Drop Shot Rigging: How to

Lake Erie Smallmouth
Lake Erie Smallmouth

Fishing a drop shot rig is a great way to catch bass. A drop shot has quickly become a go-to when bass fishing for largemouth or smallmouth bass. Drop shot rigs can be fished shallow or deep, but perform best on a rocky bottom. This technique has notably gained traction fishing for largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass on clear lakes.

There are a few different ways to fish a drop shot. You can drop it straight down or cast and retrieve it. When cast and retrieve is used, either hop the bait or drag it back to the boat. The fish will tell you what they want. With the introduction of forward facing sonar the past few years, a drop shot has become even more popular. This how-to article will surely put you on the right path to effectively fishing a drop shot rig.

Drop Shot Rigging

drop shot rig

Drop-shot rigging is easy after you have done it a couple of times. I used a braided line in the picture so the line stands out more. You will use fluorocarbon for your setup. There are different size weights and hooks to choose from depending on conditions, but this is the basic setup. Most fishermen use braid to fluorocarbon with a uni-to-uni knot. The overall leader length shall be long enough so the knot does not make guide contact while landing a fish. The distance between your hook and the weight will vary depending on conditions. If the fish are spooky, choose a longer length. Line, baits, weight, and hook sizes will be discussed next.

Drop Shot Fishing Line

The overall type of fishing line for drop shot rigging is universal. A braided main line to a fluorocarbon leader setup on a spinning rod is the most effective way to fish this rig. However, the size of the fishing line you use is dependent on the fishing conditions. Your main line should remain the same strength (15-20 lb.) but your leader should be changed according to the conditions. The braided fishing line helps with detecting bites while increasing casting distance. The fluorocarbon leader gives the rig a stealthy approach by hiding the line. The fish will focus on your bait, not the terminal tackle. If in clear water conditions, consider going with a lighter leader.

drop shot line

Drop Shot Baits

drop shot baits

Drop shot baits vary greatly. Pick a drop-shot bait based on water clarity and the type of bass you are targeting. If the water is clear, fish a smaller profile bait. Typically fishing for largemouth with a drop shot rig is done using a worm-style bait. A roboworm is an excellent choice for largemouth and spotted bass. Smallmouth bass tend to like smaller profile baits such as an Erie darter or Dreamshot.

Drop Shot Hooks

A drop shot hook is attached using your preferred knot about 12″ above the weight. A Palomar knot is a great choice. Drop shot hooks vary in size and style depending on the water conditions and what you are fishing for. For largemouth, I typically use a larger hook in size 1. For smallmouth and spotted bass I use a smaller hook in sizes 2 or 4. Gamakatsu is an excellent choice for a drop-shot hook. They have been proven to work great on Lake Erie.

drop shot hooks

Fishing a Drop Shot Rig

There are a few different ways to fish a drop shot rig for bass. You can vertical fish the rig for suspended bass. This technique works great for spotted bass on clear southern lakes. Dragging the rig works well when fishing structure or points where the depth changes. Dragging through structure makes the bait act like a goby or darter moving through the rocks, triggering a bite.

Fishing dock pilings and submerged timber with a drop shot can be effective. Using a heavier weight and casting directly at the cover will ensure your bait stays next to it. You can also cast up a line of pilings and drag the bait back, acting like baitfish moving.

Deep Water Drop Shot Fishing

Fishing for bass in deep water can be intimidating. First, find deep structure with side scan sonar. Make sure you are marking fish. You can vertical fish or cast at the structure depending on depth. If the structure is under 25 ft. deep you may want to back off of it and cast. If fishing deeper, vertical dropping the bait may work best. Be sure to change the bait often if you are not hooking fish. Live sonar has changed the way we fish in deep water. Using live sonar while fishing for deep bass is a great way to ensure you catch fish.