Ultimate Guide to Drop Shot Fishing

Over the last 10-15 years, the Drop Shot rig has exploded in popularity, thanks to numerous tournament wins and specialized tackle allowing easy rigging for the weekend angler. There may be no better or more productive finesse technique in existence than drop shot fishing. The weightless, natural presentation of a soft plastic bait is unlike any other rig in bass fishing.

If you are new to drop shot fishing, it can be a bit intimidating to learn to rig and fish it. In this guide you will learn the best rod, hooks, and baits as well as learn the simplest and most effective way to tie and fish a drop shot. Once you have this basic knowledge it is easy to tie one up and start getting the drop on the bass in your local lakes and rivers.

Why it Works

The drop shot rig works because it puts the bait suspended in the water, moving naturally, like no other rig can. At first glance you may say the Carolina Rig accomplishes the same thing as a Drop Shot, but that’s untrue. By moving the weight below the hook, you are now able to fish your bait in one place, for as long as you please or can stand to. With a C-Rig, you must pull the weight to get the bait off the bottom. Here are more benefits to drop shot fishing that show you just why the rig is a fish catching machine.

  • Lifelike Action – The rig allows you to place a soft plastic bait in a weightless state that provides a lifelike action.
  • Stays in the Strike Zone – You can fish the lure in place for as long as you can stand it. Unlike almost every other technique, you don’t need to move your bait to be effective. The drop shot can sit motionless letting only the water move the bait.
  • Abrasion Resistance – Your line is removed from sharp bottom structures. The leader end can take the abuse of rocks and shells while your critical line to hook area is left untouched.
  • Lure Up – The lure can be fished above cover and structure, based on your leader length. If you are fishing 10 inch tall eelgrass, you can make a 12-14 inch leader and the bait will dance above the grass tops in view of the fish.
  • Suspense – The drop shot excels at targeting suspended fish thanks to its vertical presentation. You can even use your electronics to watch your rig drop right into the zone of a suspended bass.

There are a few disadvantages to the drop shot rig, namely line twist. Line twist can be reduced by using a swivel above the hook, but also makes tying the rig a big pain the butt. There are new hooks with built in swivels, and they are worth a look if line twist is an issue for you. The other thing to do is use a braid main line and a fluorocarbon leader.

How to Rig a Drop Shot

The basic Drop Shot fishing setup is made up of just a couple simple components, yet it tends to be made far more complicated than it needs to be. Take our simple approach to drop shot fishing, and you will enjoy more success with this irresistible finesse fishing tactic. Let’s dissect the Drop Shot rig piece by piece to learn just how and why it works so well.

Drop Shot Fishing Setup

Choosing the Best Drop Shot Rod

The best drop shot rod will be a Medium Light, Extra Fast Action spinning rod, paired with a good spinning reel with an excellent drag system. The lighter power rod allows you to make good hook sets on light wire hooks without breaking your line. You don’t want too stiff a rod as it will work against you while drop shot fishing. You want some give to fight the bass one light line and a little backbone to penetrate the hook.

3 Best Drop Shot Rods for the Money

The best drop shot rod for the money in my opinion is the St. Croix Mojo Bass series Drop Shot Rod. It’s a technique specific rod that is one of the best values around. It is a 6’10” model that weighs just 3.7 ounces, and has a sensitive tip. I used to use any old spinning rod for my drop shot fishing, and I found it so much more effective once I switched to the Mojo Bass. The best drop shot rod under $100 is a close race between the Fenwick HMG and Abu Garcia Vendetta.

3 Best Drop Shot Rods Under $100

Best Line for Drop Shot Fishing

The drop shot rig is a finesse rig, so obviously your line is going to be a critical component of your setup. You can use all mono or fluorocarbon line, but you will inevitably get frustrated with line twist. For some reason dropping these rigs down introduces all kinds of nasty line twist. For that reason I recommend using a light braid for your main line, and then tying on 10-15 feet of the best fluorocarbon line you can afford.  That will provide you the invisibility benefits of fluorocarbon and leave you plenty of length for retying your drop shot throughout the day. Here are two good line combinations for drop shot fishing.

