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Rod Review

Drop Shot successfully with help from the Kistler Drop Shot Special

Date: 11/28/04
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: Kistler
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.83

Introduction: Fishing a drop shot effectively requires patience, practice, and lots of persistence, but with the right tools it can be an extremely effective way to actually target those fish you see below on the finder. Kistler has created a new rod specifically designed for this exciting technique.

Kistler Dropshot Special (KDDSS69) Specifications

Material IM7 Graphite
Length 6' 9"
Rod Weight 3.7oz
Line Weight 6-12lb
Lure Weight 1/8-1/2oz
Guides 6 plus the tip
Action Fast
Power Rating Medium-light
Color Graphite Grey
MSRP $139.99

The drop shot rig has been perhaps the fastest growing technique since it resurfaced in the late 90's. While first employed as early as the 70's the technique was all but forgotten except for a few Japanese anglers that brought it back into play on highly pressured waters. No longer are anglers using trout rods for this practice, today the popularity of the technique has spurned a number of manufacturers to design and manufacture refined tackle specifically designed for the art of drop shotting.


Introducing the Kistler KDSS69, an all American rod designed specifically for the technique of drop shotting

The "Drop Shot Special" is one of Kistlers new California Series rods and continues to make use of innovative Kistler features like the smart touch reel seat and famed bent hook hanger. From first inspection the rod appears a lot longer than it actually is because the cork handle is so short. In the lab the rod weighed 3.7 ounces alone, which is relatively light for a 6'9" rod. The IM7 graphite blank is handsome and looks quite sharp with the burnished red threading that Kistler uses throughout.

Complete Test Rig for Kistler Drop Shot Special

Rod Kistler KDSS69
Reel(s) Team Daiwa-X HSDF
Quantum E20PTi
Line 8lb Trilene Big Game
6lb Trilene XL


Real World Test: To test the KDSS69 (Kister Drop Shot Special) we fished three local bass lakes over a period of three months. During this period we witnessed a season change, accompanied by a major shift in weather. The changing conditions drove the fish to change depths, and lucky for us we were armed and ready to pursue the fish.


The trademark Kistler smart touch reel seat

Casting/Retrieving: While it is possible to cast a drop shot rig when running a modified drop shot combo with a jig at the end of the line, in most cases anglers armed with quality electronics will simply position the boat directly on top of fish residing 25 to 75 feet deep, then proceed to lower the drop shot into the strike zone. While the KDSS69 is made for the Drop Shot technique it is a capable casting rod when used for other light line presentations. The same soft tip used for twitching baits does an excellent job flicking small swimming jigs, and we conducted a series of cast tests using these type of lures. Though the tip is a bit too lively for large lures the rod is an excellent choice for tossing weightless plastics or retrieving small Yamamoto swimming jigs.


Kistler's "Smart Touch" reel seat is comfortable to hold for extended periods, and helps reduce overall rod weight

Sensitivity: The drop shot technique is all about sensitivity. Unlike power fishing techniques where there is an obvious take, fish that commit to the drop shot are often missed simply because many fish will strike at the end of lure rather than the hooked head, combined with the fact that your lures are often over 50 feet down. To maximize sensitivity and increase the sheer number of strikes it is a good idea to use as light a line as possible. This is especially true in clear water conditions. The KDSS69 is ideally suited for this technique for a number of reasons. A good drop shot rod needs to be sensitive, feature a nimble tip to deliver quality action to the bait, and have plenty of power in the bottom section of the rod for heavy lifting. The Kistler Drop Shot Special meets all of these fundamental requirements, and the more we fished the rod the more impressed we were with the fine details Kistler added to the list of technique enhancing attributes. While other drop shot rods feature shortened cork handles or shaved cork grips the Kistler Smart Touch design still takes the cake. To maximize overall sensitivity you have the option of extending your index finger to the main blank itself. One thing some of our editors did note was that at times the rod felt unbalanced. This was mainly due to the extremely short cork handle. This is easily remedied when your finger is extended, but we did find fishing with smaller downsized spinning reels helped balance out the outfit, and were also superior when it came to handling ultralight lines.

