisingly easy to teach yourself or someone else to pitch left handed, I’ve done it on half day guide trips on multiple occasions. If you just can fathom the idea of using your left hand then do yourself a favor and get left hand retrieve reels for this technique.

I hope that these observations and this article helps you catch that big one that bites your jig as its falling because you were ready to execute.

There is no substitute for time on the water!

Rusty White of Rock Hill is a professional fisherman and full-time guide on the Catawba chain of lakes, offering full- and half-day services. For more information, visit