When Chris McCotter spotted a bass cruising back and forth through clear water, he lobbed his drop-shot rig in front of the fish. The bass, however, ignored the bait. McCotter guides on Virginia’s Lake Anna, a popular lake near Washington, D.C. and drop-shots were just beginning to show up on the fishing scene. He was new to the technique, but as a guide, he’s always willing to learn new techniques that might help his clients catch more fish. He made a minor adjustment.
“I moved the bait up the line a few inches, cast it back out there and had the fish on in a matter of seconds,” he recalled. “The key was to put the lure right at the fish’s level.”
Few fishing techniques are as misunderstood as drop-shotting, but it’s really pretty simple. It’s an ideal way to present small baits to bass on pressured lakes or fish holding on deep structure in clear water. It involves a weight, either a basic bell sinker or a sinker made especially for drop-shotting, a hook and a bait. The weight sits on the bottom while the hook and bait suspend up off the bottom as low or as high as you want to rig it. McCotter said he typically rigs his baits just six inches above the weight, but he will move it up or down until he figures out what the fish prefer. The hook is attached with a basic Palomar knot tied with a long tag end, but instead of cutting off that tag end it’s important to leave it. That’s where the weight goes.
Because drop-shotting is typically used with finesse baits and light line, McCotter likes Size 6 Gamakatsu drop-shot hooks. He uses a couple of baits, but his favorites include two and three-inch Berkley Realistic Minnows. He also likes small lizards, drop-shot worms and tiny soft plastic crawfish.
“I almost always use 6-pound fluorocarbon line,” he added. When fishing deeper structure like ledges or humps, he’ll simply drop the bait straight down until it hits bottom, tighten up his line so the weight stays in contact with the bottom and shake his rod tip. That makes the lure dance and it’s enough to entice finicky bass. When he casts a drop-shot in shallower water, he uses the same basic technique. He keeps just enough tension on the line to keep the weight on the bottom and the lure up off the bottom. Again, he simply shakes his rod tip to make the bait come alive and he’ll leave it in one spot for several seconds before dragging lure a little closer to the boat.
Drop-shotting, however, is no longer just for finesse fishing. It has evolved from a clear-water finesse tactic to a more versatile, all-purpose method that can be used in a wide variety of situations. Some pros actually drop-shot big baits around heavy cover, presenting a full-size soft plastic lure to bass that have never seen a drop-shot bait in that situation. It’s hardly a finesse tactic and it definitely doesn’t rely on finesse tackle. Instead, broomstick rods, 17-pound line, one-ounce weights and five to seven-inch baits are used for big bass in grass, lily pads or other thick cover.
It isn’t just for bass, either. Innovative anglers have used the rig for all manner of freshwater fish, including crappie, walleye and even trout. McCotter will tie as many as four hooks on a single line and use it with tiny baits for crappie around brush, bridge pilings and rocks for crappie.
“It’s really pretty easy to master once you try it a few times,” he said. “It’s become one of my go-to tactics when nothing else works and when bass won’t chase a fast bait or something big like a standard worm or lizard.”
Check out this link to learn how to tie a Palomar knot; http://www.animatedknots.com/
Contact: Chris McCotter; www.mccotterslakeanna.com.