Rigging for Redfish: the Drop Shot

Tips for taking spooky redfish.

Problem: Summer or winter, excessive boating or angling pressure can shut down the bite from redfish and put them on the run.

Solution: Stealthy rigs are needed to turn the bite on again. Below are two
rigging methods that can catch reds even when they’re skittish. Rigging for redfish is this easy.

The slip-shot rig. This is like a downsized version of a Carolina rig used for bass fishing, with the weight positioned ahead of a leader and trailing soft-plastic lure. Instead of requiring a heavy lead and lengthy leader, however, the slip-shot rig employs a much smaller, finesse- size weight with shorter leader.

The advantage of this rig is that the lure can be presented quietly and appears more natural to the fish than heavier lures. And with a slim, compact weight and short leader, these rigs can be fished over sticky bottoms without snagging.

Palomar Drop Shot Knot

To rig a slip shot, simply thread a small weight (3∕16 ounce or less) onto your main line. I prefer the Tru-Tungsten weights for this rig. Their super slim, tubular Carolina weights are virtually snag proof. And because tungsten is somewhat denser than lead, by volume, less of it is required. A 1∕4-ounce tungsten weight will appear about half the size of a 1∕4-ounce lead or brass weight. Combine the slim, tubular profile with less bulk, and your odds of spooking fish are minimized.

Follow the lead with a small, dark-color plastic bead. Then tie on a black, 30- pound-test barrel swivel (black simply reflects less light). Next, attach about 18 inches of 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon leader. To its end, tie on a 1/0 or 2/0 offset- style hook designed for soft plastics.

Finally, thread the soft-plastic lure of your choice onto the hook Texas style. Remember, less is better in finesse rigs. Choose smaller grubs and shrimp imitators to fool wary reds.

Advantages: This rig allows you to separate the soft-plastic lure from the unnatural look and feel of the weightit’s attached to. Finicky reds often bite and blow out heavier rigs quicker than
the angler can set the hook. Use a light weight and separate it from the lure, and chances are good the fish will hold on once it bites.

The drop-shot rig: The concept is essentially the same as that of the slip shot, but instead of rigging the soft-plastic lure to the tail end of a leader, it’s tied to the main line and suspended above or ahead of a trailing weight. What’s sweet about this rig is that you can position the lure at a specific depth.

For instance, say a school of reds is swimming two feet off the bottom in six feet of water. A drop shot allows you to present the lure at the precise depth the fish are swimming, with the weight stationary on the bottom below them. To rig a drop shot, start by passing the main line (I use 10-pound-test fluorocarbon) through the backside of a small, offset rigging hook—it’s important to enter the hook eye from the backside, not the side closest to the barb. Once through, reverse the line’s direction, passing it back through the eye. This will form a loop on the barb side, and a double line on the other. Be sure to leave two feet or more of tag end, as you will need it later. Now take the doubled line in one hand, loop in the other, and start an overhand knot. Before you snug the knot, leave enough room to pass the entire hook through the newly forming loop. Once through, snug the knot.

Basically, you just tied a Palomar knot. Now thread the tag end of your line back through the hook eye on the side closest to the barb and pull it snug. This forces the hook to stand at a right angle
from the line with the barb facing upward, which will add a very desirable effect to the rig once completed. Now it’s a matter of determining the distance you want the lure to suspend above the weight.

Once you make that determination, simply tie a drop-shot weight to the line at the specified length.
Drop-shot weights have tiny, built-in swivels, and some even have swivels with breakaway clips for easy retrieval of the lure when snagged. Either way, swiveledweights are essential as they eliminate line twist.

Once the weight is attached, simply thread the soft-plastic lure of your choice onto the rigging
hook, making sure the lure’s profile is horizontal and upright when suspended in the water column.

Advantages: Drop-shot rigs are perfect for fishing around oyster bars or other sticky cover. If you snag the rig, simply pull till the weight pops off or frees itself. If you lose the weight, retrieve the rig and attach a new weight to the tag end. Your soft-plastic lure should still remain safely in place.

When you’re fishing for pressured redfish, remember these two rigs. One or the other will usually entice spooky reds into biting. FS

First Published Florida Sportsman Dec. 2008

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