The Secrets of Mr. Flippin’ and Pitchin’
Part 1: Why Flippin’ and Pitchin’
Editor’s Note: Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Missouri, one of the top professional bass fishermen in the nation, who’s known as Mr. Flippin’ and Pitchin’, has been professional bass fishing for over 20 years. When we ask Denny, why he’s able to win so much and be so successful, he explains that, "I like to fish to win. I don’t fish for second place, and I don’t fish for the points required to make the Bassmasters Classic. I fish to win every tournament I enter." We’ll find out this week, how and why Brauer fishes to win.
Question: Denny, how have you been able to last so long among the ranks of the best fishermen in the nation?
Brauer: When I got into the sport of bass fishing, I was dirt poor. I analyzed the sport to determine how I could succeed and how I could make a career out of tournament fishing. As our sport began to grow and mature, the size limits decreased, and I learned that to do well in a tournament, you not only had to catch bass, but you had to catch really-big bass. In the beginning, I considered myself a spinner bait fisherman. But as I studied tournament fishing and tournament fishermen, I learned that some of the biggest fish were caught on jigs and a good number of the tournaments were won by fishermen fishing the jig.
When I first got into fishing, the flipping technique was new and hot, and I decided that if I wanted to win tournaments and catch big bass, I had to learn how to flip. As I learned to flip and built more confidence in that style of fishing, I began to understand my strengths better, and I learned to become a better fisherman. I decided that if I was going to make a career out of bass fishing, I had to fish to win. Because I adopted that mindset early in my career, I feel as though I put myself in a position to win more often. Obviously, when you fish to win, you also set yourself up for some real disappointments. Often, I had very-bad tournaments because I didn’t consider myself a very-versatile fisherman. My strengths were and still are flippin’ and pitchin’ and shallow-water jig-fishing.
Question: Denny, why is this style of fishing your strength?
Brauer: Shallow water flippin’ and pitchin’ produces really-big bass. If you catch really-big fish, you win tournaments. If you win tournaments, you make money. If you make money, you can buy things you want.
Question: Why did you choose jigs for flippin’ and pitchin’ instead of worms, creature baits or other style lures?
Brauer: Jigs are compact baits that allow you to penetrate heavy cover in the easiest way. If you’re flippin’ and pitchin’ a plastic worm, it will wrap up on the wood or the grass cover I like to flip just like a creature bait will. But a jig will fall right through that cover. It will fall fast, produce pressure waves and appeal to big bass. The jig also can imitate a crawfish, a shad or any other type of prey in the water that bass eat. I like to fish some of the nastiest cover available on any lake I fish. I put my jig in places other fishermen won’t fish. I skip it far under boat docks and pitch it to the middles of trees, bushes and grass because a jig is so compact I can put it in places others won’t fish and catch the bass other fishermen won’t catch.
Question: Okay, Denny, you’re a good fisherman, a great catcher and an excellent flipper and pitcher, but as everyone knows, tournament bass fishing on the level that you and the other pros fish on is as much mental as it is physical. You had a back injury a couple of years ago that would have caused most tournament fishermen to quit the sport, but you didn’t. You came back and had a winning year. How did you develop that physical and mental toughness?
Brauer: I think mental toughness, which I believe to be confidence in your own ability, starts at a very-young age. When I was in high school playing football and basketball, I never thought I’d drop a pass or not ring the basket when I shot in basketball. Sure I did, but I’ve always had a lot of confidence about everything I’ve done. I’ve always believed that I can compete and win. Fishing is no different. I’ve never entered a professional bass tournament I haven’t thought I’d win. I’ve been disappointed in more tournaments than I’ve been happy, but that’s the type of mental attitude you need to be successful as a bass fisherman. You have to believe in every move you make as a fisherman and believe you’ve made the right decision to catch the fish. If that decision doesn’t work, you need to believe in the next one. Self-confidence is the biggest requirement to being a successful bass fisherman. The more you can believe in yourself to pick the right place to fish, select the right lure and catch the bass, the more confidence you’ll have.
Question: Denny, how much money do you think you’ve made as a bass fisherman?
Brauer: I think if you consider the different circuits I’ve fished as well as the B.A.S.S. circuit, my lifetime tournament winnings will probably be approaching $3 million.
Question: Denny, this week we’ll be talking about bass fishing in January. How do you fish in January?
Brauer: January is a tough month for anybody to catch bass, even the pros. We very seldom fish during January because there’s so many other things to do. Usually none of the circuit tournaments are having contests in January, so that’s when we’re deer hunting. I’ve got less fishing experience than in January than every other month of the year, even though I’m a pro fisherman. But when I’m forced to fish in January, I use wintertime techniques to catch fish. I’ll give you the secrets of how I do it starting tomorrow.