Drop Shot Fishing – a Very Productive Technique!
Drop shot fishing is a fairly easy and quite productive fishing technique. It is a relatively new addition to the fishing world. While primarily used in freshwater for anglers chasing spotted bass, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass, the drop shot rig will catch a wide variety of species.
The drop shot rig is a clever method used to suspend a bait a bit above the bottom, which is where many game fish feed. A soft plastic finesse style bait is most often used. This is a very effective presentation as unlike other types of soft plastic lure presentations, the lure is kept right in front of the fish, undulating seductively. Fish often can not resist this and will take the bait, even when not actively feeding.
Capt Jim Klopfer is fishing charter captain in Sarasota, Florida. He grew up in Maryland fishing the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. He is also an avid freshwater anglers and finds drop shot fishing to be an easy and productive technique. He shares some tips in this article.
Drop shot rig components
Anglers drop shot fishing do not need a lot of special gear to get started. The system consists of a hook, a drop shot weight, and the bait. It really is a simple, yet extremely efficient and effective way to present a soft plastic lure or live bait.
Best rod and reel for drop shot fishing
The best rod and reel for drop shot fishing is a light spinning outfit. Most anglers already own an outfit that is fine for this style of fishing. A 7′ medium light rod with a fast action (limber at the tip with a firm butt section) with a 2500 series reel is a great outfit. Flourocarbon line in the 8-10 lb range works great, but monofilament is fine as well, it just has more stretch. Anglers choosing to use braided line will need to add a 3′ flourocarbon leader of 8 lb or 10 lb.
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Drop shot hooks
Anglers can use just about any hook with a drop shot rig. However, there are some hooks that work better than others in this application. Generally speaking, short shank light wire hooks are best. The eye placement is important as well since it is crucial to have the hook stick out 90 degrees from the main line. Some excellent drop shot hooks include the VMC 7119 light wire drop shot hook and the Eagle Claw L6 drop shot octopus hook. There are even some specialty drop shot hooks that have a swivel on either side of the eye such as the Gamakatsu G Finesse Swivel Shot Drop Shot hook. Size #2 is a good all round choice.
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Drop shot weights
While fishing weights are fairly straightforward, anglers drop shot fishing have several options, based on the type of spot being fished. Most drop shot weights are Tungsten, which is very dense. Long cylindrical weights are excellent for fishing submerged vegetation. Round drop shot weights work best in ares of less cover. Most have an eye and swivel to make changes easy. As in most fishing situations, anglers should use the lease amount of weight that will get the job done. 1/8 will cover most situations ans 1/4 is fine when needed.
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Best baits for drop shot fishing
The list of baits that can be used when drop shot fishing is limited only by the angler’s imagination. In most cases, finesse style baits between 2” and 6” are used. Long slender lures work very well as they emit a lot of action with the slightest movements. This works well since anglers drop shot fishing often just gently shake the bait as opposed to more aggressive movements. Some of Capt Jim’s top baits will be listed below.
The Gulp line of baits is perfect for drop shot fishing! Anglers can choose from the tiny 1” Gulp Alive Minnow to larger 6” baits. The combination of the action along with the scent makes them extremely effective for this type of fishing. Anglers can use worms, minnows, crayfish, and other baits to mimic the available forage.
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The Yamamoto Senko is a fantastic finesse bait that works well on a drop shot rig. Most anglers opt for the 4” version, but the larger 5” worm can be used as well. It is usually nose hooked but can be hooked wacky worm style as well.
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Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flatworm
The Bekley Powerbait Maxscent Flatworm is taking the bass tournaments by storm, especially in the north where smallmouth bass are present. It is 3 1/2” long and has a terrific subtle action. The added benefit if scent will result in fish holding on just a bit longer.
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Zoom Finesse worm
Capt Jim is a big fan on the Zoom line of plastic worms. They are affordable, have great action, and come is every color imaginable. The Zoom Finesse worm is a smaller version of the highly effective Trick Worm. At 4 3/4” long, it is perfect for using on a drop shot rig.
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Assembling the drop shot rig
The drop shot rig is simple, but there are a couple of important factors to take into account. When properly tied, the hook will be tied tight to the running line (or leader if braid is used) with the hook facing up. This in very important! Many anglers use a Palomar knot while others use a drop shot knot. The hook should be tied 6” to 24” above the sinker. The length varies depending on the situation, with 15” being a great all round length.
Read this article by Capt Jim on finesse fishing
Anglers can purchase special drop shot hooks that have a swivel above and below the eye of the hook. This makes tying the drop shot rig very easy! The main line is tied to the to and then a leader and sinker is added to the bottom eye. This also allows for the hook to rotate, adding even more action.
Drop shot fishing techniques
Drop shot fishing used to be a deep water, vertical presentation technique used to fool suspended fish or those relating to structure. This is still the primary presentation, though anglers now use it casting as well. Any piece of structure or cover that can hold fish can be effectively fished casting this rig. In fact, it is quickly replacing the Carolina rig for many tournament and recreational anglers. It can be extremely effective on bedding fish.
Most anglers go to the drop shot rig in clear water when fish become a bit fussy. The lighter line, smaller baits, and less aggressive presentation will often produce when other tactics fail. It is usually used in water ten feet deep or deeper when vertically fished. The vertical presentation is very effective as the bait remains in the strike zone the entire time.
Top spots to use a drop shot rig are points, channel edges, rock piles, submerges grass beds, and underwater islands. Bridge pilings are good places to try it as well. The bait is almost always nose hooked, allowing it to flutter in the water. The rig is lowered to the bottom and the slack removed. The angler then just gently wiggles the rod tip, manipulating the worm slightly.
Less really is more when drop shot fishing! Anglers should start with very subtle movements then get a bit more aggressive from there. The take will often be light, with the angler just feeling some added weight. Raising the rod tip while reel fast is the best way to hook them as opposed to an aggressive hook set.
Casting the drop shot rig
While often used in a vertical presentation, anglers can cast the drop shot rig as well. This technique is used on bedding bass successfully. Dragging the worm through the bed and pausing right in the center will sometimes angler the bass, producing a strike. Anglers can also cast to weed edges, brush piles, and other shoreline or submerged cover that are too shallow to fish vertically.
Drop shot fishing works extremely well around boat docks. Anglers cast under the dock and then allow the rig to sink through the water column. As natural cover rots over time, boat docks and other man made structure become more important and productive spots. The main issue with fishing docks is pulling a larger fish away from the structure with fairly light tackle, but that is a nice problem to have!
Drop shot fishing with live bait
Anglers can also present live bait on a drop shot rig. A live minnow suspended just above the bottom is a very effective way to catch crappie, walleye, bass, and other species. Catfish anglers use this rig as well. A wiggling nightcrawler on the drop shot rig will fool every freshwater species. Again, most bottom rigs present the bait right on the bottom while the drop shot rig keeps the live bait just above the bottom.
In conclusion, this article on drop shot fishing should encourage anglers to give this productive technique a try!