By : Mike Frisch
As popular as the drop-shot rig has gotten, it still produces under those tough conditions.
Drop-shot fishing for bass is a technique that became very popular when it first hit the fishing scene a couple decades ago. Not only does this finesse technique puts lots of bass in the boat when the bite is good, but it can also be one of the only ones that consistently produces when the bite gets finicky. Not only that, but walleyes, northern pike, and even big panfish will eat this rig on waters across the Midwest.
A drop-shot set-up starts by tying a hook inline and leaving a “tag” trailing beyond that hook to which a weight is tied. Some form of bait, often a small plastic, is threaded on the hook, the weight is dropped to bottom, and the bait suspended above. Finesse movements like twitches or shakes imparted to the fishing rod by the angler can then be added to give the bait action in hopes of triggering bites.
Small “finesse” plastic baits are often presented to bass, particularly those in a foul mood unwilling to respond to other larger offerings. This tactic is favored by largemouth fishermen who break out drop-shot rigs when no other baits seem to produce. Meanwhile, smallmouth anglers often have drop-shot rigs tied up as part of their regular fishing arsenal.
Back “in the day” when I fished bass tournaments, I usually had a drop-shot ready when pursuing largemouth, just in case a finicky bite was encountered. Now most of my drop-shot fishing involves smallmouth bass, particularly when these fish are found in deeper water. Here I often “see” fish on sonar and drop the rig down, fishing vertically.
There are some keys that up the odds for droppin’ success regardless whether brown or green bass are the target. First, this method usually involves the use of light line and a small bait where the invisibility of fluorocarbon line is beneficial. I use 8-pound CONTRA fluorocarbon since this line invisible to the fish, handles well on spinning gear, and is strong for successfully battling hard fighting smallies and big largemouth.
I tie my hook with a simple Palomar knot and usually leave about a foot to 18-inches of tag below the hook. A variety of drop-shot hooks are available, I use those in sizes #1 and #2 mostly. Tour Grade Tungsten Drop Shot weights are my preference since tungsten enhances feel and these weights are also smaller in size than their lead counterparts, meaning less drag and less intrusiveness around finicky fish. Sinker weight used depends on water depths fished and wind conditions.
A variety of small, finesse style plastics will produce bass when using drop-shot rigs. My favorite, however, is a nose-hooked Baby Z-Too soft jerkbait that has an action most bass, largemouth and smallmouth, can’t seem to resist. Plus, it’s very durable so several bass can often be caught on one bait. The smokey shad color pattern is a good all-around producer, though the pearl pattern is often on my line when specifically targeting smallmouth bass.
The right rod and reel is important when fishing this method too. Medium light power, extra fast action rods around 7’ long make great drop-shot rods. The Lew’s KVD Series has a model specifically designed for this technique that is my favorite when paired with a matching KVD Series spinning reel.