lure and the bass. This is why a straight line between your rod tip top and your lure is critical to winter bass success.
Any slack in the line results in NOT detecting bites. Sensitivity greatly improves in detecting a deep bite if your lure sinks perfectly straight to the bottom, and you maintain a perpendicular angle on your line.
When I dropshot I use a teardrop-shaped QuickDrop weight that is hydrodynamic and perfectly balanced to sink straight to the bottom. Other shapes can zig-zag down to the bottom and put S bends in your line between your rod tip and your lure. Without the line being straight, many deep- water bites go undetected upon the drop.
STRAIGHT LINE STRAT
When winter bass fishing, the best strategy is to hold your rod tip low to the water surface next to a still boat, and then open your bail or hit the free-spool button and let your lure drop straight to the bottom. Immediately upon seeing slack in your line indicating you hit bottom, engage your reel and remove all slack before your boat drifts, or the wind moves your line. This is your only chance to feel a quick bite.
As your boat drifts, or current moves your lure, lift your rod tip to remove any slack, and then lower your tip until you feel the bottom. This constant “weighing” of your lure is your best chance at detecting a bite from a stationary bass. Instead of feeling distinct taps on your line, when you lift the slack out of your line your rod tip may stay bent as if you were snagged on a wet towel. Set the hook! Rarely will you ever think you felt a bite.
So how can you apply the “straight-line” concept to improve your winter bass fishing?
Shad Shape worm is the perfect size and shape to induce a bite from deep bass, and using 6-pound test fluorocarbon line also helps to keep a straight line between rod tip and weight because it is thin, creating less water resistance during boat and rod movement.
Having a sensitive rod is also important, and I rely on the high quality of a Lamiglas Si 703 S spinning rod paired with a 2500 size Shimano Stradic reel.
When fishing spoons like my favorite Blade Runner jigging spoons, or the Silver Buddy, I use a Lamiglas Si 704 C baitcaster spooled with 15-pound test McCoy Fluoro 100 fluorocarbon. This rig is sensitive enough to feel the lure stop before it hits the bottom if you remember to keep your line straight between the rod tip and the spoon during the drop.
Vertical approaches work best when targeting defined structure, you locate with your Lowrance electronics. Most often in the winter the best structure is a hump surrounded by deeper water. The top of the hump is usually rock and creates a pinch point that passing schools of baitfish must climb to pass over the hump. Hungry bass relate to these humps and hug the bottom just below the crest to consume prey as they approach over the top.
One benefit of deep water bassin’ in the winter is that the bite usually improves in the afternoon. With the shorter daylight hours, visibility of prey to bass is optimal when the sun is directly overhead and can penetrate the depths.
If I fish at first light, I stick to known structure that holds winter bass, and I fish vertically to entice a bass into biting. Early morning bass are less inclined to chase a bait moving horizontally across the bottom when visibility (due to low light conditions) makes bait hard to see until the last moment.
The most obvious and easiest way to keep your line straight and to detect bites is to fish vertically. Dropshot rigs, spoons, ice-jigs, and blade baits like a Silver Buddy all work in vertical applications.
Because bass are tight to the bottom in the winter, keep your dropshot leader length shorter than other times of the year, to eliminate slack. I prefer a 5 to 7-inch leader-length between a Gamakatsu #4 SplitShot/Dropshot hook and a 3/8-ounce QuickDrop weight. A nose-hooked Yamamoto
Horizontal approaches are also an effective way to catch deep winter bass, especially when visibility is good due to clear water and sunlight.
The skill of keeping your line straight between your rod tip and the lure still applies to horizontal approaches just as much as in vertical approaches.
Unlike fishing in shallow water, you are at a disadvantage when holding your rod tip high. The resulting belly in your fishing line between the rod tip and the water