Dropshot Fishing for Bass 101


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Dropshot fishing is the best vertical presentation ever created for bass fishing. Whether fish are positioning around cover, like boulders and brush piles, or simply out in the open on or near the bottom, a dropshot rig gives the angler the perfect tool to drop a bait vertically onto bass that are beneath the boat.

But even in situations where you don’t want to fish vertically for bass, dropshot fishing still works really well. A dropshot rig can be pitched to shallow to midrange cover, or even cast out and allowed to pendulum down by suspended fish deep. And though dropshot fishing works best from a boat, it can even be a great tool to use from the bank. So, here’s everything you need to know about dropshot fishing for bass, from how to rig it and best baits to when, where, and how to catch big bass with this versatile rig.

Table of Contents

  • What Is a Dropshot Fishing Rig?
  • How to Rig a Dropshot Rig for Bass, Step by Step
  • When and Where Does Dropshot Fishing Work Best?
  • What Are The Best Weights to Use for Dropshot Fishing?
  • How to Work a Dropshot Fishing Rig

What Is a Dropshot Fishing Rig?

photo of a dropshot rig for bass
A dropshot rig typically consists of a finesse-style soft plastic bait and hook tied above a weight. Shaye Baker

A dropshot fishing rig consists of five primary components: mainline, leader line, hook, soft plastic bait, and weight. This rig works best on spinning gear, using a braided mainline and a fluorocarbon leader. Near the end of the leader, a hook rigged with a soft plastic lure is positioned a short distance above a weight.

As the weight sits on the bottom, the soft-plastic bait floats and washes around, suspended a short distance above. This creates an extremely realistic presentation that works well on high-pressured fish as well as aggressive fish that are suspended or on the bottom in deep water.

How to Rig a Dropshot Rig for Bass, Step by Step

Step 1: Determine the length of your leader and tie to the main line. Typically 6- to 10- feet is effective. Tie your braided mainline to your fluorocarbon leader line. Use a double uni knot, FG Knot, or some other knot that works well when joining lines.

Step 2: Determine the distance between your bait and weight. For this, 14- to 18- inches is typically a good place to start.

Step 3: Select your hook and tie to the leader. Nose hooking a bait with a small circle hook works well when fishing in open water or around light cover. Use light-wire straight shank or EWG hooks to rig your dropshot weedless when fishing around heavy cover. Tie your hook onto your leader using a Palomar knot. Make sure to go through the hook-point side of the eye first. Also, make sure the tag end of your line is long enough to allow for the desired distance between your weight and bait.

Step 4: Take the tag end of your line and run it through the front or your hook eye, pulling it all the way through. If you have tied your hook on correctly, you should be able to slide the knot to where the hook stands straight out, perpendicular to your leader, with the hook point facing up.

Step 5: Select your dropshot weight. Dropshot weights come in a range of sizes and shapes, with two ways to secure them. More on that shortly. The best all-around dropshot weight is tear-shaped, in the 1/4-ounce range with a pinch-style line clip. Take the dropshot weight you’ve selected and secure it to the very bottom of your leader.

Step 6: Choose your soft plastic. These baits are designed to mimic gobi, shad, herring, and other small baitfish. Make your selection based on the local forage. If you chose a circle hook, nose-hook the bait. To do this, run the hook point through the nose of your bait, entering from the bottom. Slide the nose of the bait to the center of the bend in the hook so that the bait can stand straight out, perpendicular to your line.

Step 7: Rig the bait. If you chose a straight shank or EWG hook, rig the bait weedless. To do this, insert your hook point through the center of the tip of the bait and quickly out the bottom. Slip this section up onto the bait keeper of the hook, then rig the bait straight and weedless by running the hook point through the bait and skin hooking the hook point back into the back of the soft plastic.

When and Where Does Dropshot Fishing Work Best?

Dropshots work well year-round but are particularly effective when bass are deep during the winter and summer months. Look for fish positioning in and around cover on deep points in more than 10- feet of water. Though dropshots can be used to target bass suspended midway through the water column, those fish can be hard to catch in general and a dropshot really works best when the bass are hanging within a couple feet of the bottom or cover.

