I spent countless hours toiling away on the bow of an obnoxiously neon-flaked bass boat during my formative years in Central Florida. Since then, I’ve come to realize that much of what works in freshwater can also shine in the salt. After all, predatory fish behave much the same, no matter whether bound by fresh or saltwater.
“Pitching” is one “bass specific” technique that can be productive for salty gamers. Pitching is a casting technique that allows you to present baits in a controlled manner. So much so in fact, a talented pitcher can drop a deceiver into a quarter-size spot once they’ve mastered the basics.
While “pitching” sounds much like a sporting endeavor, rest assured—it isn’t. The “pitch” is fish jargon for little more than an underhanded cast. Pitching can be done from the bow of a flats or bay boat, from a kayak (while standing), or while wading. As such, it’s a versatile technique, one that stands out when other presentations prove too intrusive and disruptive.
The advantages of pitched baits are numerous. First and foremost, pitched baits slither silently into the water without commotion, avoiding spooking weary fish. Secondly, you’re able to control the bait’s descent in the water column. A slow descent often triggers inactive fish into striking.
Additionally, a bait pitched with a low trajectory across the surface mimics a baitfish skittering along frantically, high in the water column. This, in contrast to a bait splashing straight down from the sky as with traditional casts.
Pitching can be accomplished using either baitcasting or spinning tackle. However, for those in the know, the baitcaster is the rig of choice. Baitcasters let you feather the line in a controlled manner into the strike zone under the pressure of your thumb on the spool.
While pitching is simple to master, the technique does have its limitations. Pitching is an up-close and personal presentation, best suited for targets (whether fish or structure) spitting close. In fact, the best “pitchers” in the world typically restrict their presentations to 30 feet or less.
To pitch on baitcasting equipment, simply hold the bait (be extremely careful when handling razor sharp hooks) in your off-rod hand (typically the left hand for right handed folks), disengage the spool, and underhand the bait on a tight line while controlling it with your spool thumb. Your thumb dictates how long or short you cast. It also dictates how gently the bait enters the water by the amount of feathering you apply to the spool.
While spinning gear will work, feathering the pitch is a bit more difficult as the line threading off the spool is hardier to control consistently. However, with practice, you can become relatively efficient pitching spinning gear too.