Aaron Martens likes a short drop shot leader this time of year and explains why in this short tip / Jason Sealock

Why Aaron Martens Likes a Short Drop Shot Leader

Aaron Martens, considered to be the best with a drop shot, explains why a short leader is better this winter.

When the world’s greatest drop shot angler tells you he likes super short leaders, there’s a lesson worth noting. Aaron Martens draws a clear parallel that explains how proximity to the bottom yields a strategic impact on his drop shot presentation.

“A short leader gives it a quicker bounce,” he said. “It’s like dribbling a basketball; if you dribble it standing up, the ball moves slowly, but if you get closer to the ground, it tightens up. It’s the same with a drop shot; you get a quicker ,smaller action in the worm.”

Three inches or less, such diminutive leaders excel in cold conditions when lethargic fish are laying close to the bottom. Here, the fish tend to respond better to a smaller, sharp action held right in their face, as opposed to the bigger, waving motion imparted by a longer drop-shot leader most anglers use. 

Martens goes with a 6-inch Roboworm Straight Tail Worm for water temperatures under 60 degrees. 

Using a Gamakatsu Aaron Martens TGW Drop Shot hook, Martens mostly nose-hooks his bait; but he’ll Texas-rig the bait on a small worm hook around any type of snaggy cover. The other option is a “gillie rig” — essentially, a wacky rig with the hook placed through the bait’s side, closer to its head.

“That speeds up the fall, as opposed to a traditional wacky rig, which takes forever to fall,” Martens said.

Tear drop weights are his preference, unless he’s dropping over snaggy bottom; in which case, he’ll switch to a cylinder weight. With either form, tungsten allows him to minimize the weight profile, while ensuring maximum bottom-reading sensitivity.

For optimal presentation, strike detection and response, Martens fishes his dropshots on a 6-foot, 10-inch Enigma Aaron’s Edge spinning rod with 10-pound braided main line and 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. This outfit ensures enough load time for the fish to get the bait fully, while providing sufficient backbone to subdue the big ones. 

Aaron Martens with a short leader drop shot bass this early winter / David A. Brown

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