The concept of using a drop shot rig when fishing, is not new. Although the bass fishing brigade became aware of it when professional bass fisherman were using the technique on the west coast, I believe it dates back further.
To prove this, I have found a post by T Binks, a tournament angler, who shows video footage of himself using it back in 1998. He does however state “that it started in japan and only really hit the united states that same year”.
For those interested, check it out below; A warning though, the footage is pretty grainy, typical of the era ☺.
Ok, that’s where our history lesson ceases so let’s look now at this incredibly successful fishing rig.
Drop Shot Fishing & Set Up
In simple terms, it is a finesse fishing technique, where a bait or soft plastic is suspended at a specific depth off the bottom.
Its beauty is that we can fish at different depths, ensuring we “eyeball” the fish in the water column. This doesn’t occur when we fish with a bait that sits on the bottom, often amongst silt and mud.
Therefore, we are able to fish in deep water where many bigger predators often wait in deeper holes.
However we are not looking at using heavy gear, instead light fluorocarbon or braided line in the 6-10 pound range with a light rod.
Fluorocarbon line is preferred to monofilament, simply because it is pretty much invisible in the water. Lighter gear also allows us to have greater touch and better feel for bites.
The fact that the sinker sits on the bottom, means that the only weight we really feel, is that of the bait. Therefore, even the most timid bite, will be noticeable.
To make the rig even more attractive to fish, we can give the rod a bit of a shake, in order to “stir things up”.
Let us have a closer look at this rig and how to tie it:
The major knot involved here is the palomar knot: this is a knot that is not only a simple knot to tie but is very strong, especially with braided lines.
Line normally lose strength at the knot but the palomar knot has been tested to keep 100% breaking line strength.
Berkley-fishing.com have a very good example of how to tie it, which I present here from their website:
4 Easy Steps for Tying the Palomar Knot:
- Double about 6 inches of line and pass through the eye of the hook
- Tie a simple overhand knot in the doubled line, letting the hook hang loose. Avoid twisting the lines.
- Pull the end of the loop down, passing it completely over the hook.
- Moisten and pull both ends of the line to draw up the knot. Trim excess.
To make it easier to follow, they have an animated step by step at
Its simplicity is one of its best features as it is a knot that can be tied in darkness with a little practice.
The important thing to do here, is to ensure that the hook is sitting perpendicular or sideways off the knot, with the hook facing up.
Drop Shot Hook
There are many kinds of hooks you could use here but the most convenient ones are from the Gamakatsu drop shot range, which are circle hooks, suitable for worm baits.
Gamakatsu’s G Finesse Drop Shot Hooks are available in sizes, 2, 1, 1/0 and 2/0. They also have a nano coat finish which reduces the chance of them getting rusty.
The leader to the hook should be 2-3 feet, whilst from the hook to the sinker, around 12-18 inches.
However, like all fishing, nothing is set in stone. So feel free to experiment and see what works best in your fishing location.
In choosing a sinker, a smart way to go is to look at the different kinds of drop shot weights available. These have not only different sizes but also different shapes, in order to match the different kinds of bottoms you may encounter when fishing. Below is a range of drop shot sinkers produced by bullet.
Drop Shot Lures
Regarding baits and lures, consider your location. What are the fishing feeding on or what is most prevalent in your area? Once we know this, then all major companies like Basstrix, Gulp and Arizona produce a wide range of suitable lures. Worms and jerk shads have proven to be very successful in all kinds of fishing locations.
From an economic point of view consider this: drop shot fishing has become so popular that manufacturers are now selling “specialized” drop shot tackle. However you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars, as you can rig your own with standard fishing gear that will set you back only a few bucks.
For example let’s look at the most suitable fishing rods: after some research I believe the St. Croix Premier Freshwater Spinning Rod, is one of the best. It’s made of graphite, which makes it extremely durable but very light. It has a fast action with great sensitivity. It has Kigan Master Hand 3D guides featuring slim, strong aluminium-oxide rings with black frames. However, at the current RRP it isn’t top range but certainly not of the cheaper variety.
Berkley have their GEN IV drop shot range, which at the current RRP are definitely a sound investment. Their product description below is certainly impressive:
“The Berkley Dropshot series has a deserved reputation for value and performance. IM6 graphite blanks, HDG High Density EVA grips and graphite reel seats deliver powerful and responsive performance required for fishing hard bodies and soft plastics. Dropshot rods now feature Fuji K guides for unsurpassed value and performance, truly the best bang for your fishing buck on the market. Fuji K guides offer tangle free fishing, usually associated with more expensive rods, Berkley Dropshot allows anglers tournament quality at a fraction of the cost.”
