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I've been messing with this dropshot deal for a while and finally figured a few things out. It's all about shaking the bait. It's not about hooks or rigs, it's the shake retrieve that sets it apart . Some how I missed this, maybe it's obvious to everyone else. Using a flexible plastic bait helps. I started with the Findbass minnow nose hooked but sassy shads work just as good and they're cheaper. Small plastic worms should work good too. The bait is nose hooked and shook on loose line. This makes the plastic shake like a dying minnow. Try it in clear shallow water where you can see it. This is probably a still water technique and it will be great in eddies in the winter. It's been very effective in ponds along the weedline. Now that it's nice out I'm looking forward to winter fishing to try this out.


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PhilF, Here are a couple great articles written by guys that do this on a regular basis on Table Rock Lake.


SKMO is just a good fisherman that gets it done on the Rock!


Drop Shot: Technology


SKMO - I think It's good to be able to see your drop-shot rig (or spoon) for a few reasons:


I'll often dropshot in 80-90' of water trying to keep the rig just above treetops that may be 30-40' below the surface. If you can't see your bait it's pretty hard to stay in the sweet spot and pretty easy to get hung up constantly.


I also fish the rig right on the bottom in 30-50' of water. It's pretty common to go over a couple suspended fish that may be 10-15' above the bottom. When you notice this you can raise your rod or give your reel a couple cranks and get your bait on the same general level as the fish or slightly above them.


With the way a bass's eyes are positioned I think fish see what's above them a lot better than what's below them. It is surprising how far above them they are looking and will respond. Many times when I am watching my rig drop to the bottom a fish will shoot up from the bottom and intercept it on the way down, often coming up 15' or more. Sometimes they eat it, sometimes they follow it back to the bottom and eat it, more often than not they do nothing but sniff it and leave it alone. Anyway it's pretty cool to watch, makes you realize how many fish see and inspect your offering with no bite. i.e. they are watching, they are simply not cooperating.


Another one of my Grande Theories relates to competition. If I am seeing a single fish here, and a single fish there there, it is probably a mediocre bite and I'll have to do some serious "begging". If I am seeing 2-4 bass-type returns on the screen at once and get my bait in proximity chances are they will rush it and one will suck it in pronto. It's just like feeding my two dogs. If we are in the food bowl area I can throw down a sock soaked in kerosene and if they are both nearby, they will fight over it assuming it just might be prime rib, they can always spit it out. If only one of them is there they always approach the offering as if it WAS a kerosene soaked sock.


One thing for sure is that a transducer with a wide cone angle is a lot easier for me to "video fish" with than one with a narrow cone angle. My last depthfinder had a narrow (17 degree I think) cone angle and although it was a real quality unit (X-15) it was almost impossible to keep my bait in the zone of coverage in deeper water. The boat had to be pretty much stationary. My current depthfinder has a 30 or 35 degree cone angle and it is a night and day difference in how much easier it is to keep my rig in sight. That said, keep in mind that just because your display shows your rig and a fish or two in proximity on your display, they (fish and rig) may actually be 10-15 or 20' apart horizontally, depending again on the cone angle and depth of the water.


Your display will show everything at once that is within the cone and the processor does some averaging to give you the display picture. In any case when you see a display return that looks like bass it's a pretty encouraging thing, since the most important factor in deep fishing to receive a tug on the end of the line is fishing where fish are at. Sounds like a trite remark but it was not meant to be that, after some time you will know if you are fishing around fish.


I think most mid-priced or better depthfinders have the capability to see your bait so if I was shopping for one I'd for sure be taking into consideration the cone angle of the transducer. Some units have more than one transducer angle available also.


I think getting the highest quality depthfinder you can afford and spending the time to learn how to use it and INTERPRET what you are seeing is a really important part of making the most out of the deep fishing thing. With a good unit and some experience you can get a pretty good picture of what's down there and be able to tell what you are looking at. Hardwood trees, cedar trees, brush piles, logs/stumps, boulders, underwater bluffs, shad schools, broken up (harassed) shad schools, and different species of fish all have a unique "signature" you can learn to interpret not with 100% certainty but with some degree of confidence.


I'm sure some will roll their eyes when I suggest you can tell species but I am certain when I am over something that might be bass. They have a distinct concise thickness to the line that they give on my screen. Not to say that it might not be another species but I know what bass look like. Just as importantly I know what they do not look like. Big thick arches never bite and I would assume they are carp, gar, paddlefish, catfish...whatever. Smaller numerous arches and a blotchy return are usually panfish. (I know this because I chase bluegill on occasion). A nice solid black line just off the bottom, preferably 2 or 3 at once going up and down, those are usually active bass and when I see that I go on point for the bite.


