By Jeff Samsel


It was a jerkbait sort of a morning at Alabama’s Pickwick Lake, where Jimmy Mason and his clients were indeed throwing Smithwick Rogues and catching bass. However, when they came across a bottom-oriented school just out from the boat, those fish weren’t interested in jerkbaits. Fortunately, Mason had dropshot rods rigged for that very occasion.

 “A dropshot is something you want to keep rigged this time of year – even if it’s not the way you’re fishing any given day,” Mason said. “When you mark fish below, it’s something you can often drop it down to those fish and make them bite.”

A tournament pro and Tennessee River guide from Rogersville, Ala., Mason has incorporated a dropshot rig into his overall approach more and more in recent years, and that has jumped even more lately because of three new YUM dropshot baits. The YUM Kill Shot, Warning Shot and Sharp Shooter, all diminutive and super-supple, were designed specifically for dropshot applications.

drop

Mason uses a dropshot throughout the year, and each season’s applications are different. The common denominator is that he normally turns to a dropshot when weather, water clarity or fishing pressure causes the fish to be fussy. With winter having set in, we spoke with Mason about his cold-weather dropshotting approach and how each of the new baits fit best for him.


KILL SHOT
Mason’s go-to winter dropshot bait is the new Kill Shot, which has a more muted action than the otherwise similar Warning Shot. With the bass and their forage slowed by the coolness of the water, he prefers a bait that doesn’t do too much shimmying. The Kill Shot has a small-diameter ribbed body that is flat on one side and tapers toward a rounded chub tail.

WARNING SHOT
The Warning Shot looks just like the Kill Shot from the tip of its nose to the tapered base of the tail, the same length and is available in the same colors. The difference is that instead of a chub tail, the Warning Shot has narrow, flat-sided triangular tail of thin plastic, which moves substantially with any hint of shaking or from passing current. Mason will use it more often as the water warms and the fish get more active, but any time he starts with a Kill Shot or Warning Shot, he’ll keep the other handy and to try if the fish don’t readily hit his original bait of choice.

SHARP SHOOTER
The Sharp Shooter, a true dropshot worm that comes in two sizes, has one flat side and a tail section that tapers from an already narrow body. At the end is a flat, spade-type tail that stays in motion even when the bait is being held still. For Mason, the primary winter application for the Sharp Shooter is for working brush or other snaggy cover that prompts a weedless rigging.
drop shot smallouth
Winter Approach
Mason’s cool-weather drop-shot approach relies mostly on vertical presentations. He uses it when he sees fish on the graph or knows a very specific spot the fish like to use. The main exception to his vertical preference occurs when he knows of fish that are using a somewhat shallow spot, especially if the water is extra clear and the sun is shining bright.

“If I’m concerned about spooking the fish, I’ll make a short pitch to a spot, with the boat not over it, tighten the line, and work the dropshot slowly across the area where I expect the fish to be,” Mason said.

Either way, Mason considers less to be more in terms of action this time of year. Once the bait is in place he’ll alternate gentle shakes or slow jiggles with pauses. Whether still or in motion, he keeps the bait above the weight by keeping the line tight. He also is careful to be fully ready from the start because many fish hit a dropshot on the fall or as soon as the weight finds bottom.

Mason noted that dropshotting isn’t only for working the bottom. In fact, it’s an outstanding rig for targeting fussy suspended fish. He’ll get directly over those fish and lower his rig, watching it fall on his graph, and stops it at the top of the school or barely above the fish and then work it the same way he would if his weight was on the bottom.

Sometimes the dropshot is Mason’s primary rig for working a specific structure or targeting a group of fish. More often this time of year, it’s the rig he turns to when the fish don’t want to play other games.

Rigging & Gear
For both the Kill Shot and Warning Shot, Mason uses a small, short-shank dropshot hook, and nose hooks the bait so the hook is exposed and the bait is uninhibited. For fishing the Sharp Shooter in cover, he uses a longer-shanked hook with a keeper and rigs the worm weedless. In either instance, he likes a ¼-ounce dropshot weight.

Mason dropshot fishes with a Lew’s 7 ½-foot Shaky Head Rod, which has a fast action and with most of its flex in the tip. He spools his reel with 6- or 8-lb fluorocarbon.