Very often spin fishermen come across situations where they know that the fish are about, but for whatever reason they are not interested in taking the lure or are extremely hesitant to commit. There can be numerous reasons for this, but inevitably it normally gets down to lure size and the ability of the lure to suspend in mid-water in a very natural squid or small bait fish type pose before darting off again. The problem lies in getting this small much lighter lure to the fish. This is where the dropper technique comes into play.
Dropper lure fishing is used extensively in many parts of the world. The method is to use an existing spoon or plug, without the hooks, to act as the weight for casting, or use a barrel or egg-shaped sinker. The advantage of using a heavy lure is that it also acts as an attractor and will tend to pull fish to it over a far greater area. Once the fish have come in to investigate they will then see the smaller more desirable lure trolling some distance behind. Using this technique one can cast flies or plastic squid. Any other suitable small lure can be used, but for saltwater spinning the most popular are definitely squid skirts, plastic squid and saltwater flies.
A stealthy presentation is key here and depending on the size of the lure and the size of the fish being targeted, a suitable length of good quality fluoro-carbon trace line should be used between the swivel and the hook that the plastic squid or lure goes onto. Normally the further away the better, but on a 8 to 10 foot spinning rod, a length of a metre to two metres is recommended, otherwise casting can become a little bit tricky. To attach this to the weighted spoon or sinker, one should use a top-quality split ring, with one swivel going to the main line, another swivel going to the dropper and the third swivel going to the spoon. The third swivel that goes to the spoon will normally have another split ring connecting it to the spoon. This allows the spoon to twist and spin without snagging the main line. You will find the dropper never tangles if done correctly.
Should one wish to use a barrel or egg sinker, it can be fitted in-line with a swivel at each end, one to the dropper, one to the main line, but the connection that carries the sinker between the two swivels needs to be a very thick mono-filament, or some really strong single-strand piano wire, e.g. no. 19. Vicious headshakes can cause the sinker to damage the knots on the swivel resulting in lost fish. This in-line system is definitely a little more prone to tangles than the first recommendation. Instead of using something like an Iron Candy weighted spoon, one can also use a GT Ice-Cream type popper if the fish are predominantly on the surface.
Favourite dropper rigs involve the use of the Yamashita Octopus plastic squid in sizes 1.5 to 2.5 and favourite colours are Yako (Glow in the Dark) and K70 (Clear Live Glow).
The most consistently successful retrieval technique is a long pull and a short pause. One can do this fairly uniformly or in an erratic jerky fashion. The pauses however, are the critical part, as these squid or flies will remain suspended for a few seconds before darting off. The ability of the dropper lure to suspend is the key to its success. This is definitely the “go to” method when all else fails.