Ultimate Drop Shot Guide

You’ve probably had this happen to you– You’re out bass fishing. The water is pretty clear. You look around but see nothing. You throw all your big lures and nothing works. It seems like the bass have lockjaw. 

Well there’s a technique you can try that can solve your problem: drop shotting!

Drop shot fishing is considered a finesse technique that can catch bass in tough conditions. When other lures won’t work. When the water is very clear. When fishing deep over structure. These are the times when I break out the drop shot.

What Is A Drop Shot Rig?

A drop shot rig is a lure on a hook with a line that extends below the hook and has a weight attached to the end of the line. So, as you go down the line, you first tie on the hook and then the sinker. 

This is oftentimes the reverse of how weighted rigs are set up. 

The hook and lure are above the sinker to allow the lure to sit in the water column above cover or structure. 

This can be very useful when bass are suspended above cover. It can also be a good way to present smaller lures in a way that makes them easier to see.

A small worm that is hidden inside a grass bed may still get bit, but it will be harder to find for cruising bass. 

How To Rig A Drop Shot

The key feature of the drop shot is that the lure is several inches above the weight making it easier for bass to see. You can set up your drop shots with different lengths from the hook to the weight.

To setup a drop shot rig, you’ll need to tie your hook on and leave enough line to attach the weight.

To get the length of line from the hook to the weight, you have a few options. This mainly revolves around the type of knot you use. 

Many anglers like to use the Palomar knot when rigging a drop shot. This is a good option if you want to easily be able to pull a length of tag end line to use for the weight attachment.  

I personally don’t like the Palomar knot. It is not a 100% line strength knot. This is a big risk in my mind. Especially when you’re dealing with very light line.

I prefer to use the double uniknot. This is simply a standard uniknot tied with doubled line. 

Check out this you tube video with a guide on how to tie the uniknot for drop shotting.

Once you’re done tying it, all you need to do is run the tag end back through the hook eye and you’re ready to attach your drop shot weight. You can shorten the length of the tag end by cutting it.

You also have an option when it comes to attaching your drop shot weight. 

There are some drop shot weights that have a crimped style line tie. This allows you to just cinch the line up into the crimped part and attach it that way.

This style of line attachment to the weight is great because it’s really fast. It does have one drawback. The weight can easily fly off if a bass jumps and violently head shakes. To prevent the weight from flying off, I like to tie an overhand knot on the weight. This gives me a quick, easy way to attach the drop shot weight. 

There is another option for the type of weight you use. You can use a lead weight or a tungsten weight. I prefer tungsten for a couple of reasons. 

Tungsten has a much higher density than lead. So, when you’re dragging over structure a tungsten weight will allow you to get a better feel for what’s down there. If you’re dragging your drop shot over rocks, the tungsten weight will let you feel it much more clearly than lead. This advantage applies to all sorts of tungsten lures including jigs and jigheads.

Another advantage of using tungsten is that if won’t pollute like lead will.

There is one disadvantage to tungsten. It’s more expensive than lead.

When To Use A Drop Shot Rig

On clear bright conditions, bass may become more difficult to catch. Their advantages related to ambushing prey are limited. Their ability to camouflage themselves in low light shady spots is minimized.

Additionally, they can see your lures and lines. This can lead to bass that are harder to catch by other means. Large lures with treble hooks may not be as effective in these conditions. 

Thick heavy lines or highly visible braid may also be a problem.

These bright, cloudless, clear water conditions don’t just happen in the summer.  They can happen any time. This is a common scenario after a cold front passes. 

If you’re fishing in these condidtions, a drop shot rig can be a goto tactic. This can be especially true in mid-day situations when the sun is high.

Drop Shot Baits, Weights And Tackle

Drop Shot Close Up
Owner Mosquito Light Hook With Roboworm Ned Worm

Drop Shot Baits

When it comes to what lures and weights to use for drop shotting, you have many choices. Some of the most popular drop shot lures are smaller soft plastic worms. 

They’re normally referred to as finesse worms. The Roboworm Straight Tail Worm is a favorite for this type of fishing. You can get the straight tail worm in different lengths. There is a 4.5, 6 and 7 inch version. There are also many colors to choose from.

For specifics, we look to Aaron Martens. Aaron is a professional bass angler on the Major League Fishing Tour. He is regarded as one of the best drop shot anglers in the world and has worked with Roboworm to help design the baits as well as create new colors.

