When line-shy bass need to be finessed into biting, the drop-shot allows for both vertical and semi-horizontal presentations with extreme subtlety. The weight anchors the rig to the bottom, but the soft plastic sits above it, unencumbered and undulating seductively. If you’re dealing with pressured fish, especially those in ultraclear water, you’d better know how to drop-shot. Sometimes this is the only tactic that will score when the fish are on high alert.
Find the “juice” and prepare to be patient. Pipkens says that he doesn’t expect to cover a lot of water with a drop-shot, not nearly as much as he would with a Carolina rig, and certainly far less than he would with a crankbait. In fact, he most often uses a drop-shot vertically, which allows him to target discrete spots directly under the boat thoroughly and goad neutral or negative fish into biting. By adjusting his leader length—usually anywhere from 8 to 12 inches—he can suspend his bait above bottom-hugging algae or short strands of grass and keep it clean. Trying to keep a shaky head or a finesse jig saladfree while working thick vegetation can be a real chore.
In an era when most “serious” anglers rely almost exclusively on tungsten weights with their drop-shot rigs, Pipkens says he still prefers to lean on lead weights. “Shape matters much more than a weight’s material,” he says. “I’ll use a cylinder weight around brush but a round weight in places with little bits of shell or rock on the bottom. The round weights let me feel the softer sweet spot better.”
Pipkens warns anglers not to shake the lure too aggressively. “Sometimes shaking it is the deal, but people often overdo it,” he says. “I’ve caught more fish doing nothing with a drop-shot than by shaking it.” A straight worm like a Lunkerhunt Core Strength Limit Worm, rigged Texasstyle, gets most of his bites. But when bass are keyed on smaller bait, he’ll downsize to a little Lunkerhunt Darter.
THE GO-TO SETUP
Wright & McGill 7' drop-shot rod, Abu Garcia Revo MGX reel (6.2:1), 8-pound-test Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon