Drop Shot Fishing
by Fred Wall
Bassdozer with permission of Honey
Hole Magazine, Inc.
At the Panhandle Boat and Ski Club boat show
in February this year I helped in my sponsor Ender's Rods booth.
In our conversations during the three days I kept hearing Gary
Enders talk about his newest rod, that being his drop-shot rod. I
didn't want to appear stupid, so the first time or two I heard
it, I just played it safe and kept quiet. After the second day
the drop-shot subject came up again, so I asked him to tell me
about it. He said, "I'll tell you what, I've got a pro that
lives in Phoenix. He's won over $45,000.00 using it since
November last year. He's helping me design the new rods for the
technique. I'll have him call you."
So with the much-appreciated help of Bret
Hite, we want to educate you on the use of the newest rigging
technique for catching big bass after the spawn, during the hot
summer, and even in the dead of winter.
Before we start on the rig, you've got to
understand that after the spawn and in high-pressure situations,
the home of the big bass is in deep water. By deep water I mean
anything deeper than eight to 12 feet. Notice I say big bass.
There are always some fish shallow, and if there is a lot of
structure or hiding places available some big bass may be
shallow. But every fisheries biologist you talk to will tell you
that after the spawn a big bass will not move one foot more than
she has to, to eat. So after the two or three months of the year
when she moves shallow to spawn, her home is in deep water.
Deep water means different things in different
places. In Florida, where the deepest water in the lake is 10 to
20 feet, this is where she will be. But in California, Arizona,
New Mexico and some parts of Texas deep water could be 60 or 70
feet or even 90 feet or more in depth.
If all this makes sense to you now, you say,
"Okay, how do I find her?" You next have to realize
that fish move around and through a body of water using the same
set of highways every day. That may be a creek channel, a break
line, or a weed line that extends out into deep water. The key
part of all this thinking is where the fish move toward the depth
where they feed. The answer to this is found on the points, or
bars if you want to call them that, which ex-tend farthest out
into the deepest water in the area.
Okay, we have established where the fish live
and how they travel to the grocery store. Now we've got to put
you at the spot where you can point your finger in the water and
say, "I'm going to catch fish right here." This is done
with your electronics and a set of marker buoys. You are hunting
the longest, deepest, narrowest point that extends the farthest
into the deepest water in the area. Let me say that again,
longest, deepest, narrowest into the deepest water in the area.
At the mouth of a creek, or even on an old
do-nothing bank there will be points that extend out into deep
water. Using your big motor, idle across the point and mark the
shallow top of the point. Move out to eight to 10 feet and do the
same thing, keep moving deeper until you have a row of markers on
this point and a sense of which way it heads. Keep doing this
until your last buoy is on the spot where it drops off into the
deepest water in the area. This may be 25 or 30 feet in depth.
Hite says most of his best fish on this rig are caught from 25 to
as deep as 75 feet.
Now from the bank, idle straight out your buoy
line and look for the heaviest concentration of fish or baitfish
up on the structure. Make note of the depth, where they are at
their shallowest point on the structure. If there are no fish on
the structure gather your markers and leave. Go find another spot
until you find one that does. If you practice this a few times it
only takes about 10 minutes to do and even if you have to do it
three times, I'll trade 30 minutes and an hour of big fish for
six hours and small fish any day.
If you are using a Pinpoint
positioning motor this whole process is easy. Just head off the
points until you find fish say in 17 feet of water, set the depth
track in 17 feet and let it track until you find the longest
point extending out into the deepest water. Now if you've done it
right, you've got a marker on top of the point where the fish are
holding. Pull up all the rest of the markers except this one
because the one that's left is where you're going to catch fish.
In cold-water months the fish may be holding in the deep creek
channels or on the edges of the creek channels.
