I would have sneered at the thought of finesse fishing with light line 20 years ago. Not today. In fact, both have become an important part of my arsenal now that I have gained an appreciation for what drop-shotting can do for anglers on tough days. There may not be a better technique for catching bass that don’t want to bite, and in this era of intense fishing pressure, that’s important to know.
My experiences over the past year or so have taught me just how deadly – and versatile – the drop-shot method can be. The rig consists of tying on a small hook with a long tag end of line onto which a sinker is attached. With the bait above the sinker, you can present finesse lures to fish that are off the bottom and taunt them into striking by shaking the bait in their faces.
I’ve caught fish on everything from a small finesse worm to a big stick worm on a drop-shot rig. I’ve even attached more than one hook/lure to the line and caught multiple fish. However, the latter rig is risky because you wind up breaking the line when the fish start pulling in different directions. The light line just can’t handle it.
Of course, you could increase line size, but that reduces your chances of getting bites. Believe me, I’ve seen first-hand just how important the smaller diameter line can be when it comes to getting more bites. I was in California last year and took a whipping from a young man who fished 5-pound line while I used 6 and 8. He was getting nine strikes to every one of mine.
On the last day, I switched to 4-pound Vanish Fluorocarbon and actually got more bites than him.
When I retuned home, I experimented with line sizes at Lake Murray where the water is more off color than what I fished in California. The smaller line worked better there, too, so I’m a believer.
When you shake a drop-shot lure with heavier line, you are displacing the water in an unnatural manner that bothers the fish. With smaller line, the bait imparts more action and the fish aren’t as distracted by the line movement.
I also believe fluorocarbon is the absolute best choice. I use a lot of Vanish in my fishing, but have found the clear line seems to work better than others.
Because of the small line and finesse approach, spinning gear is a must. I fish my drop-shot on an Abu Garcia Cardinal reel and a 6 ½ – or 7-foot light-action Fenwick rod.
I rig the bait with a Mustad Drop-Shot hook. The hook is small, and I never worry about threading a worm onto it. I just poke it through the nose and let it dangle.
I prefer sinkers made of tungsten because they enable me to feel the bottom better. I like a heavier weight than most drop-shotters because it allows me to shake the worm in one place without lifting the sinker or moving the bait. That’s important, because shaking the lure in one place tends to attract fish to the bait.
And because you’re using light line and small hooks, there’s no need to jerk like you do with heavy line and bigger hooks. Simply sweep the rod and start winding. The hook will set itself, and the rod will do the rest. Of course, it pays to have a reel with a good drag to protect the line from breaking on big fish.
My first choice of lures is a 4- to 5-inch skinny worm. Transparent colors, like watermelon, are my favorite. Any worm will work, but I’m amazed at how great Berkley’s Gulp! is for drop-shotting.
Remember, you’re fishing for bass that may not be in the mood to bite, so the scent that Gulp! puts in the water gives fish an added incentive to bite.