15 Best Drop Shot Fishing Tips For Beginners (That Actually Work)

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What is a drop shot rig and how to fish it?

If you recently got a drop shot rod and reel or just want to start soon, then this guide is for you. Carefully read through this guide because it will give you all the tips to allow you to skip the learning curve that most fishermen have to go through. Drop shot fishing is hard, but if you attempt to take shortcuts on your first few times on the water, you can learn some really bad habits that could take a long time to unlearn.

So after you finish this guide, come back to it a few times after your trips on the lake just to make sure you aren’t skipping any critical steps. This repetition through practice is considered by some to be even more beneficial than private lessons!

In my opinion having the right gear, choosing the correct size weight, selecting the correct style of bait, and understanding when and how to present the lure are the most important aspects for any beginner to understand. Once you master these fundamental strategies, you’ll be able to catch fish any time you hit the water.

FAIL FASTER

Drop-shotting can be a very frustrating technique to be comfortable and feel confident in. I found it unnerving because I was using new equipment that I was not familiar with. It was definitely out of my comfort zone. Speaking personally, sometimes I tend to make something out to be more complicated than it really is.

As you know, true mastery never occurs, one always must be learning, changing and adapting. High-level proficiency comes with long hours of practice and failure.

There’s a great phrase that I like to say and that is: “Fail Faster”. To us the word ‘FAIL’ means First Attempt At Leaning. Take lesson(s) learned from each failure and apply them and do not make the same mistake twice. Therefore, if you Fail Faster you learned your lessons faster and you don’t waste so much time. So if you’re going to fail, Fail Faster.

Gear For Drop Shot Fishing.

“You do not need the most expensive gear to get started.”

Rod

photo @stephenk22

Spinning rod 7′ – 7’8″ – Light/Medium action with fast action tip.  You don’t need to buy the most expensive rod to start with.  It’s important to note, as you advance your skills and confidence in this style of fishing, buying a more expensive rod is going to be made with more expensive material and will offer you greater sensitivity in detecting a soft biting fish. With that being said, you do not need the most expensive gear to started.

Need help choosing a new drop shot fishing rod?

Well you’re in luck, after this, head over to the post – The Best Drop Shot Rod For Bass Fishing [Ultimate Review Guide] where I go into more technical detail as to how to actually choose the best drop shot rod for your fishing needs. Click here to learn more.

Reel

Spinning reel – 2500 series. Typically most reels this size are a perfect size to compliment the long spinning rod. Like the rod, you don’t need to start with the most expensive reel. As you gain experience, consequently you need to invest in getting a more expensive spinning reel because the drag will be much smoother and will have less of a chance to breaking off a fish in case it runs after being hooked up.

Best Line For Drop Shot Fishing

Main Line – Braided Line

For all my finesse fishing needs whether it’s drop shot, shaky head, wacky worm fishing,  always have a braid to fluorocarbon line combo!  It’s the preferred approach that will catch you more fish and avoid unnecessary headaches on the water. 

Using braided main line has many benefits.

First, it’s best benefit is that it has no stretch in it, and is super sensitive. This is perfect for this type of situation when you want to feel the slightest of bites.

Braided line also offers an incredibly small line diameter so it’s very hard for the fish to see. 

An industry standard recommends using a 15-20-pound test line in a bright braided line in Hi-Vis Yellow color.

Equipping your gear with this size line on your spinning reels tends to lay nice and flat on the spool and does not cut into itself.  

Using the Hi-Vis Yellow is also really easy to see if you have a subtle bite and you can really watch the line move!  

Again…don’t worry…you’re not going to be tying directly to the braid, you’re going to use a fluorocarbon leader line!  So the fish won’t see this bright line at all!  Professional anglers have trusted this type of line for years and it’s won them millions of dollars.

Another thing, when using braided line, you need to make sure that your rod (like we discussed in the previous segment) needs to have a fast and flexible tip.  This acts as a shock absorber so you won’t pull out the hook when setting your hook!

Lastly, using a braided main line it severely reduces line twist!  You DON’T WANT LINE TWIST!

Leader Line – Fluorocarbon Line

Fluorocarbon is a fantastic leader line.  It has some of the best abrasion resistance on the market and one of the most defining qualities is that it is nearly invisible underwater!

Fluorocarbon line also has very little stretch, meaning it increases the bite sensitivity factor when coupled with your braided main line.

Start Sunline FC Sniper with a 7-pound test line unless you find yourself fishing in an area that can easily snag or cut the line, then increase to 10-pound test.

What Is The Best Leader Length?

The shallower you fish, the shorter the leader length should be, versus the deeper you fish the longer-length it typically will be. However, if you notice the fish are suspended off the bottom this will help you determine what that leader length is going to be.

Another tip for leader length is at if you are pitching into vegetation such as Cypress bushes or Salt Cedars you’ll need to use a shorter length so you will have increased accuracy on your pitching. The majority of the time when pitching into vegetation the fish will be hugging the bottom and the large pieces of structure closely so you do not need a long leader.

