Drop Shotting Made Simple
Berkley Staff Writer
OK. OK. Let me tell you the first thing you need to know about drop shotting. It is easy. I know. I know. But hear me out. Most fishermen have it in their heads that it's some kind of hoodoo, voodoo way to catch a fish. They think it is hard to learn, hard to do and only works in those clear lakes out West. But they are wrong and, most of the time, they won't have any fish in their live wells because they are too stubborn to learn.
If I were you I wouldn't pay a bit of attention to these guys. Follow me here and I'll have you catching good sacks of bass while they complain about everything under the sun.
When I first started to use a drop shot there was really only one way to do it. We would look for deep-water fish on our depth finders then drop the rig right in front of their noses. Either they would eat it or not but most of the time we would catch them.
The hard part was finding the deep fish that would hold on the cover long enough for us to catch them. All that has changed over the years. Now we know that you can use a drop shot rig to catch most any fish including bedding fish, post spawn fish and even tough winter fish. We catch them out deep and we catch them shallow. We catch them suspended and we catch them in deep cover.
Allow me to run through my basic tackle and explain just how simple I keep this tactic. Most of the time I use a seven-foot spinning rod. And all the time I use fluorocarbon line. The best is Berkley® Vanish®.
Most of the situations I get into call for six to eight-pound test. I use a number one or a 1/0 Fusion19 drop shot hook and I use the Havoc Bottom Hopper. That's it. Sure there are variables. Dirty water or heavy cover will cause me to use bigger line and a baitcaster but most of the fish I catch come on my go-to spinning rod and reel.
Here's why I think it works so well. Prior to the spawn most bass are more bottom oriented. They live on crawfish as much as anything. After the spawn sunfish and shad become more of a mainstay in their diet. Consequently, the bass will suspend more so they notice a drop shot better than a Texas rig or even a Carolina rig. They may only suspend a foot or two off the bottom but they are looking for baitfish more than something crawling on the lake floor.
Generally I like to suspend the bait about 14-inches or so off the bottom and the drop shot rig makes it easy. Simply tie the hook on leaving at least a foot and a half from the tag end. Use a Palomar knot. You always want the point of the hook up so it will stick the fish better and won't get hung up as much. To make sure it's up run the tag line back through the top of the eye of the hook. Drop shot weights are available everywhere now. I only use 3/16-ounce tungsten most of the time. If the water is deeper than thirty-feet I'll use a 3/8-ounce just because I get tired of waiting for it to sink. These drop shot weights just clip to the line. Run the line's tag end through the eye of the weight and wedge it in place at whatever depth you want.
Bait selection is important but it shouldn't give you a headache. Here are a couple of rules I use. Nose hook baits three inches long or smaller with a number one drop shot hook and with baits any larger than that rig weedless on a 1/0 straight shank hook. I use Berkley Havoc or Gulp! because they catch more fish. I can't make it any simpler than that. I like green pumpkin and watermelon colors best. The size and shape of the bait takes some experimenting and even guessing but mostly I use Gulp! Shaky Worms or the Havoc Bottom Hopper. Fish bite them and I set the hook... simple.
When I first started doing this I would drop the bait vertically to something on the depth finder that I thought was a bass and lightly shake it but not anymore. I sometimes still do that particularly in colder water but now I use a drop shot anywhere I think there is a fish. Across points, river bends, docks, grass lines, anywhere I think there might be bass I can catch them on this rig.
I sometimes still cast it (or drop it) and lightly shake the rod but I find myself more and more using a dead drag just like a Carolina rig. More often than not dragging will get more hits. This is particularly effective with Gulp! baits because they disperse scent and flavor better than anything we can buy. Fish will travel to get to these baits.
This whole drop shotting technique is not rocket science. Don't make it that way. Keep it simple and pay attention to what the fish are telling you. Drop shotting will open up a whole new way of catching bass while adding some weight to your catches. It sure as heck has mine.