|Drop Shot for Bass also known as Down Shot or Under Shot was a finesse fishing technique brought to the US by Bass anglers from Japan, and this new style of fishing is becoming a popular way to fish for Bass in South Africa. I started using this method about two years ago and it has accounted for several trophy Bass since then. A really effective way to finesse fish for Bass.
Truth be told, this is the easiest method for getting Bass and anyone can use it, fishing this way will almost guarantee you a fish, even if you do not know what you are doing. If you are taking your family or your son out to the dam and you your self are not an experienced Bass fisherman, then this is the method to use. For those guys who are fishing competitions, especially on those difficult days, this method will get you your 5 keepers, and will give you a great chance of a lunker. You can fish deep, shallow fast or slow and even dead stick your bait; in hot weather or cold weather, winter, spring, autumn or summer this method always produces a fish. It so simple and easy.
Any rod and reel and line could be used for drop shot and if you have a basic spinning set up with ordinary mono filament line you are ready to go, and stand an excellent chance of getting a fish.
The best rod would be a medium rod 6’6” to 6’8” with an ultra fast action, a light sensitive tip action with good butt strength, and an open finger spot by the reel. This type of rod is ultra sensitive and will help you feel the structure on the bottom as you move it about and will help you to detect the bite much easier. I personally use a Shimano Crucial 6’8” medium spinning rod for this fishing technique as it was designed specifically for this fishing style. You could go lighter or heavier depending on the water you are fishing, but I have found this rod to be a perfect all rounder. A spinning reel in the 2000 – 2500 size is more suited to this technique spooled with 8lb – 10lb Braid.
If you are fishing very heavy cover the possibly the Toray Bush Runner Flouro Carbon in 12lb would be the better option due its ability not to rub off when the Bass rubs your line against the structure, but you will loose some sensitivity. I prefer the braid for most applications due to its zero stretch as you can really feel the structure and your rod movements are directly proportionate to the movement imparted on the lure. If your reel came with 2 spools, then you would spool one with Braid and the other with the Toray Bush Runner.
Rigging is easy and the knots are not that complicated. The leader used with braid could be from 4lb to 16lb, but usually the lighter the leader the more takes you get, I like 6lb and 8lb leaders. If you are using the 12lb Toray Bush Runner, then you can tie directly to your line. I have seen some anglers struggling with line twist using this method, especially if fishing with mono or flouro and it is usually caused by fishing to fast. The solution is to tie a small swivel where your leader joins your line about 300-400mm up from the hook. I personally prefer to tie my leader directly to my line using a double uni knot. 300mm or so from your join you can tie in your hook using a Palomar knot and leaving a tag end of around 500mm. It is of utmost importance that once you have tied you Palomar knot that you bring the tag end of your leader through the eye of the hook on the hook side. This will ensure that your hook always points up, and if you do not do this your hook will go in all directions and could cause many fish to be lost. You tie you sinker onto the tag end anywhere from 200 – 500mm, from experience I have found the 300 - 400mm range to be best. This will depend on the type of bottom you are fishing.
I like to use a size 1/0 light circle hook, Owner make a great one for this job. You can use a normal style Bass hook or even a standard “J” hook. The reason that I prefer the circle hook is that it automatically sets by itself with this technique and you do not need to strike, you just need to raise your tip and start reeling. Most important is that the circle hooks always goes into the jaw, even if the fish has swallowed the bait and so you do not have a problem with a fish that has your hook in its gut which could then die unnecessarily defeating the whole idea of catch and release.
Sinkers, the lighter the better so depending on the water you are fishing and the depth try go to the lightest sinker you can possibly use. A 1/16 or 1/32 ounce are the best options but you could go up to a 1/8 or ¼ ounce in deeper water when fishing off a boat on windy days, and you could even go down to a 1/64 if the conditions allow. The sinkers I like to use are specifically designed for Drop Shot and have a built in swivel and a crimp where you just push in your line with out the need for any knots. You could use a standard type mojo sinker and use a swivel or a split ring as a stopper. It is important that the sinker can spin freely from your line or you will get twisty’s of note.
