What is a Tidal River Drop Shot Rig? How do you rig it? When and where should you fish it? Why should you learn to fish it? Don’t worry in this article I will answer all of these questions and with a little practice you should gain confidence in this technique quickly and find out how much fun you have been missing.
The typical drop shot rig technique that the Japanese fishermen introduced to us became very popular quickly out west and has gained good popularity here on the east coast with the lake and reservoir fishermen. These waters are typically deep, clear and are many times due to their size heavily pressured by the volume of fishermen. Water current is not usually a factor unless they have a dam or some type of power plant facility on them and still the current is not usually as strong and more specific time regulated than our River’s and Bay’s. In these situations the low visibility 4 to 8 pound light line, small #1 hook, small sometimes even tiny plastics, small drop shot weights, work great as the fisherman can keep feel and contact with the bottom which is crucial in fishing the drop shot rig, whether it be the typical or Tidal River Drop Shot Rig. Please keep in mind as I cannot stress enough the fact that you must feel and keep your drop shot weight in contact with the bottom to be successful fishing either of these drop shot techniques.
My version of the Tidal River Drop Shot Rig allows the tidal river fisherman to fish it in the heavier current and dense grass and cover that they encounter in their rivers and bay’s. Many times the tidal river fisherman will be fishing shallow 1 to 10 foot of water, dense grass and heavy cover such as thick limbed brush piles, fallen trees in the water called lay downs. Rocky points and dock pilings covered with sharp barnacles are another of the many tidal river fishing obstacles. In these situations a good quality, sensitive, highly abrasion resistant, low stretch, line such as the IZORLINE, XXX Super Co-Polymer line in 10 or 12 pound test, is what I recommend. You will need a strong hook, I recommend any high quality sharp 2/0 wide gap worm hook such as the ones you use to Texas rig your plastic worms. Now for your plastic bait, we are fishing tidal rivers and bays with mostly stained to dirty water clarity. I recommend a 4 to 5 inch bait such as the ever popular Senko or Case Magic Sticks. I try to limit my color of baits to the basic natural colors such as green pumpkin, natural, junebug and white. I have found that these basic colors are sufficient for the various types of water clarity that I generally encounter. I always use and recommend for you to use a scent on your baits, remember this is a tough finesse bite technique. I am not taking any chances on missing a bite; I want to trick and entice the bass to bite with this modified Tidal River Drop Shot that is beefed-up so that I can successfully pull the bass out of his tidal river home with all of its many obstacles that go along with tidal river fishing. I recommend and use exclusively Carolina Lunker Sauce; I prefer the Garlic and Crawfish flavors. When you take into consideration that you will touch and handle so many things that have a negative smell to a bass the few hours before you fish, you are going to transfer these negative unnatural smells to your baits while handling and rigging your baits. To make your bait more scent appealing to the bass you need to use a flavor of Carolina Lunker Sauce.
There is one more Tidal River Drop Shot fishing inconvenience that you will have to overcome and deal with. Since you will be fishing the Tidal River Drop Shot in dense grass and various types of cover as I mentioned earlier, your bait will tend to slide down the hook eye shank and you will have to slide your bait back in place to keep it Texas rigged. You can solve this problem and save valuable fishing time, and money on baits with one simple trick. One drop of "Pro’s Soft-Bait Glue" applied topically on the bait and hook eye will keep the bait in place, I have found that many times it will hold the bait in place for a full day of fishing, as when the bass bites the bait it slides up from the hook point on the shank towards the hook eye. I just unhook the fish pull the bait down the hook shank and skin hook the bait with the hook point and continue fishing in a trouble free efficient manner, saving time, and money. If your bait begins to show signs of wear at the spot that you are skin hooking it then just slide the bait past the hook point like you are going to take the bait off the hook, but leave the bait glued to the hook shank/eye apply one drop of glue to the worn spot, dip the bait in the water, this accelerates the cure time to basically immediate, once dipped in the water the Pro’s Soft Bait Glue will be totally odorless whatever your bait smelled like before you applied the glue is exactly how it will smell at this point. To learn more about and the many use’s with diagrams of Pro’s Soft Bait Glue you can visit their website, prosoftbaitglue.com .
Tag line, this is the distance between your Palomar Knot tied to the hook eye and the free end of your line or the drop shot weight once attached to the line. This is where I have made another important modification. I am using a considerable shorter tag line than the typical drop shot rig. Generally I recommend and use a 6 to 12 inch tag line, occasionally I will shorten the tag line to 4 inches, but at 4 inches I am really fishing on the bottom. My recommendation is to let the bass tell you the length of tag line to use, Experiment with different lengths until you find the one they want.
