By Pete Robbins
Mid-Atlantic Staff Writer
September 20, 2008
Todd Faircloth may have formulated the building blocks of his angling career on big bass lakes like Sam Rayburn, where power fishing dominates, but he owes a fair share of his recent success to “small ball” tactics. In particular, he’s mastered the subtleties of dropshotting both to ensure consistency and to keep his name near the top of the leader board.
To the quiet Texan, it doesn’t seem that odd that he’s managed to master smallmouth and deepwater techniques. He doesn’t consider that expertise to have come in spite of his east Texas roots, but rather because of them.
“Smallmouth relate to structure the same as largemouth do,” he said. “They just don’t hold to the cover as tight. On Rayburn, I grew up fishing offshore, idling around using my electronics to find breaks, points and rockpiles. In fact, smallmouth are usually more aggressive, which usually makes it easier.”
And easy is the key to Faircloth’s dropshot system. While he’s mastered boat control and electronics, when it comes to baits and tackle, he has made a conscious effort to simplify the items that he employs.
When he won the Elite Series tournament at Table Rock in 2007, he fished the “video game pattern,” carefully watching how the bass reacted to his dropshot via his highly sensitive electronics. But while location was critical, he also felt that the Yamamoto Pro Senko on the end of his line (actually, since it was dropshotted, the weight was on the end of his line, but that’s a mere technicality) enabled him to maximize his presentations.
“It’s the texture of it that makes a difference,” he said. “It’s a very soft bait. People complain that it’s too soft, but that makes it look natural. If you use them for a while they get a slimy feel so it feels real when a fish bites it.”
While the Pro Senko still accounts for about 15 percent of his dropshotting, and he turns to a Kut Tail worm perhaps 10 percent of the time, the lion’s share of his deep water efforts utilize Yamamoto’s comparatively new Shad Shape Worm. That’s what led him to a 6th place finish at the 2008 BASS Elite Series Empire Chase, held on Lake Erie this summer. When most of his competition keyed in on a goby bite, occasionally supplementing goby replicas for minnow imitators, why did Faircloth stick with the Shad Shape?
“It kind of resembles a goby and looks like a shad as well, so I could use it for both,” he said. “The first day at Erie I fished with a local guide and within the first hour he was asking for one. I outfished him ten to one. It’s probably the best dropshot bait on the market.”
What makes it so good?
“It has a real good subtle action and you don’t have to do anything to get that action. You can deadstick it,” he said.
He pairs it up with a 1/0 splitshot hook and fishes it on a 6’8” medium-heavy Castaway spinning rod, paired with a 6:1 gear ratio spinning reel spooled with 6 to 8 lb. Sugoi fluorocarbon line. He keeps color selection simple as well. While green pumpkin has a place in his tackle bag, at Erie he narrowed it down to “exclusively Natural Shad,” he said.