Smorgasbord Fishing

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Smorgasbord Fishing

Smorgasbord Fishing
(Wayne Ek)
Agape Fishing Guides

A Simple Rig To Use

During a season of guiding, 40% of our trips are what we call smorgasbord trips. In other words, my clients want to catch fish, but they really don’t care what kind. They would be happy catching bass, walleye, northern or panfish, just as long as it pulls on their line. These are probably the easiest and most enjoyable trips to take out, as everyone catches fish and everyone is happy.

Most smorgasbord trips involve novice anglers. For guiding novice anglers I’ve found one rig that is trouble free to use and flat out catches fish; the drop-shot rig.

For the past couple of seasons the drop-shot rig has become my new best friend when guiding novice anglers. I know this rig was originally developed as a finesse rig for bass fishing and that’s where I first came into contact with it. Since then the drop-shot rig has become a very productive tournament technique for me. When I first started to use the drop-shot I found myself catching as many bluegill, crappie, walleye and northerns as bass. I knew then that it would make a simple and effective rig to use when guiding. Think about it; easy to use, no live bait to handle and almost constant action. That’s a fishing guide’s dream.

So what is a drop-shot rig? It’s basically a dropper rig, not unlike the wolf-river rigs used for trolling, but without the 3-way swivel. Or it’s similar to the old style catfish rigs made up of a heavy sinker and a short dropper-line. That’s the basic concept behind the drop-shot rig, only with a little more finesse. On a drop-shot rig you have a weight on the very end of your line where you would normally expect to find the hook, then above the weight you find the hook. Although a drop-shot rig can literally be fished anywhere, it excels when used as a deep-water finesse rig.

One of the first things you learn about drop-shot fishing is the importance of using a quality rod. Since all bites are detected via the rod and fishing line, you will just detect more bites by using a quality rod. I like to use a 7-foot rod for this presentation for a couple of reasons. First, drop-shot fishing is primarily a vertical presentation and a 7-foot rod just moves the presentation a little farther away from the boat. Second, a longer rod is more forgiving when fighting a fish, which is a big plus for novice anglers or young children. The rod I currently have my clients using for drop-shot fishing is a Quantum Tour Edition PT rod. This rod has a medium action (4 power rating) with a fast taper. There is a new series of rods that Quantum is introducing this year (2007) called the Alliance line. There are a couple of muti-species rods in this new line that look like they will work great as drop-shot rods. The Alliance line is featuring quality multi-species rods, for a very reasonable price. I’m looking forward to trying them out this season.

I use Quantum spinning reels in size 20 for drop-shot fishing. They hold an adequate amount of line, even for deep-water presentations. And they have the best ceramic drag system on the market today. The best thing is the titanium bail and magnetic bail trip system, which has proven to be kid proof.

I like a quality super-braid as the main line on drop-shot rods for a couple of reasons. First, remember all bites are detected via the rod and fishing line and a super-braid transmits those bites up the line and to the rod better than any other line on the market. And second, a quality super-braid handles line twist better than monofilament or fluorocarbon lines. I like to add 6-feet of fluorocarbon to the super-braid as a leader. I feel that you will get more bites by fishing a fluorocarbon leader rather than straight super-braid when finesse fishing in deep, clear lakes. The best way to connect the leader to the braid is with back-to-back uni-knots. Remember, this is all about detecting the bite and the combination of a super-braid main line with a fluorocarbon leader does this better than any other thing I’ve tried.

Try to keep your terminal tackle simple. For hooks I stay with black/bronze or red size 4 and 6 hooks. For weights I will use the thin pencil style drop-shot weights in weeds or the round drop-shot weights on deep weed lines. If I’m fishing rocks then I use one or two Bull-shot sinkers. When using Bull-shots I just crimp them on the dropper line and then place a neoprene bobber stop below them. That way they slide off the line if you get snagged in the rocks and you don’t lose the whole rig or a lot of line.

