Drop Shot Techniques and Tackle

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The drop shot technique is one of the most effective methods of catching largemouth and smallmouth bass from deeper water. Here in California, most of the lakes are deepwater man made reservoirs. Fishing shallow usually lasts just a few months covering the pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn period. Outside of that period of time, bass are usually found in deeper water. I’ve fished and caught largemouth as deep as 45 feet of water at Diamond Valley lake (near Hemet, CA). That is a rather extreme example. Most bass fishing outside of the pre/post spawn window is in 8 to 35 feet of water. This is where the drop shot technique can be deadly.
Drop shot tackle:
Line: The number one tip in using the drop shot effectively is to choose the right line. I always use fluorocarbon and after trying different brands, my favorite is Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon. It is expensive but I personally don’t mind paying the high cost as I’ve found it translates to getting bit more often and breaking less than other brands. I also like the fact it comes in odd and even pound strengths, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 lb. I personally like to use the 5 lb when drop shotting clear water lakes. If you are fishing darker color water, you can get away with 6 or 7 lb test. I would only use the 8, 10 and 12 if you are specifically targeting bigger fish. There are a number of other manufacturers of fluorocarbon line so I encourage you to try different lines and select what you have confidence in.
Hooks: Select the appropriate type and size hook according to what you are drop shotting. Many baits can be effectively fished on the drop shot: plastic worms; creature baits; grubs, even lizards. I always fish Rude Baits BT worms on the drop shot as we’ve specifically designed these worms to suspend horizontally, thereby giving the worm a more natural appearance and this translates into getting bit more often. If I’m fishing the 4.5” worm, I like to use a size 4 Gamakatsu black hook. If fishing the 6” worm, I like a size 2 hook for drop shotting. Nose hook the worm by inserting the hook from bottom through the top with the hook exposed. You can also rig it weedless if you are fishing submerged trees and brush. Thread the hook through the end of the nose as if you were Texas rigging. Turn the hook downward through the underside and turn around and embed the hook point back up into the bait. You will miss some bites rigging weedless so I only recommend it if the fish are concentrated in submerged trees or brush.
Rods and Reels: Drop shotting is best done using spinning tackle for a variety of reasons, the number one reason being it is a technique that requires light line, small hooks, and the need to get a good hook set using light line and small hooks. Selecting the right fishing rod is more critical that the reel. I definitely recommend you get a rod specifically designed for drop shotting. This means purchasing a 6’ 10” to 7’ 2”spinning rod that is extremely light weight with a sensitive and responsive tip that will enable you to bury a hook without a hard sweep set. A simple snap of the wrist should enable you to set the hook. Medium to medium light action with an extra fast tip is best. G. Loomis makes a great drop shot rod, as does Shimano and Diawa. Match the correct spinning reel to the rod you are purchasing. All rod manufacturers, as well as your local tackle store, can recommend the right reel for your rod choice. A quality drop shot rod will generally cost you close to $200 on up. A corresponding quality spinning reel will be $100 and up. I recommend you purchase as good a quality spinning reel as you can afford as the drag system is critical when drop shotting since you will be using light line. I could recommend a number of reels from various manufacturers but it really is personal preference when it comes to reels so I suggest you stick with the manufacturer you’re comfortable with.
Tip to save money: If you’re looking to save some money, I’d recommend St. Croix Mojo bass spinning rod, model MBS69MLXF. It is 6’ 9” with a medium light action and extra fast tip. This rod retails for around $100. Pflueger makes some nice quality spinning reels starting at $99. You can put these two together to get a drop shot outfit for less than $200.
Setup: If you don’t know how to tie a Palomar knot, you need to learn. There are numerous videos online on how to tie this simple knot. Practice it until you are able to get the hook to stand out horizontally from your line with the hook point up and your drop shot weight 12” to 18” below. I like to use drop shot weights but you can use bell weights or larger split shot if you’re trying to save money. Drop shot weights range from 1/8 oz to ½ oz. I usually just buy ¼ oz and 3/8 oz. Expect to lose tackle as this technique is prone to snags since you are fishing with an exposed hook.
Locating fish and drop shot fishing techniques: Since drop shotting is primarily a deep water technique, it doesn’t work well fished from shore (too prone to getting snagged). Drop shotting is a technique primarily used when fishing from a boat. It is obviously best when you have the ability to locate the fish with your fish finder sonar. If the fish are stacked up or concentrated near the bottom, fish the drop shot vertically by dropping the rig all the way to the bottom. The bite can range anywhere from the line suddenly feeling heavy to a noticeable tick, to the feel of a flat out hard strike. It is important to remember to not do a hard sweep set. If the fish has hit hard or already “loaded’ the rod, you don’t need any hard set of the hook. If the bite is of the “tap, tap” variety, do a quick snap of the wrist. This should set the hook. As far as imparting action to the bait when vertically drop shotting, it depends on what bait you’re fishing. Almost all plastic baits either sink or float. Depending on the particular bait, hang it over the side in the water and see what it does. Either the tail end will float up, or sink down. “Work” the bait so you can see what action you want to impart when it is on the bottom. When drop shotting, less action is frequently better. That is why we at Rude Baits developed a worm that stays suspended horizontally. This allows you to fish the bait without having to impart a lot of action to keep the bait horizontal like you do when the bait either sinks or floats. Simply give the occasional slight shake of the rod tip. Try Rude Baits BT worms and you’ll be surprised at how many more fish you catch on these baits versus any other bait when drop shotting.
Casting and retrieving a drop shot rig: Rigging the drop shot as noted above and then casting and bouncing the rig on the bottom back to boat not only allows you to cover more water, thereby inducing more strikes, but it can flat out be the best method in finding fish and getting them to strike when all other techniques have failed. Expect more hang ups but also expect far more bites.
Drop shotting has been an incredibly effective method for catching bass for both the tournament angler and weekend angler for years on the west coast. It has gained in popularity all over the country the last couple of years, especially where there are large populations of smallmouth bass. If you like smallmouth bass fishing and haven’t mastered drop shotting, you definitely need to. Whether it’s for the purpose of winning tournaments or simply having a great day on the water, try it and master it, you’ll be glad you did.
If you haven’t tried Rude Baits BT worms for drop shotting, order some online and you’ll see the difference in your catch rate. I like fishing the Dark Dusk, First Light, Magic Melon and Kiwi Krush in the morning and PB & J, Money Honey, Green Tree and Lemon Lime in the afternoons but I suggest purchasing all 8 and fishing them all to determine your favorites. All of the Rude Baits BT worms are injected laminates with incredibly vivid colors that cannot be fully appreciated by looking at website pictures. You have to see these baits in person to see the incredible colors of the baits. Order some today; you’ll be glad you did! Please contact us if you have any questions regarding our baits, this article or any fishing related questions. You can contact me through the website at: www.rudebaits.com.
Thanks and good fishing! (Please practice catch and release.)
Mike Rude,
Rude Baits, where “The Formula is the Difference”

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