Jab To Set Up The Punch

Fishing Heavy Cover with Stacy Twiggs
Jab To Set Up The Punch

Over the past few years, a lot has been written about "punching" matted vegetation. If you're not familiar with the technique, it's a flippin' and pitching method that employs a very heavy weight — usually tungsten — pegged to a soft plastic bait like a Beaver. The heavy sinker is needed to penetrate the dense surface vegetation and get the lure down to where the bass are.

That typically means using a sinker that weighs at least an ounce and sometimes an ounce and a half or even two ounces. The lure needs to be streamlined, too. Lots of appendages (like on creature baits) will catch on the weeds and keep the bait from sinking easily.

Punching has caught tens of thousands of good bass from previously impenetrable cover and opened up an entirely new frontier of fishing opportunities for anglers who are willing to pull out the heavy gear and braided lines and get down to where the bass live much of the year.

For lots of anglers who fish here in Florida or anywhere else heavy vegetation is a viable bass cover — the Potomac River, Lake Guntersville, the Mississippi River, Sam Rayburn Reservoir and too many more to list — punching has become an obsession. It's the go-to technique for much of the year ... and rightly so.

In this article, though, I want to tell you about a technique I've developed that really complements punching and that will put a lot of big bass in your boat if you'll just give it a try.

I call it "jabbing" because it's related to punching and it will even set up your "punches," just like a good jab sets up the punch of an effective boxer.

Here's how it works...

Just as with your punching, you want to use a heavy flippin' rod and quality baitcasting reel filled with braided line — 50-pound-test or heavier. Instead of a heavy sinker and punch bait, though. I use a much lighter sinker (usually 1/4- to 3/8-ounce) and a bait with a little more bulk than a beaver or other punch-style design.

The reason I like the lighter weight is because I'm not going to use this rig to penetrate the densest vegetation. I'm going to use this in the holes and sparser spots that exist in the mats. As you know if you've done much punching, the mats aren't uniformly thick. Some spots are thicker than others and even the densest patches have some little holes or "bald" spots, as I call them. The weeds aren't thick here, and you don't need a heavy weight to get through them.

I use a bulkier bait because I don't usually want it to fall all the way to the bottom. Instead, I want it to look like something that was moving across the mat and then fell into the holes or bald spot. A bulkier bait gives a great silhouette and makes a great target for a bass that's keeping her eye on that area. If your bait falls all the way to the bottom, you might get bit, but you might also miss that bass that's holding just under the canopy and looking up for an easy meal.

I also like to use the lighter weight and bulkier lure to bang against the underside of the weeds and pads on the surface. It works much better than a heavier weight because it doesn't get mired against the vegetation as you lift it up.

By banging the sinker and bait against the underside of the canopy, you can get the attention of some fish that are higher in the water column and make them think an easy meal is about to escape.

The strikes can be explosive!

For me, dark colors work best for jabbing. I think they offer a better silhouette, but you should experiment until you find what works on any given day.

And don't forget to use the "jab" to set up your "punch." More times than I can tell you about here, I've jabbed once, then come back with the heavier sinker and punch bait in the same spot and caught a big bass. I think the jab got their attention and the punch drew a reaction strike. It's why I keep two outfits rigged and ready to go whenever I'm fishing heavy vegetation.

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