Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Drop Shot Fishing for Largemouth Bass?


I bet when someone mentions "drop shot fishing you immediately have a wet dream about chasing down monster smallmouth bass (don't worry, we all do), but many anglers over look the success that can be had by using this same rig for largemouth bass... this is a proven fish catching technique, and if you have yet to give it a try.. the results might just surprise you!


Just like the misnomer that drop shot fishing is a smallmouth only technique, the same can be said about the areas in which a drop shot rig can be fished. Many anglers believe that to be successful a drop shot rig needs to be fished over deeper water and in area with thinner cover. This is just not the case, a drop shot rig can be used in most if not all of the same areas you would  traditionally fish a senko (weighted or not). It is the ultimate finesse rig, yet still has the ability to punch down into thicker weeds, and be dragged our pulled along to make sure it gets noticed

The gear used to chase down monster largemouth bass on a drop shot rig is similar to the gear you would use when smallmouth fishing. The only real change in my mind is the bait.. if you are interesting in learning more on the gear you need when in search of largemouth bass.. read on!

The fish you see pictured here was caught in water under 9ft deep in a fairly thick weed bed.



Weighing your options:

when it comes to drop shot weights, there is no shortage of styles and sizes available in today's market. Some guys like round weights, some like the thinner walking weights, some like lead, some prefer tungsten.. me I like a little of everything

Walking weights are great for weed, they have a long slender profile and pass through weed with ease and rarely get hung-up. I tend to use lighter sizes when fishing walking weight, 1/4oz up to 3/8oz is about as high as I will go. I find that in the heavier sizes it is harder to keep the weight vertical in shallow water when lying flat it is easier to get caught up.

the round or ball weight version is what I turn to when I need 1/2oz or larger, I know what your thinking, why would i need a 1/2oz or larger when fishing shallow water.. well It comes down to the cover and the weather conditions. In windy conditions I like to go up to a 1/2oz. (remember you want this weight to have contact with the bottom 90% of the time or more)

I'll let you have your own little debate over lead vs. tungsten, i use both (as you can see below). I like the size profile that tungsten offers me, and the added noise, but I like the price and availability that lead offers, and like with any fishing presentation you are going to lose weights.. remember we are often dragging these rigs in areas with rock and wood, so be prepared to lose a few

(Lunker City & Lunker Hunter Weights)

Getting Hook'd:

This is an area in which I'm still experimenting, and I think many anglers will tell you the same thing. Although there are many hook options available designed exclusively for drop shotting.. many anglers are still using a traditional EWG hook, not me though

I'm in search of the perfect drop shot hook, and over the past few seasons, I have tried every new DS hook that has hit the shelves, including the "standout", the Gamakatsu "Wicked Wacky" and the VMC "spin shot".

Lets start out talking about the "Standout" (middle hook in the picture) it is the oldest of the hook designs we will look at here, and probably the worst of the bunch as well. Standout took a great concept, and put it into a poor design. the spinnerbait style line tie twists and tangles in your line cast after cast, and I guarantee you will spend more time fixing your line then you will actually fishing. I get where they were headed and the hook does what is was designed to do.. "stand out" but there is just too much material here to make this product successful. (and the hook quality if inferior to the other two we are about to talk about)

Hook #2 is the Gamakatsu "Wicked Wacky"  (bottom hook in the pic) a hook that was designed with two presentations in mind.. obviously the name lets you know that this is a wacky rig hook, but what it does not tell you is that the hook was designed with a Small tube tied to the shank of the hook. If you decide to fish this hook on a drop shot rig all you have to do is tie directly to the hooks eye, leave a 12 to 18 inch tag end and thread the tag end through the tube. Like the Stand Out hook, this will force your hook to lie perpendicular to your line. The Wicked Wacky will also be popular with a lot of anglers since it has similar characteristics to a Traditional EWG hook. (not to mention that Gamakatsu quality)