Leader Length By The Season

Winter – The bass are typically hugging the bottom. Keep your leader length short… 4-6 inches.

Spring – If you’re bed fishing, then keep your leader 2-4 inches. You want it really short!  Make it look like your bait is trying to seal the bass’ eggs!

If you’re fishing pre-spawn staging areas, then give yourself a 6-8 inch leader.

Summer – The bass are active, their metabolism is high and there’re also grass patches.  Keep your leader length 6-8 inches above the grass.  Otherwise, I recommend giving your leader length 12-18 inches. 

Fall – The bass are aggressively feeding in preparation for the winter months. A leader length of 10-18 inches works well.  Shorten your leader as the water cools.

Hooks For Drop Shot Fishing.

“If you’re unfamiliar with the area that you will be fishing it is vital to pick up all styles to be ready for what ever you encounter.”

The best hooks to start would be to either circle or octopus hooks in size #2, #1 or 1/0.  Circle and octopus hooks will essentially set themselves. Which means you do not have to have a violent up-swing hookset!  Just reel in the slack, tug up and start reeling in. 

Since you’re just starting out buy the Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot Hook pack, you can find them on Amazon.com.

If you’re unfamiliar with the area that you will be fishing it is vital to pick up a 3-5 packs of all styles to be ready for whatever you encounter.

Size 2 hooks are good for when you are using smaller soft plastic shad baits or smaller live bait like small minnows, shad or crayfish. Keep the bait selection to less than 4 inches. 

Size 1 hooks are preferred to when you are using medium sized worms or medium-sized live bait. 

Best Knot For Drop Shot Fishing

Palomar Knot – Quick Tutorial on How to Tie This Strong Knot – Best Knot for Drop Shot Fishing

Weights For Drop Shot Fishing

“Choose the lightest weight possible to get the bait to the bottom and keep it on the bottom, all while not getting hung up.”

The best drop shot weight to start with would be a lead skinny drop shot weight that you can also find on Amazon.  Nothing’s more frustrating than having your fishing weight get snagged on the bottom. Use these when you are fishing from shore and/or fishing around rocks and cracks.

These resist snagging since the skinny shape tends to slip through better and can really make a difference between having a fun day or a frustrating day!  Start with the lightest weight available until you feel the bottom but without getting snagged.

A ball or teardrop-shaped weight are great for fishing over sand, pea-sized gravel, or anywhere without large rocks.

Best starting weight from the shore

If fishing from shore, choose a 1/8–1/4-ounce weight.  Fish will also have a harder time “feeling” that there is a weight attached to the bait the lighter it is.

Best starting weight from a boat or kayak

If you’re fishing 4 feet or less go with the 1/8 – 1/4 ounce weights.  These are perfect for shallow water or sight fishing!

If you’re fishing in 5-10 feet, use our 1/4 ounce weights. 

Fishing in 11-15 feet, use our 3/8 ounce weights.

Best Beginner Baits For Drop Shot Fishing

“When it comes to bait choice, it all you need to do is Match The Hatch.”

Because this technique is so versatile you need a variety of baits.  Yes, you can use almost anything as a drop shot bait, some work better than others.  of those better choices include very soft straight tail worms, fat stick baits/wacky worms and flukes.

Soft plastic straight tail worms are typically the most common drop shot bait because very soft, flexible and have the most action. They relatively easy to find and come in a variety of colors and sizes.

But there are so many more baits you can use for drop shot fishing that you probably never even heard about. I wrote the complete report called, Top 10 Drop Shot Fishing Baits You Don’t Know About, where I go into detail what are the best drop shot baits and finally expose all the other baits that pro’s don’t want you to know about. Click here to learn more.

How to Rig Baits For Drop Shot Fishing.

“However you choose to rig the bait, make sure it’s not restricted in movement.”

Overall there are 3 basic ways to rig a drop shot fishing bait. Nose hooked, Texas rigged, Wacky rigged.

First, nose hook the bait. There are two ways to nose hook the worm.

Hook it through the head front quarter inch. Insert from the bottom and exit straight out the top of the head.  This allows the worm to swivel on the hook freely.

The second way to nose hook the worm is to insert the hook through the front quarter-inch to where the straight point starts its downward bend, keeping the point of the hook inside the soft plastic bait. 

These options of nose rigging the bait give the worm very natural action. Whenever the line is moved the worm will respond.

Listening to Aaron Martens talk about how he presents his drop hot worm, he try’s to give the worm an natural appearance and he prefers it over the traditional approach.

He believes that if the worm is rigged hooked from the bottom out the top of the head the worm may just swivel and not have as good of action.  However, countless others prefer the traditional nose hooking method and have won many big-money tournaments using this approach.

Be careful not to hook too much of the front part of the worm. This will give the worm reduced movement and will likely cause a line twist.

