What Is A Drop Shot Rig? + 10 Drop Shot Fishing Tips From Real Pros

The drop-shot rig is becoming one of the most popular rigs among anglers. It’s one of the most versatile rigs as it can be used to fish in deep or shallow waters while using different kinds of baits and techniques. It’s also highly effective when targeting various kinds of predatory fish species.

While drop shot fishing might be quite frustrating if you’re a beginner, with the right kind of gear and some tips to practice, you will have no trouble mastering it.

So, what is a drop shot rig? A drop shot rig is a kind of rig where the bait is presented in a way that allows it to float freely while twitching slowly to attract fish and get them to bite. The rig includes a drop shot weight attached to a leader. It’s commonly used to target bass and several small fish species.

Continue reading to learn more about drop shot fishing and how to fish with a drop shot rig.

The Basics of Drop Shot Fishing

walleye caught on dropshot to show what is a drop shot rig

Let’s quickly introduce you to the basics of drop shot fishing before we get into the details of a drop shot rig and the pro tips that you can use to level up instantly

What Is Drop Shot Fishing?

Drop shot fishing is a high finesse fishing technique where your bait is rigged to be suspended above a weight that’s attached to the end of a leader line.

The rig is simple but versatile as it can be used with different combinations of tackle and techniques.

When fishing with a drop shot rig, you need to let the weight hit the bottom of the water, then gently flick your rod so that the bait or lure can produce a twitching action in the water. You can also flip, drag, or jig the bait or lure along the bottom of the water to cover more distance.

Why Should You Try Drop Shot Fishing?

The main reason why you should try drop shot fishing is that it allows you to present the bait in a way that’s more natural and appealing to the fish.

Instead of having the bait hit the bottom of the water, it will be suspended above the weight attached to the line which will allow it to move with a twitching action that’s similar to that of a baitfish. This will draw the attention of the fish you’re targeting and get them to bite.

A drop shot rig is highly effective when fishing in clear water. That is because it includes a fluorocarbon leader which is almost invisible underwater. This will allow your bait to look more natural compared to other types of rigs.

The rig is also effective when fishing in murkier water conditions as you will be able to move the bait without moving the weight off the bottom. This will create a natural action that will allow the fish to detect the bait and bite in low visibility conditions

It can also work well in areas with submerged cover, as the bait will be suspended and swimming just above the cover while the weight hits the bottom. This can be useful when targeting fish that are hiding in the cover.

Another advantage of the drop shot rig is that it will allow you to detect the bite of a fish a lot more easily. That is because of the weight that’s attached to the end of the leader and resting at the bottom of the water. Detecting the fish bites early will increase your chances of landing more fish.

What Do You Need for Drop Shot Fishing?

You need a certain kind of gear, baits, and weights when you go drop-shot fishing. So, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to increase the efficiency of your drop shot rig.

What Kind of Gear Set Up Is Best for Drop Shot Fishing?

  • Rod – It’s recommended to use a 7′-7’8″ spinning rod with light to medium power and fast action. This kind of rod will offer you greater sensitivity to easily detect the bites of fish.Reel – It’s recommended to use a 1000-2500 series spinning reel. This reel size will work perfectly with a long spinning reel. It will also offer you a smoother drag and it will be lightweight enough to hold for long periods of time.. Check out the best budget spinning reels here.
  • Mainline – It’s recommended to use a braided line of a 15-20-pound breaking strain as your mainline when drop shot fishing. This kind of line has no stretch which allows you to easily move your bait in the water. It’s also extremely sensitive for detecting fish bites.
  • Leader – It’s recommended to use a fluorocarbon line of a 7-10-pound breaking strain as your leader line. It’s nearly invisible in water which makes the bait presentation more natural. It also has no stretch which increases its sensitivity for detecting fish bites.
  • Hook – It’s recommended to use either circle or octopus hooks in size #2 or #1.  These kinds of hooks are highly effective as they will essentially set themselves. Size 2 hooks are good with smaller baits (less than 4 inches) while size 1 hooks are more ideal for medium-sized baits

What Kind of Weights Are Best for Drop Shot Fishing?

There are three main kinds of drop shot weights which are ball-shaped weights, teardrop-shaped weights, and skinny pencil-shaped weights.

All drop shot weights are designed with a pinched swivel so you can quickly and easily move the weight up and down the leader line which allows you to adjust how far off the bottom your bait will be suspended

Ball weights and teardrop weights are most effective when fishing in sandy bottoms. They’re also denser which allows you to feel the bait easier.

On the other hand, Pencil weights are most effective when fishing in weedy or rocky areas as their long skinny shape allows them to slip through cover easily without any snagging

The exact size of the weight depends on where you’re casting from and the depth you’re going to be fishing at.