The Kistler KDSS69 features a very short cork handle capped off with a comfortable foam butt cap

Power: The trick to a quality drop shot rod is a perfect balance of finesse and power. The tip of the rod must be able to twitch ever so slightly to bring life to lures 50 feet down, but the rod must be ready to load up instantly at any given time. Unlike most techniques fishing a drop shot doesn't require the angler to set the hook aggressively. Instead of a dramatic "set" motion, anglers instead must be ready to begin cranking and lift the rod slowly. During our tests almost all the fish once hooked bolted straight for the surface, rarely did the fish vary from this course. Upon reaching shallow depths the fish would then start changing direction putting additional burden on the rod tip. Kistler's rod design has placed the guides forward to protect both the line and the rod during the extreme flex, often associated with vertical hookups. The KDSS69 is deceivingly thin in appearance, but is actually very competent when it comes time to haul sizeable fish up from below.

JIP tests the sensitivity of the Kistler KDSS69. For even more sensitivity anglers can take advantage of the smart touch reel seat and extend your finger right on the main graphite blank

Price: Kistler is fast building a reputation for their premium Helium rods, but anglers should also note that the company also develops quality products at astoundingly aggressive prices as well. The KDSS69 is easily worth over 150.00 dollars when you consider the characteristics and unique Kistler features, and yet the company has priced the rod at only 139.99, a great price for an All-American made rod that is specifically designed to excel at the technique of drop shotting, and still manages to retain a custom rod look and feel.


Fishing a drop shot rig with the KDSS69 allows you to actually target those fish you see on the finder directly below you at just about any depth

Applications: The KDSS69 is great for the drop shot technique and during our tests we were able to land a number of fish we would have otherwise had to attempt and target with spoons and jigs alone. Match the KDSS69 with a small reel, some 6lb line, and small plastics rigged on equally small hooks and you have a finesse rig capable of actually targeting those fish directly below you on the finder. Two innovations on the Kistler offering that make it even easier to fish the drop shot rig are the smart touch reel seat to help you identify the most subtle strikes, and the Kistler hook hanger which is simply the best hanger for stowing drop shot weights. But perhaps what I like best about this rod is that though it is designed for the art of drop shotting, it is also capable of so much more. Whether you choose to toss small jigs or Carolina rigged plastics the KDSS69 feels right at home casting these lures.


Kistler Dropshot Special (KDSS69) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Kistler does it again. The Drop Shot Special is a quality rod with plenty of detail in design. We didn't find any construction flaws in our test rod 9
Performance Great sensitivity, which is a very important attribute in a drop shot rod. The rod also boasts plenty of lifting power when required 9
Price This is a great rod, and really priced at a very aggressive price. For what you are getting this is a great deal 9
Features Full of features like the Kistler Hook hanger, special composite materials, sensitive "smart touch" reel seat...and the list goes on. 9
Design (Ergonomics) The rod may seem a little off balance to anglers used to fishing rods with longer corked handles, but this feeling disappears when you extend your index finger onto the blank 8
Application This rod is a application specific rod but is also surprisingly good at a number of other techniques. The quick tip is also great for casting small lures with lighter lines 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Agile tip, perfect for drop shot L May seem off balanced if you do not extend your index finger
J Smart Touch reel seat  
J Excellent power  
J Best Hook hanger we have tested to date  

Conclusion: I have been a power fisher all my life and learning how to fish the drop shot rig with any confidence took plenty of practice and a shift in my basic fishing methodologies. There are no fast motions here, no aggressive "sets," all of this is replaced with slight twitches with the tip of your rod, a smooth lift of the rod, and a smooth crank on the reel to signal the beginning of the fight. I originally learned to fish this technique with my trout outfits, and while it worked the rods often lacked either the proper power to handle larger bass or the dynamic tip necessary to animate lures deep below. The Kistler Drop Shot Special is an excellent rod for this specific technique and additional proprietary features help make the rod even more appealing. At a price of only 139.99 the rod is an excellent value, and the ability to fish a variety of other lures other than just a drop shot rig make this flexible performer a quality rod definitely worth considering by any angler interested in practicing this effective technique.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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