This Missouri angler has piled up some very impressive professional bass fishing statistics in his career.
Most impressive, is his high placement in the prestigious professional bass fishing Millionaire's Club. To date, Denny has won $1,528,651.90 fishing for bass.
I had the privilege of spending the final practice day for the BassMasters Classic with this flippin' superstar. It was truly a learning experience I will never forget. And I am sure he won't either, because just three days later he was crowned Classic champion.
We were not on the water very long when I found out why Brauer is considered a premier authority on jig fishing as well as the expert in the heavy-cover techniques of flippin'. Let's take a closer look at the techniques that have taken him to the top of his profession.
Like any sport, your success and enjoyment relies on your equipment. This is especially true for flippin'. Obviously you do not want to go light. Flippin' such dense cover requires a stout, 7 ½-foot heavy action rod, or flippin' stick, a high speed, ball-bearing, level-wind reel with a flippin' switch, and spooled with no less than 25-pound-test line. Bring anything less to those sunken brush piles and submerged trees and you will definitely lose more bass than you land.
Brauer will be the first to tell you that big bass are fond of the jig-and-pig combination. "Without a doubt, I think it is the best big-bass lure there is," he says, "and it's a bait that I have a lot of confidence in." It's a compact bait that you can get into places that are hard to penetrate with most other lures. I can put a jig-and-pig into places where you cannot put a plastic worm. And another big advantage of the jig-and-pig is that it allows you to do so many things with the speed at which it falls. That is why it is important to adjust according to the water temperature that you are fishing."
And speaking of getting it into tight places, I witnessed that impressive display first hand. Throughout the day Brauer fished in excess of one hundred of the toughest types of structure I have ever seen. These included boat docks, sunken bushes and trees, and a number of manmade sunken brush piles. He was very quick to tell me that if you want to catch bass you cannot be afraid to toss your bait into the thickest and nastiest cover you can find. This is where you will find them. To adapt a popular adage of the lovelorn, "It is better to have hooked and lost, then to have never hooked at all."
The size of the jig is very important too. Denny bases his selection primarily on the water temperature. When the water is warm, 62 degrees and higher, the bass are usually active and he prefers a half-ounce jig with a pork chunk. This combo will fall quickly and trigger reaction strikes.
When the bass are less active in the colder water he suggests a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jig and a big piece of pork. Use the larger pork chunks to slow the fall of the jig. This will allow the bass more time to react to the bait. "Don't be afraid to experiment and adjust jig size," says Brauer. Watch for the water temperature changes, both up and down, and change your baits accordingly.
When I asked the Missouri pro what made flipping such an important part of his bass fishing arsenal, he didn't even hesitate to answer. "Bass are a very structure oriented fish and when the fishing gets tough they (bass) tend to bury in the thickest cover they can find. When this happens, flippin' is the very best way to get them out." But dropping that jig in front of their nose is not as simple as it might seem. It requires skill, concentration and most of all, confidence that you can really attract, hook and land a fish just five feet from the end of your rod.
Here are a few flippin' techniques from one of the masters of shallow water bassing. "Don't be afraid to lose your bait. If you toss your jigs to the outside of the cover you will be missing more than half of the fish," says Denny. You will be amazed at where that big exposed hook and trailer will go. Toss it in the middle of the cover, let it free-fall to the bottom and work it back slowly. Be a line watcher, and at the slightest twitch where the line enters the water, set the hook hard.
Once you have the fish hooked you are halfway there. On the hookset get his head up and keep it up by reeling fast. The heavy equipment and line will get him out and into the boat quickly. You can play with the fish when he is in the boat.
One more pro tip on technique. Strip off 12 to 15 feet of line; that is all you should be using. Then using your left hand to hold the line and a pendulum swing, flip the lure to the target. Dropping the rod tip will place the lure where you want it. Sounds easy and it is. But the secret is to learn how to get the lure to enter the water without making a ripple. The more silent the entry, the more natural it will be to the bass; and the more bites you will get.
Next time the bass fishing get a little tough try flipping a jig and pig combination, Brauer-style, and add a little bend to your favorite flippin' stick.
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