We don’t use live bait when drop-shot fishing; we use all plastics. I think you’re only limited by your imagination in the choice of plastics to use, but I have my choice narrowed down to just a few. In order of preference, Bungee Twin Tail Grub, Bungee leech, Gulp leech, Tiny Fluke and Drop-shot worm.

So where are you going to use this simple rig? How about any deep water structure, coontail covered humps, bare rock bars or deep cabbage weed lines. Any deep structure where you can effectively fish a vertical presentation is a perfect place to try the drop-shot rig. If I had to pick one place where the drop-shot really shines it would be on a deep cabbage weed line. On a couple of our area lakes fishing the drop-shot at 22 to 28 feet is not at all uncommon.

The drop-shot is generally fished vertical, not unlike a jigging spoon or live bait rig. Just lower it to the bottom, take up a little slack line and hold it there. With clients I tell them to jiggle the rig less and lift it more. Finesse plastics wiggle and shake with the slightest rod movement. Drop-shot rigging is not a power fishing technique, you have to fish it slowly, very slowly, ever so slowly… are you following the theme here? The best way to visualize this presentation is to think about Lindy rigging but at a much slower speed. It’s not at all uncommon to move along for 15 or 20 minutes fishing a piece of structure and then look up to find that you’ve only moved the boat 50 or 60 feet from your starting point.

Here are a couple of tips, tricks and ideas. On the super-braid to fluorocarbon connection, once you start to tighten down the uni-knots connecting the super-braid to the fluorocarbon leader, dab a little fishing glue on the knot just before you tighten it all the way down. This will add strength to the knot (I’ve never had a knot break at this connection point). Another place fishing glue helps is on the plastics. I add a dab of glue to the hook before impaling the plastics; this stops most small fish from pulling the plastics off the hook or over the barb of the hook. I fish Sufix braid when drop-shot rigging, but I’ve noticed that Power Pro braid has a great knot tying diagram included in their packaging. It shows how to tie the uni to uni knot and palomar knot. And on selecting drop-shot weights; when you’re trying to decide how heavy a weight to use the first couple of times you use this rig, err on the heavy side. This will help you keep the rig vertical and allow you to feel the bottom and what’s down there. And finally, for this presentation I like to use rod balancers on my rods. On drop-shot rods I think a balancer is a big plus. No matter how light and balanced a rod and reel combination is, after 3 or 4 hours of steady fishing even an avid angler will start to feel some wrist and forearm fatigue. I think the rod balancers help to alleviate this.

Tackle used for drop-shot fishing:
  • Quantum Tour Edition PT (PTS704F) rod or Alliance series
  • Kinetic PTi (KT20PTi) or Catalyst PTi (CT20PTi) reels
  • Rod balancer (The Balancer)
  • Sufix Braid- (20/6) 20-pound test (6-pound diameter), in Lo-Vis green
  • Quality fluorocarbon leader
  • Fishing Glue (Fishin’ Glue) brand name
  • Owner Mosquito hooks, black/bronze or red in sizes 4 & 6
  • Extreme Performance series drop-shot weights, in the thin and round style, 1/4 and 1/2 ounce for weeds.
  • Water Gremlin Bull-shots for rock fishing
  • Northland Tackle (Snubber Stop) large size neoprene bobber stops to hold the split-shots on the line
  • For plastics (1.) Berkley Bungee Leech in ribbon leech or black (this is my go to bait and I usually start with this one) (2.) Berkley Gulp leech in black (3.) Zoom Tiny Fluke in baby bass or baitfish (4.) Chompers Drop Shot Worm in root beer green or green pumpkin. (5.) Berkley Bungee Twin Tail Grub in Green Pumpkin or Black.

  • Hopefully, I’ve piqued your interest in this simple but productive technique. As always, stay safe and we hope to see you on the water.

    Wayne Ek is a fishing guide, tournament angler and writer living in Alexandria, Minnesota. For more information you can contact Wayne at

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