UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

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 

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

Champlain Midday Update – Day 3

While day two was windy and rough, day three has pretty much been calm from the get-go. It has also been hot as blazes. It’s made fishing a little tougher than expected, with a lot of anglers reporting missed or lost fish and a generally slower bite. That said, a slow bite on Champlain is a great bite most everywhere else, so we’re still going to see plenty of bass. READ MORE »

McKee Takes Co-Angler Title

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Weighing in 16 pounds, 2 ounces on day three, Henry McKee beat out co-angler superstar Gary Haraguchi for the win in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on Champlain. With a 47-8 total, McKee won a $1,050 and a brand-new Ranger Z175 with a 90-horsepower outboard. READ MORE »

Thrift All the Way on Champlain

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Taking the win in wire-to-wire fashion, Bryan Thrift tallied 18 pounds, 4 ounces on the final day for an even 57-pound total in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. For the win, Thrift earned $44,200 and a new Ranger boat, and it’s his 11th win with FLW. The Northern Division is presented by Gajo Baits and the tournament was presented by Polaris.  READ MORE »

Go-Time Again on Champlain

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Each of the last three years have seen the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits kick off on Champlain. This tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but the dominant pattern certainly won’t be spawning smallmouths. Instead, it could be a largemouth slugfest, as the fishing has continued to prove strong on the south end of the lake. READ MORE »

Thrift Takes Command on Champlain

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Less than three weeks removed from a third-place finish on Lake Champlain in the FLW Tour’s 2019 season finale, Bryan Thrift hauled 22 pounds, 6 ounces of green fish to the weigh-in stage to take the day one lead in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division opener, which is presented by Polaris. In second, Brandt Tumberg weighed 21-10, and Joe Wood is just an ounce behind him with 21-9 for third.  READ MORE »

Big Little Boats

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There is a massive surge in innovation in the fishing kayak industry, as evidenced by a showroom floor packed with canoes, kayaks, boats – and, in many cases, a combination of all of them – at ICAST 2019. READ MORE »

4 Hot New Reels from ICAST

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2019 is the year of the trolling motor at ICAST, but it wouldn’t be ICAST without at least a few next generation reels from some of the best manufacturers in the business. READ MORE »

Introducing Myself

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I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up fishing for whatever would bite with my grandfather and in middle school I had a friend who started taking me with his dad down to the Chesapeake Bay. That was my first time ever on a bass boat, and I was immediately hooked! READ MORE »

Review: Strike King Thunder Cricket

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Ever since Z-Man released the ChatterBait anglers haven’t really had the need to broaden their vibrating jig horizon – and not for lack of options, but simply because the ChatterBait is so good that you don’t really need anything else. With the launch of the Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer a few years ago and the instant buzz surrounding it, the bar was set high for any other vibrating jigs entering the market. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Champlain

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Lake Champlain is the kind of fishery that forces pros to make difficult decisions about where to go and what color of bass to target. This time around, in the FLW Tour 2019 finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, on the big Northern fishery, the decision was more interesting because there were spawning smallmouths everywhere up north, but the forecast was favorable for making the long run south to Ticonderoga to catch largemouths. READ MORE »

Bedford, Brown Lead at Pickwick

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Weighing in a three-fish limit of bass that averaged more than 4 1/2 pounds apiece has JD Bedford and Walker Brown of Lawrence County High School in the driver’s seat at the 2019 High School Fishing National Championship on Pickwick Lake. Keegan Fort and Clayton Page lead the High School Fishing World Finals with a three-fish limit worth 14 pounds, 5 ounces. READ MORE »

Review: Jackson Kayak Bite

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In the burgeoning fishing kayak market, there’s still a pretty large gap, on the whole, between entry-level boats (think $500 or less) and the top end of the market. It’s hard to find a really good kayak that blends quality, stability and affordability for anything less than $1,000. READ MORE »

Review: LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw

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With the number of great crankbaits on the market or discontinued and still in high-demand, new crankbaits have to be pretty good to earn a space in a tacklebox. While I wouldn’t say the LIVETARGET Tennessee Craw is a surefire classic, after a few days of fishing it, I know I’ll be throwing it a lot more. READ MORE »

Riding the Roller Coaster

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, although it seems like the last one was just yesterday. This season has flown by, and I finally have some down time before the last stop on the FLW Tour at Lake Champlain. This Tour season has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Potomac River

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With notably less developed grass than usual on the Potomac River, the anglers in the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American had a slightly different river to deal with. The tournament, which was presented by General Tire, featured a lot more hard cover action than grass bed fishing, and that trend was reflected in the top 10. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

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The T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American, which was presented by General Tire, featured a mixed bag of staple river tactics. As such, a pretty good variety of jigs, vibrating jigs and plastics came into play, with some finesse and hard baits mixed in. READ MORE »

Co-angler Dacey Wins Wire-to-Wire

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Winning the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American is a feat in itself, but to win wire-to-wire from the back of the boat is a whole different level. With 11 pounds and 11 ounces on the final day, Ben Dacey of Chesterfield, Va., closed out his win with a total of 38-2. For the win, Dacey earned $50,000 and also qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship this fall. READ MORE »

McCord Mounts All-American Comeback

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The first two days of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American on the Potomac River were all about Joseph Thompson, but Brennon McCord mounted a furious comeback on the final day to overtake the Pennsylvania boater and earn a $100,000 check and a berth in the 2019 FLW Cup and the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship.  READ MORE »

All-American Midday Update – Day 3

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The final day of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American has been a good one so far, and the fishing figures to stay good right up to weigh-in. Though Joseph Thompson seems to be maintaining his lead, he certainly hasn’t slammed the door.   READ MORE »

All-American Underway on the Potomac

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Winning the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American is a lifetime accomplishment, and this week, 49 boaters and co-anglers will have the chance to do it on the Potomac River. Presented by General Tire, the crowning event of the BFL season runs May 30 through June 1, and the winner on the boater side will walk away with $120,000 and a trip to the FLW Cup. READ MORE »