Drop-Shotting for Walleyes

When you spend any amount of time fishing for walleyes, occasionally you’re going to come across a situation or two that calls for something different in the way of rigging in order to most effectively catch the fish you’re after. Over the past couple of seasons I’ve encountered a couple of those situations, and they propted me to pull a bass fishing tactic out of my bag of tricks … Drop-Shotting.

In the simplest of terms, a drop-shot rig is a finnese technique much like a split-shot rig, only with the weight below the hook as opposed to above it. This puts the weight on the bottom with the hook and bait off the bottom where it can be presented above the bottom cover and in plain view of the fish.

Total Solutions Technique

Two scenarios in particular where drop-shot rigging works well for walleyes is when you’re faced with fishing walleyes relating to rocky structure such as reef or rock pile, and when walleyes are holding in sparse to moderately heavy weed cover.

When the walleyes are on the rocks, the drop-shot rig allows you to work either vertically, or with short casts, presenting the bait just above the rocks and right in the fish’s face. Using either a standard drop-shot weight or a split-shot crimped on the line, snags can be easily handled by giving the line a steady pull, releasing the weight and salvaging the main rig. Just attach a new sinker and you’re back to fishing.

In weeds, the rig does basically the same thing … presenting the bait just above the bottom cover within easy view of the fish. The dropper length (the length of line between the hook and the sinker) can be adjusted depending on the height of the weeds.

The effectiveness of using a drop-shot is in the way the angler can impart action to the bait. Once the weight is on the bottom, tighten the line and give the rod tip just a little “jiggle-stop-jiggle” … this will give the bait that’s suspended above the weight the enticing action that makes the drop-shot so deadly. Be careful though … you don’t need to work the bait too much. Very slight movements are all that is typically needed. It’s not unlike the action you might use when ice fishing for panfish … subtle movements is all it takes to get the bait dancing.

Most bites will feel like little more than a little added weight to the line, or possibly a slight “tick”; much like when jig fishing. Sweep the rod upward to set the hook and fight the fish in.

Total Solutions Equipment

The tackle and equipment used for drop-shotting walleyes is basically the same as you would use for your live bait rigging or jigging techniques. A good quality spinning rod like the Berkley Heritage 7-foot medium-light spinning rod  or the  Fenwick® AETOS® Spinning Rod  (6’6″’ Med. Light) is essential for this type of finesse tactic. These rods will give you great “feel” and response to hook and fight fish on light line.

Team the rod up with a quality spinning reel like the Abu Garcia REVO SX spinning reel spooled with 6 or 8 pound test Berkley® Trilene® 100% Fluorocarbon and you’ll have a perfect set-up for drop-shot fishing. The fluorcarbon line is ideal because it is low-stretch, allowing you to really feel what’s going on at the business end of the line, and it’s virtually invisible to the fish … a big advantage when fishing in clear water.

For baits, I suggest keeping your offerings on the small side. It just seems hook-ups are better when presenting small baits on a drop-shot rig. Favorites include the Berkley GULP!® 3” FryGulp!® Alive™ 2 1/2″ or 3” Minnow and Gulp!® Alive!™ 3″ Leech.

Fenwick® AETOS® Spinning Rod

Berkley® Heritage® Spinning Rod

Abu Garcia® REVO SX Series

Berkley® Trilene® 100% Fluorocarbon

Berkley® 3 inch GULP!® Fry


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