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Hey guys, I have been doing a lot of research into Bass fishing recently as the seasons here in the land down under start to change and fishing season opens. And with that, one question I have often been asked is about drop shot fishing and more specificity, how to work it for bass. I have to admit that I haven’t used this method before for Bass as our waters do not make it a necessary option however we do use variations of it in the surf and on a boat. So with all that in mind, welcome to my post on how to fish for bass with drop shot rigs.
What is a drop shot rig?
A drop shot rig is a simple setup consisting of a weight at the bottom of the line with a hook attached above it up the line at whatever height you prefer for your fishing location. There’s no swivel or leader to complicate things with the weight and hook tied directly onto your mainline. In general, the hook is placed anywhere from 30in- 3ft’ above the sinker which should be heavy enough to keep your bait at the required depth.
From here, the weight sits on the bottom of the waterway providing and anchor for the bait or lure that is suspended above it in a weightless action. This line can then just be left alone or if you want to do some work, twitched, jigged or dragged along the bottom as per personal preferences.
When should they be used?
As above, we use a variation of this (called a paternoster rig) in the surf and on the boat predominately for the same reason as you would use a drop shot rig for Bass fishing – which in simple terms is to keep the bait or lure in the one spot near the bottom on deeper water. These reasons this can include:
- Where there is a lot of weed or grass on the bottom
- To keep hooks out of snags
- To reduce the chance of catching ground dwelling fish such as catfish (we use them in the surf to avoid stingrays)
When it comes to Bass fishing, drop shot rigs are generally used when the fish have retreated to deeper waters such as in winter when the edges are frozen or in summer when it is cooler. That said, due to its subtle presentation this method can also be incredibly effective when fish are very active on topwater lures and crankbaits and is also a great tactic for undetected cover fishing during the spawn.
What tackle should you use?
Now, this is a question is absolutely answered differently based on the location and type of Bass that you are chasing. So to try and do this properly I will break it down a little:
As far as line weight is concerned, it needs to be heavy enough to reach the bottom but light enough to allow for jigging or flicking if that is how you choose to fish. Added to this is the fact that if you are chasing Smallmouth in a deeper river for example, then you may also need to account for the current as well.
In most cases a circle or bullet style drop shot weight will do the tick as they are durable and not as susceptible to snags. If current is a factor however, then a star sinker will help you keep the line in the one spot.
Again, hook size is heavily determined by the fish being chased. For Largemouth, a wide gap worm hook seems to work best at sizes of around 2/0-3/0. The downside with these hooks however is that they can sometimes be pretty tough to set and easily snagged when fishing heavy cover or really thick weeds. For smaller baits, try using a super sharp 4/0 worm hook to make hook sets a little easier.
Bait or Lure:
Now, the old bait vs lure argument is one that will never go away. Basically, the main thing to keep in mind here is that whatever you choose, the idea behind this type of Bass fishing is that the bait is weightless in the water. Hence, you will need to choose a bait or lure that will look ‘natural’ in the water as it ‘floats’.
Worms or whole baitfish are good bait options here as they can sit in the water and look natural on most hook types – especially if you choose to fish with live bait for the fact that you can just sit and wait for the fish to bite. In terms of lures, then worms, grubs or light soft plastics (with tails that will move) are obviously going to work better than something that needs constant cast and retrieval such as a popper or swimbait.
Rod and reel:
This is another question that could be answered with “how long is a piece of string?”. Everyone has their preferences however if you are looking for a good rod and reel combo for drop shot Bass fishing, then I would be looking for a 6 – 7ft rod and a size 3000 – 5000 spinning reel. Go with a 8lb – 12lb fluorocarbon as that way you won’t need to tie a leader at the bottom.
This combination is large enough to manage a bigger catch but small enough for sensitivity when a fish ‘nibbles’ on a free floating bait.
How should you rig it?
When rigging your drop shot, you want to stick with the basics and keep things simple. Tie the sinker weight directly onto your mainline and do the same for the worm hook or jig head as well. Then just thread on a small piece of bait or a plastic lure and you’re good to go!
When we fish on the reef, we like to put a loop of about 12 inches from the mainline for the hook so that the bait hangs at 45 degrees or so. This also seems to work well for Bass fishing although I have also seen evidence of this drop shot rigs working with the hook right on the mainline. My advice, try both and see what works.
How do you land them?
Unlike when a lure is chased, when fishing deep with a drop shot there is the risk that the fish can spit out their bait so you need to be quick on the draw when setting the hook. Alternatively, with a free floating bait, there is also the chance that the fish can swallow it as well. So, as with general fishing, set the hook at a level that will keep the fish on the end but not rip it out if its mouth as you reel it in.
There you have it, how to fish for bass with drop shot rigs. I hope it was helpful, and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them below.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time