By Ken Poor

The Drop Shot Rig is a finesse fishing technique that became popular for fishing western impoundments with clear, deep water for largemouth bass. It is a relatively simple, but very effective, technique that can be used in a variety of situations and for many different species of fish, other than bass, including catfish, crappie, walleye and a variety of panfish. Although the drop shot rig was devised for use on light tackle with small soft plastic lures for catching largemouth bass it has developed into a system that utilizes all kinds of rods, reels, line and lures.

Select your equipment based on the species of fish you will be targeting. As a starting point consider using a medium-action spinning rod with a fast taper and reel spooled with 6 to 10-pound test fishing line. Later after you are more comfortable with the set up you can expand your use of the drop shot rig to include heavier equipment including bait casting gear.

The basic concept of setting up the drop shot rig is the same for any type of rod and reel and consists of a hook attached to your main line and a weight below the hook. The hook size and weight size you use will vary depending on the species of fish you are targeting and the depth of the water you are fishing.

Use a Palomar Knot to attach your line to the hook. When tying the knot, leave a tag end, which is the extra line below the hook when tying the knot. The length of the tag end should be a little longer than the distance you want your bait to be off the bottom. When you tie the hook on, bring the tag end back through the eye of the hook from the top down, that will cause your hook to stand straight out from your line.

Attach a sinker to the end of the tag line based on how far off the bottom you want
your hook and bait to be. As a starting point, attach your sinker about 12-inches below your hook, which means that when the sinker is on the bottom your bait will be 1-foot above the bottom.

There are several types of drop shot hooks on the market. I use them because they are faster and easy to use than plain hooks.

You can use drop-shot weights that are available in most sporting goods stores or you can crimp on a round split shot. I like to use the split shot in shallow water because it can slide off the end of your line if it gets hung up on the bottom. In deep water the weight of a bell sinker or a drop shot sinker is more practical then several split shot.

Dress your hook with any type of plastic bait such as worm, crawfish, critter imitation, crappie tube or grub. It is important that you match the hook size and the hook gap to the thickness of the plastics you are using and to the species of fish you are targeting so when you do get a strike you have enough hook to get a proper hook set. For walleye use live bait such as minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers.

If there is brush or weeds in the area you are fishing rig your bait Texas Style to make it weedless. How you fish a drop-shot rig is really pretty simple but it does take some practice to get it down to the bottom and learning how to stay in contact with the bottom. Drop-Shoting is traditionally a vertical presentation, that is very effective in fairly deep water. Cast or drop your rig over the side of the boat and let the weight hit the bottom. Next comes the tricky part that you can learn only from time on the water and where the quick taper on your rod comes in handy. Pull your line tight but without losing contact with the bottom.

The drop shot rig is equally effective for largemouth and smallmouth bass. It will also catch a fair share of big bass.

Always keep in mind that the drop shot rig is most effective when used with a very slow retrieve, but you can use a steady retrieve, pull-pause retrieve or pause and shake retrieve. Always let the fish tell you how they want it. The drop shot rig is also a good set up for drift fishing.

Drop shot rigs are a good choice for use in deep water especially when the fish are suspended off the bottom. Deep lake points, road beds, rock piles, and humps that are smooth are all good places to fish them.

Other good areas include drop-offs, weed edges and the edges of structural elements, such as humps and sunken islands. By rigging the worm weedless you can also fish it in brush and around other types of cover such as dock pilings in marinas and harbors. The drop shot rig is also an excellent choice for lakes with heavy fishing pressure and when the fish are spooky due to high pleasure boat traffic.