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Lunker City Fishing Specialties

Hook, line and sinker…

We’re talking dropshot here, boys & girls — and the advantages of using the right stuff at the terminal end. Or is it the disadvantages of using the wrong stuff? Doesn’t matter, I suppose. But for now, we’re going to discuss the finer points regarding the hook, line and sinker.

I guess that we need to start with ensuring we’re all on the same page as to what constitutes a drop shot rig. If you aren’t sure how to rig it up, check out the video below before proceeding.

A few thoughts on DS hooks

When dedicated DS hooks were first being introduced by the manufacturers, I tried most of them, and settled on the Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot hook, size #2 as the one that performed the best. My 2nd choice was the Wide Gap Finesse Hook from the same manufacturers, in size #4. Due to design differences, the #4 WGF is actually a functionally larger hook than the #2 SS/DS hook.

Update… After considerable time spent comparing my two standard drop shot hooks to each other from a results point of view, I no longer consider the Wide Gap Finesse and acceptable option. My lost fish ratio with it seems to run about 4 times higher than with the #2 Drop Shot/Split Shot. When you break it down, with the tip of the point against something hard, the angle of pull is all wrong because of the width of the gap. I won’t be using them again.

Update #2… Before I retired in 2012, I worked on a hook design for Lunker City — adapting the Vertical Gap Bend (VGB) of their award winning Texposer hooks to a suitable sized hook for nose hooking a bait for drop shot fishing. After I retired, the project was tabled. Until 2016, anyway, when it went from my drawings to physical prototype, and eventually into production in early 2017. It is now my standard drop shot hook. Size 2 for standard drop shot baits and size 1/0 for larger baits (eg 5.5″ Freaky Fish) .

Getting back to the point of this article though, the non beaked point on theVGB and DS/SS models is a very key design element. Experience has shown me time and again that in hooks this small, the non-beaked point is a critical element.  A while back, I was teaching Mike O’Mara to drop shot at Lake Champlain. He picked everything up very quickly, but was dropping half the fish he hooked. I looked at his hook, and told him it was too big, and he needed to get rid of the beak. That evening, he stopped at Wallyworld in Ticonderoga, and bought the last package of #2 SS/DS Gamakatsu on the peg. Next day, he dropped only one out more than a dozen on the drop shot.

But I’m still open to be proven wrong. So when buddies in Japan kept telling me how much sharper the Owner DS hooks were, I wanted to give them a fair shot. I didn’t even waver when I found that both models being recommended had a beaked point.

I rigged two rods with identical DS rigs. One with my then standard #2 SS/DS hook, and one with the most comparable sized Owner.

#2 Lunker City VGB Drop Shot Hook

#2 Lunker City VGB Drop Shot Hook

 

#2 Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot hook

#2 Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot hook

 

#4 Owner Drop Shot hook

#4 Owner Drop Shot hook

Hooked 5 bass on each. The non-beaked hook landed 4. The beaked hook landed 2.

Why the difference in performance? Let’s get right to the point.

Close up of "no beak" point.

Close up of “no beak” point.

Close up of "beaked" point

Close up of “beaked” point

There’s no doubt from the above images that the Owner (2nd image) has a sharper point than the Gamakatsu. But that’s just mechanics. We need to look at it from an end results/fish in the boat perspective. The beak on the Owner design doesn’t have enough of a turn to act as a circle hook, so it doesn’t slide in the fish’s mouth until forced to turn on the lip. It grabs flesh just like a regular hook. But it’s my observation that once the pressure of the hook set is applied, the hook follows the direction of the hook point, and tries to come right back out of the flesh again, too often hooking only a tiny tag of skin in the process. You end up with the hook being set like this…

Not sure how this fish made it to the boat.

Not sure how this fish made it to the boat, but that’s the kind of hook hold you get too often with beaked drop shot hooks.

You will lose a lot of fish that are hooked that lightly. And from personal experience, I place the blame for that poor hook hold squarely on the beaked hook point design. Would I like the sharper hook point? Sure. But not if it comes attached to a beaked design.

Strong opinions about line for drop shotting.

UPDATE (7/9/16)

Time was, I would not use braid for drop shot fishing. I recognized its theoretical advantages, but could not seem to convert those advantages into increased catch rates. Or even into catch rates that matched what I was doing with straight fluoro. Finally, I tried going with the thinnest braid I could find, and found the sanwer to making it work for me. For the past several seasons, I have been doing all my drop shotting with braid and a Fluoro leader.  My #1 choice in braid for drop shot fishing as of this writing is 6# Sufix 832. Very thin and very supple.

I use a Seaguar knot to attach an 8 foot, 8# test fluoro (Invizix) leader to the braid. It”s by far the quickest and easiest suitable knot to join fluoro to braid, and has proven exceptionally strong. And 8 foot leader allows me three complete re-rigs before I have to replace the leader.

 

And finally, the sinker.

If you’re fishing a drop shot the way it was intended to be fished, the sinker is pretty much an inert object during the actual presentation of the lure, so how much effect could your choice in weights possibly have on your drop shot productivity? Mostly by minimizing dead time.

If you’re tying on a sinker instead of using a real drop shot sinker with a self cinching clip on the weight, you’re wasting time every time you have to re-rig because of a bite off, break off or abraded line. If you’re using the wrong self-cinching sinker, you’re also wasting extra time, as you’re probably replacing the sinker more than you should have to, or breaking off the whole rig instead of just losing the weight when you hang up the weight. And if you’re using “canonball” style weights instead of cylindrical or teardrop shaped weights that don’t snag as easily, you’re hanging up, and consequently breaking off, more than you might be with a more streamlined shape.

Perhaps even more critical than the shape of the weight you choose is the quality of the the swivel and especially the self cinching clip that attaches the weight to the line.

Left is a Bakudan weight, right is a generic copy

Left is a Bakudan weight, right is a generic copy

In the Bakudan weight above left, the wire on one side of the swivel is molded into the lead weight. In the generic copy, note that the barrel of the swivel is cast into the body. So you’re only getting the benefit of one side of the swivel, not both sides. A minor difference, but the result is more line twist. Some DS weights don’t even incorporate a swivel at all, and the clip is molded directly into the weight. Best to avoid these line twisters.

More important, look at the difference in the bend of the self cinching clip. On the Bakudan, the cinch tapers smoothly, while on the el-cheapo, it jams right down to nothing, then opens up again. When you pull it tight into the cinch to lock the sinker in place on the line, the el-cheapo will often cut the line, and worse, it will sometimes let you slide the line right past the ‘tight’ spot, into the wider opening. And fly off on the cast. In fact, BPS even recommends you tie an overhand knot in the line to keep their cheap copy from sliding off the end of the line.

And then there’s expensive, tungsten weights. I’ve tried some that had perfect line cinches and a tear drop shape. All around, they are great, except given the pressure and temperature involved in their manufacture, the swivel isn’t cast into place,but it’s glued in afterward. And sad experience has shown that often, the glue is anything but secure.

And there you have the lowdown on drop shotting — hook, line & sinker!

For more detailed how-to info on drop shotting, visit the “Bass at the Drop of a Shot” page on this blog, and my miscellaneous Drop Shot Tips article at this link.

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