Many of our blog articles have suggested the use of a drop shot rig to catch smallmouth and largemouth bass. For example, Heath Wagner used it explicitly to smash smallmouth records earlier this summer. However, few details on the rig have been shared, until now. Enter Mike Webb who has been a guide on, arguably, the best drop shot lake in the country for 25 years – Table Rock Lake in Missouri. The drop shot is a routine player for his clients. According to Webb, it is easy and effective for clients of all levels of experience.
Advantages of the Drop Shot Rig
The drop shot rig can be used in all water depths. But it is at its best in “deeper” water – more than 10 feet. On Table Rock, Webb often catches fish between 30-80 feet deep. He quickly points out three distinct advantages of this rig:
1. It takes guessing out of the equation. Other baits involve a lot of guessing in regards to where and how deep the bass are. It also leaves you guessing their reaction to the bait.
2. By using your electronics in deeper water, you have the ability to see your bait and the bass on the graph. This allows you to place it directly in the strike zone.
3. With the ability to see the fish and bait, you can see their reaction to the bait. You don’t have to guess if they want it. You see how they react to it.
Electronics and the Drop Shot Rig
Modern day electronics have changed the game and effectiveness in deep water. According to Webb the manual setting on any graph in recent years is sufficient to see both the fish and your bait. Here’s the key. A typical cone on the transducer is 20°. That means in 30 feet of water, the graph is showing the bottom 10 feet. The closer to the cone, the less coverage the graph is showing. This means that there is little room for error to keep the bait on the graph.
Once a fish is located on the graph, he lowers the rig to the fish where he deadsticks it in front of their faces.
Tackle and Gear for Drop Shotting
“This is why I use a short rod,” adds Webb. “All of my rods are 7 ½ feet long, except my drop shot rods. They are only 6 ½ feet long. The longer rods increase the odds of placing the bait out of the cone’s range.”
Webb acknowledges that many anglers use lighter weights than he does. But he believes using a ½ ounce weight is the best option when fishing deep. “Fish often create slack in your line when they bite,” he asserts. “When your bait is 15 feet or deeper, it can be hard to maintain contact. But with a ½ ounce, you are always able to feel it, which increases your hook up ratio.”
“I use 10-pound braid for my main line and a swivel to attach a leader of 8-pound monofilament.” He explains, “Monofilament stretches compared to fluorocarbon, which minimizes break offs. It also floats, which gives my worm a more appealing action.” He adds, “My leader is about three feet long, but I only place my hook six inches below the swivel. It is easy to reel the swivel through the guide on my rod when the hook is two feet below the swivel. This way I see my bait way before it gets to the swivel and saves my guide tip from damage by reeling it in.”
His hook of choice is size #4 baitholder hook, and his favorite bait is a Chompers plum worm. He runs the worm over the eyelet, but leaves the hook exposed.
Where the Drop Shot Excels
This rig works in any environment, but Webb mostly employs it in open water. He reveals, “Anywhere bait fish is present, it will work. 90% of the fish we catch on our trips are in open water away from structure as the fish are only relating to the bait fish. It is only when the bite is tough, that we go to structure such as brush piles.” When he does target structure, he Texas rigs the same worm.
Next time the shallow bite doesn’t pan out, arm yourself with a drop shot rig. Then, go check the depths for baitfish. It may put you around fish many others don’t know about.