Beat the Summer Heat with a Drop Shot

Beat the Summer Heat with a Drop Shot
Depending on where you live, the spinning rod or finesse fishing in general can be met with over welcoming cheers or jeers from your peers. No matter if you are for or against using a spinning rod and drop shot for bass, it is hard to dispute how effective it can be.
What might be originally thought of as a northern thing or a smallmouth bait, the drop shot has taken hold all over the country. Although the rig might differ slightly from one fishery to another, the drop shot just flat out works everywhere.

While we know you can always find fish shallow, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t have your favorite spinning rod rigged up with a drop shot.

What is a Drop Shot

Let’s break down the drop shot rig and some things you might want to consider before building your next custom rod dedicated to this proven technique.

For those who have not fished one, the drop shot rig suspends your bait several inches above the lake bottom, anchored by a weight. The soft plastic can be nose hooked for open water or rigged weedless for fishing around snaggy cover.

It is a staple among finesse anglers for many years, this rig is highly effective at enticing finicky fish to bite in tough conditions. Its natural presentation excels in a wide variety of scenarios, making fish more likely to bite.

Although it works year-round, it can turn a tough day into a great day when the conditions are less than ideal. From freezing temps to scorching hot weather, even the most uninterested bass can fall victim to a properly placed drop shot.

What is the right rod?

In most bass fishing situations, the drop shot is used with a spinning rod and reel. While casting gear can be employed in specific scenarios, finesse gear is predominantly used for the majority of drop-shotting situations.

A 7-foot, medium-light power with a fast action spinning rod makes for an excellent base setup. If you're dropping vertically on fish around small targets, a shorter 6-foot, 6-inch rod might be for you but if you are casting your drop shot to spooky smallmouth in clear water, you might need to go with a 7-footer or even longer blank. 

Starting with the obvious, MHX has one of the most famous drop shot blanks in the industry with the DS822.  If you need a place to start, this is the one. Coming in at 6-foot 10-inches it is an incredibly effective do-all drop shot blank.

Specifications: 6'10" | 6-14 lb. | 1/4 – 3/8 oz. | Extra-Fast Action | Medium Light Power

In terms of finesse fishing, it is all about presentation. Anglers tend to use light line, fine wire hooks and strive to give the bait a natural appearance to fool those fish. For the DS822, one of the top features is the extra fast action. It translates very fine movements directly to you lure and when you get that bite, you can stick that fish in a fraction of a second. Don't forget, this blank comes in 14 colors!

Even a professional angler like Terry Scroggins, who made a living fishing heavy cover for big bass, know it pays to master the finesse game. 

“I like to keep a few spinning rods on the boat and this one is the real deal for sensitivity in finesse fishing applications and deadly accurate when I’m throwing at targets. I can feel every tick underwater and I know immediately when to set the hook—then it’s just time to cash in from there.”
- Terry Scroggins, MLF Bass Pro Tour Angler

Big Show does have a Signature Series kit with this blank by the way. Just one click and get everything you need. 

Now this next blank might be a little bit of a sleeper. It is a 7 footer, which can be an outlier in terms of length for a drop shot but this is one of those blanks perfect for light line, wary smallmouth drop-shotting. 

It is no secret big smallmouth can test your patience and your tackle. When it is time to drop down to 6lb line or less this NSJ841 is the choice. As a side note, this is a great blank for throwing a spy bait as well but we will leave that for another time. 

Specifications: 7'0" | 6-10 lb. | 1/16 – 5/16 oz. | Fast Action | Light Power

The NSJ841 comes out of the Elite-X family of blanks that feature a High Modulus Fiber of 57 million modulus with 640 ksi and a Nano Resin System. This cutting edge blank technology allows the Elite X Blanks to have small diameters and less weight, while drastically increasing both sensitivity and durability like never before. 

Translation: Feel everything, catch more fish and avoid fatigue. 

I know what you might be thinking, a light power? Remember, this blank is for open water drop shot where braid to a fluorocarbon leader or straight fluorocarbon is used along with light wire hooks. If there is nowhere those fish can get you in trouble, this blank will get you more bites and help tame a big one. 

Drop Shot Rod Components 

We have the blanks picked out, now let's get your components together. 

Keep in mind we want to build this rod with ergonomics and weight in mind. Yes, you can catch them year round on a drop shot but when times get tough and the weather is at its extremes you need to count on this drop shot. 

For reel seats we like the American Tackle AERO and Dagger as well as the Fuji VSS and TVS reels seat. These seats are comfortable, light weight and offer features that are as good in sweltering heat as they are in winter gloves. 

Each seat mentioned offers handle options in cork, eva and even carbon fiber so you can be sure this build looks as good as it performs. 

Drop Shot Rod Guides

Although I do not have any earth shattering recommendations for a special guide train or a set of guides built exclusively for a drop shot rod, I do have some advice. Two words; Static Deflection. 

Too often rod builders count on the manufactures for guide spacing or suggestions from other builders. Unless you are building the exact blank, with the identical guides and handle spacing, your guide spacing will be different. In builds that involve extra-fast rod blanks or blanks in the medium-light or light powers, it is impossible to provide exact spacing for every rod build. 

One thing is for sure, performing a static deflection will provide better casting performance as well as increasing the durability of the blank. Yes, I know that last part might come as a surprise. How can guide spacing help a rod blank be more durable. Well, proper guide spacing will eliminate what we call "sharp angles". Those angles create unnecessary stress points on the blank as well as the components, and when something has to give it is typically the graphite blank rather than a stainless steel or titanium guide. 

We prefer guides like the American Tackle Microwave guide system that provides excellent spacing or the Fuji High Frame guides. In addition, if you are fishing in extreme cold do not rule out the CRB SSR guides which feature stainless rings that are virtually unbreakable if you have to de-ice a guide while on the water. 

One final tip that is often overlooked. Be sure to choose the proper hook keeper. There are a number of keepers designed specifically for a drop shot. Yes, we use them for many other applications but having a hook keeper designed for a drop shot should really be called a weight keeper. I am referring to a hook(weight) keeper that is open on one end to allow the line and weight of the drop shot to be captured under the keeper to be sure no tangles occur!

Since we spoke at length about guide spacing and static deflection, I want to venture back into the Mud Hole Live Archives and add in one of the shows we did discussing this very topic. We cover guides, using a deflection chart and even cover working with blanks of different actions and powers. 

So, no matter how you feel about rigging up a drop shot or finesse fishing, it works. Give it a try, we won't tell. 

Now get to building and beat that heat! 

Enjoy the Mud Hole Live Episode on Guide Placement.

 

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