A lot of anglers don’t think about a drop-shot rig when the water’s cold. That’s too bad because late winter and early spring are good times to use this technique. The bass tend to be deep, and they’re often schooled up tight. That makes them a good target for this technique.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years, though, is that this is not the time for light weights. They’re good, and frequently produce more bass, when the water’s warm, but when it’s cold you need to get your bait down fast and be able to hold it in a fixed position to make them bite.
I typically go with a 1/4-ounce to 3/8-ounce weight. That does exactly what I want it to do but it’s still light enough to be handled on lighter tackle, and it lets me fish slowly and hold a fixed position.
Winter water tends to be clear, which makes a drop shot shine. Something in the 18- to 24-inch leader range is usually about right. Bass are keying on baitfish right now, and they are all the way around slower. The longer leader mimics those dying bait that are in the middle of the water column. The bass have time to decide whether or not to bite your lure, which can be good and bad.
Clear water also means anglers think they need super light line. That thinking is right. Lighter line will always get you more bites with a drop shot, but not because the fish see the line. The lighter line lets the bait swim and act more naturally which generates more bites than a bait that’s being restricted by heavier line.
I like to fish with 6- or 7-pound test Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon as my leader in the clear water.