Drop-Shotting Panfish

by Justin Clark on May 23, 2012

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Drop-shotting Bluegill

The Author with a nice 10 inch Gill from Lake St. Clair

Drop-Shotting,  also known as down-shotting or under-shotting, is a technique that was developed in Japan as a way to reach bass on ultra clear, heavy pressured, reservoirs.  It was quickly adopted by bass anglers on the west coast of the US and spread through out the country and through the tournament ranks.  It quickly became a favorite for many bass anglers fishing deep structure on clear reservoirs and deep natural lakes.

The popularity of drop-shotting for bass has begun to naturally spill over into other types of fishing. Recent advancements in and popularity of micro plastic designs in the ice fishing market has lead many pan fishermen to add drop-shotting techniques to their arsenal as well. But until just recently, the rest of the industry was lagging behind in both terminal tackle and rods for this specialized presentation.

Rods

Dropshotting requires very specialized equipment in terms of rods. In fact, the rod can make or break this technique’s effectiveness.  What you want, is a rod with a high quality blank for sensitivity and a fast taper that delivers an extra-fast action. It will also need to have the ability to protect light lines in the 2 to 4lb range, or even lighter in ultra clear waters. St. Croix just recently released their Panfish Series rods. This series has a rod that is up to the task, model PFS70LXF. This is a super sensitive, 7 foot rod which has the right taper and length to protect light line.

Image from hookedforlife.ca

Terminal Tackle

The traditional drop-shot rig has a hook tied directly into the mainline, with a weight attached below. You don’t use any kind of snap to hold the weight on the line like you would with a perch rig. Instead you want the weight to have the ability to slide off the end of the line if it ever gets hung up.You can either use appropriately sized dropshot weights that are common on the bass market or you can use large round non-reusable split shot.

For hooks you have a few options out there.  Depending on the type of plastics you are using, you can use Aberdeen, Octopus, Stand-Out or even the new VMC Spinshot in size 6 or 8. It is important that you match the hook size and gap to the thickness of the plastics you are using so when you do get a strike you have enough hook to get into fishes mouth.

Fathead Fry

Sportsmen’s Direct Exclusive Candy PLastics

Plastics

There are just a ton of really high quality panfish plastics on the market these days. Some of the standouts for dropshotting are X-zone, Candy Plastics, J and S, and Little Atom

. The super soft, hand poured quality of these baits, makes them perfect for this application. But you can use any type of panfish plastic, small crawfish, insect imitations, crappie tubes or anything that will give you some good action when it’s shook.

How to Fish

How you fish a drop-shot rig is really pretty simple but does take some practice to get it down. Cast or drop your rig over the side of the boat. Let the weight hit the bottom. Now here comes the hard part and why having a super sensitive rod is important. Pull your line tight but without loosing contact with the bottom. Once the line is tight you will begin to shake your rod. This is where the extra fast action and quick taper come in handy. The up and down motion of the shaking will impart the action into the plastics and make it quiver and dance. The fast action helps you keep the weight in contact with the bottom of the lake.

Dropshot panfish

A friend of the authors with a nice bluegill that fell victim to the drop-shot rig with a fathead fry on it.

Where to Fish

Drop-Shotting is a traditionally a vertical presentation, that works best in relatively deep water. But that isn’t the only place you can use this tactic. In the early spring you can shake and drag this rig through the spawning colonies of gills and sunnies. It works great for working dock pilings in marinas and harbors. Casting a drop-shot along a deep seawall can be killer in the spring and fall months for all kinds of panfish. You can also apply this when probing the deep side of weed lines. This technique can substantially lengthen your season for hunting bull gills and slab crappies.  It also open up a few doors when fishing the great lakes that are over looked by 99.99% of the pan fisherman out there.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Posty July 11, 2012 at 2:52 AM

Interesting. So is the weight on the bottom anything special or unusual? Could you use a pyramid weight or a pear shaped sinker?

Those plastics are pretty cool looking… need to see if I can find them locally at Academy.

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Justin Clark July 11, 2012 at 5:25 AM

The weights I use are called a drop-shot weight. They have a special clip that holds the weight to the line with out needing to tie a knot. You could use other sinkers styles, but then that would not let you lose the weight easily if it ever got snagged. and you risk losing your whole setup then not just the weight. Also pyramid sinker tend to be way to heavy the lightest I have ever seen was 3/4 oz, which can not be casted on the rods & line that are used for this technique. Drop-shot weights come in two basic shapes a round ball and a pencil style.

On the plastic side of things I am sure they have small plastics similar to what I mentioned in the article. The key to having a great drop-shot plastic is that it has to be very supple and many of main stream panfish plastics are not and when they are they just don’t have the durability you would want. That is why I seeked out the very best hand poured plastics on the market for this technique. Sportsmen’s Direct has a massed one of the nicer collection of hand pour panfish plastics I have seen.

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