There’s really no comparable light tackle technique that imitates aquatic life quite like a drop shot rig. The deception is subtle and the lure appears vulnerable. Tied directly to the leader at midpoint, the lure’s movement is manipulated by the rod tip while anchored within the strike zone. Like an underwater marionette, the soft plastic imitation flashes and flutters from the pull string in a ruse that elicits wild strikes from its curious victims.
Preparing for a long day of competition, Scott Martin rigs a drop shot.
Considered an excellent deep water technique that originated from tournament anglers out west, the drop shot is catching on across the Southeast, helping anglers fool largemouth in lakes from Okeechobee to Eufaula. A successful drop shot rig requires the correct combination of several components. Line size, rod action, hook size, weight shape and lure selection are all vital in creating a rig capable of consistently fooling finicky fish. A spinning rod with a fast to extra-fast taper matched with a light spinning reel is required for casting and pitching the light rig and critical for fighting fish with light line and small hooks. When applying the tactic in Florida lakes, FLW tour pro Scott Martin utilizes a 6’9″ medium-light Okuma Citrix spinning rod, matched with a Helios spinning reel. “You need the combination of a sensitive rod with a reel that has a smooth drag system for fighting fish on light line,” he advised.
Regardless of what brand or color lure you choose, the key is to find a pattern that will provide the most action once it is in the water.
Martin, an Okeechobee native and host of the popular television show, The Scott Martin Challenge, took home over $600,000 in winnings from a single tournament in 2011 after capturing the overall FLW Cup using the drop shot as part of his repertoire. “Generally for my drop shot rig I’ll go with an 8 lb. test fluorocarbon leader, a 1/0 or 2/0 straight shank hook, and a 3/16 to a ¼ oz. tungsten weight. From here I’ll adjust the length of the leader accordingly depending on what type of bottom I’m working,” Martin continued.
Drop shot hooks are small and light by design, which enables the offering of choice adequate mobility. If a hook is too heavy, then the action of the bait will be reduced significantly to the point it appears unnatural. Most drop shot hooks have a turned up eye, which allows the lure to sit at a 90º angle when tied directly to the line. When a strike occurs, anglers should begin their retrieve while simultaneously lifting the rod in a sweeping motion, allowing the light wire hook to penetrate without added tension.
Drop shot sinkers have their own unique advantages. Cylindrical or skinny-style weights are considered by some to be better designed for slow retrieves through grass and vegetative structure, while teardrop shaped sinkers offer a better feel for harder bottom and use in deeper, vertical applications. Tungsten is the material of choice, as it is much more dense than lead. This allows for the use of an equally weighted sinker at half the size, in addition to an increase in sensitivity due to the weight’s size reduction. Some drop shot sinkers are designed with terminal swivels to reduce line twist. Others feature special clips that clamp on the line allowing for an easy release if the rig becomes snagged.
There are hundreds of soft plastics in a myriad of colors to choose from when building an effective drop shot rig. The typical offering is a 3- to 5-inch finesse worm with a straight or curly tail. Regardless of what brand or color lure you choose, the key is to find a pattern that will provide the most action once it is in the water. Neutral to positively buoyant lures are generally lighter than the heavier salt impregnated baits and will provide a much livelier finesse presentation.
Create a palomar knot by doubling 18- to 30-inches of 10 lb. test fluorocarbon leader and passing the end of the loop through the eye of your hook.
Tie a loose overhand knot with the doubled line, leaving the hook hanging at the bottom of the formed loop.
Hold the overhand knot between your fingers, then pass the looped end back over the hook, sliding the loop above the eye of the hook.
Lubricate and tighten the knot onto the eye of the hook by slowly pulling on the mainline and tag end simultaneously. Feed the long tag end back through the eye and the hook should now be facing upright and extending out at a 90° angle.
Attach a drop sinker to the end of the tag line at a desired distance from the hook. Nose hook your favorite soft plastic worm (Texas rigged and wacky hooked baits work as well) and you are ready to drop shot!