Feeding Finicky Bass
Drop Shot Rigging
By Dennis States
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Once in a while a new technique of fishing comes along that is so easy and so successful that it gains great popularity in a very short time. The drop shot rig, or down shot rig (drop shotting), has become one of those techniques.
While I was at the Texas Fishing and Outdoor Show in Mesquite representing Pure Fishing, I did a number of seminars on the bass tub. It didn't take me long to figure out that this technique was one of the spectator's main interests. The bass in the tank also had a big interest in the drop shot rig.
From past experiences I knew these bass-tub bass could be very finicky about hitting a bait for the first day or two of the show. So, I went right to the dropshot rig. It was a big success with both the audience and the bass. This way of fishing is not necessarily one of the best ways of becoming the next state record holder, but what it can accomplish is five good bites on those tournament days when there isn't a much of a bite to be had on the whole lake. In other words when fishing is tough.
The best knot that I have found to use on the drop shot rig is the old standby Palomar knot. After several years of working with my guide customers on their knot tying skills, I have found that the Palomar knot is the simplest and quickest knot to tie correctly for drop shot rigging.
Figure 1 shows the starting loop for a Palomar knot. Be sure to make the loop long enough so that the tag end of your finished knot is long enough to attach the Owner down shot sinker 12 to 36 inches down from the hook. Notice how the loop is started from the inside shank of the hook. This keeps the hook facing up- right when you're finished.
Figure 2 shows a simple overhand knot, creating a loop larger than the bait you are tying on. Notice the angle of the eye on this hook. This is a special new creation from Owner Hooks. It is designed to give the hook more horizontal lift.
Figure 3 shows passing the loop down over the hook. It's important to hold the eye of the hook with your thumb and finger and very carefully pull the slack out of the knot. You can help the line tighten on the eye by wetting the line and "feeling" the line into place.
Figure 4 shows the final step for tying the hook on. Take the end of the tag line and go back up the line and run it down through the eye of the hook. This again has to be done from the inside of the shank. This will help support the hook so it will stand out at a 90-degree angle from the line.
Figure 5 shows the completed drop shot rig using the Owner down shot offset hook. This is a weedless way of fishing the dropshot rig. For most weedy lakes and for shallow-water casting, I recommend this way of rigging. Notice the cone shaped weight on the end of the line. This is another new design from Owner Hooks. This is not a regular casting sinker. It has a line receiving eye that makes it easy to attach and to change weight size as needed. The bell bottom is extra large so it drags harder than a regular weight, allowing you to use a lighter weight and still keep in touch with your bait. These weights are new on the market so you may have to ask your favorite tackle shop to order them.
Figure 6 shows the original drop shot rig using a straight shank hook. This nose-hooked system works well in open water. You can add as many hooks as you can handle. If you are fishing it straight down like I do on Lake Fork during late fall and early winter, it becomes a fish-catching technique, but not just for bass. I have caught bass, catfish, crappie and brim all in the same spot.
I recommend all first-time users to practice the tying of the drop shot rig at home. If it is not set up correctly you are not likely to get the results that you want.
You might want to make a copy of the knot tying instructions for on-the-water reference.
As far as line requirements go, a light low visibility line is recommended. How light is up to the individual and by the body of water you are fishing. To me 12-pound test is light, 10-pound is real light. For my standard drop shot rig I use 14-pound Berkley Vanish. It has a hard finish that helps to hold the hook at the correct angle, and it has extremely low visibility.
If you are doing a lot of casting with a drop shot rig you might want to put a small swivel about 12 to 18 inches above your hook. If you experience a lot of line twisting in the first hour or two, that is a real good indication that you are fishing it too fast. You should spend more time "shaking" this rig with your rod tip than retrieving it. Keep in mind that the intent of this technique was a light-line, controlled depth and finesse presentation by keeping the bait in the same place for an extended period of time.
As far as what baits work the best, that is like a lot of other fishing techniques. Whatever you have the most confidence in is going to work the best for you. Just remember to keep it small so that a light shaking action or current will keep it moving.
EDITORS NOTE. Dennis States is a full time professional guide on Lake Fork. If you wish to learn more about drop shotting or just spend a day with a knowledgeable angler, give him a call or e-mail him. He will be happy to answer any questions you might have. He can be reached at 903-473-2039.