Secondly, is the Texas rig bait on an EWG hook. Tie the hook onto the line using the same Palomar knot. Then thread the bait onto the hook just like if you were fishing it Texas-rigged style.  When fishing in snaggy areas, such as trees, submerged brush piles, or flooded timber you need to go with the Texas rigged worm. 

The third style to rig the bait wacky style or threading the hook through the middle of the worm. Fat stick baits such as the Yamamoto Senko, the Yum Dinger, and the Strike King Ocho are great baits for this presentation.

Since the the fat stick baits are on the heavier side they have an enticing flutter at they fall that bass love.

Drop Shot Fishing Year Round

The drop shot can be utilized at nearly any time throughout the year.  The most productive times are during the spring, summer, and winter. 

Spring is great for drop shot fishing especially if the bass are on beds. Shorten the leader length down to 2-4 inches. 

Start by choosing a bright colored worm such as white or chartreuse. Slowly drag the worm into the bed and the bass will instinctively pick it up and move it off the bed.  If white or chartreuse does not work, go with a natural-colored bait such as a pumpkin or watermelon colored. Finally, if that does not work throw in a bright red worm. 

Summer is great for drop shot fishing because of the many different ways it can be fished.  You can thread on a large worm, swimbait and fish it over a ledge or through a school of suspended fish.

You can pitch the drop shot lure into shadow areas when the fish seek shelter from the sweltering sun, or fish the drop shot rig in deep water by using a heavier weight.

A typical leader length during the summer ranges from 6-24 inches.

Helpful Tip: “Pitch the drop shot lure into shadow areas when the fish seek shelter from the sweltering sun.”

In the winter, downsize the bait to a small soft plastic chunk craw and shorten the leader to 3-6 inches. Slowly work the bait over areas that the bass are holding. The less movement the better. You must be patient and the bites will feel very mushy.

There is a lot more to drop shot fishing in the winter time. If you’re still wanting more information, then read this post about Winter Drop Shot Fishing Tips.

BONUS TIPS

Don’t Shake What Yo Mama Gave You.

The first bonus tip I would like to stress would be to not move your bait! A lot of people will over think how much to move the lure. So by shaking it violently, it makes the drop shot lure look like it’s having a seizure underwater! And this spooks the fish!

So instead of shaking it just keep your rod as still as possible. Subtle movements in your arm or hand will make the lure undulate and appear more like a real baitfish.

Also if you’re fishing from a boat, the waves will give the lure movement as well.

If you are certain that you want to impart more life into the lure think about not trying to shake the lure but gently shaking the slack in the line.

Hate The Straight.

The second skill I would like to discuss with you all is to make sure that there is always a slight bow in your line. By having a slight bow in the line it allows the hook and lure to move freely, giving it a natural appearance and you can detect bites by watching the line closely. 

By keeping the slight straight with no slack will give the lure a stiff appearance. 

Become The Bait.

The third bonus tip I’m going to give you is I strongly encourage you to know what your bait looks like underwater.

So, use a fish tank or a filled-up bathtub or a swimming pool into really observe what type of action you’re giving the bait. The action could really surprise you.

The more you understand your equipment such as the action of the bait or knowing the rate of fall with different size hooks, the better decisions you will make on the water.

Know Your Electronics.

The final bonus tip, is to become familiar your electronics whether you’re fishing from a boat, or using a portable fish Finder for bank fishing.

“Becoming familiar with your electronics can mean the difference between winning or losing a big check competition or big bragging rights.”

Let’s get this out of the way now…..this takes a lot of time and practice. However when comfortable and when you become familiar with your electronics this can mean the difference between winning or losing a big check competition.

I’ve personally seen anglers during tournaments mark and waypoint deep nonpressured spawning beds during practice and come tournament day they went back using their electronics caught those fish and won the tournament. I wrote a comprehensive and detailed review guide that evaluates the best portable fish finders that are castable! Now you can find the bass where they’re hiding ever time. Click here to learn more.

DIY – Pour Your Own Drop Shot Weights

If you don’t want to buy drop shot weights and think you’re up for a challenge of pouring your own weights, then, then check out this YouTube video.

Therefore, before you even think of pouring your own drop shot weights, you have to understand how they are made up and what qualities they should carry. You have to ensure that you’re taking the necessary safety precautions because you’re dealing molten lead.

However pouring your own weights is fun and easy to do. Plus you can dial in some precise weights that are hard to find on retail sites.

Here is what you need:

— Drop shot mold: here

— Lead ingots: here

— Gloves: here

— Lead melting pot: here

In Summary…

I really hope you got something out of this article. Just remember to take it easy and have fun. Lastly don’t forget to come back to this post once you tried drop shot fishing out a couple times to go over what you’re doing well and what you can improve upon.

Until then… stay safe and tight lines.

main image photo cred @kuiperoutdoors