You can rig your bait the conventional way by just putting the hook through the nose, or you can rig it whacky style by putting your hook through the centre. The Strike King 4” finesse worm in watermelon rigged conventional and the Lunker City small Hellgie in black/green are my 2 confidence baits for this fishing technique and have never let me down. You can vary the colours according to the day, dark colours on dark days, bright colours in turbid water and natural colours on clear days and clean water, this is just a guide line and it can get much more involved depending on the water and conditions. If you get 2 colours; Watermelon and Junebug for the worms it would be a good place to start, creature bait in small sizes always work well in black. There are so many lures on the market that work for this, but they can also get very confusing. Limit your self to 2 or 3 patterns in 2 or 3 colours. It is more important that you get yourself a good confidence bait; rather than buy all the colours that are out there. Generally the smaller sizes work best in natural and dark colours. I suggest a small finesse worm in a natural colour to match the bottom you are fishing and a small creature bait in dark colour to start.
I would firstly like to mention that any slight action of your rod imparts incredible movement onto the lure, and so it is not necessary to shake the tip of your rod around with big movements, but rather slow gentle and small movements. Try it out in your pool at home to actually see how the lure responds to the rod movements.
You must keep in mind that this style of fishing was intended as a finesse style with light line and you should rather move the tip of your rod, than actually retrieve the lure, off course it is different from a boat than from the shore, but the basic principal still applies.
The basic principal of the method is that your lure is now suspended off the bottom and is able to move freely in the water, as the rod tip is moved up and then down the lure will come up in the water and then go back down until the sinker reaches the ground again. The lighter the sinker the slower it will move back to the bottom which means a longer time that the lure is free swimming. It is when the lure is coming back down that the Bass like to strike, and so you need to watch your line very carefully on the surface. If you see your line suddenly go slack, or start to move left or right; or if it feels like it has snagged something you must strike as this is when the Bass already has your lure in his mouth and you need to set the hook. With a circle hook the set is simply pulling you rod tip up gently and the starting to reel, if you are using a conventional Bass hook with the tip buried in the lure you will need to strike hard. You may find that with a conventional Bass hook you may need to go heavier, and remember that the lighter the line the more bites you will get. When fishing this way the Bass are not going to nibble on the bait, they are going to swallow it whole and they usually do it gently, and so when you feel any slight obstruction on your line, or see any slight movement of your line strike, 99% it is a Bass on the end. There are also times when the Bass will hit you hard and cause your rod to almost go double, so be sure you drag is pre set correctly to avoid your line parting.
You need to get some idea of what is at the bottom and this will be the final determination of how far the sinker must be from the hook. If you are fishing grass beds for example you want the lure to swim above the grass so it is easy for the Bass to see, no Bass is going to refuse a little green weenie worm suspended above the grass. If the water is clear you must try to match the colour of your lure with the bottom if it is turbid go for darker colours, and if the water is dirty go for a lure with a bright tail.
Drop shotting can be done deep or shallow, and in deep water you will drop the rig right below the boat over any structure you may have found on your sonar, you then start to work the area by lifting and dropping you rod tip, if you feel any obstruction to you line lift the rod to confirm if it is a Bass or Structure. Some times you can lift you tip right up and then let the lure fall. Be warned that the take is often almost undetectable and so you need to be vigilant. I prefer to do a reel set when fishing this style rather that a rip set, as by the time you feel or notice anything the Bass has already swallowed the lure and all you need to do is set the hook, this is the main reason I like using circle hooks for drop shot.
You can also use the drop shot in shallow water using a flipping technique and throw you lure into the grass or structure or just in front and then leave it there with only the occasional twitch, or even dead sticking. This has proved to be an extremely successful method which has produced me many fine Bass, and if fishing a competition will guarantee you that you will take a full live-well to the weigh in. In these situations small finesse worms and creature baits work best. If there are a lot of bait fish around then a fluke type bait like the Strike King Z-Too in the Arkansas shiner colour will work better in the shallows.
On shallow gravel beds this method work well when the Bass are spawning, especially with a whacky rig that is dead sticked. (Dead sticking is simply leaving your lure alone and imparting no movement)
If you find some heavy structure; or a submerged tree on the bottom, just drop the rig straight down and you are sure to get the attention of any Bass lurking there, this is also often the place you will find the lunker, especially if the structure is isolated from anything else. At this kind of structure I will often put down a large bait, especially by a tree, like a large Hellgie or Lizard or even a large fluke type bait. Here is also a good time to use a whacky rigged worm and when you drop it hold on, as the take will be on the way down. The whacky rig tends to go down slower and the Bass will find the worm fluttering down simply irresistible.
Now that you have the basics of drop shotting for Bass, you need to get out there and try it out, experiment with it and get lots of good Bass. Enjoy.
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