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Drop-Shot Rigs For Fall Fish

When I think about fishing in the fall, many techniques come to mind. Jigs, crankbaits, and other lures all contribute to a day’s catch much of the time. But increasingly, I and many of the anglers that I share a boat with rely on a drop-shot rig to catch fish. Drop-shot rigs were developed for bass fishing, but walleyes, pike and panfish are also likely to bite on this set-up.

Drop-shotting is a finesse presentation. Line that’s 8-pound test is extremely popular, but some anglers will drop down to 6-pound test if the fish are being stubborn.

Drop-shotting is a productive technique and has become so popular that manufacturers make hooks, sinkers, and even plastic baits specifically for drop-shotting.

There are several ways to create a drop-shot rig. The basic version is simple: tie a short-shank hook to your line with a Palomar knot. Tie it so the hook rides pointing up. Leave a tag end anywhere from fifteen to twenty inches in length. Attach a sinker to the tag end.

When completed, your hook will be above the sinker. Some anglers prefer tungsten sinkers. They believe that the tungsten, when it clicks into rocks on the bottom, creates a sound that the fish are attracted to.

There are also hooks designed just for drop-shot rigs. These work very well also and are easy to rig. Different anglers have different ideas on hook size, but something in the 1 or 2 size will usually do the job. Use the larger hook when larger baits are employed and the smaller hook for smaller baits.

While a variety of plastic baits will work for drop-shotting, the baits that were created specifically for this technique excel. A young angler from Wisconsin, Jay Przekurat, recently won a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament using a drop-shot rig. His bait of choice was Strike King Half Shells. This set-up enabled him to win $100,000.00 competing against some of the best bass catchers in the world.

When the water is clear, or the fish are unusually finicky, smaller baits and natural colors will often be the best choice. When the bite is on, larger baits will produce the largest fish. Last fall we got on a good smallmouth bass bite. They were hitting the smaller baits well, so we went up to larger, bulkier baits and caught them even better, and the average size was larger also. When the fish are eating in the fall, bigger baits will catch bigger fish.

Now about presenting the bait. In my initial introduction to drop-shotting many years ago, the thought was we needed to keep the bait directly below the boat: We fished it straight up and down in water usually deeper than fifteen feet. But in the past few years we’ve been casting the drop-shot rig, especially when the fish are shallow. When fish are shallow, a boat directly overhead will spook them, so we need to cast to these fish. When casting, work the drop-shot rig about like you would work a jig or live-bait rig that you’re casting. The sinker should be ticking the bottom, the hook should be up off the bottom a bit.

I hope to go bass fishing in the next couple of days, so I’ve already got a drop-shot rig tied onto one of my rods. I’m sure that I’ll throw some other baits, but if for some reason the bite is slow, I, and I’m guessing my partners, will put a drop-shot rig in the water. A drop-shot rig is an outstanding way to catch fish year ‘round and a technique that you should add to your fishing arsenal.

– Bob Jensen of

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