Karl’s Favorite Techniques #1: Drop Shot Fishing

When fish head towards the deeper portions of the water column during the summer heat, targeting them becomes a real challenge. When these same fish choose to ignore bolder offerings like deep crankbaits, jigs and the like, it can be infuriating. In times like these, there is really only one solution. Drop shot fishing is the name, finesse fishing is it’s game.

To best explain, the drop shot rig is one that consists of a small, finesse-style plastic nose-hooked onto a small to medium-sized hook. Below the hook, a 1-to-2 foot tag end is maintained in order to attach a specialized drop shot weight. The rig is meant to be presented off the bottom where fish like to concentrate in the summertime in order to keep cool and feed. 

All the components of the rig, namely the rod, reel, terminal tackle and line, all play important roles in drop shot fishing. These components are all very adaptable, and can be changed depending on factors like weather, depth, fish activity and feeding behavior. Read below as we talk through all of the details that will make the drop shot your go-to finesse presentation of the summer. If you would like to see some great tips, tricks and products for drop shot fishing, click here.

drop shot

It all starts with the rod when talking drop shot.

While lures and terminal tackle are normally the stars of the show when discussing rigging techniques, that isn’t so when talking about drop shot fishing. The rod you choose when fishing with a drop shot deserves as much, if not more attention, because using the wrong one can nullify the effectiveness of even the cleanest drop shot rig. 

A good drop shot rod needs to have a few things going for it to be fit for use: sensitivity to sense light bites in deep water, strength to be able to cast far without snapping and a fast action to be able to get good hook sets on fish that bite down deep. Ultimately, a medium-light to medium spinning rod with a fast action that is between 6”6’ and 7”4’ is your best bet.

The reel is where the drop shot gets it’s muscle.

Reels are, as mitochondria is to the cell, the powerhouse of the drop shot equation. While the rod, line, terminal tackle and lure are doing their best slow dance to entice fish, the reel sits waiting, ready to put the boots to the fish once they strike. Being that you are fishing in the deepest parts of the water column when drop shotting, you will need to be able to fight fish out from those depths. This is where a strong reel shines.

Spinning reels are the go-to for drop shot anglers, and there are some key specifications that you will want to keep an eye on. Most reels in the 2500 to 3000 class are perfect for drop shotting. Beyond that, a reel with a higher gear ratio (6:1.1 and up) will help you take more line in quickly and get those deep fish up. Finally, you will want to consider using a reel with a max drag in the teens or higher, especially if you like to fish in depths of 15 feet or beyond.

Terminal tackle and line unique in drop shotting.

The uniqueness of a drop shot rig is found in the terminal tackle and line that makes it up. The rig is distinguished by the unique drop shot weight that is not seen as much in other presentations. These particular weights can weigh anywhere from 3/16 of an ounce all the way up to 3/4 of an ounce and come in circular, cylindrical and teardrop shapes. On calmer days, lighter weights can be used, and on windier days or situations where you are fishing substantial depth, heavier weights are preferable.

For hooks, anything from a #1 up to a 2/0 is sufficient depending on the size of your lure and the fish that you are targeting. When setting up your drop shot rig, be sure to tie in the hook so that the point is up and the bend is below it. Failing to do this can not only affect the action of the bait, but jeopardize your ability to set the hook properly which leads to more lost fish.

As of late, many anglers have made the switch to braided line on spinning reels, which is perfect in the context of drop shot fishing. A 10-to-14-pound test braided line with 24 to 36 inches of fluorocarbon leader will allow you better sensitivity to feel bites without the risk of spooking fish. For an added visual bonus, hi-vis braided line is an excellent choice for drop shot fishing, as it allows the angler to see line movement and bites better.

Shake, shimmy and sway: choosing the best drop shot lures.

Once you set the stage for your drop shot rig, you will be faced with a choice: what lure will I throw on this? When making this choice, finesse needs to be top of mind. Plastics from 2 and a half to 5 inches are ideal for drop shot fishing, and anything from finesse worms to small plastic swimbaits and minnow patterns are the preferred options for this application.

For best results, choose a plastic or plastics that are supple, flexible and have consistent wriggling and wiggling actions. With even the lightest rod movement, your bait should be able to shake and shimmy, particularly in the tail section. It is that kind of tail action that can turn a negative or neutral fish into an active one. As always, if you are fishing clear water, opt for more natural color patterns, and bolder ones when fishing in cloudy and stained water.

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