Drop-shotting has been touted as one of the hottest “new” techniques around, but it has been around since the mid 1970s. Drop-shotting has been revived in the last 5 years by Japanese anglers, who started using this technique to catch the bass in their clear, highly pressured lakes, but saltwater anglers, and pan-fisherman have been using this technique for many years to catch finicky fish suspended off the bottom. In the past few years, tournament anglers have adopted this technique to put hard to catch fish into the boat. It is an excellent technique for catching deep bass, and bass that are highly pressured in many of the tournament waters all over the US. The techniques that are used today have been refined, but the basic technique has remained the same for 30 years.
The most simple explanation of this technique is that drop-shotting is a vertical presentation using light line, over top of fairly snag free structures.
A sinker is tied to the line, which is usually 8-12 pound test, and a hook is tied on the line, about 1-3 feet above the weight. A soft plastic bait is usually nose hooked, and the rig is lowered to the depth of the fish. Most anglers use their electronics to locate the structure, baitfish, and bass, and the rig is brought into the area where the strikes are suspected. The baits action is controlled by a slight shaking, or gentle twitching of the rod tip.
This is a very simple explanation, but drop-shotting can be much more refined and more complicated.
The types of hooks used for this technique vary greatly with each individual anglers preference. There are many anglers out there today that prefer the short shanked style of hooks for drop-shotting. These are called “Octopus” hooks. Many times these hooks are colored red, which many anglers believe bass see as a wounded bait. There are also many companies who manufacture pre-rigged drop-shot rigs, so you don’t have to waste a lot of time tying them when you get on the water. Others prefer to tie the rigs themselves, but this is something that most do ahead of time, so they can save valuable time on the water for fishing.
Most bass fisherman, myself included, prefer a straight shanked hook, because in places where there is current, these styles resist some of the line twisting that occurs in these situations. I like to use a ball-bearing swivel myself, which prevents most of the line twisting that can occur. I tie on a swivel as a connection between the line and leader. I always use a black swivel for this and other techniques in clearer water, as I believe it doesn’t spook wary bass. I also use the smallest swivel I can get away with. I use a Superline for these techniques also, as I believe it aids in detecting subtle strikes in deeper water. I like a braided line such as “Spiderline” for this. I always use the “Spiderline” in stained water, but at places like Table Rock Lake in Missouri, and some other clear water areas around the country, I use a Fluorocarbon line, as the braids are easier for the bass to see. In most of the clear, deep, highland reservoirs that we fish, this is very important. Also, by using a fluorocarbon line, I can go up in size to a higher pound test without the bass being able to detect it.
This type of fishing is really a “Finesse” technique, a term which has been abused in recent years by many anglers. If you aren’t delivering a small bait, on light line, in fairly deep water, then I don’t really consider it finesse fishing.
You can use almost any kind of sinker for this technique, but I really like to use the “quick release” style of weights. If the conditions on the water change, such as the wind picking up, the current increasing, or if you move to deeper water, you can quickly change to a heavier weight without having to retie. Some examples of this type of weight are the Duel Quick Change Lead Sinker, and the Zappu. These rigs are specifically tailored for drop-shotting techniques. Another really good type sinker that we found recently, is the Bakudan. This weight is ball shaped, as has a swivel-like line tie that reduces line twist.
Line twist can sometimes be a problem with these rigs in wind, or deep water situations, and anything that helps reduce this is a definite plus. This type of weight also has something the others don’t. It has a line clip that lets you change the distance between the lure and the weight, without having to retie. Another method for changing the sinker quickly is to simply tie a loop at the end of the drop-shot leader using an overhand surgeon’s loop. To properly fish this, and other rigs, a knowledge of many different knots is recommended. Practice tying these knots in the off season, and it will increase the time you spend fishing, instead of tying.
Another technique for drop-shotting, is to tie a regular bass jig, (usually a 1/4 to 3/4 of an ounce), at the leader end instead of the lead weight. With a surgeon’s loop, different weight jigs can be changed quickly. Sometimes, the bass will hit the jig while you are using the drop-shot rig in your usual areas. Some anglers like to use a “pinch-on” split shot also. You can also thread a bullet weight on the drop-shot leader, below the hook and lure, with a split shot squeezed on below the bullet weight to hold it in place. More weight can easily be added to this rig quickly, and you can spend more time fishing.
TYING THE HOOKS
Tying the hooks on drop-shots is a refined technique, and can be done a couple of ways. I always use a Palomar knot, beginning the knot on the hook point side. This is done before tying the rig on the sinker. This is done so that the hook lays at a right angle to the leader. This is a better way to get a good hookset on light biters. Another way can be to take the leader end, after the Palomar is tied, and thread it back through the hook eye, then attach the rig lead. This way the hook shank lays against the line, which I believe, improves hookups.
I like to use a variety of soft plastics on these rigs, but most of the time, I use a small 4″ finesse worm, or a Yamamoto “Senko,” in the 4 inch size. Another good choice is the French Fry worm, and other types of hand poured plastic baits, such as a Roboworm. A small tube can also be effective, as can a Yamamoto spider grub. This is only one of many great finesse fishing techniques that produce bass when they are deep, or highly pressured. Learning the many different techniques available today, will help you put more bass into the boat when they are hard to catch.