- On September 10, 2010, Mark Zona of Sturgis, Michigan, was fishing Lake Ontario near 1000 Islands, New York. He was in the midst of creating a segment for his television show entitled "Zona's Awesome Fishing Show."
His focus was on catching smallmouth bass from around a group of isolate boulders lying in nine to 13 feet of water and employing a Strike King Lure Company's 3.5-inch Coffee Tube in a green-pumpkin hue affixed to a Strike King's 5/16-ounce Tube Jig Head.
At the outset he was catching smallmouth bass on a tube at a steady pace, but gradually the tube's effectiveness began to wane. Zona suspected that the smallmouth had become wary. Their wariness stemmed from the fact that a goodly number of their tribe had been inveigled by the tube. He described this phenomenon as the typical conditioning factor that often occurs when anglers overfish a group of smallmouth bass; consequently, as the anglers catch and release significant numbers of them, the wariness factor slowly erupts.
His inability to entice the smallmouth bass to engulf a tube provoked Zona to ponder other options. Ultimately, he unsheathed his X-ACTO knife and started to whittle on a Strike King Lure Company's five-inch Caffeine Shad in the KVD Magic hue. He removed the split portion of Caffeine Shad's belly, creating what Zona described as a flat bellied drop-shot worm. He rigged it on a drop-shot rig that consisted of a Laser Trokar TK150 No. 1 drop-shot hook and a 1/4-ounce sinker.
As he dropped this rig into the water for the first time, Zona noticed its captivating appearance, and straightway the once wary smallmouth bass commenced engulfing it with abandon.
Zona was so wowed by its effectiveness that he immediately called his treasured friend Kevin Van Dam and explained to him in detail about this lure's manifold abilities to allureLakeOntario's smallmouth bass.
In short order, Zona and Van Dam began working with the some of folks at Strike King to create a drop-shot worm that exhibited the features of Zona's customized Caffeine Shad, which they named the Dream Shot.
It is made from a combination of soft-plastics and infused with salt and a coffee scent. It is exceptionally soft and pliable, which makes it fragile and unlikely to endure more than two significant donnybrooks with some feisty bass, but in the eyes of Van Dam, the pliability factor is one of its finest attributes; he thinks the pliability helps entice tentative bass to eventually engulf it.
Throughout the 2011 Bassmaster season, Van Dam used several prototypes on a drop-shot rig to catch spawning largemouth bass and post-spawn largemouth bass and mid-summer spotted bass. And Zona used the prototypes to waylay untold numbers of his favorite quarry — the smallmouth bass. Van Dam also used it to catch an impressive array of smallmouth bass from Lake Michigan, and it's interesting to note that some of Van Dam's smallmouth bass were caught in extremely deep water, ranging from 75 feet to 82 feet; he said that it took 36 seconds for a half-ounce tungsten sinker to get the Dream Shot into 82 feet of water. (To his surprise and delight, none of these deep-water smallmouth bass exhibited any external signs of barotraumas.)
The finally edition of the Dream Shot is 4.5-inch long. It is endowed with a unique bubble tail and a flat belly, which allows it to quiver and undulate evocatively even when it is employed on a drop-shot rig with a deadstick presentation.
The top bait is the Caffiene Shad and the bottom one is the Dream Shot
- The top bait is a Caffeine Shad and the bottom one is one that Mark Zona customized
In Zona's eyes, most drop-shot baits are what he termed "too finessie." Therefore, the Dream Shot is a touch bigger than the run-of-the-mill drop-shot baits. What's more, Zona says that its flat belly and bubble tail allows it "to plane out" or be absolutely parallel to the bottom and surface of the lake, which was what the legendary Charlie Brewer used attempt to do when he employed his renown do-nothing retrieve with a Slider Head jig and four-inch Slider Worm.
In regard to Charlie Brewer and jig worms, Zona discovered while he was at a media event sponsored by Tracker Boats atTable Rock Lake,Missouri, on September 26-28, that the Dream Shot works well on a shaky head jig, too. The drop-shot version, also, enticed largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass atTable Rock Lakefor Van Dam and Zona.
Whether it is affixed to a jig or drop-shot rig, Zona prefers to wield the Dream Shot on G-Loomis IMX Popping PR884S Spinning Rod. According to Zona, this fast- action saltwater rod is an ideal one for drop-shot rigs. Many bass anglers have the mistaken notion that drop-shot baits allure only small bass, and the reason why he wields this rod is that it allows him to readily handle and tame all of the lunker-sized smallmouth bass that he tangles with while working with the Dream Shot.
In extremely clear water environs, he likes to work with six-pound-test XPS fluorocarbon line. When the water isn't crystal clear, he opts for eight-pond-test XPS fluorocarbon line, and he also uses eight-pound-test green PowerPro Braided Line with a six-foot leader made from eight-pound-test XPS fluorocarbon. When he uses a drop-shot rig, he opts for a No. 12 swivel, which helps to prevent his line from becoming twisted. When he works with a jig, he attaches the leader to the braid with a double uni knot.
He prefers to rig the Dream Shot on a Laser Trokar TK150 No. 1 octopus-style drop-shot hook with the hook point exposed. In his eyes, the Dream Shot undulates and quivers more enticingly when the hook point is exposed.
When he is plying snag-filled lairs with a drop-shot rig, however, Zona elects to use a Laser Trokar TK180 1/0 Light Wire Finesse Hook, and on this hook, he Texas rigs the Dream Shot.
Zona says that it important not to overwork a drop-shot rig, and he finds that it is especially easy to over shake it when it is affixed to braided line. He says that the subtle presentations that ice anglers typically employ are the most productive ones to use. Zona prefers to merely squeeze his hand around the rod handle rather than twitch and flex his wrist. At relatively shallow lairs, he casts and retrieves it by slowly dragging it or executing subtle hops; he also uses a lot pauses that are punctuated with some rather significant deadsticking periods.
At Table Rock, he made casts to a series of bridge pillars. As the drop-shot rig hit the surface next to a pillar, he held his rod at the one o'clock position, placed his index finger along the top lip of his spinning reel's spool and allowed the line to slow fall off the spool as the drop-shot rig plummeted along the edge of the pillar. As it dropped, he occasionally and gently squeezed his hand around the rod handle, causing the rod to slightly twitch. In the nomenclature of finesse anglers, this is called "a slight rod twitch on a slack line."
Mark Zona with a spotted bass that engulfed the Dream Shot at a bridge pillar at Table Rock Lake, Missouri.
Van Dam agrees with Zona's notions about the most effective way to present the Dream Shot on a drop-shot rig, but he added that anglers also have to know when the most effective isn't the best. That's why Van Dam can occasionally be seen working the dickens out of the Dream Shot on a drop-shot rig, such as casting it 130 feet and retrieving at a lickety-split pace with pauses, shakes, and several extremely quick rotations of the reel handle.
Nearly 13 months have lapsed since Zona's initial handiwork with the Caffeine Shad inveigled oodles of tentative smallmouth bass at Lake Ontario. Mark Copley of Strike King Lure Company says it will be released to the public after next year's ICAST show, which will be held on July 11-13 in Orlando, Florida., and the tentative name is the KVD Dream Shot.