“If you’re not drop-shotting, you’re hurting yourself,” says Bassmaster Elite competitor Aaron Martens, regarded as the best drop-shot angler in the world. “A handful of West Coast friends and I got onto it in the early days, and we kept it a secret for years. No one knew what we were doing, and we totally dominated the tournament scene.”
According to Martens, who is approaching $3 million in career winnings, drop-shotting is as close to a universal bass presentation as you can find. “There are times when a shaky head jig is the best presentation, and other times when a Carolina rig may dominate,” says the 2004 Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “But those presentations have short windows, while you can almost always catch fish on a drop-shot rig. And most days, it is the best thing you can do.”
Martens says most anglers make the big mistake of thinking of drop-shotting as only a deep-water, vertical presentation. “I drop-shot in deep water, shallow water and every depth in between,” he says. “I cast it, drag it, hop it, flip it and pitch it. There is no wrong way to drop-shot.”
According to Martens, proper rigging is essential, and that starts with using a doubled-over unit knot to tie on the hook. “It retains 100 per cent of its strength and keeps your hook straight,” he says. “That is so important to avoid line twist.” He then tips his Gamakatsu drop-shot hooks almost exclusively with thin, 4 1/2- to six-inch-long RoboWorms soaked in J.J.’s Magic scent.
“If I could give Outdoor Canada readers one tip, it’s to always shake your bait, not the weight,” says Martens, who has six Bassmaster tournament wins and 55 top-10 finishes. “A lot depends on the mood of the fish. For example, if they’re inactive, I’ll drag my drop-shot, but when they’re active, I’ll hop it three or four feet off the bottom to catch their attention. Regardless, when I stop, I just shake the bait.”
One more secret: While Martens continually experiments with leader lengths—spacing his hook anywhere from two inches to three feet from his River2Sea tungsten weight—he says you can always manipulate the bait better with a shorter leader. “You can jiggle a worm on a three-inch leader much better than you can on one that’s three feet long,” he says. “You can create a vibration with the worm so that it feels like you’re dribbling a basketball down there.”