Hook #3 is thus far on the top of my list when it comes to hooks designed for drop shot fishing (top hook in the above image) . The VMC "SpinShot" hook has a couple key features that make it easy for any angler to tie and retie your drop shot rig. A barrel swivel attached through the eye of the hook allows you to tie it to your main line with ease, and quickly add or replace you tag end. To me, this solves one of the biggest issues I had while fishing a drop shot rig. If you did not leave the proper tag end length you were constantly cutting line and retying. This hook means you will rarely have to retie the hook when you need to lengthen or shorter to tag. The Swiveling hook also reduces the amount of line twist that can occur when casting. I found it drastically reduced the tangles I experienced when using other drop shot hooks, and I can attest to the fact that they are super sharp, and very strong. (already landed two 5lb fish on these babies)





What No Braid?:


Although the above statement is not 100% true, drop shotting is one technique that does not translate as well when using braided line. It is a finesses technique and relies on a slow moving presentation that the fish will often get a good look at prior to biting. So you want it to look as natural as possible, and lite fluoro lines will allow the fish to get a good look at your bait, and not your line

I think I should also clarify that there is nothing wrong with spooling your reel with a 20lb braid, then tie on a 5-6ft leader (before your hook). This is actually my preferred method of fishing the drop shot. I get to keep the braid that I love and still use a stealthy flouro down at fish eye level.


Choose Your Weapons:

I bet you were wondering if I was ever going to get to the part in which I told you something new, or something about what makes largemouth drop shot fishing different then small mouth drop shot fishing.. well here it is, and it is not exactly a mind blower.. it's the baits.. most products on the market are designed towards small mouth fishing, and that's because that is what most Drop Shot Anglers are targeting, but, if you want to chase Largemouth bass, all you have to do is put down the tubes and goby imitators and try something you're use to throwing.. a worm!

There are tons and tons of finesse worms on th the shelves today, but none better fit the drop shot rig then the RoboWorm straight tail worm. This 6" flat bottom worm moves extremely well through the water and weed, and almost dances on your line.

I find the best way to fish a roboworm for largemouth bass is to leave about a 12inch tag between your weight and your hook. You want to nose hook the worm, just enough that it will hold on when pulled through weeds, but not enough that it will effect the worms motion in the water. If there is any wind blowing or any current I like to fish the worm against the current. I let the boat drift, and cast ahead of myself and slowly pull and dance the worm back to the boat. try to keep the weight in contact with the bottom only giving short hops here and there (or when hung up). If you are using the trolling motor to go into the current, treat this bait like a tube and drag it along.. the fish will come and find you.

as you can see from the below images, i like the roboworms with the chartreuse tails. but with close to 50 available colors, you may find something else that works better in your local waters.



Bait choice number 2 for me, is an Optimum Wacky Shad, as a wacky worm fisherman I came across these for an entirely different reason, but they have earned a place in my drop shot arsenal. With a square back and thin knife like tail the wacky shad cuts through the weeds like a champ. It does not have the crazy erratic motion like the roboworm straight tail and I often use this when the fish are in the mood for something with a little  more profile, but less erratic behaviour. Similar to thee above, I like to drag this bait through and over cover, but no real rod pops.  hops or twitches are required, just a nice straight streamline motion. (they are a killer wacky rig bait as well)




Rod & Reels

This is a super easy one for me, I have tested a handful of Drop shot rods and there is one stand out that hands down blows away the competition. The Dobyns DX742 is thee drop shot rod, a super light tip that allows you to feel every touch, bump and pull, and enough back bone to pull 5lb to 7lb fish out of the thickest cover you can find. I pair this rod up with a Shimano Stradic CI4 reel, In my opinion the stradic line of reels is the best spinning reel on the market in it's or any price range. This combo is super light and can be fished all day lone with no fatigue on the body.





So the next time your out on the water, and your usual largemouth techniques are just not cutting it, grab your drop shot rod, and give them something they don't see everyday. I guarantee you will be happy with the outcome

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