When smallmouth bass go deep during the dog days of summer, the drop shot rig is a good choice, as it allows anglers to precisely sound out bottom structures in large reservoirs — the ends of points, rows of tree stump, creek ledges, bush piles, and neighboring humps too river channels.
But it’s more versatile than just a seasonal presentation. Anglers can cast out or set up the rig to cover and catch bass in almost any situation and any time of year, but it is arguably best when fished vertically for finesse presentation.
This is because the rig has weight on the bottom and soft plastic baits are hung on the bottom at eye level with the bass. Lures fished include straight-tailed plastic worms, shad-profile flukes, swimming lures or creature lures.
Depending on the angler’s situation and preferences, plastic lures are hooked through the nose, rigged Texas-style to reduce the risk of snagging when fishing in heavy cover, or rigged wacky-style with the hook passing through the middle of a small one straight tail worm so both ends of the worm flap seductively.
Drop shot rigs are typically fished with spinning tackle, a 6 foot, 10 inch or longer rod with a soft tip and medium action paired with an open bail spinning reel fitted with an 8 to 10 inch Pound Test fluorocarbon line is spooled. When fishing vertically with drop shot rigs, some anglers spool their reels of braided line and tie on a 10 foot fluorocarbon line leader. Braided line with no stretch improves hook set when deep fishing.
• It is not difficult to tie the simple drop shot rig.
Tie the hook on the main line, tip up, with a uni knot or palomar knot to allow for a generous tag end on the line. Thread the hook end of the line back through the hook eye so the hook is at a 90 degree angle from the main line.
Attach the weight to the tag end of the leash.
Many tackle companies sell drop shot rigs that feature swivels to reduce line twist.
• Two popular brands of drop shot hooks are the Mustad Wide Gap Drop Shot Hook and the Gamakatsu Finesse Series. The preferred hook sizes are #2 or #1.
Professional tournament angler and drop shot expert Aaron Martens developed the Aaron Martens TGW Drop Shot Hook in collaboration with Gamakatsu.
The Gamakatsu Aaron Martens TGW Drop Shot Hook features a slightly angled tip for optimal hooking, is constructed from TGW (Tournament Grade Wire) which is 20 percent smaller in diameter for easier hook penetration without loss of hook strength and -Features Gamakatsu’s proprietary Nano Smooth Coat, a smooth finish with less drag than traditional hooks for improved hook penetration.
• A good rule of thumb is to keep the drop shot rig as light as possible to improve plastic bait action.
As such, 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce weights are typically fished, or a heavier 3/16 ounce in windy conditions. Weights are teardrop, round, or straight (tube) made of lead or tungsten, with a line clip instead of an eyelet on the weight. Thread the hooked end of the leash through the leash clip and tie a simple overhand knot. When the weight gets stuck, the line can be freely pulled without losing the hook and soft plastic bait.
• Popular soft plastic lures fished on the drop shot rig include the 4″ Berkley Gulp Minnow, 4″ Zoom Fluke, 4 1/4″ Zoom Finesse Worm and the 3 1 /4-inch YUM Wooly Bug creature lures, but lures 6 inches or longer in length usually fish effectively.
Fishing with the Drop Shot Rig
What makes this rig most effective is subtle retrieval, holding the rod for long periods and shaking the rod tip on a slack line, not enough to move the weight but enough to impart lifelike movement to the lure.
Other effective techniques include casting out the rig and slowly pulling it back toward the boat, bouncing it, or swimming it back toward the boat to look for fish that are floating.
Don’t overlook the drop shot rig, a versatile presentation that will catch bass anytime and in a variety of situations if you can figure out the bait and retrieve bass on any given day.