When we think of drop-shotting, we typically think of vertical, finesse fishing over a rock pile or piece of isolated structure. Or maybe even a tactic used to pick-off schooling smallmouth bass along expansive flats. Drop-shotting is without a doubt an effective way to deploy a finesse presentation. But what about casting—or pitching—a drop-shot presentation? Why be limited to fishing this rig vertically when covering water can be just as fun… this is where “pitching drop-shots” comes into play and can have a place when targeting a variety of species.
The setup. Commonly, a drop-shot setup consists of lighter line, lighter rods, smaller hooks and baits—things directed towards negative fish. While this mindset is definitely true, I would also encourage you to consider larger presentations when drop-shotting. Beef-up the pieces within the setup and you can still employ a drop-shot scenario. Pitching a drop-shot applies to any drop-shot setup, but don’t be limited to only using it in a finesse situation. If you want to drop-shot a wacky-rig then go for it. If you want to drop-shot and larger creature bait then make it happen. Even if you want to drop-shot a 10” worm then you can do it. Just match the other pieces accordingly and away you go. Drop- shotting is a tactic not limited to finesse fishing, but rather a method used to present a bait. I will oftentimes drop-shot larger baits along deep weed lines instead of using a jig-worm. Just a different way of doing things—and sometimes a way that is new to the fish resulting in more fish caught.
The speed factor. Not to beat a dead horse, but the general thinking behind a drop-shot application is finesse, which can mean fishing slow and “dancing” the bait in the strike zone. When playing with various drop-shot setups you begin to get the feel for how they should be fished, and when pitching drop-shots you begin to realize how important speed comes into play. Now you have the ability to swim, hop, shake—do pretty much whatever you want—in order to retrieve the bait back to the boat. It’s almost like horizontally jigging at times, yet you can slow down when needed—something that is hard to down with a jig-worm or jig as it races to the bottom. Now you can incorporate more pauses if needed and not worry about the bait falling out of the strike zone or getting caught in cover. All we are looking to do is offer another way of presenting a bait, giving us more options to catch fish.
Not a species affair. These techniques don’t just apply to bass. Many times we get brainwashed to think certain tactics are specific to certain species. When it comes to pitching drop-shots—or drop-shots in general—you can put them into play no matter the species you’re targeting. Sure, you might have a wider array of options for certain species, but you can still pitch a drop-shot for panfish, walleye, trout and other species. One of my favorite panfish techniques is the pitch a drop-shot for deep weed edge fish. Works great to not only cover water but it gives me the ability to use a smaller offering in deeper water and still keep solid contact/control with what I have on the end of my line. Drop-shots have been welcomed by a variety of species and it’s a tactic that can be added to your arsenal for those days when you feel nothing else is working.
More versatile than meets-the-eye. Drop-shots generally fill a specific purpose, but I think you’ll be surprised with how many different situations where a drop-shot can be used. Ever tried pitching a drop-shot along a dock line for bass? Or what about a drop-shot rig for bedding sunfish? Don’t limit yourself to “traditionally” fishing a drop-shot rig, but rather keep an open mind and experiment to see how it can help you catch more fish in other situations. When in shallow water, drop-shotting allows you to keep a bait in the strike zone longer. As the drop-shot weight plummets to the bottom you add an element of impulse, but then you can tease a nearby fish without having to speed-up the retrieve in order to keep the bait at a certain depth. Now that leery bass hiding out under a dock is no longer force-fed, but instead is gifted a meal that seems too good to be true.
Drop-shotting might not be the most glamorous style of fishing at first glance, but when you begin to dig deeper you will see that it has a place in just about anyone’s bag-of-tricks. You’re not limited to only using the drop-shot in a finesse situation, but rather it can be used for a variety of species and conditions—not just for those negative fish. Launching a drop-shot setup along a deep weed line, over a shallow flat or even around a dock, can produce when nothing else does, and can turn a seemingly frustrating day into one filled with fish and photos!