UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

The History of the Drop-Shot

The History of the Drop-Shot

When I was growing up in Southern California, everyone threw a split-shot rig or used the doodling technique. Doodling was popularized by Don Iovino, who lived about 20 minutes from me. I used to go to his house and root through his tackle, and that’s where I first encountered it. The rig was simple: a 4- to 6-inch finesse worm with a bullet weight and a glass bead. Shaking it with a steady rhythm generated strikes on clear-water lakes. A split-shot rig was even simpler, with nothing but a lead shot that you crimped onto your line with some microscopic 3-inch baits. 

Back then I was fishing Castaic, Casitas, Pyramid and other lakes with really clear water and heavy fishing pressure, so throwing a little finesse rig is just what I did. Funny thing is, I can’t even remember the last time I threw a split-shot rig or the doodling rig, but I can remember the first time I saw the rig that eventually replaced them: the drop-shot. 

I guess I don’t know who was the first to rig up a drop-shot here or abroad, but it was definitely a Japanese development, and it was actually Aaron Martens that showed it to me first back in the mid-1990s. I had heard of it about five years before that, and I knew of a guy from Lake Perris in California who was using a rig with two hooks and a weight below it, but my history with the drop-shot as we now know it goes back to that first introduction by Aaron.

Once the word got out about the drop-shot, it was like no one threw a split shot or doodled anymore. It got to the point where every tournament was won on a drop-shot on those local clear-water, highly pressured impoundments.

James Niggemeyer

At first, we didn’t even have drop-shot weights. We made them ourselves. I would buy 1/4-ounce split shot and crimp them onto the smallest barrel swivels I could find. I’m talking a tiny No. 14. Then I tied my line to that swivel. Other guys crimped a Texas-rig weight onto the line itself. I tried buying little bell sinkers, but I felt the wire wouldn’t turn fast enough like a swivel would inside a split shot. 

Eventually, I saw my first drop-shot weight. It was a cylindrical weight with a line clip. They were expensive, and I remember thinking, Who’s buying that?Then, we got the first tungsten drop-shot weights, and it was more of the same. Now, if I’m drop-shotting, I couldn’t imagine not using tungsten.

Beyond tackle, the evolution of the drop-shot as a technique was really amazing. It was so much better than any of the other finesse presentations. You could even drop on fish you saw on the screen. I remember one of my buddies showing me how to do it. He’d spin around his graph at the console so he could see what was under the back and front of the boat, and we’d watch the fish go by and send a drop-shot down to them. The whole idea of catching one off the graph was new to me until then.

The technique just kept expanding. I have to admit that, at first, I made the mistake that a lot of bass fishermen do. I put the drop-shot in this little “box” and only used it in limited situations. I’d vertical fish it, and I’d cast it and work it just like a Texas rig. But I still wasn’t as open-minded as some other anglers that were really pushing the envelope. 

I can remember the first time I heard of guys throwing a drop-shot on the California Delta. I thought that was so dumb. The Delta was a place to throw frogs and big square-bills and to flip. Boy, was I wrong. They started catching big ones on it. 

What was even more interesting was how, at least in California, drop-shotting a little worm developed simultaneously with the transition of big swimbaits from tools for targeting trophy fish to tools to catch five bass in a tournament. I can remember talking to Byron Velvick about this years ago. He said the trend was to throw the smallest little finesse bait or the biggest, giant whatever. It’s like the whole “midsection” of bass baits wasn’t even getting used. 

Now the drop-shot is the type of thing you throw anywhere (and so is a swimbait). I’ve seen it work too many times in places it shouldn’t. You won’t meet a pro angler today who doesn’t fish a drop-shot. 

When I drop-shot, I really like to throw a finesse worm that’s around 4 1/2 inches long most of the time. My favorites are the 4-inch Strike King Dream Shot (bottom of image) and 5-inch Strike King Fat Baby Finesse (center of image). Sometimes I’ll go up to a 6-inch finesse worm, or down to a little bitty 3 1/2-inch Strike King Drop Shot Half Shell (top of image). I’ll even wacky rig a worm on a drop-shot if I’m not getting many bites fishing it the “normal” way, but for the most part I like a nose-hooked worm in the middle finesse size. 

I feel like if you can get away with nose-hooking you’ll get more bites versus rigging it weedless or Texas style. The bait remains more “free” to move, and is less rigid on the hook.

I use a 1/0 or No. 1 Owner Mosquito or Light Mosquito for nose-hooking and wacky-rigging. If I do need to rig it weedless, I use a 1/0 Owner Cover Shot Worm Hook.

My weight is a bell-shaped Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Drop Shot Weight, usually 1/4 ounce, rigged 10 to 12 inches below the hook. I increase the distance in very clear water, or sometimes in smallmouth water, and I shorten it when the water is dirty or I’m fishing for spawning bass on beds.

Like a lot of pros, I use a braid-to-fluorocarbon leader setup for drop-shotting. My main line is 10- to 12-pound-test braid, and I use an FG Knot to tie in a 7-pound-test Gamma Touch fluorocarbon leader.

Most people prefer the Palomar knot for tying on a drop-shot hook, but I actually use the Eugene slipknot. 

