The drop shot rig has roots in the eastern U.S., dating back to the mid-70's and was first seen in "Fishing Facts" magazine. In the 1990's, Japanese anglers resurrected the method for use on their highly pressured waters. The Japanese refined the technique and it soon returned to the States. In 1997, the drop shot rig was relatively unknown except to a few Southern California fishermen who had ties to Japanese manufacturers and pros. The system worked extremely well, and those that knew about it did their best to keep it a secret. Then, in winter 1999, two major tournaments were won using the drop shot rig - the B.A.S.S. Invitational at Lake Oroville, and the WON Bass Classic on Lake Cachuma. The proverbial cat was out of the bag - way out!
While largely viewed as a fresh water tactic for finessing finicky bass or fishing in highly pressured waters, the drop shot rig is readily adaptable for presenting soft baits such as Berkeley Gulp or DOA's in our bays for redfish and speckled trout. The presentation is different from using a jig or a popping cork in that the bait can be rigged to be held just above the weeds. This will put the bait in full view of the fish we want to catch. In addition, the weight being below the bait allows for anglers to feel the soft bites more easily. But this is more of a rig to use when we have a good idea of where the fish are, rather than when we are searching water using a lure.
The basic rig resembles a standard dropper used in the ocean and for freshwater catfish, with one difference - there is no line (dropper) between the hook and the main line. Tie a standard Polomar knot - start by going through the "hook-point" side of the eye, and leaving at least two extra feet of line on the tag end. The extra line will be used to attach the sinker. Once the Polomar is tied, take the tag end and thread it back through the "hook-point" side of the eye, again. This last step forces the hook shaft to lie against the line, which aids hook setting. Another option is the VMC Spinshot wide gap hook, which has a swivel through the eye of the hook, allowing the bait to move without twisting the line.
Once the hook is in place, attach the weight. Drop shot leads have an eyelet on the top that pinches the line, allowing the lead to pull off if snagged. Choose one that is heavy enough to stay in contact with the bottom, but not too heavy. In most situations, use a 1/8 to 5/16 ounce, but a 3/8 to 1/2 ounce can be used in extremely deep water or during windy situations. I use 1/4 ounce normally or 3/8 ounce when the wind is up a little. Experiment with the weight, as this rig will cast well, and increasing the weight slightly will let you cast further. The "drop" (distance from hook to weight) can range from six inches to four feet, or more, depending upon how high the grass is relative to the bottom. Remember, we want our bait just over the top of the grass we are fishing. Another thing to consider is bottom composition. Use a cylinder weight over grass, and save the round sinker for a rocky bottom as the round is more likely to snag.
I am just starting to experiment with this rig. My first trip using the drop shot rig resulted in five specks in about half an hour. After casting, take the slack out of the line and hold the rod at a 10 o'clock position. After raising the rod tip slowly 2 or 3 times, reel up the slack to get a tight line again. Fish this rig slowly. This rig has a lot of versatility and I cannot wait to try variations of the drop shot rig. I can see a lot of different ways to use this and to target different species.