Select the Best Drop Shot Hook

Since the drop shot rig became has so popular, there have been a flood of new hooks coming out onto the market and it can get overwhelming. Like most things on this site, I recommend you keep it very simple. There are only 3 types of hooks to consider for your drop shot needs.

Owner Mosquito Drop Shot Hook Octopus Style Hooks –  These are the short shank, wide gap finesse hooks like the Owner Mosquito and Gamakatsu Drop Shot Hook. The hook eyes are parallel with the hook point so that when the weight is on bottom, the hook and bait stand straight out. Owner and Gamakatsu hooks are also very sharp, and only take minimal pressure to get hook penetration.

Roboworm Rebarb Drop Shot Hook Straight Shank O’Shaughnessy –  The most popular type of this hook is the Roboworm Rebarb hook. Tons of bass guys out west swear by the Roboworm Rebarb hook, including Aaron Martens and Justin Lucas, and that is a stout endorsement. The Rebarb allows you to rig your worm “texposed” and fish it snag free through grass and cover. The 3/0 is a good size for drop shot fishing.

VMC Spinshot Drop Shot Hook Spinshot/Swivel Shot –  The VMC Spinshot and Gamakatsu Swivel Shot hooks have built in swivels and is designed to eliminate line twist. If you have given the other hooks your best shot and are still struggling with line twist, then you may want to try these hooks. The drawback is you lose a little sensitivity because the hook is not in direct contact with your line. The swivel can also bend under pressure of a big fish.

Drop Shot Weights

Lunker City Bakudan Skinny Drop Shot WeightThe best drop shot weight I have tried, that satisfies all the requirements below, is the Lunker City Bakudan drop shot weights. They have by far, the best line cinch, that pinches the line but doesn’t break or come loose. They also are made in the cylindrical shape that I prefer for drop shot fishing.

  • Shapes – There are 3 standard shapes of drop shot weights you can buy; ball, tear drop, and cylindrical. I recommend the tear drop or cylindrical weights because they are much less prone to snagging and breaking off, causing you lost fishing time.
  • Line Clips – Make sure you look closely at the line clip of the weights you buy. The point of this clip is to self-clinch your line so you don’t have to tie a knot. Cheap knock off weights will have a tight spot that opens to a gap, and when you cinch your line it pops right out. So find a weight that has a tapering line cinch and you are good to go.
  • Sizes – As far as size of weights go, most of time I use ¼ ounce weights unless it is really windy or I’m fishing water deeper than 20 feet in which case I upsize to 3/8 ounce. That might seem like overkill, but the whole point of the rig is to keep your bait hovering above the bottom and you need a decent weight to do it.

Best Drop Shot Baits

The best drop shot baits are neutrally buoyant which provides a tantalizing hovering action that fish can’t resist. You can literally drop shot any soft plastic bait and catch fish, but there are a handful of types of baits that stand out above the rest.

  • Finesse Worm – A simple straight tail finesse worm is the classic drop shot bait. The Roboworm and Zoom Finesse Worm are the most popular types of this bait, and there are literally dozens of other brands and varieties in this bait category.
  • Senko Worm – A Yamamoto Senko style worm, rigged wacky style is deadly on a drop shot. Other similar baits like the Reaction Innovations Pocket Rocket are excellent as well. There is a subtle action to the worm when fished this way, and is something the fish don’t see often.
  • Shad Style Bait – Whenever you notice the fish are feeding heavily on shad and minnows, it’s time to put a small shad style bait on your drop shot rig. Some of the best drops shot baits like this are the Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm, Zoom Super Fluke Jr, and the Jackal Cross Tail.
  • Craw Baits – Crawfish style baits are actually some of the best drop shot baits you can use. A Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver, Zoom Speed Craw, or Berkley Chigger Craw can be fantastic on a drop shot rig.
  • Creature Baits – The Zoom Centipede, Lake Fork Ring Fry, Zoom Baby Brush Hog, and Zoom Mini Lizard all deserve a place on the list of best drop shot baits. They aren’t the first bait I would reach for, but when the fish are finicky, a different look can be the difference between a dry spell and a limit.

