Drop shotting continues to evolve
Extremely Effective On Bass...
June 01, 2008
|Michigan anglers are just beginning to embrace the benefits of drop shot rigging. Mark Romanack photo|
The world we live in never stops spinning. On the same note, fishing is a constantly evolving sport. Every time a new fishing presentation hits the waterways, someone makes it their own with a little tweak here and a slight modification there. Pretty quick, what started out as one concept suddenly become several different fishing methods.
That's exactly what has happened to a popular bass fishing strategy known as drop shotting. Like most bass fishing methods, drop shotting got its start in the south and southwest where anglers can fish bass year around. The drop shot rig consists of a weight on the terminal end of the fishing line, with a hook tied into the main line about 12 inches above the bottom. Various types of soft plastic lures are added to the hook and presto, another bass presentation evolves.
Drop shotting was initially intended as a deep water fishing method, similar to how Caroline rigs are used to scour the bottom for structure loving bass. Similar to this timeless rigging method in ways and different in others, drop shotting has the advantage of presenting the bait up off bottom where bass can see it better. Also, the bait can also be worked or jiggled enticingly without actually moving the weight. This combination of action and static location has caused drop shotting to become a presentation worthy of special note.
The subtle differences that separate drop shotting from Caroline rigging have actually paid off in many ways. Not only has drop shotting become a "go to" presentation for anglers across the south and southwest, it didn't take long for this fishing method to catch on in the north. Of course up north they do things a little differently.
When the northern boys figured out how drop shotting was being used to catch bass, this unique presentation took yet another turn in the evolution process. In the north where a lot of bass fisheries feature gin clear water and sight fishing methods, drop shotting evolved into a finesse fishing trick for suspending a soft plastic lure right over the top of a bass bed.
Talk about effective. Bass, especially smallmouth bass are instinctively protective of their nests. The male bass will run off predators that potentially attack the eggs like bluegills or in the Great Lakes area a little fish known as the round gobie. Imagine what happens when a soft plastic gobie imitation is suspended over top of a smallmouth bed on Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair? The smallmouth simply can't resist the temptation to do what comes natural and protect his nest.
As you might expect, the drop shot rig continues to evolve and anglers all over the country are finding creative ways to customize this deadly fishing presentation. "Drop shotting is a great way to catch bass, especially those pressured fish that have seen it all," says Dan Kimmel, a tournament bass angler from Lansing, Michigan who maintains the informational web site www.greatlakesbass.com. Kimmel was instrumental in getting Michigan to rewrite their game laws so that drop shotting could be used in most waters. "There are so many ways to modify the basic drop shot rig and so many places to fish these new versions, I doubt that anglers will get bored with this presentation anytime soon."
When drop shotting hit the scene a few years ago, it sparked an immediate debate as to the legality of this particular presentation. In most states drop shotting is completely legal and widely accepted, but in a few states some specific modifications to the basic drop shot rig are not allowed. Before fishing any drop shot rig, it's best to check with your local fish and game department to confirm what can and can't be used. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
New fishing presentations don't evolve out of thin air. Normally, new presentations get started when an established presentation is modified to meet a particular need. In the case of Wacky Shotting, two distinctively different presentations were combined to form a new way to catch bass.
Wacky rigging is a simple means of attaching a worm hook into the middle of a finesse style soft plastic worm. The more normal way of rigging a worm is with the hook in the nose or Texas rigged. When a worm is wacky rigged and the line is jerked, the worm bends in the middle then snaps back into shape. The action generated from wacky rigging is unique and yet very subtle. Normally, no weight is used on a wacky rig so everything sinks slowly. Wacky rigging has evolved into one of the hottest finesse methods of bass fishing.
"Combining a wacky rigged worm with a drop shot rig gains the best of both presentations," says Kimmel. "I like to use an Xtreme Bass Tackle four inch X-worm and a wide bend worm hook a little wider than the worm. Instead of nose hooking or Texas hooking the worm, I take a small rubber "O" ring about the same size in diameter as the worm and thread the "O" ring into the middle of the worm. Next I tie the worm hook to the main line about 12-18 inches above the drop shot weight. The hook is then slipped under the "O" ring. Rigged in this way I can catch several bass on one worm without tearing it up. This same rig can be modified by adding a short dropper line between the hook and main line."
The X-worm used by Kimmel can also be substituted for any number of other finesse soft plastics. Good choices include the Mann's Free Fall Worm, Yamamoto Senko, Zoom Fork Tail, Chompers Drop Shot Worm, Yum Dinger or Kinami Baits Flash Worm.
"I've noticed that when wacky shotting, fish often strike on the initial drop," adds Kimmel. "Usually this is how bass typically hit a wacky rig, not a drop shot rig."