Colors like Aaron’s Magic and Aaron’s Morning Dawn are go to colors for pro and amateur drop shot anglers alike. 

As for worm length, worms in the 4.5 inch range are a good choice. If you’re trying to make a small presentation then try and keep your worms below 5 inches in length. Also make sure that they’re not too thick. Worms like the straight tail have a tapering tail that allows for plenty of action as the worm falls. 

Another popular option for drop shotting is the Strike King KVD Dream Shot. This is a 4.25 inch worm-like soft plastic lure. It features a tail section that gets thin and then widens again at the end. This makes for some tantalizing action in the water.

Drop Shot Hooks

For drop shot applications, most anglers rely on a finesse style hook. This means a hook that is smaller in both length and wire thickness. 

A shorter hook will help retain the small presentation that you’re looking for. Additionally, the thin wire will make it much easier to set the hook with light line. If you’re using a lighter setup, you may not have the power to drive a thick wire hook into the jaw of a large bass.

A great choice for this application is the Gamakatsu Finesse Heavy Cover Hook. This hook is ideal for rigging your drop shots weedless. 

You can Texas Rig your drop shot worms with this hook and it will help prevent them from hanging up on branches or other cover.

Keep in mind that different hooks will be good for different techniques. If you’re going to hook your worm through the middle or node hook it, then this hook is not the best choice.

If you’re going to nose hook your lure, I would recommend a shorter shank finesse hook. 

For this type of application, the Owner Mosquito Light hook is a great choice. This hook will work great for wacky rigging, nose rigging, or any other application in which the hook point will be exposed.

Also, keep in mind that the hooks mentioned here are best used with light lines. I’d recommend using 6 to 12 pound test line with these hooks. If you’re going down to 6 pound test because of clear water, I’d opt for the Mosquito Light hook. 

If you want to help rig it weedless, you can bury the hook point in the plastic. Leave the tip of the hook just inside the plastic. 

Then, when you set the hook, it should come out of the plastic and hook the fish.

How To Fish A Drop Shot Rig

Fishing a drop shot rig is not overly complicated. 

I’ll break it down into two main ways to fish the rig: vertically and horizontally. 

Vertical Drop Shot Fishing

Fishing a drop shot vertically is pretty easy. It can also be extremely effective when combined with a sonar fish finder and deep water.

This is a common pattern in the summer. When the water gets hot and the bass go deep, vertical drop shotting is deadly.

Many reservoirs are packed with submerged brush piles, and flooded timber. These are great targets for vertical drop shot fishing. 

For example, you can find submerged timber on your down imaging fish finder. Look for tops of trees in anywhere from 15 to 40 feet of water. Starting shallower will make it easier to get the hang of it. 

When you look on your fish finder and see dots around the trees, these may be bass. 

Place yourself over the trees and just open the bail on your spinning reel. Drop the drop shot rig until you feel the weight start to hit the tree limbs. Once this happens you can leave it at that depth and move the rig gently.

Another option is to reel the rig up a few feet so that the weight is less likely to get hung up.

Try different depths within the tree tops. Then, shake the lure a bit to give it some action. You can use this vertical drop shot technique over brush piles, rock piles, and weeds. 

Sometimes, your weight or lure will get hung up. Unfortunately, this is inevitable. Just remember to have extra weights and hooks on hand. 

Horizontal Drop Shot Fishing

Horizontal drop shot fishing just means that you’re casting the rig out a distance. 

When compared to vertical drop shot fishing you’ll find a few differences. If you’re fishing over trees, the possibility of getting hung up increases.

However, if you’re fishing over rocky structure of weeds, you should be fine.

When it comes to casting a drop shot, you will have to get used to casting with the lure above the weight. 

Remember that you’ll need to get a good swing on the weight and properly load the rod. This may be more difficult with the lure above the weight because you need to leave out much more extra line than usual. 

I recommend you practice casting the drop shot rig before you go out and actually fish it. Once you get good at casting the drop shot, it’s time to get out there and fish it.

When you cast out a drop shot and it is far from your rod, remember that there will be an angle in the rig.

As you retrieve the drop shot the lure will get ahead of the weight a bit.

When your weight encounters some type of cover, you may need to be gentle when trying to get it to climb up and over.

Keeping tension on the line is a good idea. It will help you detect strikes and keep you in touch with the bottom.


The drop shot is a great way to target pressured bass. It can catch them when nothing else seems to be working. So, if you find yourself in clear water and the fishing is tough, break out the drop shot rig.

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