A big perch caught on the drop shot rig

Drop shotting for perch is a finesse way of accurately presenting a soft plastic bait and being able to fish one spot as long as you need to or as slow as you need to on or near the bottom of the water.

This technique can prove deadly when you are after a really slow retrieve that you just can’t achieve with most other lures. The drop shot can really prove beneficial in the colder months when the Perch are less active and want a slow-moving bait. 

In the right conditions, this technique can prove to be highly productive when all other techniques have failed. One of the main advantages is that you are completely mobile and can cover a lot of water whilst seeking the fish. Once you find one Perch the chances are there will be more.

You can then work that swim plucking the fish off the shoal with minimum disturbance. Once you master the drop shot there is no going back, you WILL be hooked (excuse the pun).

Top tip: Keep mobile, once you find the perch stay there til the bites dry up then move on.

The History of Drop-Shotting

Origins in Japan:
Dropshotting, as a technique, traces its roots back to Japan. Japanese anglers, known for their finesse fishing techniques, developed this method primarily for targeting bass in their highly pressured waters. The clear waters of many Japanese lakes required a more subtle approach, and dropshotting provided the perfect solution.

Adaptation in the West:
The technique made its way to the Western world, particularly the United States, in the late 20th century. American bass anglers quickly adopted and adapted the method to their local conditions. It became especially popular among competitive bass fishermen who were looking for an edge in tough fishing conditions.

The Name ‘Dropshot’:
The term “drop shot” comes from the rig’s design. The weight, or “shot,” is placed at the very end of the line, “dropping” below the lure. This setup allows the lure to be presented off the bottom, in the feeding zone of many fish species.

Evolution of the Technique:
While the basic premise of drop-shotting has remained consistent, the technique has seen various modifications over the years. Anglers have experimented with different types of weights, hooks, and lures to optimize the presentation. Today, there are specialized drop-shot weights designed to reduce snags and allow for easy depth adjustments.

Beyond Bass:
Though initially developed for bass, drop-shotting has proven effective for a variety of species, including perch, crappie, walleye, and even saltwater species like flounder. Its versatility and effectiveness in presenting lures naturally make it a favorite among many anglers worldwide.

Cultural Impact:
The rise of drop-shotting has also influenced the fishing industry. Today, there are rods, reels, and lines specifically designed for drop-shooting. Fishing tournaments have seen crucial moments decided by this technique, further cementing its place in modern angling lore.

The Right Tackle For Drop Shotting

Like with all methods of fishing, you need the right tackle for the job, drop shotting for perch is no exception. There is plenty of drop shot tackle available nowadays some of it reasonably priced and some at the higher end of the budget.

I would certainly suggest spending a good few quid on your rod and reel if possible. You want something that is built to last and nice and light for your money. That rod and reel are in your hands the whole time you are fishing. There is nothing worse than getting an achy arm whilst out on the bank.

Some lovely fish caught drop shotting for perch
Some nice fish caught drop shotting

1. The Right Rod For Drop Shotting

One of the main things to look for in my opinion is the weight of the rod. This rod will be in your hands the whole time you are fishing. Believe me, they can soon start to feel heavy after a few hours of being on the bank.

Drop shot rods generally have a stiffer midsection and an extra-fine tip. With this, it should have enough backbone to strike the hook into the boniest of mouths such as zander, yet sensitive enough to register the slightest of bites.

My main drop shot rod is 7ft 6 inches. I find this length is good enough for accuracy and does well on the rivers and lakes that I fish. The ideal kind of casting weight for a drop shot rod is around 0g -15g. The one I use for perch is 0g-7g and I find this to be more than adequate on the venues that I fish.

2. The Right Reel For Drop Shotting

Ideally, the reel needs to be light with a good smooth drag. Sizes can range from 500 which is the smallest up to 2500. I find when it comes to your rod and reel you tend to get what you pay for. Not all of us can afford the more expensive stuff but spend as much as your budget will allow. 

3. The Landing Net

Like with all the tackle for drop-shotting the landing net wants to be nice and light, the lighter the better. I would also highly recommend getting a rubberized net.

It does make getting snagged hooks out a damn site easier. Especially if you end up using it for pike fishing at some point in the future and get some trebles tangled up in it. 

A lot of the top names now produce some nice light compact landing nets that are foldable and will clip onto your belt or luggage with ease.

This makes it easier for your travels up and down the bank in search of the perch. The length of the handle should be determined by the venue that you are targeting the perch.

Canals and venues like an average commercial fishery you will probably get away with a smaller handle around a meter long.

For lakes and rivers with high banks and reed beds etc maybe target a telescopic handle that reaches about 2.1 metres.

A big perch caught on the dropshot technique
A lovely perch caught by Chris Lyon ( AKA ‘The Northampton Rubber Slinger’) on the drop-shot

4. The Luggage

Again make sure it is light and not too bulky or too big. You will be putting in a lot of miles on foot with this attached to you. As the day goes on, what seemed fairly light early morning can soon start to wear into your shoulder and start aching your back. 

