Likely the two most popular finesse techniques for bass, the dropshot vs shaky head have a lot in common. Both are commonly rigged with the same baits on very similar gear. The two usually weigh about the same and are used to target a lot of the same fish. But there’s one key difference that separates them, a dropshot is primarily a vertical technique and a shaky head is primarily for dragging horizontally.
Dropshot vs Shaky Head: The Primary Uses
Now, I say primarily in both instances because there is the off chance you see a fish on your graph and drop a shaky head straight under the boat, the fish may bite it. But if you look at the makeup of each bait and how they fall through the water column, you’ll see a stark difference in the efficiency of a dropshot over a shaky head on the vertical fall. A shaky head tends to glide and spiral downward. But a drop shot shoots straight to the bottom. This is extremely important when targeting structure and bass that appear on your graph only briefly as your boat passes by.
Dropshot vs Shaky Head: The Similarities Between the Two
I have also dragged a dropshot on the rarest of occasions. But the beauty of a dropshot is the ability to work the bait without moving the weight. So, dragging it really defeats the purpose. This brings up a common mistake that a lot of anglers make when they first start to fish a dropshot.
One of the first times I fished a dropshot was while working on a story for FLW with Tom Mann Jr. We were on Lake Lanier in Georgia and Tom was targeting spotted bass in fairly deep brush.
The purpose of the article was to learn a technique from a pro and then pass the info along as a writer. For the young and aggressive power-fisherman I was, that day represents one of the most fundamental shifts in my fishing.
This will sound very obvious to anglers efficient with a dropshot. But for me, this key bit of advice from Tom that day was a gem. I, like many anglers, learned to fish a shaky head before I fished a dropshot. So, I was working the dropshot just as I would a shaky head, bouncing it along. Tom noticed my rod tip loading up and pointed out that,
‘You actually don’t want to feel the bait when you work it. Because if you do, you are moving the weight. That distracts the fish and draws their attention away from the bait. When working a dropshot, you only want to move the bait. So when you wiggle your rod tip, you want to let the bait drop again as soon as you start to feel any tension at all from the bottom’.
Dropshot vs Shaky Head: Combining the Two
An interesting side note here is that I have actually seen a few guys use the two together by replacing the weight of a dropshot with a shaky head. I’ve done this myself a few times just to experiment with it. One thing that I heard from others who do this and that I also saw myself, quite often the fish would eat the bottom bait on the shaky head. This reinforces the ideal Tom instilled in me that the fish pay attention to the weight and also begs the question, ‘Why not just rig it that way all the time?’
Well again, the shaky head won’t fall straight down.
So you’ll either need to be targeting fish in fairly calm conditions where you have optimal boat control or you’ll need a substantially heavier shaky head. Also, since the invention of the Alabama Rig, many tournaments don’t allow multiple baits with hooks which takes something like this and the double Fluke rig and lumps them in with umbrella rigs. But it is something intriguing to try sometime.
From what little I’ve seen it used, anglers would primarily use this in super deep water situations where they had abnormally long drop leaders of 3-to-5-feet. This would give them the ability to fish a bait on the bottom as well as a bait up in the brush.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
Become an ANGLR Expert and apply here.