heavy breaded line, big weights, strong rods, and bait casting reels that have enough power to muscle bass out of the heavy cover once they bite. “You don’t need a broom stick but you don’t want a medium heavy rod either,” says Monroe. “Keep in mind you will be pulling on the weight of the bass plus the weight of the cover that the bass will most likely be tangled in.” If you are trying to learn how to punch through dense cover for the first time you may quickly learn that this is no place for light line or limber rods. “I use an 8 foot Team Daiwa Steez flipping stick that I helped to de- sign,” says Monroe “You need a rod that isn’t so stiff that it doesn’t have any tip action.” The Ranger Yamaha pro explains that a good punching rod has a good tip for flipping baits into the cover, but shuts down quickly for pulling fish out of the thickest vegetation. You need backbone to force a bass to the surface of the cover as soon as it bites. Punching is not a finesse technique. Punching is bubba fishing 101. In order to get through the thick vegetation or cover, anglers must peg heavy tungsten weights so that baits will slide down through the slop with the sinker. Weights are pegged to the line with tooth picks or strands of plastic skirt type material forced in-
side of the weight with a mojo tool. Pegging the weight to the line keeps it from slipping up or down the line during casts. Tightening down drags on bait casting reels is a must. Many anglers even re- sort to using pliers to tighten down their drags to avoid having the braided line slip during hooksets. In terms of hooks, the Reaction Innovation BMF hook hit the market by storm. Paycheck Baits will be marketing a similar hook under their brand as the BMF hook may be hard to locate in stores. This hook was specifically designed for punching which is evident by the fact that the eye is welded shut to avoid braided line from slipping through the opening between the shank and the eye. Oth- er anglers opt to use hooks such EWG or Owners. In either case, you want to select a heavy gauge wire hook that will not bend or break while fighting a fish in the heavy cover. Which ever hook you decide to use make sure that you select a straight shank flipping hook with some kind of a bait keeper or barb on it. This will allow you to keep your bait as straight as possible when it penetrates the cover. If you use a light wire or traditional worm hook you are going to lose fish because the big heavy weight above is going to block the hook from piercing the bass’s mouth.