Apart from anything else we can thank the perch’s design for the tremendous sport it can give us when drop-shotting: the perch doesn’t muck around. Unlike its fellow predator, the pike, it has no time for rituals; no desire to have its eating habits endlessly described by angling writers like myself – it just gets on with wolfing the bait. None of this grabbing it sideways….going for a tour….turning the bait… Nope, percia fluviatilis just opens wide and sucks it in, so if perch are around you’re very likely in for some lively sport.
I confess to being a latecomer to drop-shotting and, at first, I wondered why the hell I hadn’t cottoned-on to this years ago – but the answer was obvious! We had the hooks, we had the weights but we simply didn’t have the luxury of mini-lures. That those mini-lures are of a soft-jelly material and so effectively designed is the real icing on the cake: hey presto! A new, specialized branch of angling for which dedicated gear really is required. There’s nothing like a good barbel rod for catching barbel but you can fish for them quite well with a light carp rod. Same with pike-fishing. But to get the most out of drop-shotting – in terms of both fish and enjoyment – you need a proper drop-shotting rod with the lightness and sensitivity to execute accurate casts then to impart ‘life’ into your chosen piece of artifice.
The joy just keeps coming. Once you’ve threaded your line through the rod rings, you just tie-on the trace you made earlier and get fishing. If you’re starting from scratch on the riverbank it’ll still only be a couple of minutes before you’re in business. Let’s assume that you are…
Firstly, low or non-stretch braid on your reel – rather than nylon mono – is recommended. Braid is extremely narrow pound for pound and won’t ‘give’ so much as a millimetre so your contact with the lure and then with whatever you hook could not be more direct; you fish knowing that a 2” flick on the rod-tip will impart a 2” kick of your lure – and there’s no mistaking a strike.
So… you’ve got your braid through the top eye of your rod having twice dropped it and watched in amazement as it slid all the way back to the butt eye – this is normal.
Take five or six feet of 8-10lb mono or, preferably, fluorocarbon for its invisibility, and prepare to tie-on the hook. Your instinct might well be to opt for a size no larger than a 6 but 4s and even 2s will be readily engulfed by even a modest perch and, anyway, a decent sized hook will be necessary if you decide to mount your lure ‘up-shank’.
There is a specific way to tie the hook so that it stands proud of the line at 90 degrees for effective fish-hooking: roughly half way up the trace-line (but not more) form a simple loop.
Push the loop through the eye of the hook (preferably of the design recommended by the likes of Berkley or Fox) and make a simple double fold-over.
Take the loop over the hook, pull everything lightly together then lubricate it with a liberal dash of saliva before pulling it all tight. Your hook should now be standing out at a right-angle like one of those super-fit pole dancers.
Push loop through eye of hook…
Do a double fold-over…
Hook is now put through loop…
…and everything pulled tight (use a little spittle)
You can now decide how far off-bottom you want to present your lure but, of course, this will be a ‘relative’ thing because casting from a bank will put your line at a fairly shallow angle to the lake or river bed; the deeper the water, the steeper the angle. Only by dropping straight down from a boat will you know, for sure, that your lure is, say, 18” off the bottom.
The ‘depth’ you decide upon is easily fixed by the cunningly designed ‘eye’ to be found on dedicated drop-shotting weights (see below) To re-position the lead, just unclip it, move it up or down the line then re-clip!
Should you decide to fish ‘shallow’, just leave the resultant ‘tail’ of line in place: it will make no difference to anything with its eye on your lure.
Dedicated, commercial drop-shotting weights tend to be quite light to accommodate sensitive lure-twitching but there really is nothing stopping you from employing a substantial lump of lead to pin everything down in a fast flow while you wait for a big ol’ chub, a hefty perch, a zander or some other species with predatory tendencies to come along. Barbel like minnows….who knows? I’ve never taken a barbel this way but I’ve had a few chub to over 4lb and five or six breakfast-brownies so far.
Remember…a proper drop-shotting rod is ultra-sensitive and fairly short at 6-7ft so you’re able to drop into likely-looking nooks and crannies, take up any slack and impart those alluring little twitches to the lure; normally, a bite is tantamount to a fish on the bank but pecks and tweaks are far from uncommon. Don’t be afraid to slacken-off at these times because, if my experience with jelly-shad piking is anything to go by, predators will pick up a static lure.
Fish to the features: bushes, fallen trees, bridges, pontoons, barges…anything that would constitute an ambush point for a pack of stripeys. My best-ever perch took a live-bait but it’s no coincidence that it came from alongside a line of houseboats…perch love these places and – don’t forget – they love worms too so don’t overlook the power of the lob on your drop-shotting rig or, indeed, a real tiddler like a minnow – dead or alive.
Berkley, Savage, Korum, Fox, Quantum…there’s no shortage of drop-shot tackle-makers, from rods to leads; it’s still a fairly new and under-exploited discipline so get with those aficionados who are taking perch of 3, 4 and even 5lbs without the need for ground-bait, a chair and a Sherpa Tensing back-pack and give your fishing a fresh dimension!
My personal-best perch of 3lb 8oz taken from alongside a line of houseboats on a Norfolk river. Hopefully I’ll get a bigger one than this next time I’m out drop-shotting on the Brecon Canal.
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