When I'm talking about split-shotting in current, you realize I'm talking about river fishing. I use this technique whenever I'm fishing in a clear-water river situation.
It's a technique that works exceptionally well on the tailraces of big reservoirs, where the water is clean and clear and the fish are not always so easy to catch because of the good visibility.
The reason this presentation works so well is that it's a very natural presentation. You actually present the bait so it rolls along with the current just like whatever it is the fish are eating. The fish don't even look twice at the bait. They just inhale it. When a bait is doing something the fish has never seen it will force them to look twice at it, and maybe even not take it. In clear water your bait presentation has to be perfect.
The idea is to move your boat at the same speed as the current and let the bait tumble right along the bottom at the same speed as the running water.
All live baits work, but I prefer a night crawler when I can get away with it. Night crawlers have a tendency to attract all the little fish for some reason, but if you find a school of bigger fish a night crawler will also get you more bites with them as well.
I have been experimenting with scented baits, and the
The rig is simple. Just a #4 or a #5 split-shot lightly pinched onto the line about a foot above the hook. Hook size should be determined by the bait you're using. I'm going to use a 3/0 worm hook with a seven-inch Power Worm, but with a live night crawler I'll go with a #1 or #2 aberdeen-style of hook.
You might think that the weight should be heavier or lighter depending on the current. In fact, this is not the case. With the boat moving at the same speed as the current the bait will eventually reach the bottom. You'll know it's there because you get snagged occasionally. Getting snagged is just part of the program, and being hung up once in awhile does let you know that the bait is getting down where the fish are.
I remember the first time I was introduced to this technique. I couldn't see any way that the bait could reach the bottom, but if you get the speed of the boat right, the bait gets down to the bottom, even in 20 feet of water or more.
What I have discovered is that if you move your boat a little too fast or a little too slow it moves your bait off the bottom. If the speed of the boat is right with the current, it actually pushes that bait down. Anything that forces you to speed up or slow down will move that bait out of the fish zone.
The technique is simple. I bait the hook and cast it out as far as I can. Then I put the rod in a rod holder. You just have to keep your eye on the line and make sure the boat is drifting at the speed of the current. The line should be straight out, ninety degrees, and it should stay in that position as the boat drifts downstream.
Of course you will have to use your electric motor or gas kicker motor to keep you in position. Depending on your boat, you may go faster or slower with the current than the bait. You can compensate for the difference by using a motor to keep you at the proper speed.
When you're fishing the river you want to stay about a foot off the bottom because that's where the fish are. Split-shotting allows you to do that. Another thing the split-shot rig does is put the bait behind all those little current breaks that are on the bottom. This is where the fish are, and that is where the bait goes, on its own.
The rod stays in the rod holder until the fish is hooked. They swim out from behind a current break, grab the bait, and when they try to swim back to their sanctuary, they discover they have a hook in their mouth. River fish are aggressive, and I find they always hook themselves well. If you hold the rod, all the bumps on the bottom have you wondering all the time and it drives you nuts. Let the fish hook themselves.
Split-shotting just takes a little practice, but it catches fish in current, especially clear-water current. Try it out and you will be more than pleasantly surprised.
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