Related: Best Bass Summer Bass Lures—Picked by the Pros

What Are The Best Weights to Use for Dropshot Fishing?

Three types of dropshot weighs—ball, cylindrical, and tear-drop—on white background.
Ball-shaped dropshot weights give you the most sensitivity; cylindrical weights are more snag-resistant; and tear-shaped weights are compromise between the two. Bass Pro Shops

Dropshot weights come in a range of sizes and three main shapes: ball, cylindrical, and tear-shaped. The ball weights allow for more bottom contact, making them more sensitive. This gives you the ability to tell what the bottom looks like by how it feels. These weights are a little more likely to hang up around cover though, so you’ll want to use ball weights typically in open water with a nose-hooked bait.

The cylindrical weights are the most snag resistant, and thus come through cover like brush better. You’ll pair these weights with baits that are rigged weedless. The tear-shaped weights are the best of both worlds, providing sensitivity with a wide base, while still being fairly snag-resistant thanks to their pointed tips. Depending on the cover, you can nose hook your bait or rig it weedless when using tear-shaped weights.

Let a 1/4-ounce weight and 15 feet of water be your joint tipping point, going with lighter weights in shallower water and heavier ones when deeper. The wind sometimes dictates the weight needed as well, as gusts will make it harder to keep your bait on the bottom. Go with the lightest weight possible while still maintaining bottom contact, as this will create the most realistic presentation.

Your last variable to choose between when selecting your weight is the mechanism that is used to attach it to your line. The most common is a line-pinch-style clip. Simply run your line through and then wedge it up into the tight area of the clip. There are also weights that can be attached using a knot. These come with a circular ring that you tie the bottom of your leader to. The line tie weights work well with light-pound test lines, as the thin line can slip through the other weights too easily.

Related: Carolina Rig Fishing for Summer Bass

Best Dropshot Baits for Bass

There’s a wide array of soft-plastic baits that work great dropshotting, most of which fall under a few basic categories including, goby baits, straight-tail and flat-tail finesse worms and shad (or other baitfish) imitators. My personal four favorites are the Roboworm Straight Worm,  Roboworm Fat Straight Tail Worm, Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm, and the Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flat Worm. 

How to Work a Dropshot Fishing Rig to Catch More Bass

Man holding a bass on a lake.
Dropshot fishing for bass is highly effective if you rig correctly and use the right presentation. battler via Adobe Stock

There are two ways to fish a dropshot: drop it below the boat to be fished vertically or pitch it out to cover nearby. The traditional method of dropping a dropshot vertically onto fish or cover exploded in popularity as 2D sonar and down imaging became more refined. These advancements in technology made it far easier to locate and target cover and bass directly beneath the boat.

But with the increase in pressure on these fish, it quickly became harder to fish for them vertically, as they became more and more wary of boats overhead. Skilled anglers began targeting fish out in front of the boat, using landmarks to position themselves near cover and fish that they had previously found. This is called triangulating.

Once an angler is in position this way, he or she can make short pitches to targets and catch bass without moving the boats directly overhead. With the invention and recent rise in popularity of forward-facing sonar, all anglers are able to sit back off of fish and, with time, learn to target these fish by pitching to them.

However you get your dropshot in front of a bass, you’ll want to fish it slowly once it’s there. This rig is meant to fall to the bottom, draw the bass’s attention to it along the way and then gently coerce them into biting. Subtle movements of the rod tip will allow the weight to stay on bottom but still impart tantalizing action to the bait. Don’t be afraid to let your bait sit for a minute or more if you’re confident that it’s near cover or in front of a fish.

A dropshot gives the angler a fantastic finesse presentation for targeting finicky bass in stained to clear water. Look for fish in midrange to deeper water that are holding close to the bottom or cover. Work your bait slowly and subtly, taking the time necessary to talk them into biting.

When you do get a bite, reel into the fish and let your rod load up. It’s best to get them off of the bottom and away from the cover as quickly as possible, and then backoff the drag and play them a little more carefully once they near the boat. Though there are a lot of nuances to fishing a dropshot, at its simplest form and in the hands of a beginner, it is still an extremely effective tool.

Read Next: A Complete Guide to Ned Rig Fishing for Bass

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