Drop-shotting has received a lot of attention this year, as yet another West Coast technique that seems to produce bass when nothing else will. And just like any finesse technique, it does, but it's not something most pros pull out every day.
Arizona's Dean Rojas prefers to flip and fish spinnerbaits, but he will use a drop shot rig under the right circumstances.
"I do it mostly where there's spotted bass or deep, clear water," he says. "It's a hard technique because it's not a fish-locater, is a fish-catcher once you have them located."
For that reason, Rojas doesn't have a drop-shot rig tied on when he practices for tournaments, though he notes that some pros do. But when he's fishing a tournament, he will have a drop shot rig ready.
For drop-shotting, Rojas likes a 6 1/2- to 7-foot Quantum Tour Edition spinning rod and Quantum Energy spinning reel. He spools up with 6- to 12-pound Izorline, with line size being determined by how deep he's fishing.
"Weight size also depends on how deep you're fishing," Rojas says. "Out West, when you're fishing for spotted bass in 40-60 feet of water, 1/4- or 5/8-ounce is good. And obviously, the shallower you fish the rig, the lighter weight you'll use. Use whatever weight you feel comfortable with," he adds.
Rojas likes a regular worm hook in 1/0, 2/0 or 1, though he notes that some anglers favor a Kahle-style hook. With these hooks an angler doesn't have to set the hook; he just reels.
For baits, he likes the standard hand-poured worm or reaper (leech) in natural colors, though a variety of drop-shot-specific baits are now on the market (e.g., the 3 3/4-inch Zipper Dropshot Shaker). Nose-hook the bait.
The drop-shot rig requires a vertical presentation. As Rojas notes, "It works well when you cast it, but it works better when it's right below you."
When the rig hits the bottom, "all you're doing is shaking the slack in the line," he says. Whereas a Carolina rig's egg sinker would absorb that action, the drop-shot rig will transfer it to the bait.
Leader length and height off the bottom should coincide with where your electronics show the bass are, he notes. "If the fish are suspended off the bottom, as opposed to lying on the bottom, put 2, 3 or 4 feet of leader on."
"The bottom line is that it's a numbers technique," Rojas says of drop- shotting. "You're going to get a lot of bites on it, though generally the fish are going to be smaller because it's a small-fish presentation, with the small baits and light line.
"It's a technique that has its place, and when it's called for it's probably the best thing to use at that time," he says. "It's in my arsenal and I use it when I need to, but only as a last resort."
Bear in mind that even though drop-shotting is a finesse technique, it isn't just for deep spotted bass -- even for Rojas.
At the 2001 BASSMASTER MegaBucks tournament he used a drop-shot rig on days 2 and 3 to catch largemouths in 5-8 feet of water. He lost that tournament to Rick Clunn by a mere 7 ounces.