Shotting in Depth
By: Steve VonBrandt
has been touted as one of the hottest "new" techniques
around, but it has been around since the mid 1970s. Drop-Shotting
has been revived in the last 5 years by Japanese anglers,
who started using this technique to catch the bass in their
clear, highly pressured lakes, but saltwater anglers, and
panfisherman have been using this technique for many years
to catch finicky fish suspended off the bottom.
In the past few years, tournament anglers have adopted this
technique to put hard to catch fish into the boat. It is an
excellent technique for catching deep bass, and bass that
are highly pressured in many of the tournament waters all
over the US. The techniques that are used today have been
refined, but the basic technique has remained the same for
The most simple explanation of this technique is that drop-shotting
is a vertical presentation using light line, over top of fairly
snag free structures. A sinker is tied to the line, which is usually
8-12 pound test, and a hook is tied on the line, about 1-3 feet
above the weight. A soft plastic bait is usually nose hooked,
and the rig is lowered to the depth of the fish.
Most anglers use their electronics to locate the structure, baitfish,
and bass, and the rig is brought into the area where the strikes
are suspected. The baits action is controlled by a slight shaking,
or gentle twitching of the rod tip.
This is a very simple explanation, but drop-shotting can be much
more refined and more complicated. The types of hooks used for
this technique vary greatly with each individual anglers preference.
There are many anglers out there today that prefer the short shanked
style of hooks for drop-shotting.
These are called "Octopus" hooks. Many times these hooks
are colored red, which many anglers believe bass see as a wounded
bait. There are also many companies who manufacture pre-rigged
drop-shot rigs, so you don't have to waste a lot of time tying
them when you get on the water.
Others prefer to tie the rigs themselves, but this is something
that most do ahead of time, so they can save valuable time on
the water for fishing. Most bass fisherman, myself included, prefer
a straight shanked hook, because in places where there is current,
these styles resist some of the line twisting that occurs in these
I like to use a ball-bearing swivel myself, which prevents most
of the line twisting that can occur. I tie on a swivel as a connection
between the line and leader. I always use a black swivel for this
and other techniques in clearer water, as I believe it doesn't
spook wary bass.
I also use the smallest swivel I can get away with. I use a Superline
for these techniques also, as I believe it aids in detecting subtle
strikes in deeper water. I like a braided line such as "Spiderline"
I always use the "Spiderline" in stained water, but
at places like Table Rock Lake in Missouri, and some other clear
water areas around the country, I use a Fluorocarbon line, as
the braids are easier for the bass to see. In most of the clear,
deep, highland reservoirs that we fish, this is very important.
Also, by using a fluorocarbon line, I can go up in size to a higher
pound test without the bass being able to detect it. This type
of fishing is really a "Finesse" technique, a term which
has been abused in recent years by many anglers. If you aren't
delivering a small bait, on light line, in fairly deep water,
then I don't really consider it finesse fishing.
You can use almost any kind of sinker for this technique, but
I really like to use the "quick release" style of weights.
If the conditions on the water change, such as the wind picking
up, the current increasing, or if you move to deeper water, you
can quickly change to a heavier weight without having to retie.
Some examples of this type of weight are the Duel Quick Change
Lead Sinker, and the Zappu. These rigs are specifically tailored
for drop-shotting techniques. Another really good type sinker
that we found recently, is the Bakudan.
This weight is ball shaped, as has a swivel-like line tie that
reduces line twist. Line twist can sometimes be a problem with
these rigs in wind, or deep water situations, and anything that
helps reduce this is a definite plus.
This type of weight also has something the others don't. It has
a line clip that lets you change the distance between the lure
and the weight, without having to retie. Another method for changing
the sinker quickly is to simply tie a loop at the end of the drop-shot
leader using an overhand surgeon's loop.
To properly fish this, and other rigs, a knowledge of many different
knots is recommended. Practice tying these knots in the off season,
and it will increase the time you spend fishing, instead of tying.
Another technique for drop-shotting, is to tie a regular bass
jig, (usually a 1/4 to 3/4 of an ounce), at the leader end instead
of the lead weight. With a surgeon's loop, different weight jigs
can be changed quickly.
Sometimes, the bass will hit the jig while you are using the drop-shot
rig in your usual areas. Some anglers like to use a "pinch-on"
split shot also. You can also thread a bullet weight on the drop-shot
leader, below the hook and lure, with a split shot squeezed on
below the bullet weight to hold it in place. More weight can easily
be added to this rig quickly, and you can spend more time fishing.
TYING THE HOOKS
Tying the hooks on drop-shots is a refined technique, and can
be done a couple of ways. I always use a Palomar knot, beginning
the knot on the hook point side. This is done before tying the
rig on the sinker.
This is done so that the hook lays at a right angle to the leader.
This is a better way to get a good hookset on light biters. Another
way can be to take the leader end, after the Palomar is tied,
and thread it back through the hook eye, then attach the rig lead.
This way the hook shank lays against the line, which I believe,
I like to use a variety of soft plastics on these rigs, but most
of the time, I use a small 4" finesse worm, or a Yamamoto
"Senko," in the 4 inch size. Another good choice is
the French Fry worm, and other types of hand poured plastic baits,
such as a Roboworm.
A small tube can also be effective, as can a Yamamoto spider grub.
This is only one of many great finesse fishing techniques that
produce bass when they are deep, or highly pressured. Learning
the many different techniques available today, will help you put
more bass into the boat when they are hard to catch.