Drop shotting has become a staple on the Elite circuit, especially during the second half of the season when we fish a lot of smallmouth waters.
A huge drop shotting trend among Bassmasters is to spool their spinning reels with a small diameter superline (braid) and add a long fluorocarbon leader.
Even so, it’s interesting to see that an equal number of touring pros still prefer straight fluorocarbon over the braid/fluorocarbon combination.
And while I will use the braid combo on occasion, I am among those who prefer to fish with straight fluorocarbon when drop shotting.
There really isn’t a right or wrong way since there are advantages of each. I just prefer going straight fluorocarbon and will explain why later.
Without question, the braid/fluorocarbon provides several advantages with added strength in small diameter line being a big one.
The braid also makes the tiny line easier to see, especially now that companies are making high vis colors of the superline. For example, when fishing braid and fluoro for other tactics, I use Mustad’s 15-pound yellow Wish Braid (diameter equivalent to 4-pound fluorocarbon) that makes it easier to see than dark colors or straight fluorocarbon line. I tie a 30-foot fluorocarbon leader to the braid which puts plenty of distance between the bait and the more visible braid, which is important in clear water.
A good example of how high vis braid can help occurred at the St. Lawrence River this summer where I was fishing a weightless, wacky-rigged Ocho stick worm. Because it was weightless, the bait fell slowly yet I could watch the line for strikes like a livebait fisherman watching his bobber go under. I couldn’t have seen all of those bites with transparent fluorocarbon.
Braid is also ultra-sensitive, and when coupled with low-stretch fluorocarbon, you can feel more bites than you can with straight fluoro or monofilament.
Also, if your spinning reel spool is the smaller traditional size, you can probably gain casting distance. However, I use Quantum’s large spool spinning reel on a 7-4 medium action rod and can cast equally far because of the larger spool and rod action.
Another huge advantage to using braid is it doesn’t twist or get snarly like fluorocarbon can when drop shotting.
Yet, I still prefer fluorocarbon for most of my drop shotting. I offset the line twist issues by adding a No. 10 or 12 black barrel swivel 2 feet above the lure. In most instances, I use 8-pound Bass Pro Shops’ XPS Fluorocarbon as the main line and the leader. The tiny swivel nearly eliminates the line twisting issue.
The main reason I prefer straight fluorocarbon is it sinks faster than braid, the latter of which wants to float. When fishing a drop shot for smallmouth, I bomb the bait out there with a heavy sinker and fish it faster, trying to get a bass to see the bait and eat it.
(I use 1/4-ounce Strike King Tungsten in water 10 foot or less, 3/8 when fishing 10 to 20 feet deep and a 1/2-ounce in deeper water or in heavy current.)
Given the attributes of fluorocarbon and the way smallmouth roam, like they did at St. Clair, I can cover water faster. Fluorocarbon allows a more a direct and instant connection to the bait without the “bow” in the line caused by the slower sinking braid. I think that makes a big difference.
You could probably accomplish the same thing by using a longer fluorocarbon leader with the braid, but that negates some of the advantages of braid.
As noted earlier, it’s often a matter of individual preference. However, it’s good to keep an open mind and don’t discount the straight fluorocarbon tactic entirely. You may find that you will get more bites in some situations.
Like I say, it’s all about the attitude!