Walleyes, bass, trout and everything in between: Understanding the Drop-Shot Rig

Targeting suspended fish over deeper water (say 30 feet), tie your drop-shot rig hook as much as 24 inches above the weight. In shallow, clear water, 12 inches might suffice. The key is maintaining bottom contact with your sinker and instilling a quivering action.I’ve hooked hundreds of largemouth and smallmouth bass on the drop-shot rig along with dozens of walleyes and even the occasional brown trout and coho salmon. I’ve begun experimenting with the drop-shot rig in Alaska for rainbow trout, and now I’m going lightweight with it for Minnesota crappies and bluegills on deep weed lines. Few of my fishing buddies use the drop-shot rig but I’m slowly bringing them around to it because they see me catching lots of fish with the technique and want to be as successful as I am. I’m not becoming a one-trick pony when it comes to fishing presentations; I’ve just added another facet to my program that efficiently catches fish under certain circumstances.

The circumstances are when fish are in a deep water zone, concentrated in that zone, and this allows for an effective vertical jigging presentation. Conditions have to allow for precision boat control. You have to hover over the spot where the fish are sitting. It is a subtle approach that generates bites whether the fish are in a negative, neutral, or positive feeding mode.

Now that the fluorocarbon lines are getting to the point where you can spool it on a spinning reel and not end up with a twisted, jumbled mess, that is the line I use for drop-shotting. I use a half-ounce sinker tied to the end of the line. If the boat moves too fast to keep a half-ounce weight on the bottom then it’s not a situation conducive to the drop-shot rig. There are a lot of hooks now designed for drop-shotting. I use them, but generally find myself just grabbing the right-sized circle hook.

Hook size is important. Too small and you won’t get the fish hooked. Too big and you’re limiting the action of the lure. With medium-sized suckers I use the No. 1 hook. For small suckers, I still use the No. 2. For trout I’m using flies, like nymphs and streamers. For panfish,  No. 8 hooks are big enough.  The tiny grub bodies on a No. 6 Aberdeen hook are also killer bluegill bait.

The big problem with most anglers is they use hooks that are too large. This hinders the bait action. Then again, you can use hooks that are too small for the lure profile and this will hinder the hooks getting buried into the fish.

Drop-shot rigs lend themselves well to both live bait and lures. For smallmouth bass fishing I often use a sucker minnow on a No. 2 circle hook 18 inches above the sinker. When I run out of live minnows I tip the hook with a soft-bodied bait like a Gulp leech or a Gulp minnow and still catch plenty of fish.

The secret to generating peak efficiency with the drop-shot rig is to incorporate the patented Gary Roach Death Quiver. OK, so it’s not really patented but it was Roach that first showed me this technique and The Quiver is the trigger.

It is what it sounds like. On a drop-shot rig the sinker contacts the bottom and you just quiver that rod tip; really quiver it. Check it out in shallow clear water and you will see why the fish cannot resist this presentation. The lure or bait twitches and wriggles and looks like it’s struggling and the weight below the lure makes the lure action so much more enticing and irresistible.

Anglers out west and some in the south have adopted the drop-shot as a very productive technique. It’s just a matter of time before Midwest anglers discover the productive properties of this presentation, too.

Categories: Blog Content, MinBlogs, News, Social Media, Tim Lesmeister

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