When & Where to Use the Drop Shot

The drop shot rig is truly a presentation worthy of all seasons. It excels at both the pre-spawn and post-spawn periods, when hungry fish are relating to the bottom, and to bottom transitions. During the spawn, a bubba drop shot can be used to fish the beds. In the fall, a drop shot with a shad imitating bait can be a killer combo. The cold water winter period is also a place where the stationary bait presentation of the drop shot rig will excel.

Drop shot rigs can be fished effectively on almost any type of structure or cover, the exceptions being matted vegetation and tall weed beds where you will get stuck and fouled up the instant you drop down. So, anytime you find a drop off, a point, weed edges, isolated weed clumps, rocks, gravel, stumps, and brush is a good time to try the drop shot.

You can present the bait in a few different ways on these locations. First you can drop directly below your transducer, into the “cone” created by the fish finder. When you see fish just off bottom, or suspended on your electronics, the vertical presentation is hard to beat. When you want to cover more area, you can pitch your rig out onto the structure and use a slow dragging retrieve. Anytime you feel your weight hit an object, let your line go slack and let the bait do its natural movements while you wait for a bite.

Drop Shot Tips

  • Any Medium Rod Will Do – A specialized drop shot rod is nice to have, but save it for when you become proficient at catching them on the rig first. Any Medium to Medium-Light power, fast action rod will do the trick when you get started.
  • Reel Size – The typical bass fisherman will use a 2500 size spinning reel for finesse fishing, but the professional fishermen have started turning to the bigger 3000 size reels because they actually reduce some line twist thanks to the larger diameter spool.
  • Use a Lead Weight – Tungsten is awesome for so many bass fishing techniques, but with drop shot fishing, every little thing your weight comes in contact with will feel like a bite, and that is counterproductive using this rig. A basic ¼ ounce lead drop shot weight is all you need.
  • Leader Length – Unless you see a particular grass length to put the bait above, there is no need to over complicate things, so 12-14 inches is all you need.
  • Don’t Overwork the Rig – When you feel the weight, you are actually moving the rig. You should only be randomly jiggly the rod on slack line, nothing more. Many times a bite will come when you seemingly aren’t moving the bait or rod at all.
  • Easy Does it Hookset – There are two schools of thought on the hookset with a drop shot rig. The first is the “reel set” where you use only the speed of your reel and the flex in the rod to pull the hook point into the fish. The other is a quick snap of the wrist to drive in the hook. I prefer the wrist hook set, and rely on a good drag to beat those big, line stripping, fish.
  • Great in Bad Weather – While the drop shot rig excels in post-cold front conditions, it is also great on rainy and foul weather days. For some reason the bigger bass will be on the move and be willing to eat that drop shot rig.
  • A Clean up Rig – If you think you caught all the fish on a spot with your crankbait and jig, a drop shot can be a great way to finish off a fishing spot. You will be surprised how many more fish are there that you can clean up.
  • Get in the Grass – Getting your rig hung up in grass is a great way to get a bite. When you feel the weight catch in the grass, use a slow steady pull to try to free it. A bite will many times come just before or as the rig comes free of the grass.
  • Bubba Shot – Drop shot fishing doesn’t have to be just a light line technique. Clever anglers have adapted the drop shot for heavier cover applications. Try a ½ to ¾ ounce weight on 10-12 lb line casting gear, and flip it into pocket of thicker vegetation. Bigger line can also allow you to pitch the rig to lay downs and for bedding bass.

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