So to answer your question "Are my electronics good enough for dropshotting ?" it looks to me like your Eagle Fishmark 480 is a real good quality Lowrance/Eagle unit with plenty of capability to pick up on your rig at any depth. So the ball is in your court on learning how to fine tune the settings and interpret what you are seeing on the display. Getting a good depthfinder is not the solution or answer to all the questions of what's beneath the boat, but it is the visual display of where all your questions begin. There will still be plenty of times you see something weird and say "what the heck was THAT" ? but over time you will say that less often.


bobby b. - Regarding the 35 degree transducer discussed by SKMO, the Eagle Fish Mark 480 unit as well as many other Eagle units come standard with a 20 degree transducer yet they claim a 60 degree capability by making some adjustments to the unit. Does anyone know how and if this 60 degree thing works?


Increasing the sensitivity gives a wider cone angle:



Transducer Cone Angles:

The transducer concentrates the sound into a beam. When a pulse of sound is transmitted from the transducer, it covers a wider area the deeper it travels. If you were to plot this on a piece of graph paper, you would find that it creates a cone shaped pattern, hence the term "cone angle." The sound is strongest along the center line or axis of the cone and gradually diminishes as you move away from the center.


In order to measure the transducer's cone angle, the power is first measured at the center or axis of the cone and then compared to the power as you move away from the center. When the power drops to half (or -3db[decibels] in electronic terms), the angle from that center axis is measured. The total angle from the -3db point on one side of the axis to the -3db point on the other side of the axis is called the cone angle.


This half power point (-3db) is a standard for the electronics industry and most manufacturers measure cone angle in this way, but a few use the -10db point where the power is 1/10 of the center axis power. This gives a greater angle, as you are measuring a point further away from the center axis. Nothing is different in transducer performance; only the system of measurement has changed. For example, a transducer that has an 8 degree cone angle at -3db would have a 16 degree cone angle at -10db.



- - - - - - - - - 20-degree cone angle - - - - - - - - - - - 8 degree cone angle


Lowrance offers transducers with a variety of cone angles. Wide cone angles will show you more of the underwater world, at the expense of depth capability, since it spreads the transmitter's power out. Narrow cone angle transducers won't show you as much of what's around you, but will penetrate deeper than the wide cone. The narrow cone transducer concentrates the transmitter's power into a smaller area. A bottom signal on the sonar unit's display will be wider on a wide cone angle transducer than on a narrow one because you are seeing more of the bottom. The wide cone's area is much larger than the narrow cone.


High frequency (192 - 200 kHz) transducers come in either a narrow or wide cone angle. The wide cone angle should be used for most freshwater applications and the narrow cone angle should be used for all saltwater applications. Low frequency (50 kHz) sonar transducers are typically in the 30 to 45 degree range. Although a transducer is most sensitive inside its specified cone angle, you can also see echoes outside this cone; they just aren't as strong. The effective cone angle is the area within the specified cone where you can see echoes on the display. If a fish is suspended inside the transducer's cone, but the sensitivity is not turned up high enough to see it, then you have a narrow effective cone angle. You can vary the effective cone angle of the transducer by varying the receiver's sensitivity. With low sensitivity settings, the effective cone angle is narrow, showing only targets immediately beneath the transducer and a shallow bottom. Turning the sensitivity control up increases the effective cone angle, letting you see targets farther out to the sides.

Bill Babler Local Guide on Table Rock Lake



As the summer heat bears down on the Ozark Mountains, and the jet and water skiers seem to have taken over our beautiful White River lakes, there are still ways to feel the tug of quality fish on that old graphite rod.


Migrating from Japan to California to the Midwest is a fishing method that really gets the drop on suspended and schooling deep water summer and fall bass. The Drop Shot technique is just a simple modification of the Carolina rig. It is extremely deadly and creates a tantalizing presentation for bunched up fish, whether they are suspended in trees suspended over deep water or on the bottom on river channel, lake humps or submerged islands.


Drop Shottin', as it is most often called, is presenting either live or soft plastic baits in a vertical presentation to fish that have been located with boat electronics. Spotted bass are a great target for the drop shotter, as they are schooling fish and most often are in the above stated locations. The rig is pretty simple -- and you can rig anyway you want -- but here is a method that has proven itself time and time again: Take a good IM8 seven-foot spinning rod spooled with 8- to 10-pound fluorocarbon line. Attach a two-way barrel swivel to the main line and then attach five feet of eight pound line as your leader. Two feet below the swivel attach a number 1 wide gap worm hook with a palmar knot. Go two more feet and attach an additional hook in the same manner, and then add a drop shot or bell sinker on the bottom. I prefer the wide gap worm hooks over the drop shot hooks because if you are presenting in the treetops, this allows you to rig the worm weedless. The wide gaps also will give you better hook-ups.


On the rock, these spotted bass are right about the thermocline at from 28 to 35 feet. You can either find them suspended in bluff treetops or in channel swings. There are some off the flats, but they are movers and shakers and are not always there. If I can’t see them on my X15, I don’t stop. Good electronics are a must for the drop shot. You are not covering lots of horizontal area as you would with a rig or a throw type bait; you are just making an up-and-down presentation to a school of fish, so you need to have them pinned down pretty well.


