Matt Rand

1 – You’re replicating food!
One thing to remember when dropshotting is there is only so much you can learn from other people. No matter how much wisdom anyone tries to throw your way, nothing beats getting a rod in your hand and trying it for yourself. When all is said and done, you need to forget how you think the tactic needs to be worked and remember one extremely important thing – you are trying to mimic a prey fish!

So many people forget this and rather than trying to impart a realistic prey fish action into their lure, they try their very best to copy the actions of their fellow angler without understanding what they’re trying to achieve. Obviously we can all learn from each other, but it simply boils down to us trying to outwit a fish with a lure that mimics their natural food source.

The best way I have found for perfecting my technique is to work my lure in crystal clear water in an attempt to understand what every little movement I make does to the lure. This can be a little tedious granted, but it has given me a better understanding of how I need to apply the tactic in the water when the lure is out of sight.

The nice thing is that you can actually do this in the comfort of your own home and all you need is bathtub or even a large bucket! Test the tactic and your lures to your hearts content and when you’re happy that you understand exactly what rod movements, wrist movements and even finger taps can to do to your lure, simply take that knowledge out into a fishing situation. I can guarantee you’ll amaze yourself just how little movement is required to get results!

2 – Start off small
One of the issues many anglers can experience when starting dropshotting is starting on venues where they don’t know the hotspots. In this situation a days fishing can easily be spent searching out potential areas with little success, especially when larger lures are being used.

Unless I know for sure that larger perch inhabit the areas I’m fishing I will always start off with a much more scaled down approach; fishing with smaller lures such as the Micro Tiddler Slow and Tiddler Fast. Big perch will never be too far away from the prey fish and if you come across a good head of smaller perch, you can soon switch over to a larger lure to see if mum or dad are home!

Don’t think however that these smaller lures will only catch the smaller perch, as this couldn’t be further away from the truth! There will be many days that you will be casually swinging in 2oz perch only for the carbon to bend over alarmingly as an outsize specimens grabs hold. The main thing to remember is always balance your tackle accordingly, using small hooks, light braid and a soft rod such as the Ultron 2 Ultralight.

Not only does this tackle add to the enjoyment of the tactic, but once mastered, presenting these smaller lures can really open up a whole new world to lure fishing.

Always try smaller lures

3 – Work it
One of the biggest misconceptions anglers make when dropshotting, is they believe that the distance between the lead and hook dictates what depth they are fishing. Unless I know the fish are glued to the bottom, I will always set my lead as far away from the hook as possible. In some instances when fishing really deep water, I’ll even tie up some special dropshot rigs with a good 4-5 feet between the lead and lure!

After lowering the bait in, allow time for it to sink to the bottom and then gently twitch it on a slack line between lead and lure. By doing this, the lure is then brought to life and on many occasions I have even watched fish chase my lure all the way to the surface before it is engulfed!

Having spent countless hours observing predatory species hunting, this extra area of ‘free movement’ can be just what is required to spark a reaction from a curious predator. When the fish are on it, very little will prevent them from having a go, but on the days when they’re behaving very finicky it’s worth baring in mind how a real prey fish would act – on many occasions they would head straight to the surface to escape!

This goes back to watching how your lure behaves in a test environment. Work a lure on a tight line to the lead and then work the same lure on a slack line between lead and lure – you’ll quickly notice the difference!

A trio of fish tricked into engulfing the lure

4 – It’s not just for close in work
Even though dropshotting is a lot more effective when presented under your feet, it’s also a tactic that can be worked at range. With a single cast lasting a lot longer than traditional lure methods, it can be a slow process locating pockets of fish with the tactic. For this reason I always try and carry two set ups, an ultra light jig outfit and a dropshot setup.

The idea behind this is that I can locate the fish quickly, as well as snatch a few, with the jigs, but as soon as the fish become cagey I can then cast my dropshot to the productive area and continue to reap the rewards. The distance where you have located the fish shouldn’t put you off, even if the fish are on the far side of a canal. Simply take into account the depth and angle of the line and with a finger crooked over the line, feel for bites like you would when fishing under your feet.

It’s true it can be difficult when you bring wind, tow and other factors into play, but never solely see the tactic as close quarters method.

a shoal located on a jig

5 – take you time
If you’ve been fortunate enough to watch perch feeding in crystal clear water in the past, you will undoubtedly know just how long they can sometimes take to commit to taking a bait. Like all species, the amount of times our baits are inspected with us being none the wiser would astonish most anglers.

The beauty of dropshotting is that it allows the angler to work a lure on the spot for as long as he can be bothered! More often than not a resident perch will make its presence known very quickly as the lure enters its domain, but there will be many times that the fish just aren’t in a hurry to do anything. In these situations a lure worked continuously in the same area will often wind a fish up to breaking point.

I tend to fish crystal clear waters without a lot of depth and these are perfect for observing the behaviour of the species. I have watched many times as large perch have slowly emerged from behind my lure; only for them to hang back waiting to make their next move. By working the lure continuously in the area and imparting a realistic prey fish action as previously described, more often than not they soon give in and have a go.

With this in mind, just think how many times your bait is inspected when it’s out of sight! Next time you’re fishing a known hotspot, remember this and make sure that you work your lure for long enough, more often than not patience will be rewarded.

A fish caught after working the lure on the spot for a few minutes