  • If fishing from shore, it’s recommended to go with a 1/8-1/4-ounce weight.
  • If you’re fishing from a boat or kayak in shallow water (4 feet or less), it’s recommended to go with the 1/8-1/4 ounce weights. 
  • If you’re fishing from a boat or kayak in water that’s 5-10 feet deep, it’s recommended to go with 1/4 ounce weights.
  • If you’re fishing from a boat or kayak in water that’s 11-15 feet deep, it’s recommended to go with 3/8 ounce weights.

The best drop shot weights on the market are the iLure Drop shot Fishing Kits which you can purchase from Amazon. There’s a Ball-Shaped Drop Shot Weight Kit and a Pencil-Shaped Drop Weight Kit.

These weights are made from heavy-duty material that’s meant to last you for a long time. They come in different sizes to suit fishing in various depths. They also come with a plastic tackle box to store the weights when they’re not in use.

What Kind of Baits and Lures Are Best for Drop Shot Fishing?

The drop shot fishing technique is so versatile, so you can use a wide variety of baits with it.

The most effective and common bait used for drop shot fishing is natural to live baits such as worms and small baitfish such as minnows.

You can also use artificial baits such as soft plastic lures as they are less messy than live bait, flexible, and they create a strong action in the water that’s just as effective as natural bait.

One of the best soft plastic lures on the market is Berkley’s Floating Worms.

These plastic worms are designed with a tail that moves smoothly to create a natural action in the water that will attract fish. They can also be rigged in multiple ways to suit different fishing techniques including drop fishing.

They come in a pack of 15 and they’re available in different colors and patterns to suit fishing in different water conditions. Some even have added scents and flavors to enhance their appeal.

You can check more powerbait recommendations in my guide to the best powerbait for Walleye here.

How to Fish with a Drop Shot Rig?

The main idea of a drop shot rig is that once it’s in water and the weight hits the bottom, you need to flick your rod to move your bait and create a twitching action in the water to attract fish.

You wouldn’t retrieve the bait quickly as you would when you’re using a spinner lure. Instead, you need to keep the weight on the bottom and move the bait gently. This will allow you to fish in tight areas or areas with heavy cover where fish tend to hide.

How to Tie a Drop Shot Fishing Rig?

The most important part of drop-shot fishing is learning how to tie your rig properly.

Here are the steps you need to follow to tie a drop shot rig:

  • Step 1 – Start with attaching the fluorocarbon leader to your line.

You need to decide how much of the fluorocarbon leader to use then attach it to the end of your braided mainline using a Palomar knot.

  • Step 2 – Attach the hook to the leader line.

You can use the same kind of knot you used to attach your leader to your mainline. You can also use a clinch knot or a quadruple overhand knot.

You need to make sure the knot is secure by pulling on the hook so it doesn’t slip through the eyelet of the hook to cut off the “tag-end” of your line from the knot.

You also need to make sure you still have enough of your leader line so you can attach the weight to the end.

  • Step 3 –  Attach the drop shot weight to the leader line.

After tying your hook, you need to attach the drop shot weight to the leader line.

You will not need to tie a knot to attach the weight. That is because most kinds of weight are designed with pinched swivels that will allow you to simply thread the leader through the eye on the weight then secure it on the line, then you will be able to move the weight up or down the line easily.

It’s best to cut off the excess line that you pulled through the eye to reduce the risk of any tangles or snagging.

  • Step 4 –  Attach your bait or lure to the hook

The bait or lure should be secured onto the hook and suspended above the weight.

There are multiple ways you can attach your bait or lure on the hook.

The first method is to thread the hook through the nose of the bait. You need to push the hook in through the bottom of the head and out through the top of the head. This will allow the bait to move more freely on the hook creating a very natural action.

The second method is the Texas rig. You need to push the hook through the bait’s head and out at about a 1/4 of an inch down its body. After that, you need to move the bait up the hook toward the shank then rotate it so that it’s more secure on the shank. Finally, thread the point of the hook back into the body of the bait.

This method is the most ideal when fishing in areas with trees, submerged brush piles, or flooded timber as it will reduce any risk of snagging.

The third method is to thread the bait wacky style which means pushing the hook through the middle of the bait’s body.

What Is the Best Leader Length for Drop Shot Fishing?

Generally, the length of your leader depends mainly on the depth you’ll be suspending your bait at.

The shallower you intend to suspend your bait, the shorter your leader length needs to be. On the other hand, the deeper you intend to suspend your bait, the longer your leader length will be.

It’s also recommended to keep the length of the leader short when casting the drop shot rig into areas with cover or vegetation as this will allow you more accuracy.

How to Tie a Palomar Knot for Drop Shot Fishing?

One of the most commonly used knots when using the drop shot rig is the Palomar knot.

