How to

Drop Shotting for Jew

Advanced Soft Plastics

Jigging plastics for jewies is a proven way to connect with these great estuary sportfish. But as KEVIN SAVVAS explains, there are more refined rigs to explore that may well boost your catch rate.

IT’S no secret that I have a love affair with jewies. If you read my articles you would hear me refer to these magic fish often and in glowing terms. Upon reflection I probably never had an option. My earliest fishing memories were hearing dad regaling with passion the time his rod and reel flew off Kirribilli Wharf into Sydney Harbour. I loved hearing him describe watching it ski on top of the water for metres before his high-priced outfit, bought at Mick Simmons Sports in Merrylands, came to rest somewhere in the depths. There was no doubt in my dad’s mind at all – the perpetrator had to be a monster jew.

Other memories only added to the fervour. My grandad in a quintessential 1970s photo standing in front of his brand new brown Ford Falcon station wagon holding a prized 40 pound jewie caught on a handline.  Standing beside him, I was three at the time and the fish dwarfed me in size and girth. Or the time dad foul-hooked a 15kg jewie that towed him down the river for a mile. There are numerous jewie stories l can recount, the fact is between my grandad and father they’ve caught hundreds over the years. In the end it has all added up to one thing: I’m one obsessed man!

After putting in my fair share of hours live baiting jewies in the Hawkesbury River, these days I’m more accustomed to flicking lures for them. I have been one of the many casualties of the soft plastic revolution. I’m man enough to admit it. I really couldn’t think of bringing myself to anchor up somewhere for hours on end these days. I just love being mobile and hunting my prey, similar to the characteristics of my target species, in fact. If I could make one honest summation of using plastics for jewies, though, in my mind it has demystified the species somewhat. By this I mean catching them has now become an expected occurrence, where once upon a time it was a hard-fought bonus. Our success stems from the fact we cover large areas in a given session and stay mobile. It seems as though the hunter has now become the hunted!


Lures have probably been catching jewies for longer than my years on this planet. I know fishos have been scoring fish using a number of methods over the years. Being an experimental lad I have tried many methods and lures to improve my results. I typically fish the expansive Hawkesbury/Broken Bay system for jewies and two important features characterise and dictate the whole process: heavy current and deep water. If you find it difficult to fish with these attributes then fish somewhere else. You will never escape either in this system.

I have had outstanding results on a standard plastics rig of gel spun mainline to fluoro leader tied to a heavy jighead and plastic combo. While this is an awesome fish-catching system it does have some limitations. First off the standard rig is not particularly suited to deep water applications. If you cast lures in deep water time wastage is one factor. I hate the “dead time” waiting for lures to hit the strike zone. The second factor is slack line or bellied line. Typically I like to cast up-current for jewies and work the lure back to the boat. In excessively deep water, by the time the lure hits the bottom, the current has created a huge belly of line. This will seriously reduce your feel for timid bites and reduce your reaction times for a positive hook-set. There is a third issue here as well. Most of the deeper channels and holes in the Hawkesbury have been scoured out by current over a long period of time, effectively removing the mud bottom. Therefore in most instances the places we fish have a rock or boulder strewn bottom. If the lure has ample time to roll across the bottom, you will end up sacrificing your over-priced jigheads to the river gods. Minimal contact with the bottom is a must.

Humble Beginnings
To combat these problems we have started to “tea-bag” for jew in the deep stuff.We were using the standard plastics rig and just lifting and hopping the lure straight down. This negated the slack line problem and even reduced jighead fatalities but lacked finesse. The jigheads needed to get down deep were far too heavy. Therefore it has been successful to a degree. It’s important to point out when I say deep I’m referring to water over 20m. Now this might not sound too drastic but add in the famous Hawkesbury current and you have one doozy of a pickle.


It was this scenario that got me pondering. At first I dismissed drop shotting as a possible solution. I probably shouldn’t have because I’ve used it before. I drop shot bass and EPs in this system to good effect. Admittedly it wasn’t in ultra deep holes but it was for pretty much the same reasons. I was trying to present a finesse lure to fish schooled up in deep water. With a standard plastics rig the jighead needed to get to the fish was too heavy and lacked finesse, so therefore a drop shot rig was the perfect presentation; the weight had no bearing on the lure’s action. Our issues for deep water jew were pretty much identical. We wanted to increase our finesse by using light, natural-looking lures without using heavy lead, make minimal lure contact with the bottom and eliminate all slack line. Drop shotting ticked all the right boxes.

