Drop Shot Techniques 101
with Jeff “BassDog” Smith
Pauline & Jeff Smith are Better Half Tour anglers. Jeff and his other fishing partner are owners of BassDog Custom Baits.
Thanks for sharing your how-to know-how, Jeff!
When you’re ready to retrieve fish
and not just haul water.
Are you boating…or fishing?
Do you average less than 20 bass a day? Do you want a simple and effective way to teach your wife, kids, or grand-kids to catch fish and enjoy a day on the water with you? Are you a tournament angler and looking for a new technique to expand your skill sets and catch ratio?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions then a Drop Shot may be your answer. I began my drop shot journey about eight years ago when I decided to give it a try, but only carried the gear around in my tackle box and just tied it on occasionally for about three years with no success. I never really gave it a fair chance to work.
Then, one day on Portage Lakes, OH when my buddy and I were struggling miserably, we proclaimed “we are going to tie this stupid thing on and not stop fishing it until we catch a fish”. We ended up catching over 40 bass that day and have never looked back. It changed our way of fishing so dramatically that we drop shot over 70% of the time now fishing.
This technique is an “everything” way of fishing. What I mean by that is we have caught “everything” on it such as bass, bream, perch, walleye, catfish, crappie, musky, pike, rock bass, and white bass. It is also an “everywhere” technique since you can use it deep or very shallow, in open water or around weeds and rocks. We use it so much we now pour our own drop shot sinkers and make our own baits in our favorite colors.
For a beginner drop shotter to get started I suggest getting a decent spinning outfit with a good drag system. The rod should be from 6’10” to 7’3” medium-light to medium action, I prefer a 7’ medium action rod.
I recommend putting braided line on the real as this will serve two purposes; first lower frustration levels eliminating line falling off the face of the reel, and it makes a good cost-effective line that can be kept on the reel anywhere from 3-5 years if kept in good condition, I prefer Sunline Asegai mostly because you can buy it in 600+ yard spools so there is less wasted line when spooling several reels, I used to use Seaguar Kansen braid but they stopped making it.
As for hooks, I suggest a #1 – 3/0 drop shot style hook, I prefer 2/0 or 3/0 Gamakatsu since they are super sharp and not unreasonably expensive. I also use a SPRO #6 size swivel but any brand will suffice in a #5-#7 size. And to complete my drop shot rig I use a variety of lead drop shot sinkers with the line keeper on top since this makes it very inexpensive since you will lose several in rocks or snags and tungsten is very expensive.
Getting Rigged Up
I tie my drop shot rig about 12-18” long. I prefer Seaguar InvizX or AbrazX line in 10# test. I also use from 6# – 12# depending on water clarity and structure I’m fishing around. I use a Palomar knot to attach the swivel to the top of the line. Then tie the hook on about 4-6” below the swivel, I like to use a Snell knot however a Palomar will also do well. Attach your sinker and you’re ready to go.
I recommend taking some time to view several YouTube videos on the web regarding how to tie the knots mentioned and how to work a drop shot rig.
One of the first things I tell everyone I have taught to drop shot and using a spinning outfit is: 1) never close the bail with the reel handle, always close it with your hand; 2) after closing the bail pull out any excess slack line with your hand, these two steps should become habit and will eliminate twist in the line and stop line from falling off the front of your reel when casting and causing a bad mess.
Here are a couple of items I would like to mention for more experienced anglers. I like to pre-tie a few extra drop shot rigs and keep them in yellow plastic leader boxes called the RIGRAP (you can search them on the internet, they’re cheap). I store my RIGRAPS in a small plastic water proof box in my boat so if I break one off I have several pre-tied and ready. I picked up the small storage box from Walmart and it holds approx. 13 of these RIGRAP boxes.
On the water
I rarely ‘video fish’, a technique of drop shot fishing where you watch your electronics and then drop straight down to the fish. I have not yet mastered that technique such as the experts like Aron Martens or Brent Ehrler but I’m still working on that. I cast my rig out away from the boat and work it back lightly shaking and dragging it as I go, similar to a Carolina Rig.
Another very effective method is pitching near docks or to pin-point your pitch to small clusters of weeds. Practice is essential for this as with any technique. I use the drop shot technique from 2 feet to over 30 feet; in weeds, rock piles, and ledges on river channels. It is just that versatile.
In the last couple years we have also been utilizing a power drop shot rig. This is done with a bait caster rod/reel outfit using heavy line such as braid backing up to about 30# and 15#-20# test fluorocarbon line as the drop shot leader. We use 3/0-5/0 Texas rig wide gap hooks and 3/8-1/2 oz. cylinder style sinkers. I tie the rig the same way as a normal drop shot but with more stout gear.
You can use beaver-style baits, any style worms, or craws on this rig. We use this outfit to pitch directly into holes in the thicker weeks or sometimes into laydowns. This keeps the bait suspended higher in the weeds or just slightly above them. Sometimes just using a normal punch rig setup allows the bait to get lost down at the base of the weeds and this heavy rig keeps it up in their face.
Jeff “BassDog” Smith