When the weather's hot and the bass are lethargic, it's practically impossible to beat a drop shot rig. It's true that you might be able to catch some fish shallow flipping a jig or worm or working a frog through vegetation, but for more and more of my summertime fishing, I find myself reaching for a spinning rod and a drop shot rig. It's a great way to tempt bass that otherwise might not hit anything at all.
At the recent Bassmaster Legends tournament on Lake Dardanelle, the drop shot played a big part in my win. I found a main river ledge that dropped from 10 to 16 feet, and I worked it with my favorite drop shot combo to put together several of my best days.
My basic drop shot rig starts with a 6 1/2-foot Boyd Duckett signature series Classic Gold drop shot rod from E21. The rod is a prototype and not on the market just yet, but it will be soon. I mount an Abu Garcia Cardinal 804 spinning rod on it spooled with 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.
For the weight and hook, I usually use a 1/4-ounce Tru-Tungsten drop shot weight and a 1/0 Owner or Gamakatsu worm hook. If I'm fishing around cover — like I was in Arkansas — I'll Texas rig the bait, but if there's very little cover around, you can leave the hook exposed or nose hook the lure.
My favorite drop shot worm has become the Berkley PowerBait Hand Pour Finesse Worm. It comes in 4- and 6-inch sizes and a variety of great colors. I'm a big
believer in PowerBait, and the Berkley folks have made a really soft worm that comes in colors that are extremely lifelike and effective.
Nothing in nature is just one color, and I really like the layered look of these hand pours. The color that worked for me in Arkansas (and a lot of other places, too) was Triple Margarita. It has a green pumpkin-looking back, then a purplish blue layer and a dark red bottom. I choose color based on a variety of conditions, including water clarity and light levels, but Triple Margarita is becoming a real favorite of mine.
A good starting point for leader length when drop shotting in the summer is about 18 inches. It keeps the bait off the bottom even when you've made a cast and aren't fishing vertically. During the summer, I fish vertically some, but I also make a lot of short casts with my drop shot rig.
I fish it differently than a lot of other guys. For me, the key seems to be moving the bait very slowly across the bottom but giving it plenty of action by shaking the rod constantly on a limp line. I move the rod a lot, but the bait is just barely quivering because of the slack in the line. It works really well for me.
A lot of guys who are new to drop shotting have problems hooking fish. They're probably setting the hook too hard and giving the bass too much opportunity to drop the bait. Sticking a fish with a drop shot is not about the hook set. It's about getting the point of the hook up against the fish's mouth by taking up all the slack and reeling very fast. The hook points on quality hooks are so sharp that they'll find a place and sink in if you just keep the pressure on.
Give my drop shotting methods a try while it's hot, and I think you'll catch more bass.