The drop-shot rig is often seen as a finesse bass fishing technique used to scratch out a limit when all else fails.
But Capt. John Falterman, whose name has become synonymous with his own saltwater version of the drop-shot, sees the rig as a power-fishing technique that puts more trout in his boat than anything else he’s ever tried.
In fact, just within the last week, Falterman, who operates Therapy Charters at Lake Pontchartrain, has put his customers – all using drop-shot rigs – on a grand total of 949 speckled trout.
His success with the drop-shot has caused other Lake Pontchartrain guides to take notice, and he freely loans out a few rigs to guides who are still looking to finish off their limits.
But why a drop-shot and not a Carolina rig? According to Falterman, a drop shot allows him more precise control of the depth of his live shrimp, as well as increased sensitivity that allows him to feel anything his shrimp does.
“With a Carolina rig, you’re not in full contact with your bait all the time because the weight is between you and your shrimp,” Falterman said. “A drop-shot rig keeps your bait between you and your weight, so you don’t have anything to deaden your feel.
“A drop-shot also keeps your shrimp off the bottom so they can’t bury up like they do with a Carolina rig.”
Falterman ties his drop-shot rig with a 40-inch piece of Berkley Big Game monofilament. On one end, he ties a 1-ounce bank sinker, and on the other a No. 6 treble hook. Then he folds that line over so that the treble-hook end is a little more than half the line.
“Then I tie just a simple overhand knot at the fold in the line, and tie my main line…” he said. “I use 30-pound test FINS braided line (attached) to the loop created by that overhand knot.”
Once cast out, the drop-shot rig makes the shrimp suspend in the water where it can do all the jumping around or swimming in circles it wants to. And Falterman can feel every twitch or flick his shrimp makes.
“Basically, I just let it sit for a few seconds after the weight hits bottom and pull up the slack,” he said. “I try to keep tension in my line all the time by reeling up just enough line to keep my main line tight enough for me to just barely feel the resistance of the weight.”
From there, Falterman can precisely control exactly how deep his shrimp is by raising or lowering his rod top.
“Let’s say my shrimp is 2 feet off the bottom the way I tie my drop shot,” Falterman said. “If I start marking trout on my Humminbird a foot off the bottom, all I have to do is lower my rod tip toward the water to put my shrimp exactly where I think it should be.”
Drop-shot bites range from a subtle heavy feeling to a jerk-the-rod-out-of-your-hand bite that can startle even veteran saltwater guides.
At Lake Pontchartrain, Falterman typically uses his drop-shot on the bridges where he has his customers fan cast all the way around his boat until he can pinpoint the exact location of the trout.
“Also, it doesn’t matter if you cast with the current or against it,” Falterman concluded. “There have been a bunch of times we’ve been tied to (the west side of) the Trestle and fishing out the back of the boat with the tide coming in. The way this rig allows the shrimp to freely swim around makes a drop-shot a natural presentation no matter what the tide is doing.”
Like most other speckled-trout techniques, a drop-shot is most effective in moving water with good clarity; however, depth doesn’t really matter. Falterman has caught trout on his drop shot from 3 to 30 feet of water, and from Lake Pontchartrain to Cocodrie.
A drop-shot rig might be a good way to scratch out a limit of bass when fishing is tough, but for Falterman, it’s a powerful way to quickly put lots of speckled trout on ice.
Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a weeklong series by Chris Ginn on effective speckled trout fishing techniques to try this month. Yesterday he highlighted the double-rig. Tomorrow he’ll feature the popping cork.