Drop Shot the Shallows

The drop shot technique is a good tool to have in your bass fishing arsenal

This fishing presentation is all about finesse.



When anglers hear the term 'drop shotting' or 'drop shot,' they normally relate this angling technique to crystal clear or deep water.

This is not always the case.

The very popular presentation called 'drop shot' has had a resurgence of popularity over the last ten plus years and was generally used by anglers fishing the deep clear waters of California, and then adopted by the rest of the bass world via the internet and word of mouth.

But again, most relate this presentation to fishing for bass in deeper haunts, but this subtle, non-intimidating technique is just as deadly on shallow water bass as it is on the deep fish.

karl kalonka
(Photo credit: Karl Kalonka)

On a road trip thru Algoma, Ontario this past July, we had an opportunity to film a show on a popular public lake which featured many deep water options with gravel, sand and boulders, perfect for smallmouth bass. But the timing just wasn't right and with the late spring and a lot of fish still roaming the shallows filling their bellies after the spawn, the shallower back bays and flats leading to main lake drop offs held a large number of roaming bass in depths ranging from 2-to-5 feet of water.

Perfect conditions for catching big bass?

Yes, but the lake we were fishing also featured water clarity as clear as the water that comes out of your kitchen tap and these big bass were as spooky as ever.

Ninja-like manoeuvres and a stealthy, quiet approach was the only way we could get bit.

We fished shallow jerkbaits, slow wobbling crankbaits, dragged tube jigs and even tried mini topwater plugs to provoke strikes but these shy bass in the shallow water didn't fool easily. But as soon as we picked up the light action spinning rods loaded with 20-pound Gamma torque braid with a 6-foot fluorocarbon leader, tiny number two drop shot hook and Strike King drop shot Half Shell soft bait suspended 18 inches above the 1/8-ounce down shot weight, the drags started to sing on our spinning reels.

drop shot hook
Drop Shot Hook.

Making long casts to visible structure elements like single boulders, submerged logs, rock piles, sand with weed patches and the dark edges of slightly deeper water produced the kind of bass this Algoma region is famous for, fish in the high 4 to 6-pound range.

Tour Grade Drop Shot Weight
Tour Grade Drop Shot Weight.

The drop shot presentation is about finesse.

Light action rods in the 6-foot 10-inch to 7-plus-foot lengths with sensitivities that can detect soft, subtle pick ups from bigger bass are paramount when imploring this technique. Our favourites include the St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass, Bass X, and Legend Xtreme models. Match these up with a spinning reel that has the capacity for line and a smooth drag system, as these bigger bass will make speed runs in the blink of an eye. Using sub-par reels will only lead to lost fish and heartbreak.

Our choice of soft plastic bait on this day was the Strike King rop shot Half Shell. A soft, subtle little bait that was hooked lightly thru the nose section of the bait and by using a ultra slow shake of the rod, made the Half Shell bait slowly dance in the face of these oversized smallmouth bass.

Strike King Half Shell
Strike King Half Shell.

With any technique or presentation, it's all about the cadence or speed of retrieve, when drop shotting in shallow water, it’s more about the patience of the angler and imploring the most life-like bait appearance as possible. Don't try to rush the bite—this technique is about focus and concentrating on what your bait is doing under the water. Most bites are soft, subtle sensations that feel like a weed is on your hook.

If anything feels strange when fishing the drop shot, set the hook. Some of my biggest bass have come from these exact sensations.

Northern Ontario regions like Algoma Country and Sunset Country in Northwest Ontario feature longer seasons for bass, some even from ice-out to ice-in and offer the bass angler many more opportunities to fish for bass with the drop shot technique. Although appealing, we have to respect the fisheries and practice catch and release with both pre-spawn and post spawn fish to ensure a future fishery for generations to come.

The drop shot technique is just another tool in your arsenal when chasing bigger than average bass in any condition you face but it really shines in both deep and shallow water.

Give it a try this season and hold on tight.

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