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In the musical world perfect pitch is very desirable, in fishing it takes practice. I recently received a request for tips on “pitching” soft plastic baits. I quickly started mentally cataloging all the facets and factors that make this techniques easily my favorite, not to mention I’ve caught literally thousands of bass doing this. Pitching is also a great trophy bass technique.

The Advantage to the Pitch – to begin with, the pitch cast allows you to reach potential bass hideouts which would almost be impossible to reach with a conventional cast. Boat docks, overhanging limbs form shoreline trees, openings in aquatic vegetation and around partially submerged trees are just a few of the targets that are more accessible to the “pitcher”. It is desirable to be able to stand in your water craft to successfully pitch but it can be accomplished with a greater degree of difficulty from a sitting position. Standing gives you a sight advantage and also creates more leverage when setting the hook on a fish. Worthy of note, my range when doing any presentation is as follows, for presenting to a target area if it lies more than 40 surface feet away I use a conventional cast (crankbaits, buzzbaits, topwater plugs), within 40 feet I pitch (soft plastics, jigs, spinners), closer than eight feet I employ the true flipping technique (plastic and jigs). When done properly the perfect pitch enters the water silently giving the fish an immediate edible view. Even the spookiest of fish seem to accept to the subtle entry and self-contained action, inherent of the soft plastic (or other) bait, essentially you are letting the bait do what it was designed to do. A natural, slow fall is seductive to a bass looking for an easy meal, just another reason a pitch placed in very close proximity of the bass is so effective. Because one of the basic needs of a bass is cover, the fish feels safe in the confines of a brushpile, under or around a dock, in matted vegetation, in the branches of a submerged tree or any combination of these. I also employ the pitch on open water when working points, creek channels, defined bottom contour changes and other potential hangouts again taking advantage to the super stealthy presentation. With a heightened level of comfort the bass is more susceptible to a pitch presentation, seeing the phony food source come within striking distance, it will quickly inspect the bait and make the determination as to inhaling it or not. Pitching done properly is a highly accurate technique. Practicing your pitching on and off the water is highly advisable.

There are a wide variety of baits to pitch. While much of my pitching time is spent pitching jigs. Jigs are my preference when water temperatures are in the range of 45 to 75 degrees. When surface water temperatures reach the mid to high sixties, there’s a transition from jigs to the addition of soft plastic lures. I now have two rods rigged for pitching, a jig rod and a soft plastics rod. I find helpful to use the same weight of jig and Texas rig for a consistent feel which leads to a more accurate cast when switching between the two. Generally for me it would either be 3/8ths ounce or ½ ounce jig models and or slip sinkers for the plastic applications. The rods are also of equal length and the same action, medium heavy, booth spooled with braided line, 15 or 30 pound test and the same model Lew’s baitcasting reel. Jigs for me are always trailed with the Rage Tail craws with the color not always matching the jig shades. A contrasting color combination is great in highly stained to muddy water. In the wide world of plastics my choices generally are three, the plastic worm, a Flip-N-Tube and a crawfish imitator. Each possesses different performance characteristics making each more likely to “get bit” under certain conditions. In clear water I use the craw, in murky water the bulkier tube and in between, slightly stained, the worm.

To get started find an open area, place a paper plate on the ground and back up 20 feet. Two basic understandings to the pitching technique: 1. pointing the rod toward the target gives the lure direction. 2. Your thumb gives the lure distance. Take the bait in your off hand sing the same amount of line, starting with the lure in the same place every time helps to keep the technique repeatable (my starting spot is at the center of my reel). DO NOT pull on the line and “load” the tip. You want to keep your routine consistent. Using a straight forward pendulum swinging motion allow the rod to take the bait from your hand, as you eye the target use your very light thumb pressure to feather the bait down or further out as necessary. Practice from an elevated platform, standing on steps or on something else to simulate your kayak height. Once you find the range, move back ten feet or up five feet to get used to different scenarios. There is wisdom to trying to cast just past the target which is what you would do on the water also. When you are actually doing the on the water work, allow the bait to drop by not engaging the reel. If you turn the reel handle you create an arcing swim motion as opposed to a straight fall keeping the bait in the strike zone or minimally closer to the cover that hopefully is holding the bass. Always keep contact with any lure while pitching. The initial hit which my happen immediately can be subtle or a hard pull, once sensed lower the rod tip slightly and then slam the rod over either shoulder generating the most efficient hook set. The low trajectory is very likely to just make a minimal ripple as it breaks the water’s surface, a giant plus when bass are wary from low, clear water, extreme fishing pressure or any number of other factors. While the most common baits to pitch are jigs and plastic other single hook lures can also be underhand delivered to bass included are some of your favorite conventional bass lures like spinnerbaits, buzzers qualify. For the obvious reasons I stay away from multiple hook baits.
You may never have the perfect musical pitch, but perfect the bass fishing pitch and you’ll hear “string” music as you tighten the line on plenty of largemouth.