Advanced Drop Shot Fishing


Since the year 2000, drop shot fishing has been one of the most productive techniques in finesse bass fishing. Drop shotting started out as a clear-water, deep-water technique for catching finicky bass. The technique is extremely deadly on largemouth and smallmouth bass. If you live in the South, spotted bass are also targeted with the drop shot technique. Here are some advanced drop shot fishing tactics.


The Setup

The basic drop shot set-up is a hook tied in-line with a Palomar knot, with a sinker anywhere from 6 inches to about 18 inches below the hook. The weight of the sinker usually varies between 1/8- and 1/2-ounce.

There are several shapes of sinkers available. Teardrop, round and cylinder-shaped sinkers are available and can be purchased in lead or tungsten versions. The round and teardrop are good to use in most bottom conditions. If you fish a lot of rocky bottoms, the cylinder-shaped sinker is the most snag-resistant and is the way to go.

Hook choices vary as well, from octopus style hooks, to drop shot-specific hook styles, to the classic worm hook. All are good choices depending on the size and style of soft plastic bait used. The size of hook depends on the size and style of plastic bait as well. Hooks from as small as #4 up to a 3/0 hook are common sizes.



Marking fish on your electronics and dropping the drop shot rig straight down is the most popular technique. Twitch your bait in place, bringing it up and down in the water column a bit to entice bites or trigger strikes. You can watch all the action take place on your electronics, very similar to ice fishing.

Casting, dragging and twitching a drop shot rig back to the boat is a very deadly presentation. You can feel the difference in the bottom configuration and keep your bait in the sweet spot to catch the most fish.

For the ultimate in feel, you need the proper graphite rod and correct line spooled on a medium-sized spinning reel to maximize your success. A 6’ 6” to 7’ 3”, medium- to medium-light spinning rod is ideal. Load the reel with a 10-pound braided line with a 6- to 10-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. Some anglers prefer their reels loaded with all fluorocarbon and will go down to 4- or 5-pound test. If you go that route, make sure you use high-end fluorocarbon, which is limper than bargain brands and will minimize line coiling and twist. With braided line, however, you get the maximum amount of feel plus the invisibility of the fluorocarbon leader, giving you the best of both worlds.

That is the basics of drop shot fishing. The plastics most commonly used are the straight-tail 4-inch worm made by many manufacturers. There are many other plastic baits and versions of the drop shot rig that can be employed.


Alternate Drop Shot Methods

Another version is to use two in-line hooks above the sinker. This way, you can experiment with two different colors of baits to see what the fish prefer on any given day. You might even be lucky enough to catch two fish at the same time. That could be quite a thrill and a battle.

The distance from the hook to the sinker can be varied as well. The warmer the water, the longer the distance. The colder the water, the shorter the distance. The most common length in the summer is around 12 to 14 inches. If there are taller weeds, lengths to 3 feet or more can be deadly. In the cold weather months when the bass relate closer to the bottom, a length as short of 4 inches can be very effective at putting nice bass in the boat.

Experiment with different weights of your sinker. Sometimes, a light weight and slow drop speed will draw the most strikes on a tough day. Other times, a heavier weight and a faster drop speed will trigger aggressive strikes. Also, pounding that heavier weight into the bottom will attract bass, especially smallmouth bass.

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Think Outside the Box

Another great presentation is to replace the weight altogether with a bass jig. A jig and craw below a drop shot worm is a great way to fish finesse and heavy-duty at the same time. You can fish the jig through weeds or gravel flats and have the worm working above the cover—the best of both worlds. This rig is best fished on a baitcasting setup with straight 14- to 20-pound-test fluorocarbon. A medium to medium-heavy baitcasting rod is perfect to fish the jig.

And speaking of heavy-duty, the drop shot rig doesn’t necessarily mean finesse. A medium-heavy-action spinning rod with 20-pound braided line with a 10- to 17-pound fluorocarbon leader, a 4/0 to 5/0 worm hook and a 7- to 10-inch plastic worm can be fished aggressively through heavy cover for big fish. Some people call this the “bubba” shot rig.

With all these different rigs, the variety of different plastics you can use are endless. Hooking worms of any size through the tip of the nose, thread it up on the hook leaving the hook exposed, or you can hook the worm through the middle for wacky rigging. Also, you can also Texas rig it, making it totally weedless.

You can use stick worms or 4-, 5-, and 8-inch Senko-style baits as well. Tube baits that have been torn from regular fishing can be salvaged and hooked wacky style on a drop shot rig. This bait has a unique action that really draws the strikes.

Plastic jerk worms, Powerbait or Gulp minnows, small plastic craws or creature baits can all be used on the drop shot rig. These “other shaped” baits really turn on from mid- to late season after the fish have seen their share of small, straight tail worms.


Panfish Drop Shot

For walleye and panfish guys, you can use live bait on drop shot rigs as well. An ultralight combo with 4-pound mono or a light braid and fluorocarbon leader is a great outfit for panfish. Light 6- or 8-pound line on a medium-action spinning rod is the perfect combo for walleye fishing.

For panfish, you can use a plain hook or use a small ice fishing jig baited with a waxworm, red worm or a small minnow. This rig can be extremely deadly on deep, clear water lakes with deep panfish. Small leeches are deadly for big, deep-water bluegills.

The drop shot rig can be used to catch a variety of species of fish. Plus, the many different versions of the drop shot rig are endless. Use your imagination and develop a rig of your own, or fish one on the many versions of the drop shot rig that we discussed, and you will catch many more and bigger fish “In The Strike Zone.”



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