Backpacks are a no-no for me, they cause too much strain on my back. Instead, go for an over-the-shoulder type bag or bumbag style, these tend to cause less strain on the back and are easier to access whilst on the move.

5. The Line and Braid

Regarding your leader, keep the fluorocarbon as light as you can get away with. This will ensure that you will get the most out of the action of the lure you are using. I use 6lb drop shotting for the perch, and 8lb if it is a bit snaggy.

The braid should be slightly heavier than your fluorocarbon. This will ensure that the leader snaps if you do get snagged or snapped up and will minimize the amount of line that is lost or left in the water.

6. The Hook

There are a lot of drop shot hooks available when drop shotting for perch on the market nowadays. I use a size 4 VMC,  personally, I find they are a good strong hook and stay fairly sharp. A good sharp hook is vital.  

Always give your hooks a good once over, especially if you have hooked into a snag such as a branch. 

If that hook straightens out even very slightly it is surprising how many fish you could lose because of it.

7. The lure

Drop shot lures come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Worms, grubs, fish, and creatures to name just a few of the popular patterns available. Most are available in different sizes, different colors, different tails, etc. All these lures will catch perch, it just depends on what they want on the day.

A box full of lures for perch fishing

I take a selection of about ten different ones with me, out of these there is usually at least one that will work effectively on the day. Some days they will take anything you put in front of them. Other days you may have to experiment a bit to see what they are after. Here are my favorite 7 types of lures.

1. Dropshot Minnow:

  • Advantages:
    • Natural Appearance: Designed to mimic small baitfish, making it highly attractive to predators.
    • Fast Tail Action: The tail paddles quickly with minimal input, imitating the tight tail vibration of small prey.
    • Versatility: Effective in both clear and murky waters due to its reflective properties.

2. Worm-like Patterns:

  • Advantages:
    • Natural Movement: Their slender profile and undulating action mimic real worms, a favorite prey for many fish species.
    • Subtle Presentation: Ideal for pressured waters or when fish are in a finicky mood.
    • Variety: Available in various lengths and colors, allowing anglers to “match the hatch.”

3. Pin-tail Lures:

  • Advantages:
    • Subtle Vibration: The thin tail produces a delicate vibration, enticing bites in clear and cold water conditions.
    • Versatility: Effective for a range of species beyond perch, including bass and trout.

4. Fork-tailed Baits:

  • Advantages:
    • Dual Action: The split tail creates a unique movement, attracting curious fish.
    • Fluttering Descent: The design allows the lure to flutter down slowly, often triggering bites during the fall.

5. Creature Baits:

  • Advantages:
    • Multiple Appendages: The various arms and legs produce micro-vibrations, making it irresistible to fish.
    • Bulkier Profile: Offers a larger meal, attracting bigger fish.

6. Grub Lures:

  • Advantages:
    • Spiral Tail Action: The curly tail produces a spiral action, especially effective when fish are actively feeding.
    • Variety: Comes in various sizes and colors, allowing for customization based on conditions.

7. Shad Lures:

  • Advantages:
    • Lifelike Profile: Resembles small baitfish, a primary food source for many predators.
    • Vibrant Action: The paddle tail produces a pronounced side-to-side wobble, drawing attention even from a distance.

Top tip: Keep your lures in separate containers. Some brands can have a chemical reaction when mixed and can cause a melting effect.

The Drop-Shot Rig

The rig for drop shotting is surprisingly simple. Once you get the hang of tying the knots you can tie your rigs at home and have them ready-made for the bank, or just tie them off bankside. 

To start you will need to get yourself some fluorocarbon line. I use 6lb but use 8lb if you are in a bit of a snaggy area. 

This will make your leader that will attach to your braid. I make my leader about 3 ft, but it is up to you and depends on what venue you are fishing and what depth you have got. 

I use 4 ft on a river that averages about 6 ft deep.

Use the Correct Knots

Halfway down your Fluorocarbon leader you then need to tie off your hook using a Palomar knot or one similar.

Learn how to tie your knots here. The knots you tie must be done right you don’t want to lose a fish due to a dodgy bit of knot tying.

For me, the ideal hook size is a 4 or a 6. But drop shot lures come in a selection of shapes and sizes, so match your hook to the size of your lure. When drop-shotting for perch I rarely use a lure bigger than 2″ long.

5 Gram Weights for Drop Shotting

Next, you will need some drop-shot weights. I use 5 grams on a slow-flowing river but you can change the size accordingly. The weight is then slid up the bottom of the line and pinched onto the line at the desired distance from the hook. This determines how far your lure will rise off the bottom of the water whilst you reel in.

Attach Your Leader to the Braid

All that’s needed then is to attach your leader to your braid using an Albright knot or similar and place your choice of lure on the hook. Some people use a micro swivel instead of a knot. 

Top tip: Once you are confident there is a shoal of perch, try upping the size of your lure to pluck off the bigger fish.