Drop Shot weight, I prefer the basic round ball type of drop shot weight, ¼ to 3/8 ounce, in very heavy current I will sometimes use a ½ ounce drop shot weight. To attach your line to the drop shot weight you simply pass the loose end of the tag line thru the small eye opening of the wire that swivels coming out of the top of the ball weight, do not tie a knot you will see that the wire above the eye/opening is pinched tight, you simply pull the line so that it is pinched between the wire. This is very important as it allows you to quickly adjust your tag line between casts until you find the tag line distance that the bass want. If you find that your drop shot weight is hung-up on the bottom, you simply use a steady inline pull (keeping the rod and rod tip inline with your line so that you do not stress and damage or break your rod) the line will either pull thru where it is pinched to the drop shot sinker or cut itself loose at the point where it is pinched, either way you just take another drop shot weight and attach it to the loose end of the tag line and quickly continue fishing. If when you pull the line it cuts instead of pulling thru don’t worry you will only loose about 1/16 of an inch each time so it will take a few times before you have to stop and completely retie the rig.
We have covered the basic introduction and necessary items needed to rig the Tidal Drop Shot Rig. Now we are ready to rig our Tidal River Drop Shot Rig, with easy step by step instructions.
Step#1: Tie a Palomar Knot to your 2/0 wide gap worm hook. It is very important that you hold the hook with the point facing the line as you feed the line thru the hook eye. Be sure to leave about 1 ½ to 2 foot of tag line past the Palomar Knot.
Step#2: Hold your 2/0 wide gap worm hook parallel with the point up, pass the loose tag end of your line thru the hook eye from north/top to south/downward and pull tight. Very quickly you can check to see if you have done this step correctly by holding the line horizontally one hand above the hook and one hand below the hook when you pull on the line putting tension on it the hook should stand out parallel to the line. With the Hook Point Up.
This step must be done correctly or your bait presentation will be ineffective and your hook set will not work. The bass will have fun playing with you.
Step#3: Attach Drop Shot sinker with 6 to 12 inches of Tag Line as explained earlier.
Step#4: Attach bait to 2/0 wide gap worm hook rigged Texas style using Pro’s Soft Bait Glue and Carolina Lunker Sauce as explained earlier.
Step#5: You are ready to fish, hold onto your rod and catch the big one, your friends will be jealous!
All Aboard! Let’s go fishing using the Tidal River Drop Shot Rig. I have spent many hours and days on the water perfecting this technique and believe me it works. When the fishing is slow and the bites are few, I will rely on the Tidal River Drop Shot. It is no secret that most tidal river fishermen want a moving tide. Some prefer the incoming and some prefer the outgoing, often the area they are fishing will determine the tide they prefer, but for the most part they prefer a moving tide. Many times their opinion is they are just fishing hoping for a bite between the moving tides. I have found the Tidal River Drop Shot technique to be extremely effective in serving the bass something on the menu that their appetite cannot resist during the slack tide time when the tides are not moving. I recommend using a spinning tackle set-up when fishing the Tidal River Drop Shot. The sinker weights I use are heavy enough for a bait casting type reel but you will not get the straight down fall presentation that the spinning tackle set-up will give you making it more difficult to properly present the bait effectively when targeting specific structure and cover. I use a Falcon Rod, Cara series, model CS-4-162M it is a 6ft. 2inch medium action spinning rod this is my choice when I am fishing tight to cover or docks and marina’s, yes I said docks don’t be afraid to fish the Tidal River Drop Shot anywhere. Fish it shallow on structure and cover, docks the edge of grass beds. In more open area’s or if I am using a ½ ounce weight I use a Falcon Rod, Cara series, model CS-5-166MH it is a 6ft. 6inch medium heavy action spinning rod. I use Abu Garcia, Cardinal series spinning reels model 504 on both rods. Please keep in mind that with this technique your goal is to put the bait in a specific strike zone and hold it there until the bass cannot resist your bait.
Setting the hook. There is no need for a massive hook set, let the Tidal River Drop Shot Rig do the work for you. When you feel pressure or see the line move just pull up on the rod tip with a quick snap of the wrist, keeping tension on the line and begin reeling in the fish the rig will do the hook set for you.
Try casting the rig across a flat or ledge and very slowly work it up or across the flat or ledge. To work the Tidal River Drop Shot Rig this way you cast to your target very slightly twitch the line for a minute and then very slowly without losing contact with the bottom drag the sinker about 1 to 2 inches, let the bait sit and twitch it for a minute, then drag it again continue to work the Tidal River Drop Shot Rig this way until you have covered the area. For example let’s say that you have determined that the fish in an area are holding at about 8 inches off the bottom you can adjust your tag line distance and work the complete area at that specified distance from the bottom. Other baits that you might use such as crankbaits will only cover that depth for a small portion of the area.
You owe it to yourself to try the Tidal River Drop Shot it is a very effective and fun technique.
For more information or personnel instruction on fishing the Tidal River Drop Shot Rig during a guided fishing trip go to www.karlsbassinadventures.com or call H/Bus.# (410) 272-6940 or Cell# (410) 459-7445.
Capt. Karl Bunch