Drop Shots: #1 for Numbers of Bass
#1 for Numbers of Bass in Summer & Fall
By Tom Redington
Once the heat of summer comes on and bass move to deeper locations, the drop shot rig will likely be your best option for catching numbers of bass. While jigs, Texas rigs, and Carolina rigs often produce larger bass, these rigs will often struggle to keep up with the numbers that a drop shot can catch. And if the fishing turns tough, the drop shot will often save the day with some nice catches while more conventional methods may only produce a few fish all day. Although many of you have already mastered this technique, I'm still surprised by the number of anglers that either refuse to fish with this "sissy technique" and by the anglers that have still never encountered a drop shot rig. Now through November is the perfect time to learn drop shotting on Fork or just about any other lake in the country.
A drop shot rig is very simple to tie up. There are many variations and specialty tackle items for the rig, but here's how I rig it. First, tie a 1/0 straight shank light wire hook with a Palomar knot, leaving about an 18-inch long tag end. At the end of the tag end, connect a 1/8- to ½-ounce Lake Fork Tackle Tungsten drop shot weight. The weight has a swivel built into it, thereby virtually eliminating line twist issues. I use the 1/8-ounce weight when fishing around grass or wood cover in shallow water, while a 3/8- or ½-ounce weight works best when you're fishing in 15 feet or deeper and in more open water.
I rig all of this on P-Line Fluorocarbon line, as the fluorocarbon delivers much better feel than mono, while providing great abrasion resistance and extremely low visibility. I rig 10-pound test for most of my drop shots on Fork, while 6- to 8-pound test works really well on extremely clear lakes without a lot of cover, especially for pressured bass that are inactive. If I'm fishing around heavy wood cover or very dense grass, I'll sometimes up my line to 12 or even 14- to 17-pound test. With a properly set drag and a little patience, I've landed big bass up to 9 pounds on Fork with only 10-pound test around brushy cover. If you're fishing around heavy cover, just remember to retie and respool your line often or you'll pay the consequences.
Finally, spinning reels will allow you to cast the light rigs better but baitcasters do fine on the drop shots with ¼-ounce or bigger weights. Use a medium light power rod with a fast tip for smaller drop shots and when using less than 10-pound test. I use a medium power rod with a fast tip for the drop shots with bigger line and weights.
Once you have your drop shot tied up, it's time to select a bait. While just about any soft plastic lure can be fished on a drop shot, I go with a Lake Fork Tackle 6-inch Twitch Worm 75% of the time. Natural colors like shades of pumpkinseed, green pumpkin and watermelon normally work best. If the bite is really tough, I'll sometimes cut the top 2- to 3-inches off the worm, creating a 3- or 4-inch finesse worm. If there isn't much cover to snag in, your best bet is to either nose hook the worm or hook it through the middle "wacky style", leaving the hook point exposed either way. This exposed hook results in a very high hooking percentage. If you're fishing around a lot of wood cover, I'll rig the Twitch Worm weedless on the hook Texas Style, with the hook point protected inside the worm. Virtually any lure that you'd rig on a Texas rig will work on a drop shot too. Some of my other favorites are Baby Ring Frys, Zig Zags, Baby Fork Creatures, Magic Shads, and 3.5-inch Live Magic Shads. While green and brown colors schemes work in these baits as well, shad colors work very well with the Magic Shads and Live Magic Shads.
Depending on the mood of the fish, you can either continuously shake the worm in place or you can dead-stick it and let it slowly fall to the bottom. I normally go with the former, continuously shaking my bait on a semi-slack line so the bait is constantly dancing but keeping enough slack in the line so the sinker stays on the bottom. Practice this in a swimming pool or in cove with clear shallow water and you'll quickly get the hang of it. When the bass are less active, I'll simply cast the drop shot out and let the weight and bait fall to the bottom. Let your lure sit on the bottom for a few seconds, then slowly pick up the slack and raise the bait off the bottom without lifting the sinker off the bottom, then hold the bait in place for 5 to 60 seconds. Let the bait fall back to the bottom and then pick it back up and hold it in place for another 5 to 60 seconds. Repeat this process all the way back to the boat. Bites are rarely hard hits, normally your bait will just get heavy. If you're hook point is exposed, you'll only need a small wrist snap to set the hook, while you'll need a slightly stronger hookset if you bait is rigged weedless on the hook.
The other retrieve element to consider on your drop shot is whether to pitch, cast, or vertically jig it. Around shallow cover like docks, laydowns, brush piles, and isolated weed clumps, pitch a wacky rig just like you would a Texas rig. Out deeper, casting the drop shot over points, roadbeds, and humps works well. Even better, when a school of bass is located in a specific area, a drop shot is a deadly weapon. Simply get directly over the fish with your boat and keep them on your screen with your depth finder, then drop the drop shot over the side of the boat and wiggle in the bass' faces until they bite. Basically it's like sight fishing, only in much deeper water. This vertical presentation also works great for suspended fish. By watching your bait on the fish finder, you can keep your lure right in front of suspended bass and even watch them bite on the screen!
Next time you're looking to fill your limit quickly or find the bite slow on Texas and Carolina rigs, give the drop shot a try and I think you'll like the results. Here's hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 (days) or 972-635-6027 (evenings) or e-mail me through my website, www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com.
Tom Redington is a full time bass guide on Lake Fork and is sponsored by Ranger Boats, Diamond Sports Marine, Lake Fork Trophy Lures, Minn Kota, Humminbird, and P-Line Fishing Lines.