Rigs & Lures
This much publicised technique is still pretty much unchanged for a few years now. For those who haven’t seen it or heard of it, it is a more advanced paternoster style rig where the sinker is on the bottom and the lure is suspended higher above. What makes it more advanced than a paternoster rig is the knot used to attach it to the mainline, the hook used, the types of plastics designed for the purpose and the technique that brings it all to life.


First off, the paternoster rig usually consists of a dropper line rigged above the sinker. In the drop shot rig there is no dropper, the hook is tied tight to the leader. This gives you better feel and control of the action of the lure and reaction to bites is instantaneous. The standard knot used for drop shotting is the Palomar Knot (see instruction guide hereabouts). Basically the trick is to tie the knot with a considerable length of tag end. The tag end will be used as the length of line down to the sinker. I tend to leave a length of 75-100cm from hook to sinker. A similar knot but equally as effective is the World’s Fair knot. Basically the onus is the have the hook taut to the leader but riding upright. This is important as you want the lure to sit perfectly straight to work correctly.


I tend to use a similar set-up to my standard plastics rig. I use gel spun mainline tied to a fluoro leader connected with an improved Albright. From the Albright I have about 75cm of leader to my Palomar knot and another 75cm down to my sinker. I tend to use snapper leads of varying sizes. I don’t use a fixed knot to secure my sinker. I like to use a loop knot at the end so I can make swift sinker changes as the tide picks up or eases off. There’s no reason why you can’t fish throughout the entire tidal sequence like this. You just have to adapt as the conditions dictate.

At the business end I like to use an offset hook. You can experiment here a little but so far the offset hook seems to lend itself well to the system. I like to use a hook that has a bit of shank to it, usually in the 2/0 or 3/0 range. This will give a little clearance from the leader. I tend to feel if a jewie touches the leader when it attacks and misses the plastic, it won’t make a return trip. A great tip when tying the Palomar knot is to bring the tag end back through the eye of the hook from the top down. This makes the hook stand out straight.

Once the hook is sitting proud on the leader, lure selection is important too. You want a lure that has good movement. Long lures like worms are well suited to the rig as are bigger jerk minnow or stickbaits in 5” and longer range. You can also use large grub-type lures that have volume in the tail. The common denominator is a lure with plenty of action. My favourites are the 5” Yum Houdini Shad, 6” Slug-gos or Mojos, Bass Assassins, 5” Atomic Fat Grubs and 5” and 7” Gulp Jerk Shads. On everything except the Gulps I recommend a liberal coating of S-Factor.  

Easy Technique
The drop shot technique is very basic. The main principle is to ensure the sinker is always on the bottom. Drop the sinker straight down from the boat for some tea-bagging. When the sinker reaches the bottom it’s a simple matter of “slapping” the slack line by raising and dropping the rod tip, which makes the lure dance. It’s surprising how much life the lure has when the technique is perfected. I find flicking the wrist to create a snap-like feel as the line comes tight causes the best action.

I usually drift through a hole or channel when the tide is gushing hard. When it’s running  slower I use my Minn Kota against the tide and really work over the area before moving on. I also like to drop my rig down current of the boat. This way any fish will see my lure before the boat  passes over them. It sounds pedantic, especially in deep water, but it’s all a matter of detail. Leave nothing to chance.   

Fishing Gear
Your typical jew spinning outfit is perfect for this technique. The only consideration is to use a rod with an extra fast action or one that carries its width through to the tip. Using weights of 1oz or more in water over 20m puts a lot of pressure on the rod tip. A soft tip rod with a  moderate action  will load excessively and lose the crisp feel  needed to carry out this technique. I like using my trusty 3-6kg Pflueger Supreme. It is pretty much ideal for drop shotting fore jewies.

If you are looking for a new challenge give it a go. I admit it took some getting used to. I was always under the impression jewies would depart if a boat came close, so I always put in casts to the horizon. You probably won’t know when you hook your first drop shot jew either. The hit is different to that on standard rigs. Jewie hits are normally subtle ticks transmitted up your line. Because the hook is tied directly to the leader the hits seem more aggressive. You can feel it better. Hook up ratios are poorer though. Maybe it’s because I have yet to master this technique. Perhaps experimenting with different hooks and plastics will improve my overall success. Either way, it is a successful technique. One I encourage all diehard jewie-lovers out there to give some attention to.

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