The drop-shot rig is best known for gently presenting soft-plastic lures, but with a few tweaks, the same setup can present live bait, especially minnows, to bass.
For soft-plastic lures, tie a drop-shot hook in sizes No. 1 to 2/0, to your line with a Palomar knot, leaving the tag end long. Insert the line through the hook’s eye from the same side as its point. That ensures it curves upward when the knot is drawn tight. Add a sinker to the tag end anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet or more below the hook, depending on how far off the bottom you see the bass suspended. Start with 3/8-ounce sinker, adding weight as you fish deeper or the water becomes rougher.
For the live-bait version, angler Glenn Grindstaff first ties a three-way swivel to his main line, which is 20- to 50-pound braid. From that, he ties sections of 12-pound monofilament, one to the sinker and the other to the hook, in this case a tiny No. 14 treble. He threads one of its points through the nose of a 3- to 4-inch bass minnow.
“I used to use a larger hook,” he said, “but (with the treble), you can set the hook as soon as you feel them bite.”
That also decreases the number of gut-hooked bass, a common problem with live-bait fishing, and makes more releases successful. The leader tied to the hook is kept about a foot long, and the sinker leader is never the same length, always shorter or longer; that way, the sinker is less likely to knock off your minnow during a pitch.
Traditional bass sinkers work, but specially designed drop-shot weights — “I really like ¾-ounce,” Grindstaff said — are molded with a swivel for a line tie. They offer a unique advantage. The combination of lines used means Grindstaff has to re-rig less, which is important when fingers are numb. The braid overpowers the monofilament, meaning the leader to the sinker will break or the hook straighten, depending on which is stuck.