Western North Carolina’s rivers are keeping anglers busy and happy, especially those fishing for smallmouth bass in the New and French Broad Rivers. While anglers are catching their share of river bronzebacks on a variety of lures and techniques, the topwater bite has been especially good. 

But so has another technique which isn't often thought of as a river strategy.

Anglers like Neal Drakage of Slippery Friction Fishing are having no trouble getting smallmouth to bite on top, or under the surface. Going in the afternoon and fishing until dark has worked well, especially with white lures like flukes, white Rapalas, River2Sea WhopperPloppers, white Kietech 3.5-inch swimbaits, and a variety of soft plastics from 412 Bait Company.

Catching smallies on topwater lures is nothing new to most anglers who fish these rivers, Drakage has found another technique that is working well for him, and results in a lot of raised eyebrows when he mentions his success to other anglers with what is not normally viewed as a river technique.

His technique? Drop shotting.

“My fishing buddies are always surprised when I tell them I drop shot in the river. I’ve found it works great if fished correctly. I make short casts into shallow water eddies and holes, and bounce it around for a few seconds and then flip at the next hole. I think a little current sometimes helps the drop shot bait look more natural, facing it upstream in the current,” said Drakage (828-774-9182).

One reason this style of fishing is so effective, he said, is because you are keeping the lure in the right place for an extended period of time, which gives the fish a much better chance at biting than when the lure is only present for a quick look.

“You can’t beat a setup that allows you to hold the bait in the strike zone for as long as you want,” he said.

In determining which river he wants to fish on any given day, Drakage said the biggest factor is finding the river with the clearest water, noting that the French Broad has a tendency to get muddier more quickly with afternoon thunderstorms, which are common this time of year.