When finicky bluegills need delicate finessing, Minnesota angler Matt Johnson pulls a page from the bass angler’s handbook and delivers a soft-plastic bait via the dropshot rig.
Though downsized for panfish purposes, the dropshot design remains consistent: Tie a Palomar knot to a small hook and leave the tag end a foot or more long. Pass the tag end through the hook eye to make the hook stand out horizontally and affix a weight to the tag’s terminal end.
A weight below the hook enables anglers to suspend a bait off the bottom, perhaps over a grass edge, or other structure. Moreover, the bait’s light presentation minimizes fish wariness.
“Dropshotting for panfish offers a means to deliver the presentation with an absence of weight,” Johnson said. “The less a fish feels when grabbing a bait, the more-likely you are to seal the deal.
Dropping down a plain hook with an [unweighted] plastic is next to impossible, unless you use a dropshot rig.”
Noting the rig’s efficiency at deploying smaller profile baits at a moderate pace, Johnson said he’ll often dropshot for bluegill along deep weed lines and main lake structure. This tactic, he said, is particularly well suited for the late summer period when a lot of ‘gills are lounging in the deep and cool.
Johnson rigs with 4- to 5-pound-test line, although he may beef it up around heavy weeds. Size 8-4 hooks baited with Clam Pro Tackle Maki XL or Maki Jamei; or Mister Twister 2-inch Tri-Alive tails or Mister Twister Micro Shads and VIE Shiners get plenty of attention.
“I’ll use either a ball or cylinder weight (depending on bottom makeup), but you can even use inexpensive crimp-on sinkers too,” Johnson said. “No matter the weight needed, the presentation still remains the same and gives the fish something easy to feed.”
Johnson said of his presentation: “I love to pitch dropshot rigs. I actually spend more time doing that. I will use them vertically over deep weed lines and structure as well, but there is nothing wrong with covering water with a dropshot rig.
“We always tend to believe that it’s a vertical presentation, which it is/can be; but I’ve have equal success pitching it along structure and working it back to the boat.”