Surf Fishing in Southern California - SC Surf Fishing

How to Drop Shot

An Alternative Way to Fish Plastics.

The drop shot technique was brought over to the US by freshwater bass anglers from Japan. It is a finesse technique utilizing light line and small plastic lures. Unlike most artificial lure techniques, action is imparted to the lure not by retrieval but by subtle movement of the rod tip. It is ideally suited for a vertical presentation but may be adapted for the surf under certain conditions such as working deep troughs and holes when the waves are small enough to allow a more or less stationary approach. Think of it as a lighter form of the venerable dropper loop rig.

You really don’t need anything special to fish the drop shot. As stated before, this is a finesse technique and the light action rods and reels that most of use for the surf will suffice. Although I prefer baitcasting equipment for working lures, drop shotting is one technique that is better suited for spinning tackle since lure retrieval is minimized and the rod ends up in your dominant hand (if you’re right-handed like me).

As far as terminal tackle goes, there are three components to the drop shot: 1) the weight, 2) the hook and 3) the lure. Any small weight (1/4 oz to 1 oz) will do. Weights that are specifically designed for drop shotting have a special eye that allows attachment without tying. It’s a nifty little touch but not a necessity. A simple bell sinker will do. I’ve even been known tie on an egg sinker if that’s all I have. It may look ghetto but it’ll get the job done. Hooks are another personal preference and will depend on the lure, the target fish and the conditions. The most common route is to use a short shank, light wire hook such as an Owner Mosquito. This works well when nose-hooking the bait.

Another approach is to use a longer shank hook and threading the bait on. With longer baits, the long shank acts like a wand and can make the bait move very enticingly. There are a wide variety of soft plastic baits that will work with the drop shot. I mainly use soft shad jerkbaits such as Flukes, Bass Assassins and Sluggos. Plastic worms will work as well the different Gulp products. No hard rules here.

Here’s how to rig the drop shot. Tie the hook on using a palomar knot and a tag end of about 12”-24”. The sinker will be attached to the tag end so the position of the hook/lure off the bottom will be determined by how long you make that tag end. I usually make it a couple inches longer than I think I’ll need and I simply trim off any excess once the hook is tied.

Here is the key to this rig: Once the palomar knot has been tied, feed the tag end once again through the eye of the hook from the “top” side (assuming that “top” is the same side as the point of the hook).

Pull this tag end all the way through. This will rotate the knot so that, when taut, the hook will stand out perpendicularly from the main line/tag end. This is very important since the perpendicular hook will keep the bait away from the main line and give the lure its action. See how the line seems to goes straight through the eye of the hook? That’s what you want.

Attach the lure to the hook and a weight to the tag end. You are now ready to fish!

Cast the rig out and let it hit the bottom. Reel tight. With the rod at 9:00, jiggle the rod tip up and down slightly. Since it will be impossible to keep the sinker from sliding toward you on sandy bottoms, you will need to raise the rod tip up slightly to maintain a tight line. Work the rod from 9:00 to 12:00, alternating between shaking the rod tip and raising the rod to remove the slack. Repeat as necessary. Subtlety is the key here. Not much line movement is required to make the plastic lure flutter realistically in the water. You can prove this to yourself by bringing the lure close enough to observe and seeing how little of a flick of the rod tip is needed to bring the lure to life. A bite can be signaled in all of the typical ways. Sometimes the fish will hammer your bait and double your rod over. At other times you will just feel dead weight when trying to jig your bait up and down. Set the hook immediately whenever you feel something out of the ordinary. Unlike grub fishing, tail pecking is pretty rare using this technique and most baits are more or less inhaled completely.

Drop shotting plastics in the surf is not an everyday technique. In most situations, when the beach is relatively flat and there is surf and surge to contend with, a carolina rig, leadhead or spoon will be more effective. But it’s a good technique to keep in mind when you stumble on that deep hole and other techniques just aren’t working. Try the drop shot and you just may pull out that big ole halibut you just knew was lurking in there.

Article written by:
John Kim (aka JKim)

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