Complete Guide to Fishing 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.
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.
How to Fish a Drop Shot
Probably the most common way to fish a drop shot is fishing it vertical. If you have a fish finder and you come across a school of fish below you pulling out the drop shot is a great choice. This combo allows you to basically video game fish. What people mean when they refer to video game fishing is watching your fish finder for an arch (a fish) then dropping your bait and watching it fall on your fish finder. When your bait gets right in front of the fish you can shake your bait right in their face and watch them eat it. This is a phenomenal scenario when you can see fish on your electronic and put your bait right in their face.
This technique is typically used to give action to the bait without having to cover much distance. So you can really cover pieces of structure like a rock pile and keep your bait in the strike zone around it longer than most other techniques.
Above I talked about fishing the drop shot in a specific spot and not covering a lot of distance. Now let’s talk about the opposite, fishing them aggressive and covering distance. For this style you are going to want a little bit heavier weight to keep your bait down even with an aggressive shake. During warmer months, especially during spring bass are much more aggressive so you can get away with fishing the drop shot a lot quicker.
Cast it out and let it sink to the bottom. Then lower your rod tip and just shake it while you slowly drag it back to you. This will make your bait hop along the bottom. Add in some pauses so the bait can kind of shimmy in place before moving it again.
Swimbait Drop Shot
Drop-shotting a swimbait is a technique that doesn’t get talked about much but should be. It is a great way to catch suspended fish which typically are one of the hardest fish to catch. Being able to catch suspended fish puts you at a big advantage over other anglers. With technology it is getting easier and easier to find suspended fish and this technique is a great way to catch them.
To target suspended bass what you want to do is position yourself shallow and cast your bait out deep. After casting out flip your bail closed. With your bail closed your bait wont be able sinks straight down since it wont have slack line. Instead it will follow a pendulum path, meaning it will be pulled towards you as it sinks. As it pendulums down through the fish slowly reel it in. When your bait gets to the desired depth you can add in some rod twitches.
A power shot is a power fishing technique using a drop shot. You hook your bait texas rigged and use a baitcaster flipping stick. To fish it you flip the dropshot into lillys, toolies, reeds, any cover just like you would any other flipping bait. Let it sink, then shake it a couple times, pause, and shake it again. Reel it in and flip it to another spot. If you like to flip and pitch then you definitely want to give power shotting a try.
Drop Shot Baits
Nose Hooked Baits
When it comes to choosing baits for the drop shot it will depend on your fishery so match the hatch. If your bass typically are feeding on tiny bait fish like silver sides then a nosed hooked Fluke is a great option. The fluke’s tiny tail produces a ton of action when you shake your rod tip.
If your water has mostly small sunfish or bluegill then the Strike King Half Shell is a great imitator. This is one of my favorite nose hook baits right now. If you want to size up a bit to a bigger profile then the Dream Shot is a good choice.
Now jumping to worm profile baits let’s start with the Pro Senko. The Pro Senko is skinnier and has a tapered tail which produces more action than the traditional senkos while still having the quality that you expect from a Yamamoto bait. This bait is amazing when nose hooked. You get a bigger profile while still having great action in the tapered tail.
Texas Rigged Drop Shot Baits
I have been talking about how universal the drop shot is and this is another reason why. You can texas rig your bait for a weedless drop shot setup. This is a great method for pond anglers or if your lake has a lot of grass. This allows you to target areas that you couldn’t dream of with a nose hooked bait. This is one of the best ways to rig a fishing bait for kids to use.
Any of your favorite soft plastic texas rig worms will work for this technique. If you have one that works well for your body of water stick with that. Some of my favorites are the Roboworm Fat Straight Tail worm, Yamamoto Neko worm, and Reaction Innovations Flirt worm.
Wacky Rigged Drop Shot Baits
Just like I talked about in the texas rig section you can use you favorite wacky rig worm when fishing a drop shot. The Zoom Trick Worm, Jackall Flick Shake Worm, and the standard Yamamoto Senko all those styles work great. The benefit to wacky rigging is the action of the bait. Again this is for warmer months like spring and summer when bass are more aggressive. A wacky rig drop shot is for fishing open water.
Drop Shot Swimbaits
It may go without saying but I almost always recommend Keitech Fat Swimbaits. They are one of my favorite baits in any category. For a drop shot I would recommend a 2.8 size. Another bait I like for this technique is the Megabass Hazedong Shad. If you already have a small swimbait that you like for other fishing styles give them a try on the drop shot.
Best Drop Shot Bait Colors
For most of the year the best colors for drop shots will be matching what fish in your body of water typically eat. For a lot of people that will be shad colors for others it might be sunfish/bluegill colors. That is a pretty good guide for year round except for spring time. During spring one of the best colors is morning dawn. I don’t know what it is about that color but it is a killer during spring. Pick up this color for your favorite drop shot bait and give it a try.
Drop Shot Hooks
Nose & Wacky Rigged Drop Shot Hooks
Texas Rigged Drop Shot Hooks
Weights for Drop Shot Fishing
I use tungsten weights primarily 3/16 or 1/4 ounce. The reason I stick to one or two sized weights is because I want my baits to always feel the same way. This allows me to detect bites even when I don’t feel them eat it. So when I lift up on the bait and doesn’t feel like it usually does I can set the hook. This isn’t a technique where fish hit it hard. A lot of times it will be a very subtle.
If you are fishing really deep you may want to jump up to a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce weight.
If you have spent much time on this site I’m sure you have noticed I always recommend tungsten weights. That is because tungsten adds so much more sensitivity to your setup. It is a denser metal and it conducts feel a lot better than lead. Tungsten is the way to go if you can afford it.
Drop Shot Setup
For my drop shot rod I like using a 6’10” to 7′ rod. 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. I typically throw it on 10lb or 12lb braid with a fluorocarbon leader.