Drop Shot Rigs
For the most part, anglers who fish drop shot rigs are working specific spots, targets or individual fish. The target may be a dock, bass bed, stump, rock pile or other object that has attracted a particular fish.
In open water, drop shotting has found a home among anglers who concentrate on targeting bass that live on sprawling flats. The most practical way to fish this type of featureless cover is by slowly drifting and dragging a drop shot rig along bottom.
"Drifting a drop shot rig is a very closely related to Caroline rigging," says Doug Mauer, the inventor of the Angler's Genie (www.btillc.net) a software program that helps anglers organize a wealth of fishing information into an electronic fishing journal. "The big thing with drifting a drop shot rig is the lure is presented up off the bottom where fish can see it easier. A number of different soft plastic lures can easily be incorporated into this bottom fishing rig."
The kind of soft plastic used when drift fishing a drop shot rig has a lot to do with the types of forage available in any given body of water. "I'm convinced that anglers spend too much time studying the quarry and not enough time thinking about the kinds of foods bass eat," says Mauer. "The plastic baits that work best in drop shotting are going to be the ones that closely resemble the kinds of foods bass see most often. In waters that have lots of gobies, plastics that imitate them are going to work well. Where crayfish are the primary forage, certainly it's best to stick with plastics that resemble crayfish."
Two Hook Rigs
If one hook/bait on a drop shot rig works well, imagine how two hooks and or baits are likely to produce! Replacing the weight on the bottom of a drop shot rig with a jig/grub or jig/tube combination takes drop shotting to a whole new arena. About 12 inches up the line a second hook is added, giving this rig the benefit of offering not only two baits, but two different colors, actions, etc. Using two hooks on one line is not legal in some areas. Check with your local regulations before using this particular method.
"I like to fish two hook drop shot rigs whenever possible," says Kimmel. "Normally I use a larger bait (tube or grub) as the bottom weight and above select a smaller, subtle and different profile soft plastic bait for the suspended lure. What's cool about this presentation is on most days a clear pattern emerges. Sometimes the fish want the tube on the bottom and other days they favor the suspended lure. Either way, you learn a lot of information in a short amount of time. It's possible to not only use different types of lures, but also experiment with color patterns. Every once in awhile I even hook two fish at once, making two hook drop shotting one of my favorite ways to fish."
Drop Shot Variations
There is literally no limit to the variations anglers can use to modify the basic drop shot rig. In some waters it's necessary to attach the hook/bait onto a short tag or dropper to meet legal requirements. Most anglers simply tie a worm hook onto a short dropper that's in turn attached to the main line. The rig is completed when a finesse style worm is rigged Texas style.
A variation of this rigging method is to start a Texas rig, but to run the hook point all the way to the tail of the worm. A standard 1/0 or 2/0 straight shank worm hook works best. Then take the worm and pull it up the tag line as far as possible. What you end up with is a worm hook that's positioned with the point at the very tail of the worm. This method functions kind of like a stinger hook and seems to work well when bass are light biting.
Another new approach to drop shotting is the Sworming Hornet Fish Head. This product is similar to a jighead except that the line passes through the eye tie attachment and also the jig's head. A drop shot weight is added to the terminal end creating a unique hooking configuration that positions the hook and fish head in-line and a few inches off bottom. When a soft plastic lure is added the bait is positioned perpendicular to the main line and in a very natural position. Minnow type soft plastics are used mostly with this hooking configuration, but finesse worms and other soft plastics can be incorporated as well.
Some Final Tips
Drop shotting is a great method for targeting bass that are being caught with other conventional presentations. Say for example you've caught a bass or two pitching a jig, tube or Texas rigged worm into a particular spot. Chances are the fish that were caught were the active members of the school. The less active fish tend to remain in the same area, but they simply won't bite.
Having a drop shot rig ready to go is a great way to pick off an additional fish or two from each school. Toss the drop shot rig equipped with a finesse style plastic bait right into the same spot you've already caught fish. Be patient and work the bait with some subtle rod twitches. Often this simple approach will produce one or two additional bites that would not have been taken otherwise.
Drop shotting has quickly become known as a presentation for finesse fishing and targeting bass in clear water, but that's also changing quickly. There is a niche for this presentation anywhere it's an advantage to present the bait a little off bottom. By simply using heavier action rods, line, weights and power fishing plastics like lizards, craws, frogs or creatures, drop shotting can be fished among heavy cover, weeds and other places where weedless jigs are more commonly used.
Suspending a soft plastic lure over the top of emerging weed beds is yet another way that drop shotting can be used to target cruising bass. The many ways to fish a drop shot rig is only limited by the imagination of those anglers who have discovered how deadly this presentation can be. The world keeps spinning and bass anglers are going to keep on finding new and better ways to use drop shot rigs. Who knows, maybe you'll be the angler who comes up with the next big thing in drop shotting?