They don’t have to be big to be beautiful (Perch, entry 510)

If you’re an angler you will no doubt have come across the term drop shot in recent times. As a technique it gets lots of positive comments and is certainly gaining in popularity in the UK. I’ve had my eye on it for a good while now and I knew that I would embrace it one day, but I wanted that to be when I was ready, as opposed to following the crowd and jumping on the latest piscatorial bandwagon simply for the sake of it.

After all, it is a very specific way of fishing and as such I wanted to get the right gear as opposed to improvisation. You know the sort of thing – any old rod will do: just tie a standard bomb on the bottom: you don’t need fancy hooks. While I am aware that tackle manufacturers will seek to exploit gaps in the market, we shouldn’t automatically become cynical as to their motives.

The Fox Rage Ulton set-up
The Fox Rage Ultron set-up

So on that basis, a knock on my door from the courier indicated my order from Harris Sportsmail had arrived. The two main – and most expensive – items in any set-up will be the rod and reel. My choice was to go for the new Fox Rage Ultron. I had been looking at Savage Gear but as Fox had just brought out the matching reel I decided to go that route.

Spooled up with Sunline braid I was ready to go. I had already done my research, and that’s where the internet came in handy. But it’s important to look in the right places. Post on a forum and you’re likely to get advice from people who haven’t actually done any drop shotting. I pretty much checked out US-based articles from experienced anglers in that field.

My first perch on the method
My first dropshot-caught perch

I had a number of questions I needed to clarify, such as ‘What’s the difference between drop shot and jigging?’. It’s important to get everything sorted out as much as possible in your mind before you embark on the journey. I wanted to be in the position, that before I ordered my gear, I knew exactly what I was getting into. From rod to hook, every item of tackle I ordered was chosen deliberately.

Of course that’s the theory. Once we’ve got the gear we have to learn how to use it. I’m of the view that if you’re a reasonable angler anyway it won’t be such a big step to embrace new techniques. For example, you may have never sea-fished, but as a decent coarse angler a little bit of research and you’ll be on the right track. The basics are the same in many ways.

A better fish from the canal
A better fish from the canal

With perch being the reason I wanted to drop shot, I set off for my local canal to get the week underway. With lots of short sessions being the way I will go with the method. Although I can’t keep the rod made up in the way that I do with my spinning gear, with the swivel kept in place it was halfway there. All I needed to do was tie the rig on and away I went.

For me, drop shotting is a finesse method. It’s more gentle in its approach than other styles of fishing. You’re not thrashing the water with a lure and even compared to spinning with a small Mepps it is much more delicate. But whatever the method it’s always great to get a take and the Berkley perch minnow was picked up by a few perch. They were mostly small with one just a little bit bigger that I posed with.

Returning the small pike
Returning the small pike

I certainly enjoyed my short morning session, so much so that I visited a local lake on the evening. Deep water close in, and clear at that, it will be perfect for drop shotting. I’ve already had some very productive spinning sessions on there. Again I connected with perch but also a small pike. Following on from the chub that I caught last week that’s now three species.

Session three and I was back on the canal for a morning start. This is the time of the year when the boat traffic starts to intensify so crack of dawn outings will be the norm. I again caught small perch; just hand-sized fish so didn’t take any photos. I really enjoyed myself, which in all honesty I do anyway regardless of method or species.

A dusk lake perch
A dusk lake perch

Driving home I thought to myself that I can see me really getting into drop shotting. But it won’t become an obsession, just another passion! I’m too much of an all-rounder to become consumed by any particular style of fishing, never mind one species. In fact my next outing, although on the canal after perch, saw me employ a totally different tactic.

From a distance it may have looked like I was carp fishing, but my rods were 1lb test curve, 4lb line and it was a worm on a size 8 hook straight through with a shot and a bead as opposed to a fancy rig and a boilie. And although I use the same ATT alarms, I switched to a six-magnet wheel for maximum sensitivity. I use two-magnet ones for carp fishing.

It looks like I'm carp fishing
It looks like I’m carp fishing

The water temperature was 10.3C which was the first time it has hit double figures this year. I was up at 4.30am and had three and a half hours until the first boat came through. I had planned that anyway so the timing was right. I ended up with five perch, nothing big but nice to catch nevertheless. All perch are beautiful regardless of size.

A canal perch caught on worm
A canal perch caught on worm

To round the week off I was back on the canal a couple of days later, with everything pretty much the same as the previous session. The only difference was that I fished with prawn on one rod for the last couple of hours. Overall though it was a real struggle and I had just the one fish to show for my effort. The canal itself was difficult to fish as the powers-that-be had previously given the bankside vegetation a grade one.

With the trimmings ending up on the canal itself there was a pretty dense surface covering of vegetation, which in turn made casting quite difficult in terms of avoiding debris around the hook as it hit the water. I don’t know why they feel the need to cut everything back. There is a gravel towpath so it’s not like people are hindered in anyway. And it destroys wild flowers in the process, which need all the help they can get. Plus the growth next to the water provides a wildlife corridor for creatures such as shrews and mice.

The final session of the week
The final session of the week

Back from the canal though I found a colony of butterbur in bloom. They’re very pretty and are one of our first flowers to come through, although this year everything is a good month behind due to the weather. While on the canal I also heard my first blackcap and chiffchaff of the year – I always tick them off in March, but like everything else they’ve been kept waiting.

Butterbur in bloom
Butterbur in bloom

After several weeks of pretty much focusing on chub it was great to get back to my favourite species. No big fish this time round, but as the title states, they don’t have to be big to be beautiful. My next target fish is the carp, so hopefully I’ll have some bigger fish to write about next week. See you then. (Published April 20 2013)

 Check out my angling website and connect with me on Twitter and Facebook HERE