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Written By: Mark Fong, February 17, 2014
A quick look at the calendar confirms that the end of winter is still over a month away. But as I am sure you know this has been an atypical winter. Drought conditions combined with periods of near record warmth have many anglers convinced that spring is near.
These conditions have created confusion for the fish as well. While the great majority of bass are still entrenched in their winter ways, there are groups of fish that are in a prespawn mode. All of these variables can lead to difficult fishing. When success with other tactics diminish, the drop shot technique really can shine.
Drop shotting is a versatile technique. For the most part, it is a light line finesse application that excels at coaxing tight lipped bass. With that said, it is equally effective on all three major species of bass: largemouth, spots, and smallies. The beauty of the drop shot lies it its simplicity.
Not only is the drop shot an easy technique to learn but its simplicity carries over to its component make up as well. All that is required is a spinning combo spooled with fluorocarbon line, tied with a small finesse hook, adorned with a plastic bait, and anchored to a small drop shot weight.
The drop shot rig itself consists of a hook suspended above a sinker. Tying the drop shot is not difficult. Start by attaching the hook with a Palomar knot. Make sure to keep a long tag end between 12” and 24” in length. Feed the tag end of the line back through the top of the hook and attach the drop shot sinker to the tag end. Leader length is a much debated topic, a good starting point is to start with a leader length of 12”.
I favor a size #1 or #2 Gamakatsu Drop/Split Shot hook with which to nose hook the bait. I like to use specialized drop shot sinkers that feature a small rotating clip that allows the sinker to be easily attached to the line. In the event that the sinker becomes snagged, the clip will cut thru the line allowing the bait and hook to be saved. When choosing sinker size, I employ the lightest amount of weight that allows me to maintain consistent contact with the bottom. Most of the time either a 1/8 oz or 3/16 oz model will suffice however don't be afraid to make adjustments for depth, current or wind.
There is an almost unlimited array of bait styles that will work with the drop shot technique: worms, bait fish minnows, grubs, tubes, reapers, gobies, craws and more. I like to keep my bait selection simple. Day in and day out I typically employ three different baits. An old school straight tail hand poured Rainbow Worm, a Yamamoto Cut Tail Worm or a Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm get the most time on the end of my line.
In combination with the vast number of bait styles, the seemingly endless colors choices increase a fisherman's choices exponentially. As a result some anglers can be overwhelmed. In the interest of keeping things simple, I like natural colors. Shades of green and brown with a few baitfish imitating colors fills the bill. The one exception is when targeting spotted bass, morning dawn is a must have in my boat.
My Rod, Reel And Line
Spinning tackle is tailor made for light tackle applications and the drop shot is no exception. A 6.5' to 7' medium action spinning is perfect. I favor a 7' medium action St. Croix Legend Xtreme combined with a 2500 size wide spool spinning reel. Fluorocarbon line in the 6lb to 8lb range has replaced monofilament as the main line choice for serious drop shotters.
A more recent trend is seeing anglers switch to a lightweight braid as their main line in combination with a fluorocarbon leader. I find this mix to have a number of benefits.
First of which is that braid dramatically decreases the amount of line twist generated by spinning reels and the drop shot technique.
Second, braid increases sensitivity while the fluorocarbon leader retains the stealthy presentation required to encourage finicky bass to bite. I have found 10lb Sunline SX1 braid attached to an 7' to 8' leader of FC Sniper Braid with an Alberto knot to be a very effective combination.
Fishing The Rig
It is hard to fish the drop shot wrong. A few tips. Make a cast and let your offering reach the bottom. Experiment with the retrieve until the bass reveal their preferences. Slower is normally better and less can be more.
Slowly shake the bait on slack line using the rod tip to give the bait a quivering enticing action. Try to keep the bait in one place as you shake the line. Be patient and stay focused. The bites will come and when they do, the drop shot technique will put more fish on the end of your line.
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