My two favorite drop shot baits for the rock are a four-inch zoom fineness worm in either green pumpkin or watermelon candy or a zoom dead ringer in the same colors. Lower the bait to the fish, and most times you just need to hang it there. Your natural movement with waves or just a slight shake will get the strike. As the bass bite, they will put a bend in the rod, or as we say, "Let them Load Up!" When you feel the weight, set the hook and enjoy the fight. Remember that these bass are coming up from the deep and need to be immediately returned to the water to prevent their swim bladders from overextending. Do not put them in your live wells for picture taking as they cannot tolerate that much handling.


Live bait in the form of nightcrawlers or crawfish will also work on the drop shot, but the soft plastics are most often the rig of choice. As with any summertime fishing, early is always better, and I try to be off the water by noon and yield the lake to the water skiers. Next time you are on any of the White River lakes in the summer, and think that the bass just aren’t biting, try just "Droppin-In," and I’m sure you will find there are fish at home.

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Thanks for the article Gary. Hope your mother in law is better. Some day I'll get a boat with a depth sounder. Yesterday I went out in the pond and put an electric motor on my 1972 sears john boat. This was a big step for me. I did catch 2 bass trolling spoonplugs never did that before either. It's just one break through after another. Your article did mention shaking but not enough and only slightly. I need more shaking and cowbell too. Just joking keep in touch.



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I have been employing the drop shot for many years now. It has been my biggest success at Lake Geneva and also on the big lake. I also fish clear quaries often with great luck. As far as worms go I use a few/chompers has graet colors and that scent/also robo worms,gamblers giggi stickd are half hollow and really soft. I have found there are days when its all about the shaking and others when the wave action is more than enough. I also employ a more power fishing version were I use heavier line and drop shot in heavy vegatation. Dropping it in the holes and shaking it/this has got me some big fish in heavily pressured lakes. Good luck Ray

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I've used drop shotting in some heavy current where you had to get the bait down near the bottom which was covered in lure eating rocks. Putting the sinker on the bottom using a lighter line than the main line meant if you did get snagged, you only lost the sinker and not your bait.

I was using some of those new expensive swim baits and the drop shot worked well and let me catch this big drum. I know, it's not a smallmouth, but the system works in current too.




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Berkley offers a variety of "minnow" looking baits,

with a fork or "v" tail,

that are good lure choices for the "shaking" method.

(The Gulp Alive minnows and leeches are great for bass and walleye).


You need an adequate amount of weight, so as to keep the line taught,

to effectively impart action on the tail of the minnow, or

to get it to "dance in place", so to speak.

I've found that the "dancing in place" is more effective than lifting the bait up and down.


There are a variety of alternate lures, than are effective.

Yamamoto "Kut-Tail" worms & thin Senkos

Lunker City Fin-S minnow

Zoom finesse worm




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Vexilar Color Flasher is a very effective tool.

It's easier to distinguish objects by fine tuning, the "colors".

Green week signal

Orange medium signal

Red Strong signal.


By adjusting the sensitivity, you can pick out fish in weeds and wood.

You can see the fish move in and out, up and down---pretty slick.


The tranducer with dual cone angles, 9 and 19, are very handy.

Very usefull when fishing deep water and on sloping areas, and sharp drop-offs.


19 degree cone angle----the dia at the base of the cone angle is 1/3 of the signal depth.

Ex---at 30fow the cone dia is 10ft.


When a fish signal shows up in the cone angle at 19 degree, switch to the 9 degree mode,

if the fish signal still appears, the fish is near the center of the cone angle,

if the signal is gone, the fish is in the outer cone angle area.


On steep drops offs, like rock ledges, or the like, you can pick up fish, that are hanging close to the rock ledges.

Watch the signal movements---you can see the fish move in and out or up and down.


When a fish or (signal) appears on the dial, raise your lure or bait 1-3 feet---

pause and very slowly lower your lure or offering.

Watch the fish as it swims toward your lure---

when the fish gets near, the signal turns orange,

when the fish gets the bait in its mouth, your lure (the green signal) turns red!!!

Lift and you've got the fish.

You'll see the fish take it before you'll feel the bite or feel any tension.

Pretty slick.


You can also find bottom transitions---

hard to soft and muck---

very important when looking for perch and walleye.


With my Vex, I can track a single spike (maggot) free falling to the bottom in water depths 20-30 feet.

Now that is sensitive.

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We could prolly use the dropshot for a final check of an area we already caught fish in with other techniques if we wanted to. We wouls already have a pretty good notion of where to cast it based on previous catches in that spot and wouldn't have to spend a lot of time checking an area with a very slow technique.


Maybe use it for very specific spots likes lay downs, boulders or right off water willow beds on the deeper current washed side on the days they are really hanging tight to cover. Maybe the area where a secondary eddy in a slack pocket hits the main eddy would also be a candidate.

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