Hite says he prefers a spinning rig for
dropshotting, but I used a Shimano Chronarch and found it to work
well. Enders Rods has developed a special rod for this technique
as well. It is a 6-foot 6-inch, medium-light power and fast-tip
action. Hite recommends an 8- or 10-pound fluorocarbon line. The
hook of choice is the G-Lock #1 by Gamakatsu, but any of the
super sharp wire hooks, with a Z-bend to keep the bait in place,
will work. Last is the weight. Bass Pro is making a special
drop-shot sinker, as are a few of the other tackle manufacturers.
But at almost a buck a piece, most people are using a bell sinker
in 1/4- or 3/8-ounce sizes.
The rig may sound like the
simplest part of the system because it's a hook tied directly to
the line from four inches to four-foot above the sinker. But how
the hook rides the line is extremely important in getting this
little hook in the fish, on the hook set. Hite recommends you
move up the line about four or five feet and double the line, go
into the hook from the back side or opposite the point, tie a
simple Palomar knot and leave the tag end about four or five feet
long. Now take the tag end and go back through the hook eye from
the point side toward the back. When you hang the weight, the
hook will be at a 90-degree angle to the line with the hook point
Last is the weight and how far up the line the
hook should be. Here's where you'll have to decide based on how
high above the structure the fish are holding. If they're five
feet above the structure, you may want the hook four feet above
the weight or in some instances five or six inches may be enough.
You'll just have to experiment to see what the fish want.
Eighteen to 24 inches is a good place to start. I tie the bell
sinker on with a slip-knot so if it hangs up I don't lose
everything. Hang-ups will happen.
If you haven't figured it out
yet, the #1 size hook isn't going to work too well with a 10-inch
worm or an 11-inch lizard. This is finesse-style fishing, using
small baits. There are a large number of manufacturers making
baits for this style of fishing. Most are hand-poured and come
from the West Coast. This style of fishing was invented and has
been refined in the deep, clear-water lakes in Japan, California,
and Arizona. It works best using a hand-poured super-soft bait
that has a lot of action when you shake it.
Ok we've got the "where" this system
works, and the "what" in how you rig it, now let's talk
about the "how" you fish it to be most productive.
Now we've got our buoy out on the structure we
intend to fish. We've got our rig built with either a small
finesse bait we've been successful with before or, one we've
purchased. As far as color is concerned, keep in mind that at
certain depths colors change. The reds get dark, the browns get
almost black and the purples and blues are the last colors to
change. So if your favorite color on this lake is blue, fish blue
because confidence is important. I prefer the shad colors, clear
with silver flake or pearl whites with dark backs. Cast out from
deep water toward and past your buoy marker. Let the rig fall on
slack line straight down. Take up the slack until you feel the
weight. Shake the bait using only the rod tip. Do this two or
three times without moving the weight. Pick up again and this
time move the sinker toward you a few feet. Shake it again a
couple of times without moving the weight while you're shaking
the bait. Continue to do this until the rig is straight under
Here's where the limber-tip rod is important.
You want to shake the bait on semi-slack line without moving the
weight. The bite on this rig is never bone jarring. It's most
generally just a different feeling like mush, or sometimes the
fish will just start to swim off with it. Fan cast the whole
area, and be sure to position the boat so you can cast past and
pull up over the point and back down the drop-off side. If you
can't get bit, change colors or leader lengths. When you start
catching fish it is pretty common to catch three or four off one
This system is just like learning to fish a
Carolina or Texas rig, it will take some time to master, but with
this system your bait stays in the strike zone longer than any
other method of fishing. Catching fish in deep water is limited
to about two or three methods and if the fish are spooky or hard
to make bite this system should be one you try.
Special thanks to Bret Hite and we wish him
continued success in his career. His favorite drop-shot baits are
available from Sweetwater Tackle (520) 505-3017. The owner's name
is David Mitchell and he has just introduced a new line of 4-inch
paddle-tail, hand-poured worms called the Drop Shot Pro Model.
Hite says he prefers the natural colors, such as cinnamon-blue,
black grape or brown/purple.