A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Drop shot rigs are effective presentation for bass especially during the summer

When black bass go deep during the dog days of summer, the drop shot rig is a good choice because it enables anglers to precisely probe bottom structures in large reservoirs — the ends of points, stump rows, creek channel ledges, brush piles and humps adjacent to river channels.

A drop shot rig (Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

But it’s more versatile than just a seasonal presentation. Anglers can cast or pitch the rig to cover and catch bass in just about any situation, at any time of the year, but arguably it’s at its best when fished vertically as a finesse presentation.

This is because the rig has weight on the bottom and soft plastic baits are suspended off the bottom, at the eye level of bass. Baits fished include straight tail plastic worms, shad-profile flukes, swimbaits, or creature baits.

Depending on the situation and the preference of the angler, plastic baits are hooked through the nose, rigged Texas-style to lessen the risk of hang-ups when fishing heavy cover, or rigged wacky-style, with the hook passed through the center of a small straight tail worm, so that both ends of the worm flutter enticingly.


Drop shot rigs are typically fished on spinning tackle, a 6-foot, 10-inch rod or longer, with a soft tip and medium action, paired with an open-bail spinning reel spooled in 8 to 10-pound test fluorocarbon line. When fishing drop shot rigs vertically, some anglers spool their reels with braided line and tie on a 10-foot leader of fluorocarbon line. The no-stretch braided line improves the hook set when fishing deep.

• It’s not difficult to tie the basic drop shot rig.

Tie the hook on the main line, point up, with a Uni Knot or Palomar Knot, allowing a generous tag end of the line. Thread the tag end of the line back through the hook eyelet so that hook stands out off the main line at a 90-degree angle.

Attach the weight to the tag end of the line.

Many tackle companies sell drop shot rigs equipped with swivels, to lessen line twist.

A Gamakatsu drop shot hook (Photo from Gamakatsu)

• Two popular brands of drop shot hooks are the Mustad Wide Gap Drop Shot Hook and the Gamakatsu Finesse series. The preferred hook sizes are No. 2 or No 1.

Professional tournament angler and drop shot expert Aaron Martens developed the Aaron Martens TGW Drop Shot Hook working with Gamakatsu.

The Gamakatsu Aaron Martens TGW Drop Shot Hook features a point that’s slightly angled out for optimum hook up, is made from TGW (Tournament Grade Wire) that is 20 percent smaller in diameter, for easier hook penetration without any loss of hook strength, and features Gamakatsu’s proprietary Nano Smooth Coat, a finish that’s slick with less resistance than conventional hooks, for improved hook penetration.

• A good rule of thumb is to keep the drop shot rig as light as possible, to enhance the action of the plastic bait.

Therefore, 1/8-ounce or 1/4-ounce weights are typically fished, or a heavier 3/16-ounce weight in windy conditions. Weights are tear-drop, round or of a (tube) straight design, made from lead or tungsten, with a line clip rather than an eyelet on the weight. Thread the tag end of the line through the line clip and tie a simple overhand knot. If the weight gets snagged, this will allow the line to pull free without losing the hook and the soft plastic bait.

• Some popular soft plastic baits fished on the drop shot rig include the 4-inch Berkley Gulp Minnow, the 4-inch Zoom Fluke, the 4 1/4-inch Zoom Finesse Worm, and the 3 1/4-inch YUM Wooly Bug Creature Bait, but baits 6 inches or longer are commonly fished effectively.

Bass caught with a drop shot rig (Photo from Flickr Commons)

Fishing the Drop Shot Rig

What makes this rig most effective is a subtle retrieve, keeping the rod still for long periods, and shaking the rod tip on a slack line, not enough to move the weight, but enough to give the bait a life-like motion.

Other effective techniques are to cast the rig out, and slowly drag it back to the boat, hop it, or swim it back to the boat for suspended fish.

Don’t overlook the drop shot rig, a versatile presentation that will catch bass anytime, in a variety of situations, if you can figure out the bait and retrieve bass want on a given day.

Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment