Complete Guide to the Drop Shot Rig

A drop shot is a way to suspend your bait off the bottom. A drop shot rig consists of a hook with a leader anywhere from a couple of inches to a few feet below it attached to a weight.

The dropshot is a basic presentation that will catch fish no matter where you go. It is a technique that every bass angler needs to know. If you have never tried it or haven’t had success with it in the past then I encourage you to read through this guide and give it another shot. It is a great, consistent presentation that you can just about always count on and every angler should have in their arsenal.

How to Rig a Drop Shot

To tie a drop shot start by tying a palomar knot with enough slack for your weighted leader. In most cases, this will be 12-24″ but will depend on how high you want your bait off the bottom. Next, pass the slack end through the hook eyelet. The hook point should be facing up. Next, tie your weight to the end of the slackline with a simple overhand knot.

For specific bait recommendations check out our in-depth dropshot baits guide.

Line Size and Selection for Drop Shots

When fishing a drop shot I always use braid with a fluorocarbon leader. I use 10lb Power Pro braid as my main line because braided line handles line twist better on spinning reels and lasts longer. I then tie on a 6-8lb Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon leader to give me the low visibility, finesse presentation.

Choosing the Best Leader Length for the Drop Shot Rig

Leader length is something most anglers don’t think about enough when they are fishing a drop shot. My leaders range from very short, 3-inch leaders all the way up to longer 3-4ft leaders depending on the situation. Let’s go over when you want to use a long vs short leader when drop-shotting.

When to Use Longer Dropshot Leaders

Longer leaders are better when you are casting out. When you cast out the angle of your retrieve will shorten the distance between your bait and the bottom. This means a 3ft leader may only keep your bait a foot off the bottom, depending on your angle. So when casting out plan for that angle and adjust your leader length accordingly.

Longer leaders are also ideal when targeting suspended fish. As your bait is penduluming back towards you, having some extra distance between your bait and your weight tends to work better.

When to Use Shorter Dropshot Leaders

Shorter leaders are great when fishing water that has a lot of gobbies like the great lakes. Gobbies stay on the bottom and in order to mimic them you need a very short leader to keep your bait down and be realistic. When trying to mimic gobbies I use a very short 3-6 inch leader.

Shorter leaders are also good when vertical fishing. Like I mentioned above, the angle of your retrieve plays a role in how far from the bottom your bait is. When you are right on top of the bait the distance of your bait from the bottom will be the same length as your leader. I generally use a 12 inches leader when vertical fishing a drop shot.

Shorter leaders tend to be better when fishing rivers as well. The current of a river can pull your bait pretty far the longer your leader is. On rivers bass typically stay in tighter areas so you want a shorter leader to keep your bait close to the cover you are targeting.

How to Prevent Line Twist When Dropshotting

When fishing a drop shot it is very common to experience line twists. It’s just the nature of the technique. To help prevent line twists I like using a small size 10 swivel to connect my mainline to the leader.

I like keeping the swivel about 3ft above the bait. This keeps it away from the bait while being short enough that I can still cast easily. A size 10 is very small so it doesn’t stand out or hurt the presentation.

Using a small swivel will significantly cut down on line twist. Additionally, a swivel makes it easy to pre-rig extra leaders ahead of time that you can swap in and out as needed.

Drop Shot Hooks

Nose & Wacky Rigged Drop Shot Hooks

When rigging a drop shot bait through the nose I use an Owner mosquito light hook in either size 1 or 1/0. For wacky rigging a drop shot or heavier applications I use Gamakatsu TGW hooks.

Texas Rigged Drop Shot Hooks

For lighter spinning rod setups I use the Gamakatsu G-Finesse light hooks. For heavier baitcaster setups I use Owner Cover Shot hooks.

Weights for Drop Shot Fishing

For most anglers, I recommend using a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce lead teardrop weight when fishing a dropshot rig. For those that can afford it or want the best of the best, a tungsten teardrop is the way to go. For a more in-depth explanation and situation-specific recommendations read our dropshot weight guide.

For fishing tips, please read our dropshot fishing guide.

Drop Shot Setup

When choosing a drop shot rod try to stay in the 6’10” to 7′ length. Drop shots are worked by moving your rod down so a shorter rod is ideal to prevent hitting the water.

The drop shot is one of those techniques in fishing where sensitivity is key and it is worth it to invest in the best gear you can afford.

For rod recomendations, please read our dropshot rod guide.

Published on: 3/17/2020

Last Updated: 12/21/2021