When he wants to get the drop on speckled trout, more often than not Capt. Mike Gallo goes with one of his old favorites — the drop-shot rig.
To try his method this spring, start out with about 30 inches of 30-pound mono - with a 1-ounce bank sinker tied on one end and a No. 2 VMC flounder hook tied on the other - and then attach it to your main line.
“I’ll take it about 2/3 of the way and fold it over and make an overhand loop knot, and then tie my main line into that loop that’s created,” he said. “Now you should have about an 8-inch leg hanging from the loop with your hook on it, and about an 20-inch leg tied to your sinker.”
By adjusting the length of the mono line to begin, Gallo can adjust the distance from his hook to the bottom and locate specks suspended in the water column.
“Let’s say I throw out and I’ve got fish eating the legs off my shrimp,” he said. “I can make it 4 feet long and still make the loop 10 inches from the hook, and now I’m suspending it about 3 feet from the bottom.”
Gallo, who operates Angling Adventures of Louisiana, prefers the drop-shot rig over the more popular Carolina rig, where the hook is positioned behind the sinker.
Several reasons put him on the drop-shot side of the debate, he said.
“If the fish bites the shrimp and moves left or right with a Carolina rig, he’s dragging that weight,” Gallo said. “And that might be the difference in him letting go or holding on to it.
“The other thing with the Carolina rig is your shrimp is so close to the bottom. Shrimp bury themselves in the mud to hide from predators. You’ve got the shrimp laying right next to the mud, but in my setup with the drop-shot rig, I’m forcing him to be at least 20 inches from the bottom. He’s out there in the middle.”
And if Gallo wants to switch from using live shrimp and decides to go with artificial, it’s easy to modify.
“I’ll just cut that VMC hook off and tie an 1/8-ounce Goldeneye jighead on with whatever plastic I happen to be using that day, either a Gulp or a (Deadly) Dudley,” he said.
And the 1-ounce sinker, which can be even heavier depending on current conditions, has an added benefit Gallo likes: sound.
“If I’m fishing over a shell bottom, dragging that sinker across makes noise,” he said. “It gives a trout something to hear and maybe hone in on.”
To add even more sound to the rig, Gallo will add three glass beads between the hook and sinker. And when he makes his loop knot, he makes sure the three beads are in the loop all on the same side of the main line.
“I want the beads to be inside the loop when I cinch it down,” he said. “As I’m making that shrimp wiggle, those beads are rattling.”
Gallo typically uses a popping cork in water depths up to about 5 feet, or if he’s fishing over an area where the sinker is likely to get snagged. Other than that, he pretty much stays with the drop-shot rig when he’s targeting speckled trout, especially when he’s using live shrimp.
“I can start from nothing and put the drop-shot rig together in under a minute,” he said. “The small hook is good for releasing undersized fish, and it also allows the shrimp to swim more freely because it’s light-weight.”