The Palomar is probably the best knot if you tie it right, but, whatever it is that I do when I tie the Palomar knot, sometimes it breaks on the hookset. I try to remove all possibility of line failure, so when I first started experiencing the problem, I did some research and found an article done with Gary Klein and Shaw Grigsby. To anyone having trouble with fluorocarbon breaking on the hookset, they recommended the Eugene slipknot. It worked for me, and now I use it for everything except braid, which I tie using a Palomar. 

Once I tie on my drop-shot weight with the Eugene slipknot, I pass the tag end back through the top of the hook eye, which keeps the hook pointed up most of the time. I also make sure the knot is centered and pointed up so the bait stays horizontal. 

James Niggemeyer

As you can tell, my drop-shot system is far more refined than it was 20 years ago when I was pinching split shot onto a swivel. Back in those days, it was up to the anglers to figure out how to make the rig work, and guys on the forefront like Aaron Martens helped a lot of us stay up on the latest tricks. Now, all the major tackle companies produce gobs of drop-shot worms, hooks, weights and other tackle, and we have incredible lines for light, finesse fishing. 

So while I’m still a power-fisherman at heart, my history with the drop-shot and the modern tackle I use give me a high level of confidence that I can throw the finesse rig just about anywhere and put more big bass in the boat. 

Tags: drop-shot  finesse  bass-fishing  james-niggemeyer  blog 

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Cumberland

Smallmouths dominated at the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland. Oklahoma’s Andrew Upshaw led the way with brown bass caught on a jig and a Ned rig on bluff bank transitions in the reservoir’s lower end. Behind him, only a couple of pros hedged their bets on targeting largemouths. The rest fished for smallies and considered green bass to be bonus fish and spotted bass to be limit fillers on the tough days. READ MORE »

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

Lake Cumberland Top 10 Baits

In classic Southern smallmouth fashion, crankbaits and jigs dominated the top 10 at Lake Cumberland during the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship. The only exceptions were a few finesse baits and the tackle used by two pros who targeted largemouths. Here’s what worked. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw continues to roll on Cumberland. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Championship proved to be about as challenging as many anglers anticipated after a tough practice period, but it wasn’t all bad. Zimbabwe’s Roger Cousens certainly wasn’t complaining. His tournament-leading 17-pound, 2-ounce bag was exactly what he had hoped for as the tournament kicked off, and he’s gunning for another big stringer today. READ MORE »

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

The FLW International Division is well represented in the Costa FLW Series Championship, and perhaps none represented the division better than Roger Cousens of Zimbabwe, who didn’t seem bothered by the stingy conditions of Lake Cumberland on day one. With the only bag that topped 17 pounds for the day (17-2), Cousens enters day two with a 3-ounce lead over Robert Nakatomi, who qualified from the Western Division. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

With rain early and a cold snap forecasted to move in this afternoon, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland could present some unique challenges for the 193-boat field, especially after a fairly mild and pleasant practice period.  READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Last weekend, Floyd added to his already lengthy list of accomplishments with a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional victory on Lake Guntersville – the tournament was presented by Mercury – with a 44-pound, 15-ounce three-day total, and it all came down to consistency and some really good decision-making. READ MORE »

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

One of the easiest and most controllable ways to save time and be efficient on the water is to keep tackle organized and accessible. Hard baits are easy to organize in Plano boxes, but soft plastics can sometimes cause a bit of a headache. Here are some tips for doing it based on how I go about tackling the issue.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Curt Warren knew what he wanted to do, and it had nothing to do with weeding through a bunch of small fish up shallow. Rather, he focused his attention on deeper Grand Lake spots with chunk rock and brush and amassed a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their checks on Grand. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

A cold front moving in at the start of Grand Lake’s fall transition put a damper on seeing a bunch of big weights during the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, but plenty of pros managed to find the right fish to make things exciting on the final day. READ MORE »

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Meador Repeats Co-Angler Win on Grand

Defending his title as co-angler winner in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, was impressive enough, but the way Steven Meador did it was truly remarkable. After earning the 2018 win on Grand by 3 pounds, 6 ounces, the Bentonville, Ark., co-angler repeated the victory with a three-day total of 27-15 for a much slimmer winning margin this time around – just 10 ounces. READ MORE »

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Warren Mounts Furious Comeback on Grand

Curt Warren was a paragon of consistency over three days at Grand Lake, and the result was a victory in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Warren turned in limits of 14-5 on day one and 16-9 on day two, but it was his day-three limit of 15-9 that was the most impressive – no other pro even cracked the 13-pound mark battling the tough post-frontal conditions Grand had to offer on day three. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 2

When conditions changed, Cody Bird of Granbury, Texas completely scrapped his day-one pattern, caught a limit that weighed 13-11 and took over the lead of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, with a two-day total of 32-14. Here’s what the rest of the top five was up to on day two. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Grand Lake - Day 1

Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., leveraged his intimate understanding of Grand Lake’s tendencies to catch a five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces to take the lead on day one of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event Presented by T-H Marine. Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Grand Lake Midday Update - Day 1

After several weeks of hot, sunny conditions, anglers launched with cloudy skies, stout winds and air temperatures in the low 60s. By midday, the temperature rose into the mid to upper 60s and the wind started to subside, however, the first couple of hours saw Grand Lake’s temperamental side. READ MORE »