Drop Shot Rig For Bass
Fishing for bass has become not only a popular way of fishing in America but has almost become an “American past time”. The fact that there has been a 70% increase in bass fishing over all other kinds supports this.
As well, this is exemplified by the fact that bass fishing goes beyond being seen as a recreational pursuit but now viewed as a sport with plenty of viewers tuning in on ESPN. It has similarities to the Chris Moneymaker poker era when poker on TV was out rating traditional sports back in the early 2000s.
So does the traditional drop shot rig change when fishing for bass? The answer is not really and the real question we need to ask is why is it the most popular style of fishing amongst the bass pro-fisherman? The answer can relate to bass spawning patterns and high pressure systems.
In another article I showed how low barometric pressure made fish more active in hunting food, simply because there was less pressure on their air bladders. However, when the pressure is high the bigger fish go deep and sit, less motivated to hunt. The same applies to the big females after spawning, where they are quite happy to stay deep provided they can find food. Therefore if we can present a bait or lure in their vicinity, with some rod movement, a decent hook up is possible.
Hook size is important here; ensure that it complements the bait or lure. Many like to put the hook through the nose of the soft plastic. Therefore in this instance keep the hook size small or suitable to the size of the lure.
Also consider the colour of the lure, as the deeper it sits in the water the darker it becomes. So a good idea here is to fish with lighter colours and similar features to the local baitfish. However, I am always open to hearing what the pros think and Aaron Martens, a regular on the Bassmasters Elite Series has the following setup as seen on bassmasters.com.
“ His most productive deadsticking setup is a 4.5-inch Roboworm Straight-Tail Worm nose-hooked with a No. 1 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Drop Shot Hook (also called the TGW Drop Shot Hook). This light hook allows the worm to slowly “float” to the bottom, which Martens says is the strike trigger. He goes with a 4- to 10-inch drop line in the spring and a 15- to 20-inch drop line in the fall.”
As you can see, it is very specific and serves him well. However, I can confidently state that other pro fisherman would have different setups with similar results. I cannot state strongly enough that all above are simply guidelines. They are not a short step to success; yes they can steer you in the right direction but no guarantee.
I am going to be somewhat direct and say that you need to remember the “PPP principle”. That piss poor preparation leads to piss poor performance. Therefore get to your fishing spot prior to fishing. Check where the fish maybe holed up at high and low tide; take note of what the bass may be eating and consider the weather. What’s the barometric pressure and are there spots where they can sit in eddies waiting for bait fish to swim past?
Another variable to consider, is the current strength: if there is a decent sideways movement, then you need to consider a couple of things. Firstly, look at the sinker weight and decide if we want to hold the bait in one spot. If the bass are holding up in an eddy or a deep hole then ensure that we have enough weight to keep the bait or lure exactly where we want it. This can be difficult when the current is strong. However, we will really have to work that lure hard. This will require a lot of shaking to get it to imitate a darting fish.
On the other hand, it can be very productive to throw a lighter weight upstream and allow it to drift back to where the fish are waiting. This technique is highly effective because it allows those lures to undulate in their action and look like they are actually swimming.
Drop Shot Rigging Conclusion
This article is by no means a 100% comprehensive look at drop shot fishing. I have elected to leave out certain facts simply because I have tried to target the readers new to this kind of fishing. Sometimes you can over complicate things and this can be a real turn off to many people.
What I have done is give you a kind of “drop shot fishing for dummies” with enough information to guide you in the right direction but I hope interesting enough to pique your interest to really develop your drop shot fishing technique.
The ability to master different fishing techniques is such a great asset to have. To able to change up the way we are fishing at any given moment, improves our strike rate incredibly. The one thing I have learnt is that fish can be a bit like the wife. That you can never take them for granted; that what worked yesterday, may not work today.
It is not uncommon to go to a fishing location and watch a group of anglers all using the same technique except for one. Yup, the rest is history, he’s the one catching the fish, whilst the others are scratching their heads. You too can be this angler and the beauty is that the other fisherman will go home and just put it down to bad luck.
Fishing always evolves so keep up with the trends, always look to be one step in front of everyone else. This can be as simple as keeping your fishing gear in 100% condition; ensure your fishing lines aren’t frayed, your hooks are free from rust and your rod runners are smooth and intact.
With all that said, let me finish here with one of my favourite fishing quotes by Steven Wright and oh so relevant. There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.