Drop It Like It’s Hot!

Ray Tiffany with a custom dropper rig caught Boom Lake Wisconsin slab crappie

Professional ice angler Raymond Tiffany caught this slab crappie on a custom built dropper rig during the National Ice Fishing Championship on Boom Lake in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

I would like to share with you a technique that is no secret to pro anglers anywhere. This set up works on all types of fish in all types of scenarios and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having a rod rigged with one at all times. I’m talking about the dropper!

Droppers work so well because it is really a tag team approach that attracts fish of any bite status, whether aggressive or neutral or negative. The larger, spoon bait, is the attractor, while the more subtle, drop hook, is the trigger.

There are many dropper rigs out there on the market today. Some of the best on the market are made by K&E Stopper Lures, called Smelt Sticks. These baits are long, thin, and heavy, with a spoon type body, available in two sizes, and have all the hottest color schemes on one side of the body with a solid glow back side.

K&E Stopper Lures Smelt Sticks feature a BRIGHT GLOW finish on the back side

K&E Stopper Lures Smelt Sticks feature a BRIGHT GLOW finish on the back side.

Here is how I rig my droppers. The smelt sticks are pre-rigged with a drop chain leader and gold hook. I remove the chain and replace it with a fluorocarbon leader, usually between 3 and 5 inches long. Fluorocarbon is used because of the fish’s inability to see it well. I use this specific length because it will conjure up strikes even if the fish are negative and tight lipped. The more negative the fish bite is, the longer the leader.

K&E Stopper Lures Lava Jigs Luna Tick jig nymph hook

Luna Tick

On the bottom side of the drop leader, I use another great bait by Lava called the Luna Tick . These are a super sharp nymph style hook and come in glitter clad, super bright, glow color schemes.

When you use this set up, the weight of the Smelt Stick will get your rig down to the fish very quickly, dragging the slower sinking dropper, usually tipped with a couple of maggots or a single wax worm along with it. Pop your rod up one foot and let it drop slack one foot. While the spoon will sink quickly, the dropper will sink more slowly. This mimics a smaller fish chasing a snack. If a fish shows up on your flasher, camera, or in view while sight fishing, or, if you are straight lining without electronics, after every drop, shake or vibrate your rod tip to add a wiggle to the entire rig for a few moments and repeat the sequence. With the competitive nature of fish over food, they usually can’t help but to take a snap at it themselves.

I have used this set up for perch, bluegill, crappie, even walleye and trout with success. I use it while fun fishing or fishing competition. This rig has a permanent spot in my arsenal and I always have a few, in different lengths and colors, to match the bite, sitting in my tackle box or pre-tied to a rod, waiting to strut it’s stuff.

Raymond Tiffany


K&E Stopper Lures Smelt Stick Color Chart including Bright Glow Finish on the back of each lure

K&E Stopper Lures Smelt Stick Color Chart including Bright Glow Finish on the back of each lure. Click on the image to check them out at AnglersMart.com.

Filed Under: FeaturedIce Fishing TipsK&E Tackle

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HARDWATERMANIACS About the Author: Raymond and Mandolyn Tiffany are a professional husband/wife ice fishing circuit duo who live in Kaukauna, WI. Avid conservationists and sports-persons whose primary focus is children and helping them to be involved in the outdoors and ice fishing. K&E Stopper pro staff, Clam Corp pro staff, Strikemaster pro staff. Team quote: "Learn what you can, teach what you know." NAIFC competitors. WIFL competitors. Open to fish with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Let's go fishing and make your new fishing partner a "MANIAC!"

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