Everyone who bass fishes loves to catch fish. So for us this year, it’s been about finding the biggest schools of bass we can with our electronics (more about that in future articles). However, a good portion of the schools of bass have been in water deeper than 20 feet. The question then comes, how do you bass fish the water carefully and seine the bass from a location effectively when they are that deep.
There are a variety of applications that work but we found that one has worked better than most and surprisingly it has produced some fish weighing more than 6 pounds as well. Drop shotting with light line and wispy rods may not seem like a way to power through an area, but it works surprisingly well as a way to cover a small area when you know bass are present.
The drop shot has been a go to application ever since it hit the scene out west decades ago. Borrowed from our friends in the orient, the drop shot technique became a staple in Japan as a way to coax highly pressured bass in crystal clear water fisheries. The technique continues to be refined more than 20 years later.
For most folks the drop shot has become something “they have to do” to get a bite on a clear water fishery, but we’re finding it’s equally effective in darker waters. Many riverine fisheries have sediment that is stirred by rain and current and it can give the fisheries a “color” to them most months of the year. The water isn’t muddy but the visibility isn’t much beyond a couple feet either.
Yet on various fisheries around the country, we’ve had 50 to 100 bass days on drop shots by fishing them just as we would other lures even though the water wasn’t crystal clear. The key is putting the bait in the right place, choosing a worm that works for that water clarity, and patience for the bite.
The biggest key to catching them on a drop shot is finding the fish. It can be a good search tool, but honestly your electronics do a better job at that. Once you locate a good structure or some form of cover or a school of bass that shows up on your electronics relating to either/or, then start by making a cast to the area and feeding your line until it’s on the bottom.
Choosing a weight for the depth is critical. A 1/4 ounce weight works well even in depths 20 feet and deeper on calmer days. However as the wind or current picks up, it may be necessary to go a little heavier with your weights. Generally speaking you want the weight on the bottom the entire time. There are many times where a drop shot excels at catching suspended fish, but for this piece, let’s stick with bottom loving bass.
Once your drop shot is on the bottom. Start by weighing your drop shot. What this means is pull ever so slowly until you feel the weight of the drop shot dragging. Then stop and let a semi slack bow to form in your line. As you do this the worm is seductively falling back to the bottom. Now pick it up again until you just feel the tension of the weight.
With practice, you’ll be able to raise and lower your worm and make it dance slowly and seductively in place without ever moving the weight. Once you have a good feel for the drop shot, slowly drag the weight along the bottom until you feel something a little more substantial. Maybe it’s a bigger rock, a stump, a piece of brush or some other obstruction that would give a bass an ambush point.
Then begin the dancing of the worm in one spot trying not to move the weight. What you’ve done is taken a big area and focused on fishing an ambush point in the area. Your dance should be slow and light. No need to violently shake your rod tip. That might work on occasion but I’ve caught more fish on a drop shot just holding the worm still and letting the waves and currents move it than I have actually shaking my rod a bunch.
For some reason the more you can make the worm just sort of hover and undulate the more strikes you get. The thing folks have to remember is the bass aren’t just sitting in one spot all day. They ease around slowly and it might take them a few seconds of studying the worm. The more you can just let it sit there, the more that bass is getting curious. Then when you make a move he reacts out of impulse and grabs it.
This is where the patience comes in with drop shotting. You move it slolwly, find a rock or stump or something and then just try to coax a bass into taking the worm. Always think a bass is watching your worm and you’re trying to make him react to it just taunting him.
The bite most of the time on a drop shot will feel like one of three things. You’ll either feel a light peck or series of pecks. Don’t set the hook there. Or you’ll feel like someone cut the weight off your line and the whole drop shot just gets a lot lighter. That’s a fish swimming up with it. Don’t set the hook. Or you’ll feel pressure. This is where you set the hook.
If you feel the first two. Slowly reel the slack out of your line to get a tight connection. If you feel just a little more weight than what you’ve been measuring with your drop shot, then sweep your rod upward in a smooth controlled sweep as you continue to reel faster. This works most often because we almost always nose hook our worms for this application.
Nose hooking is simply taking a worm and a drop shot hook and starting about 1/4-inch down on the worm and running the hook point in and forward to the nose of the worm. With a drop shot hook tied correctly, which is now a lot easier thanks to hooks like the VMC Spin Shot, the hook lays out to the side and the worm lays perfectly horizontal in the water. So in essence the tip of the hook is covered in plastic keeping it from snagging. As you catch a few fish, you’ll want to make sure the nose of your worm is still covering the hook tightly. We often bite the ends of our worms off and keep moving it down to keep a good solid cover on our hook point. But with this rig a reel set is all you need to hook a fish well.
For the worms, we’ve experimented with a bunch and have found for darker water, color matters more it seems on certain days than the size or shape of your worm. We’ve caught them on 10 inch worms and we’ve caught them on 4-inch worms. But day in and day out we reach for Zoom Trick Worms, Zoom Finesse Worms, Roboworm 6-inch worms, and we’ve had good luck with the new drop shot worms from Yum and Z-Man.
The most important thing to remember is to not just go with the colors other folks tell you are good. We often will go from a light pink worm to a dark grape worm and keep changing until we find one that seems to work better in that deeper water. Some days when it’s sunny it seems like a lighter translucent color works good while on those darker overcast days a more solid color seems to work better.
If the area you fish is fairly free of dense cover you can get away with 6-pound line, a good spinning reel with smooth drag and a rod with a light tip but good strong backbone to pull a hook into a fish and be able to control a big fish on the fight. The key is to not get in a big hurry when fighting them. Just ease into them and then keep tension and let them run. I’m a fan of back reeling on a big fish which is why we always use spinning rods and reels with light line.
There is a lot more to drop shotting than most people give it credit for. It’s been our No. 1 producer on the deep schools this summer and we’ve kept it under wraps until now because we’ve had so much fun catching 100 bass a day on this rig on Kentucky Lake. A bass weighing 6.6 pounds was the biggest we’ve taken on the technique in the last month.
It’s definitely a technique you need to add to your arsenal especially when the fish move deeper than 15 feet.
We’ll have a feature on fishing the drop shot for suspended fish in a couple of weeks as that’s likely to play a big role next year in the tournament scene. And we’re also compiling video footage for an on the water demonstration of the techniques effectiveness as a follow up. But for now, give the drop shot a try for your deeper fish and let us know how you do.
Here’s a quick look at our tackle we’ve been using for our own drop-shot fishing:
- Abu Garcia Revo Spinning Reel
- Shimano Stradic Ci4 Spinning Reel
- Abu Garcia Veritas Spinning Rod
- 6-pound Trilene 100-Percent Fluorocarbon
- 8-pound Seaguar Invis-X fluorocarbon
- No. 2 and No. 1 VMC Spin Shot hooks
- VMC 1/4-ounce Pro Drop Shot Weights
- Zoom Trick Worms
- Zoom Finesse Worms
- Roboworm 6-inch Straight tail worms
- YUM Sharp Shooter
- Z-Man Trick ShotZ