Drop shot fishing has been used in bass fishing for several years now. It has really grown in popularity over the last 15 years or so. At first, it was seen as a deep-water technique for taking bass, usually smallmouth, from deep waters with somewhat clear visibility. Over the years, anglers have helped develop this technique to all species of bass in all water types. From deep to shallow water and from the vast open water situations to heavy cover applications. Drop shot fishing is an extremely versatile technique that when done correctly can help you catch more fish.
How to set up a Drop Shot rig
The set up for a drop shot is basic. You have a weight tied at the end of your line and the hook where you present your bait is tied above that weight. This allows for your bait to suspend at a predetermined depth. The length between your weight and hook can vary and often times depends on the location of the fish, how your bait reacts in the water column and how you work the bait through the water on any particular retrieve. An average length for me would be anywhere from 6 to 8 inches but in some unusual situations I have used up to 5 feet of length. The weight depends on what I am trying to accomplish. Examples would be if I am fishing shallow open water, I may use a 1/8 ounce or ¼ ounce weight. Tungsten is a good choice because it will offer a smaller surface size that will allow me to downsize and give those fish a more natural presentation. Tungsten will also give me a better feel for the bottom and what type of bottom I am fishing. Lead is also very popular and not as expensive. If I am fishing deep for say smallmouth on the Great Lakes in 20 plus feet of water often, I will use a ½ ounce or larger drop shot weight. The style of weights also varies. I like a pencil or cylinder weight when I am fishing deep and want to get my bait down to the fish fast. A round ball or tear drop weight will also give you a better feel for the bottom which at times is important. Sometimes you are searching for a small hard bottom patch and having a round ball weight allows you to feel when you come across any hard bottom a bit better. The hook you use is also an important factor to consider. Most major hook manufactures make specific drop shot hooks. If you are looking to nose hook a soft plastic bait like a finesse worm or fishing a goby style bait for smallmouth the standard size 1 or 2 drop shot hook will be your best bet. If you are fishing around grass or structure you may want to Texas rig those soft plastic baits. There are plenty of good longer shank hooks for this type of application on the market. I use a drop shot year-round. In fact, it can usually be found on the deck of my boat regardless of water temp and the situations that I encounter. I will use a drop shot for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Although this technique excels in deep water because of the ability to get down to your target quick and let your bait suspend in front of the fish, I suggest experimenting and trying to drop shot in shallower water. Often times, fish can get up on shallow flats and targeting them with a drop shot can offer those fish a different presentation that another angler may not be using. I like a 7-foot medium or 7-foot medium light rod when I am drop shotting. I suggest a 2500 or 3000 size spinning rod and use 5lb – 10 lb Cortland Masterbraid in high vis yellow. I prefer the thin diameter braid and often when I am fishing deep, I want to get my bait down to those fish quickly. This is when I will use 5lb braid. The 5lb braid will have less resistance in the water and paired with a heavier drop shot weight I can drop to fish in 20-50 feet of water much quicker.
I always use a fluorocarbon leader and it is either 6 or 8 lb test. I tie direct to the braid and have about a 5–8-foot leader of fluorocarbon line. Some anglers prefer to use a small swivel to connect the two lines and this will certainly work especially if you don’t feel comfortable tying the braid to fluorocarbon. Don’t be afraid to give drop shotting a try the next time you venture out on the water. There are times a drop shot will produce when nothing else seems to be working!
About the Author - Travis Manson is a tournament angler and content creator. He started the brand "SmallmouthCrush" back in 2017. He guides on the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario for trophy Smallmouth Bass and also can be found guiding on the Chesapeake Bay for Largemouth. He has over 500 fishing videos on his YouTube Channel where he teaches the different techniques that help him catch more fish. He also has a popular LIVE Stream show on his YouTube Channel SmallmouthCrush every Monday night at 8pm Est. Instagram Account @smallmouthcrush