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What Is Drop Shot Fishing? Our How-To Guide

Mark Armstrong
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You may have heard fellow anglers talk about their amazing hauls after drop shot fishing and now you’re looking to find out a little more about it to see if you might like to give it a go yourself.

So we thought we would put together this guide to provide you with some helpful advice on how you can set up a drop shot rig for your next fishing trip and hopefully end up with a fantastic haul yourself.

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What Exactly Is Drop Shot Fishing?

A Finesse Technique?

Drop shot fishing is regarded as a finesse technique because of the light gear that is generally used. It is often used for catching bass.

The drop shot technique uses a weighted leader that is designed to sink to the bottom so that it can suspend your bait. This can make the bait appear more like natural prey to the fish you’re trying to catch, and can reach the target area where the fish are likely to be.

Unlike other styles of fishing, the hook and bait on a drop shot rig are around 12 inches up from the end of the leader, with the weight being positioned at the end.

The length of leader you will need will usually depend on the depth of water where you plan to fish and whether you will be casting into the distance or fishing vertically. The leader is generally fluorocarbon line that will be tied to braided line.

Video: 3 Ways To Rig A Drop Shot

Rods And Reels

Drop shot fishing mainly requires light gear, similar to finesse fishing gear so an ultralight to medium rod of around 7 foot, with fast to extra fast action. A lightweight to medium spinning reel can also be an ideal choice and can work better than baitcasting reels for this style of fishing.


The line you use should also ideally be lightweight. Around 10 to 20 pound braided line can be a good choice, combined with a 6 to 8 pound fluorocarbon line for the leader. Your hook should also be lightweight and a suitable size for the bait and line you plan to use.

Drop Shot Weights

Weights come in different shapes but options for drop shot rigs will often be cylindrical or teardrop shapes, with cylindrical ones being ideal for fishing in weeded areas or strong currents and teardrop ones being a good choice for most other types of drop shot fishing.

Video: Drop Shot Weight Selection

A lot of the time, a weight that’s around ⅛ ounce up to ¼ ounce can be a good size for drop shotting but some anglers may prefer heavier weights, for example if the water is a lot deeper or if there’s a strong current that might push a light weight off the bottom.

Why Would You Do It, And Where?

Natural Appearance

One of the main reasons why you would use a drop shot rig is because it lets you present the bait in a more realistic fashion that can be more appealing to the fish. Instead of your bait hitting the bottom, it is suspended above the weight which can make it move in a way that is more similar to a baitfish.

Video: Drop Shot Guide

Drop shot fishing can also be more successful in heavily fished areas where fish tend to see the same bait presentations repeatedly. By using a drop shot you can present your bait in a different way that may result in more strikes if the fish are wary of other presentations.

Feel The Bite

Because the weight is at the end of your leader and resting on the bottom under the water, you may be able to feel the bite of a fish more easily because there is no weight between your rod and the hook.

This means it could help you to notice strikes quicker and could therefore result in you catching more fish.

Versatile Rig

The drop shot may often be regarded as a successful rig for fishing in clear water because of the presentation of a more natural looking bait, but it can be a useful technique in a range of conditions.

Because the rig tends to use a fluorocarbon leader, this can make it ideal for fishing when the water is clear, as the fluorocarbon leader will be almost invisible under the water. This can allow your bait to appear less conspicuous to the fish compared to other types of rigs.

However, even in less clear water, the drop shot rig can be ideal, as you can move the lure around without moving the weight off the bottom, creating a more life-like appearance, which can be useful if you know exactly where the fish are. Your lure may also be more visible to fish on a drop shot rig because it’s suspended above the river or lake bed.

It can also work well if there’s submerged cover, as you can let your lure swim just above it while your weight hits the bottom. This can attract fish that are hiding in the cover to bite the bait that is seemingly swimming above them.

Various Techniques

Different conditions may call for different techniques and one appeal of the drop shot rig is that there are a few different tactics you can use.

Fishing your rig vertically can be ideal when you know where the fish are. Dropping your bait directly under your transducer into their location can be a good technique to use. With your fish finder, you should also be able to tell the depth where the fish are suspended so you can adjust your leader length if necessary.

Another method that can be useful, especially in larger bodies of water or moving water is a horizontal or drop and drag technique, which can mean you cast out your line and slowly drag it back along.

But you may need to adjust the length of your leader and the size of your weight so that your bait can remain suspended during the drag and your weight remains on the bottom.

What About The Bait?

There are several types of bait that can be used for drop shot fishing, with soft plastic lures of around three to four inches in length being a common choice.

Popular types of bait can include finesse worms or shad style lures, which can mimic the appearance of baitfish when used with a drop shot rig. Hooking the bait through the nose can be an ideal way to start out, especially with the minnow-like shad lures, but wacky rigging can also be a popular method for drop shotting.

You can use various styles of lures and you can even use live bait if you choose. You may find that different styles of lures will work in different areas and will often depend on what the fish are eating at the time. So it can always be a good idea to experiment with different lures if one isn’t working as well as you’d hoped.

How To Fish A Drop Shot Rig

Step 1: Tie Your Leader

Once you’ve decided how much fluorocarbon leader you want to use (usually somewhere between 6 and 18 inches), it’s time to tie it to the end of your braided line. This can be done using a palomar knot.

Video: How To Tie A Palomar Knot

Step 2: Tie On Your Hook

Using the same type of palomar knot that you used to tie your leader to your braided line, tie your hook on to the leader.

Make sure you leave a decent amount of your leader so you can attach the weight to the end, possibly tying your hook around halfway between the top and bottom of the leader.

Step 3: Attach Your Weight

The next thing to do is to attach your weight to the end of your leader. You don’t need to tie a knot to attach it. Instead simply thread the leader through the eye on the weight and then pull it upwards.

It should attach and secure itself into the eye. You can then cut off the excess line that you pulled through.

Video: How To Tie A Drop Shot Rig

Step 4: Hook Your Bait

Attach your soft plastic bait to the hook by putting the hook through the nose of the lure. Going in under the chin can work or you can choose a wacky rigging style for worm style bait if you prefer.

Step 5: Start Casting

If you know exactly where the fish are, cast or drop your line into that spot. If you don’t have a fish finder to tell you the exact area and depth of the fish, cast into an area near cover or structure, where there might be fish. While you’re holding your rod you should feel the weight hit the bottom after a few seconds.

Step 6: Subtle Movements

Now that your weight is on the bottom, your lure should be suspended in the water above it. Gently shake your rod to create a natural movement for your lure.

Step 7: Catch A Fish

When you feel a fish take your lure it’s time to reel it in! Gently lift up on your rod to set the hook. Not too aggressively, though, as you don’t want your line to snap. You can then start reeling.

Dropping Out…(Conclusion)

Drop shot fishing can be a great way to catch fish, especially when your other tried and tested methods don’t seem to be working for you. It can be a successful way to target fish that might not be feeding as actively and can be a great technique to try all year round.

Do you have a favorite drop shot rig? Tell us about in the comments section. And let us know how you get on if you’re trying drop shot fishing for the first time. Remember to share this to help others try it out.

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