Tips and tactics 7

Tips and Tactics 7

One of today’s advancements in fishing is the drop shot rig or variations of this technique.

Drop shot fishing is used when the fish are cruising the depths and need an enticement to bite. This can be compared to fishing with a jig versus trolling or working around vegetation like sand grass to prevent fouling.

So what is drop shotting? This is simply a way for an angler to place a hook and bait at a given height above bottom and anchoring it with a split shot or drop shot weight. This method is far less obtrusive compared to the common Pickerel rig and allows the angler to move about slowly and then put additional life to the bait.

In the case of sand grass, anglers know fish cruise just above the weed growth or lay belly to the bottom waiting for food to pass by.

Anglers who might search for these fish will often troll bottom bouncers or crank baits. The problem arises when the offering runs through the weed growth and is hidden or fouls. This also applies to fishing in Coontail and Chara or Milfoil.

A drop shot hook places the hook above the weed growth and gives the fish a chance to visually see and strike the bait.

This method is a vertical presentation and just requires the slightest jiggling of the rod tip to put action to the bait. This is where artificial baits like the PowerBait Drop Shot Minnow excel. The slightest movement of the rod tip puts and exciting amount of action to the bait, enticing more than a look.

In my area, sand grass grows up to a foot off bottom. Some of it is sparse while other areas are a never ending mat. I watch the sonar screen to determine the height of the sand grass and then design my rig to fish above it.

This has to be the simplest way to fish and avoid fouling. If you use drop shop weights, you will recover your hook and bait if you snag. They are designed to slip off the line in the case of a snag but any split shot or bass weight will work.

Variations of the drop shot occur when you are on cleaner bottom but the fish are lethargic. Instead of a weight anchoring your drop shot rig, you can exchange it for a jig. Now you are fishing two different depths but the speed of presentation is similar. Both jig and drop shot are fished more vertical so they compliment each other.

When you tie on your choice of drop shot hook, use a Palomar knot with a decent tag line. The extra length of tag line will allow you to adjust how high your drop shot hook will be fished.

Baits for a drop shot hook include artificial worms up to four inches, minnow imitators up to three inches plus all the natural baits like crawlers leeches and live minnows where allowed.

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Anglers sometimes fail to consider line test as important. Usually they decide a purchase on line test and leave it at that. Here is a simple explanation about line test strength. Fishing lines with lower breaking strength cast further than higher test lines. The lower breaking strength does mean an angler gives up breaking strength for casting distance and vice versa.

Fishing for panfish and walleye will usually put you in the 4# to 8# test range. Salmon, depending on size will put you in the 20# to 30# test category. However, if you are fishing for Northern Pike or snaggy conditions you will be in the 10# to 30# range or use wire leaders for toothy critters.

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Always check your line for nicks, abrasion and test your knots often. Removing five feet of scuffed line and retying the knot will save you the fish of a lifetime. There are lots of suggestions regarding line replacement. I have my own opinions about this and they will be found in other tips and tactics presentations.

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Check online for videos or publications of different knots used in fishing. Get used to tying these knots as they were developed for purpose.  It is more important now as we are using more and more braided superlines. These lines are very thin in diameter and very slick. Many knots used for monofilament lines are not capable of holding superlines. Look for the Berkley Braid knot and use it for superlines like SpiderWire, Nanofil and Fireline.

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Many anglers get up at the crack of dawn or stay out till dark when fishing. If you are one of those hardcore anglers, I have a tip for you. When you go back to your chosen spot, look towards the shoreline. Throw your hook towards shore and not where you fished mid – day yesterday. The fish will travel into the shallows to hunt for food in low light conditions because they have less fear of predators. As the sun rises, the fish will depart for deeper water. This tip should increase the number of fish caught and extend the fish catching day.

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Some boating anglers get to fish in current conditions. They are often anchored until they hook up to a big fish. Fish know how to use current to their advantage and if your big fish turns sideways in the current, it will take line a lot quicker than one would expect.  These fishermen are often fishing for sturgeon and they have incorporated a few features a novice angler should use.

First, an angler should know the type of bottom content and match the anchor to match. Some fluke anchors work well in mud, some in rock or hard sand and others work in a multitude of applications. A novice angler usually has a poor choice of anchor and usually too light to fish in current.

Secondly, seasoned anglers will have around 100’ of rope. This will allow them to anchor up and then slip back as needed to find their target fish without starting the engine and making a physical move.

In the case of sturgeon fishing, the bait should not be sliding across the river bottom. You want the sturgeon to smell the bait and come upstream for it. With poor eyesight, moving bait is more difficult to find for sturgeon.

When river anglers are anchored, the current or the wind is moving the boat around. To see the subtle bites, the angler must try and eliminate as much movement as possible. Tossing your drift sock off the stern of the boat and letting the current open it up can achieve reduced side-to-side movement. Just like a drift sock off the bow, the current or wind has a more difficult time to overcome the drag of the drift sock, thus holding your boat more still.

Understanding how to tie off your anchor to the bow cleats is important to position your boat or control the effects of the wind. Use these cleats to position your boat at anchor.

So now we are back to catching a big fish that refuses to cooperate. Seasoned anglers have sliding floats installed on their anchor ropes. If there is a need to follow a fish downstream, the anchor rope is released from the boat but not picked up. The anchor line is tossed over and the float identifies where the rope ends. Make sure you have a knot at the end of the anchor rope or your float will slide off. Now that the boat is drifting downstream, the pressure is off the line and the angler can start the engine to catch up and play the fish. Once the fight ends and the fish are released, the angler motors upstream until the float can be retrieved and the boat re-anchored on that lucky spot.

One of the keys to fishing current from a boat is using the correct weight of jig. River fish hug the bottom and avoid current. Usually anglers are fishing snag strewn bottom so letting long lengths of line will have a lighter jig snag continuously. Anglers must get used to fishing very short lines and using jigs from ¾ ounces to two ounces where under normal conditions, they would be using 1/8 or ¼ ounce jigs.

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Fishing a new body of water? Usually it means a lot of unknown water and little time to locate good fishing. Using a resident guide service will increase your chances of a successful fishing trip and a more enjoyable holiday.

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