When to Use Drop Shotting for Perch

The good thing about drop-shotting is that it can be a productive method all year round. In the summer months, you can speed the retrieve up a bit and bring the lure higher up in the water if needed. In the winter you can get the lure to hug the bottom to target the perch that are resting in the deeper holes.

Another good time to get the drop shot gear out is when you want to fish tight to the margins on the other side of the water. With this technique of lure fishing, you can leave the lure tight to the other side, but still, put some movement into it to attract the fish.

A tree lined river
Drop-shot is a good technique for fishing the far margins

This also proves highly efficient fishing the far bank next to overhanging trees enticing the perch to come out and take a look.

Is the Retrieve Vital Whilst Drop Shotting?

The thickness of the line, type of lure, and size of hooks are all important whilst drop shotting. But to me, one of the most important things to consider is the retrieve. One thing I have certainly learned is what works one day won’t necessarily work the next.

Don’t Twitch the Rod to Hard

The idea of the drop shot is to keep the weight on the bottom and very slightly twitch the end of your rod. Doing this will make your lure move around near the bottom of the water. 

I usually set my weight between 6 to 10 inches from the lure, so the lure never goes any higher than 10 inches from the river bed.

Experiment With Your Retrieve

 In the warmer months, I do a very similar retrieve drop shotting for perch but I just speed it up a bit. This retrieve won’t work 100% of the time but it is a good tried and tested method. Don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with your own style of retrieve.

Slow Down the Retrieve in the Colder Months

In the colder months, it is worth seeking the deeper holes where the water is slightly warmer.

These deeper parts are usually where the fish tend to shoal up and where I like to go drop-shotting for the perch. In these colder months it is vital you slow your retrieve right down, then when you think you are going slow enough, slow it down some more.

The Perch don’t like wasting their stored-up energy chasing prey when it is cold.

Slow the retrieve to almost a standstill with a good few pauses. You may be surprised how many times they will take the bait while the lure is stationary.

Trees covered in frost over a river
A real slow retrieve is needed when it is cold

My Best Tips for Drop-Shotting

1. Subtle Movements are Key:

  • Shake, Don’t Jerk: When imparting action to your lure, use subtle shakes of the rod tip rather than aggressive jerks. This mimics the natural movement of prey and can be more enticing to fish.
  • Hold Steady: Sometimes, simply holding the lure in place and allowing it to flutter in the current can be effective, especially in flowing water.

2. Adjust Lure Depth:

  • Read the Water: Adjust the distance between the weight and the lure based on the depth of the water and where you believe the fish are holding. If fish are suspended, position your lure closer to their depth.
  • Stay Flexible: Be prepared to adjust the lure’s depth frequently based on observations and bites.

3. Choose the Right Lure:

  • Match the Hatch: Use lures that resemble the natural prey in the water. If fish are feeding on small baitfish, use minnow-like lures. If they’re after worms or insects, choose worm-like lures.
  • Experiment: Don’t be afraid to switch out lures if one isn’t working. Sometimes a change in color or size can make all the difference.

4. Understand When to Use Dropshotting:

  • Cold and Clear: Dropshotting shines in cold, clear water when fish are more lethargic and selective about what they eat.
  • Pressured Waters: In waters with heavy fishing pressure, the finesse approach of drop-shotting can be more effective than more aggressive techniques.
  • Targeting Suspended Fish: Dropshotting allows you to present a lure at a specific depth, making it ideal for targeting suspended fish.

5. Equipment Matters:

  • Sensitive Rod: Use a rod with a sensitive tip to detect subtle bites and impart gentle action to the lure.
  • Thin Line: Use a thin, low-visibility line like fluorocarbon to ensure fish aren’t spooked by the line.

6. Watch Your Line:

  • Line Watching: Often, the bite on a drop-shot rig is subtle. Keep an eye on your line for any unusual movement or twitches, which can indicate a bite.
  • Maintain Contact: Ensure that you maintain contact with the weight and the bottom. This helps in detecting bites and understanding the bottom composition.

7. Practice Makes Perfect:

  • Experiment with Retrieves: Try different retrieves, from shaking to dragging to dead-sticking, to see what the fish prefer on a given day.
  • Learn from Every Outing: Every time you’re on the water, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Over time, you’ll develop a better understanding of when and how to use drop-shotting effectively.
An angler retrieving a dropshot rig
Be sure to experiment with different retrieves

Dropshotting is a versatile and effective technique, but its success hinges on the angler’s ability to adapt and refine their approach based on conditions and observations. Emphasizing subtle movements and understanding when to deploy this method can lead to more consistent success on the water.

Top tip: Try different things until you find what the perch want on the day, and just enjoy the experience.

To Conclude

There are many different ways of catching perch but to me drop-shotting for perch is one of the most productive. When all else is failing, you can get to hard-to-reach places and present your bait with precision and accuracy. This can certainly be the difference between a productive day and a fishless one.

So get out there get on the bank and give it a go, you could be amazed at the results. Oh and remember you won’t catch perch on the drop shot by sitting on your sofa.

Check out the video below of Carl showing you how it’s done.

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