I popped in the house from work yesterday to see the new issue of my Bassmaster magazine sitting on the counter. First off, I knew that it was a miracle that one of my boys hadn’t swiped it. I figured if I wanted to be the first to peruse its crisp pages I better not waste my opportunity.
As I sat down and looked at the cover the heading jumped out at me. It was talking about how a certain Elite Series pro was a better drop-shot fisherman then us, the readers, and why. Well, no argument here, I’m sure he is a much better angler at this particular technique than I am. What struck me though was the technique itself.
Drop-shot fishing has had a tumultuous history here in the United States. My own experiences attest to this fact. After my eyes finished scanning the headline, my mind drifted back to a tournament on Lake Champlain I fished many years ago; a tournament where this technique and I had a head-to-head conflict.
I should fill you in on the circumstances surrounding this confrontation. The tournament before this event was fished on Lake Erie. I did terrible. It was my worst event in a long time. The angler that won and most of the top finishers had all been drop-shotting. My frustration at myself transformed into hatred to that particular technique.
Many traditional American anglers who had earned their stripes using power-fishing techniques such as heavy jigs and spinnerbaits termed this new upstart technique as “sissy” fishing. It used light line, small lures, and often used spinning tackle as opposed to the manlier baitcast tackle.
Fast-forward to the four practice days preceding the Lake Champlain event. I was absolutely ripping killer smallmouth on a jerkbait. It seemed like no matter where I went on the lake, I could catch quality fish and as many as I wanted. I had never before entered competition days so confident in what I was doing.
At the pairings the night before the event started I met my amateur partner. I told him what I was doing and he said that he was drop-shotting. My mouth snapped off before I had a chance to temper it, 'I don’t do that.' He looked at me like I was some arrogant creep. He was right of course.
The next morning we launched and headed to my first location. I pulled out my jerkbait and started ripping it through the rocky reefs and vegetation. I’ll show ... I heard the telltale splash of a good smallmouth behind me. I snapped around to see my amateur partner boating his first keeper of the day-a chunky four pounder! It was his first cast. Hmmm. I went back to work.
Soon, he had another one. My nightmare was complete when he finished out his limit of five fish within thirty minutes of us making our first cast. I had a major decision to make. I could either keep with my technique, which I’m sure would have eventually boated some fish, or I could eat a monster slice of humble pie and ask him how he was doing it. The pie didn’t taste all that good.
Since that time, drop-shotting has been widely accepted as a go-to technique when fishing is tough. In reality, it is much more than that.
A drop-shot rig can be used in any water conditions, during any season of the year, and amongst any type of cover you can find. It is a rig that can be fished ultra-deep or ultra-shallow. It can catch boatloads of smaller fish or it can trick a true monster into hitting. The more I use it, the more I realize I probably don’t use it enough.
For those who are not familiar with this rig, it basically is just a way to make sure that your bait is always off of the bottom of the lake. The weight is rigged below the hook and this makes a suspended lure presentation possible.
The internet is full of information on the rig and also has countless videos demonstrating how to use it. For an angler that wants to consistently put more fish in the boat while their fishing partner is struggling, the drop-shot rig is a must-learn technique.
It originates from Japanese anglers that had to learn how to catch highly pressured bass on lakes they see tremendous numbers of fishermen. To make matters worse, the lakes are really clear and the fish are often spooky.
If you are trying to find something to buy for that hard-to-shop-for angler on your list, getting him or her some terminal tackle and lures that can be used for drop-shotting would be a wonderful idea. Local tackle stores have entire sections devoted to this technique and for good reason. It works.
I learned that the hard way.