Here are the steps you need to follow to tie it correctly:

  • Thread the tag end of your fishing through the eye of the hook then double back and pass the end of the line again through the hook eye from the opposite direction.
  • Tie a loose overhand knot with the hook hanging loosely from the bottom. Make sure to keep the hook at a ninety-degree angle and avoid tangling the lines.
  • Hold the overhand knot between your thumb and forefinger and slide the loop of the line above the eye of the hook.
  • Pull on both of the standing line and tag end of the line to tighten the knot down onto the eye of the hook then clip the tag end.

Here is a simple video from Abu Garcia showing you a way to do it:

What Are the Fishing Techniques You Can Use When Drop Shot Fishing?

Different conditions require different fishing techniques and as mentioned before, the main appeal of drop shot rigs is their versatility.

You can fish the rig vertically if you know exactly where the fish you’re targeting is. That is because you’ll need to drop the bait directly under the fish’s location.

Another method is fishing the rig horizontally. This is also known as the drop and drag technique as you will need to cast out your line then slowly drag your bait in the water. This method is the most ideal for fishing in large bodies of water or in moving waters.

Regardless of which technique you use, you need to adjust the length of your leader and the size of your weight according to the bait you’re using and the fish you’re targeting so that your bait can remain suspended as you drag it and your weight remains on the bottom of the water.

Pro Tips for Drop Shot Fishing

  • When casting out your line, make sure you know exactly where the fish is. The bait needs to be dropped at the right location and depth for it to be effective. While you’re holding your rod you should feel the weight hit the bottom after a few seconds.
  • You can use a fish-finding device that will help you locate the fish you’re targeting and tell you the depth where the fish are suspended so you can adjust the length of your leader as necessary to deploy your drop shot rig.
  • Once the weight hits the bottom of the water, try to keep your movement subtle and don’t shake the rod too violently. It’s best to move the rod as gently as possible to create a twitching action that will seem natural to the fish you’re targeting.
  • Try not to overwork your bait as this might spook the fish away from biting. While you’re gently moving your rod, you also need to let the current move your bait to get the most natural action.
  • It’s important to balance the tension of your line. It’s recommended that the line has a slight bow instead of keeping it completely straight. That is because the stiff appearance of the bait might look unnatural to the fish and therefore unappealing. However, try not to slack the line too much, otherwise, you’ll lose your catch.
  • Avoid fishing with an inverted hook because this might result in many lost catches as a result of the hook getting yanked out of the fish’s mouth. Instead, the drop shot rig should have the hook point and the hook gap facing upwards.
  • When choosing a weight make sure you choose the lightest weight possible. This will allow the bait to get to the bottom and remain on the bottom without getting snagged.
  • Using a lighter weight will also allow your bait to drop slowly in the water. This can be very useful when fishing in clear water as the fish you’re targeting will have more time to detect your bait and react to it.
  • Once you detect a bite on your bait or lure, start reeling in your catch by gently lifting up your fishing rod to set the hook. It’s best not to lift the rod too aggressively as this might cause your line to stop and you’ll lose your catch.

Related Questions

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch When Drop Shot Fishing?

There are various kinds of predatory fish species you can catch when drop-shot fishing. These include large fish species such as Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, and Spotted Bass as well as smaller fish species such as crappie, bluegill, perch, and shads.

Is Drop Shot Fishing Easy for Beginners?

Drop shot fishing can be difficult for beginners. However, the right gear and some practice will help any beginner master drop shot fishing quickly. The most important thing is to choose the right size of weight for the depth you’re fishing at. It’s also important to understand how to tie a drop shot rig to present your bait or lure properly.

What Are the Best Areas for Drop Shot Fishing?

Drop fishing is highly effective when fishing in slow-moving rivers or still waters such as lakes or ponds. Some of the best areas to fish using a drop shot rig include drop-offs and marinas as well as areas with a heavy cover or submerged structure.

What Is the Best Time to Use a Drop Shot Rig?

The drop-shot rig can be utilized at nearly any time throughout the year.  The most ideal times tend to be during the spring and summer. Spring and summer are great for drop shot fishing as you can cast the drop shot rig into shadowy areas where the fish seek shelter from the sun, or you can fish in deeper areas of the water due to the heavyweight

What’s a Carolina Rig?

A Carolina Rig is also known as the “C-Rig” and it’s one of the most popular rigs used by anglers. With this kind of rig, the weight will be attached above the hook instead of hanging beneath it. This will allow the bait to move in a circular motion to draw in the fish. Carolina rig is the most ideal for bottom fishing techniques and it can be used to fish from the shore as well as on a boat or kayak.

Helpful Resources 

Drop Shot Rig 101

Drop Shotting For Beginners

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