By Scott Hammer
December 30, 2011
In my first installment, I explained the mechanics of drag fishing which included drift socks and boat positioning. Let’s utilize those mechanics and drag up some fish! After all, what is the advantage of learning a new technique if you’re not maximizing your catch rate?
My number one bait for this technique is the old, proven favorite; the tube. For me the tube is simply a consistent producer and I like to use the Yamamoto 4.5 inch Flippin’ Tube. Too big, you say? No way! I like to throw big baits for big fish. More importantly, that size bait more closely resembles the natural forage in the lakes where I fish this setup, which just happens to be the Goby. To up the ante even more, I rig the tube with a ¼ ounce Gamakatsu Football Head jig (hook exposed). The football head jig gives the bait a more realistic profile compared to the normal tube jig.
My #2 bait is the Gary Yamamoto 5” Double Tail Hula Grub. I use the same Gamakatsu Football Head jig, which, when dragging, brings the grub alive. The way I like to explain it in my seminars is to compare it to a kite that has turned nose down on the ground. As you pull the kite string, the kite walks side to side. So does the grub on a football head jig. With double tails and the hula skirt, nothing comes closer to live bait than this setup.
My #3 choice, which sometimes moves to the #1 slot depending on conditions, is the 5” Senko on that same Gamakatsu Football Head jig once again. I discovered this rig on a very windy day where it was impossible to get a tube or grub to stay in contact with the bottom during the drag due to their mass and water resistance in a fast drift. I remembered reading how Judy Wong used this rig to win a tournament fishing the fast moving discharge of a power plant lake. It is now my secret weapon in all conditions.
My last dragging setup is a finesse rig - the dropshot. Yes, I throw the dropshot for powerful smallmouth that regularly run over four pounds. This rig lends itself well to dragging since it keeps the bait off the bottom when the fish are more suspended. I also have less foul-ups with this setup. I use the 5-inch Kut Tail and the 5-inch Pro Senko almost exclusively. My rod selection is a Bass Pro Shops 6’6” JLM medium action spinning rod with a fast tip. The reel is a Midas Citori with 8 to 12 lb mono. Hook of choice is a #1 (not 1.0) Gamakatsu EWG offset shank. After all, this is a finesse rig.
For the other rigs I use a 7 foot medium heavy/heavy JLM rod and a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier reel with Wide Spool Technology and spooled with Excel 30lb braid. There is nothing finesse about this setup! I have been burned too many times with mono and using fluoro leaders with braid. I do not see any lower catch rate using straight braid.
It does me no good to give you gear ratios and bait recommendations unless I also give you the way I fish them. In a drag/drift you have a few options. The easiest is to make fairly short casts and simply let the movement of the boat move your bait along the bottom. You can create a little more action be slowly sweeping your rod tip in the direction of the drift, then letting the bait sit on the bottom until the slack is taken up. Or, you can actively bounce your bait off the bottom with fast and exaggerated rod movements to induce a reaction strike. Be warned though, this technique works best in warmer water.
Savvy readers will call me out if I don’t at least touch on bait colors. One word describes them all: natural. Keep it simple and go with the browns and greens, whichever you have the most confidence in. For me that is color 297.
Put this all together and you can end up with 100 fish days in some of the most challenging conditions.