Drop-shot Tactics for Tough-bite Bass


When the bite gets tough, what is your go-to bait or presentation? For me, this has fast become the drop-shot presentation. This technique came from overseas in Japan and came to the West Coast where it has been refined a little. In Japan, the fishing pressure can be overwhelming much of the time so it takes special techniques and presentations to catch bass day in and day out.

The drop-shot presentation was used to catch bass from deep, crystal-clear waters. From there, it started to catch on across our nation as a few improvements were made. It didn’t take the American bait companies long to get behind the finesse bass craze, and the rest is history. Drop-shot fishing is here to stay and has become a mainstay in bass fishing while also spreading to other species.

We’ve all been faced with similar conditions when the bite gets tough after a cold front has moved through and the bite has shut down or those from fishing pressure on our favorite lakes. How you handle this situation could be the difference in catching fish that day or going home empty-handed.

In these conditions, I reach for a drop-shot presentation and go to work.

Drop-shot setup

Drop-shot fishing is mainly a finesse presentation, and I’ll use a medium-light to medium-action-spinning rod at 7 to 7 feet, 6 inches. Match that with a good spinning reel of your choice. When it comes to line, there are a few differing thoughts here. One is fluorocarbon line. If this is my setup, I’ll use Sunline FC Sniper at 7-pound test as my choice. This is used when in ultra-clear water conditions where I feel the bass are line-shy or are pressured so much that they will not bite.

When faced with windy conditions, many of the pros have turned toward using braided line as their main line, and either use a swivel attached to a fluorocarbon leader or a knot of their choice to join the two lines together. Ether setup will work, but make the choice you’re most comfortable with that fits your fishing style.

With drop-shot fishing, there’s a lot of line twist associated with this technique that’s a result of the way you rig the bait. To eliminate this, I use a Gamakatsu Swivel Shot as my hook. This choice helps to keep line twist to a minimum. Or you can use a swivel, then, when it comes to joining the two lines together, you can use a Gamakatsu Drop Shot Hook.

Leader length and rigging will have to be adjusted, but I will tell you my starting points. I use a 6-foot fluorocarbon leader to start. Then 18 inches up from the bottom I’ll tie the hook at the end of the line and put the drop-shot weight of my choice on. During colder periods I’ll cut down my line distance to 4 to 5 inches off the bottom because the bass will not come up as far to get a bait in these water temperatures. This adjustment will get my bait closer to the bottom and get me more bites by the end of my day.

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Pitch or cast your presentation

Presenting your drop-shot will come down to a few different ways: electronics, where you can drop your offering over the side to entice a bite and when working an area or you’re in search mode to get bites and you either pitch or cast an area. I prefer to pitch in front of me because I feel I get better control of my presentation and can manage my technique better by not having as much line out as if I had made a cast. However, you may be in a situation where you have to stay away from the target because of the conditions and may not have a choice and you have to cast. Work with both presentations to get your preferred tactic then work from there. There are days that I have to use both to catch fish regardless of the conditions.


In the early days of drop-shot fishing there weren’t many choices. But now that the bait companies have jumped on the bandwagon there are many options. Get a handful of baits and experiment is the best advice that I can tell you. I have accompanying photos of some of my favorites to get you started in the right direction.

How you hook the bait will change the action that you get out of your offering, so experiment. I have had days where fish wanted a bait with more action, while other days they preferred baits where they almost sat still to get their bites. The four most popular ways to rig your drop-shot offering is to nose-hook your baits including using a Texas-rigged style, Gilly-hooked offerings and wacky-hooked baits. Each rig has a distinct action, so you can take the same bait and rig it a few different ways and get different results.

Drop-shots not for bass alone

I’ve used a traditional bass drop-shot not only to catch bass, but also for the walleyes, bluegills and crappies. So when you need to get the fish to bite, it may be in your best interest to grab your drop-shot rod and go to work. This presentation lets you keep your bait in front of the fish until you trigger a strike. You cannot really do that with many other options.

As you can see, a drop-shot is as finesse of a presentation as you can get. Rig yourself a drop-shot rod this summer and get to work. There have been many days where I’ve picked up one and got my five bites for the day. It is the best way I know to keep your baits in front of the bass to trigger a bite.