LAKE OCONEE — The technique of drop-shot fishing first became popular in 1999 on the West Coast in clear deep lakes and due to its success there, it spread across the entire country. The technique was initially used exclusively for largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass but these days the technique can be used to catch a number of fish species.
Since most of the publicity surrounding the drop-shot rig involved using the rig in deep clear lakes, many anglers assumed the rig would not work in shallower and sometimes stained water lakes like Lakes Oconee and Sinclair. Compared to our area lakes where most largemouth bass reside in water depths averaging 1-40 feet and the water is often dingy, West Coast lakes produce bass from over 100 foot depths and from water that in many cases is crystal clear.
Hence the drop-shot rig was slower to catch on in the local area but many local anglers will now vouch for its ability to catch fish. Some local anglers are now using the drop-shot rig in almost all water conditions and water depths. The rig’s principles makes much sense and has over time proven to be a successful technique for catching largemouth bass as well as other species on Lakes Oconee and Sinclair.
As I have stated, the rig was originally thought to be primarily a deep water technique for catching largemouth bass. Later in the article we will examine how the rig can be modified to catch just about every species of fish in Lakes Oconee and Sinclair. Some anglers have begun to see the versatility of the drop-shot rig even in shallow water when targeting largemouth bass. But in shallow water the drop-shot competes with the jig head worm rig and the jig head worm rig is preferred by most anglers for shallow water fishing.
When angling for largemouth bass, the drop-shot weight is below the plastic bait and the plastic bait is above the weight and floating freely in the water column. This creates a natural action and allows the angler to shake and move the bait without actually changing its location or the angler can simply let the bait’s movement be controlled by the water current. This allows you to keep the lure in the spot where the fish are located much longer than with a Carolina-rig or Texas-rig.
Unlike the Carolina-rig or the Texas-rig, the drop-shot rig was originally intended to be fish vertically straight under the boat. With the Carolina-rig and Texas-rig, you are primarily casting the weight and the plastic bait to the location horizontally and then dragging the rig across the bottom where the fish are located.
When fishing for largemouth bass, the drop-shot rig is a finesse or light tackle application which means 6-10 pound test line, 1/16 to 3/8 ounce weights, thin wire 1/0 or 2/0 wide-gap worm hooks and small plastic finesse baits in sizes 4-6 inches. These finesse baits can be tube baits, worms, lizards or any of the plastic finesse baits that are available.
Basically if you already use the Carolina-rig, the Texas-rig or the jig head rig, you likely have everything to rig the drop-shot rig without buying anything extra. A market has developed for hooks, sinkers and plastic baits made specifically for drop-shot fishing and those items are available at most bait and tackle shops.
The ability to locate fish and then fish for them straight down or directly under the boat has created techniques for catching other species of fish like crappie, catfish and hybrid/striped bass by simply modifying the drop-shot rig. The drop-shot can be fished on the bottom, near the bottom or anywhere in the water column depending on where the fish are located.
Recent catches using a light weight and light line drop-shot rig with a crappie hook and live minnow has resulted in good catches of crappie on or near the bottom. An angler recently related to me how he has been catching catfish using a modified drop-shot with either live (worms and shad) or cut bait.
The applications for the drop-shot are endless and only left to the angler’s inventiveness. The drop-shot allows the angler to present a lure or bait tantalizingly right in front of the fish and when done so in that fashion most fish regardless of specie will bite.
No special equipment is required other than equipment (rod, reel, line, weight and hook) that will match the species of fish you are targeting. Use lighter equipment for crappie, a little heavier for largemouth and still heavier for catfish and hybrid/striped bass. The drop-shot rig will definitely catch fish and is a technique well worth trying. Good fishing and see you next week.
Bobby Peoples can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.