Dropshotting is a very loose term. It seems like most people refer to any kind of perch fishing with lures as ‘dropshotting’ but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, dropshotting is a lot more technical than most perch fishing methods. It usually requires special knots, unique equipment and a totally different retrieve style to most other standard jig techniques. But it’s not as complicated as it first appears.
What is it?
A dropshot rig offers the hook away from the weight. You can fish the hook anywhere on your leader and adjust the depth your lure runs at by adjusting where you clip on a Dropshot weight. The weight doesn’t need to be tied to the line, it simply pinches on where you see fit. I usually start with the lure 18” or so off the bottom, away from the weight. Some days you catch with the lure quite tight to the bait, and other times you need to come way off the bottom for best results.
For me, dropshotting is a string to add to your bow. It’s another arrow in the quiver and can make or break some fishing sessions. In my own experience, dropshotting is a technique to turn to when the fish are feeding on very small baits, like fry, worms, larvae, bloodworm and the like. Whilst we’d all love every day to be one where the perch are smashing into big baitfish patterns, it’s not always the case and turning to this finesse technique can be a real edge.
It is very rare for me to use a dropshot setup with anything larger than a size 4 hook. I favour the Supersteel Allrounder for this, as I can match it nicely with a whole host of lure options. I tend to tie up lots of dropshot leaders at home and keep them in a little rig wallet, or just pop them inside a bag with lures inside.
For line I go for 10-15lb fluorocarbon. I’ll go heavier if a lot of pike are present. You land jacks quite easily on 0.35mm fluoro. Obviously, you can go much lighter than this if fishing for smaller fish on canals and stuff. I know some anglers swear by going as light as they can, but most of my fishing is done in places where being a bit more agricultural is worthwhile.
A top perch angler called Chris Tredway showed me how much more productive using heavier fluorocarbon leaders can be in flowing water and the first time I tried going heavy I had one of my best ever days on dropshot, with a number of big fish. I've not looked back since!
It’s no secret that my favourite dropshot lure of all is the Dropshot Minnow. It had all the right attributes – it was slim, reflective, durable and most importantly of all, had a very fast tail that paddled quickly with very little input at the rod end. We wanted a lure that looked like a tiny baitfish and swam like one as well, imitating the tight tail vibration of small prey. Since its introduction in my lure bag I have used it to catch many of my biggest perch.
There are lots of other lures worth trying – look for baits that are slim in profile with different kinds of tails. Worm-like patterns, pin-tails and fork-tailed baits can be superb when the water is very clear and cold. The fish will be feeding almost totally by sight, as they aren’t in total feeding mode. You can trigger a response better in cold water with a fluttering bait, rather than one that moves a lot of water. I quite often achieve this by nipping the tail off a Dropshot Minnow.
All The Gear
This very much depends on whether you are targeting big reservoirs, rivers, lakes or canals. Some dropshot rods are made to be balanced with very light weights, which won’t be much use on a big trout res where depths can be as much as 40ft. Korum provide a few options between the original Dropshot rod and the newer Cult series – it’s very much a case of balancing the weight of the dropshot you want to use against the weight of the rod. My preference is for the 1-10g Cult Finesse UL – I love the soft tip and how crisp the action is for generating subtle movements on the rod tip. Teamed with the smallest reel you can get away with for the casts you need to make, you’ll have a great setup that will work for all finesse fishing techniques with light jigheads and lures too.
You can fish a dropshot rig quite quickly, with lots of lifts and falls, but in my opinion it’s at its best when you try your utmost to move the bait, not the weight. Subtle shakes, wiggles and taps on the rod work brilliantly to provoke a feeding response. Dropshotting is very versatile in that respect, and you can try all manner of retrieves to find one that gets you a bite.
I find that it’s best to have the rod pointing almost straight upwards, at quite a steep angle. This helps make each movement quite subtle, as you only need to move the rod a little bit to generate movement at the lure.
One of my favourite retrieves is to ‘shake’ the rod with a little bit of slack in the line. Imagine you’re shaking a tambourine very gently, to send pulses or shockwaves of movement down the braid to the lure itself. When the weight moves, wind up the slack and repeat. It can take a long time to reel in when fishing like this, but that’s kind of the point!
I’ve caught on moving water just holding the bait in one position and letting it waft around in the flow. It can often imitate a dying preyfish and for that reason can be very effective indeed.
As with most lure fishing techniques, every dog has its day. Understanding when to dropshot or jig is difficult and will change from venue to venue, but if it's cold and clear - you know what I'm reaching for! Dropshot, every time.