largemouth bass in hand

Drop Shot Rig 101 | The Best Rig for Deep Water Bass

on . Posted in Blog, Fishing

Written by: Ralph W. Peiper

In this article we’ll cover the basics of what I believe is the most effective setup for catching bass in deep water, the Drop-Shot Rig. You’ll learn exactly what the dropshot is and how to effectively catch fish.

We will also cover the proper terminal tackle to use as well as how to rig and tie it up. The best and favorite soft plastics that produce quality fish will also be covered. This all added up will help you increase your chances at catching that new personal best!

Scroll down to go straight to the step-by-step instruction for how to rig a drop shot.

smallmouth bass in hand

The Drop-Shot Rig is one of the most effective ways to catch bass suspended in deeper water.

The Drop Shot Rig | What Is It?

What exactly is the Drop-Shot Rig you may ask? Basically, it’s a rig with the weight below your hook, where the bait is suspended above the bottom, allowing you to fish deep water, where bass are often suspended and feeding.

The drop-shot is an extremely versatile setup (not just for finesse fishing) and can be constantly evolved and experimented with.

Many fisherman, from amateur to pro, believe the drop shot is not only the best, but also the most effective rig for catching bass year-round.

So, everyone who loves catching bass should learn how to tie the Drop-Shot Rig.


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Hooks and Weights Needed For Drop-Shotting

The hooks and weights for the drop-shot rig have evolved over the years from experimental, into highly effective terminal tackle, made specifically for this rig.

When choosing your hooks, go with a circle or finesse hook for best results.

The drop shot rig can be used with a variety of baits and methods including the wacky rig and Carolina rig.

Personally, I like to use an octopus style drop-shot hook as the fish usually set the hook for you rather than having to set it on your own.

Go with a size 1 or 2 hook depending on bait size and species you are targeting. The smaller the better. Less profile means less chance of a fish getting wise to your setup.

You can use other knots, such as the palomar knot with the drop-shot rig, but the uni-knot is what I recommend for this setup.



Just about any weights will work. Weight size depends on the depth of water you are fishing and the wind conditions. 1/8 oz is the standard, while no bigger than ¼ oz should be used.

Specialized tungsten weights are designed with a clip on top so you can run your tag end through and clip it to your line with a simple overhand knot. This allows for quick release, should you get hung up on the bottom allowing you to reel in your hook and bait.

That’s all there is too it when it comes to terminal tackle. Now, let’s move on to the baits.



Baits Used With The Drop Shot Rig

The baits for the Drop-Shot Rig are endless, ranging from flukes to worms to a few unknown fishing objects (UFO).

The best baits to use, however, are those that mimic bait fish, since they are the what bass feed on the majority of the year.

Fluke styles work best for hungry and active fish. But, when the bite is slow, put on a straight worm to encourage a nibble from a finicky fish.

It is never a bad idea to experiment and try something new. You can hook up a creature bait, or my personal favorite, the Keitech Swing Impact. The slightest twitch will incite a feeding frenzy. Always remember flukes and worms work best but sometimes choosing the bait less casted could be your glory day on the water.


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How To Rig A Drop Shot | Step-By-Step Instructions

The setup for the Drop-Shot Rig is quite simple once you get the hang of everything... See below

Time needed: 1 minute.

How to rig a Drop-Shot step-by-step:

  1. Thread the hook.

    Thread the fishing line through the eyelet of the hook. Be sure to leave an appropriate amount of tag line to tie your weight to. A tag length of 12” to 16” works best.

    threading eye of hook on drop shot rig

  2. Tie your hook knot.

    A Uni-Knot works best when tying your line to your hook. See instructions on how to tie a Uni-Knot.

    attaching drop shot hook with uni knot

  3. Loop tag end back through hook eyelet.

    Before tying your weight, be sure to loop your tag end through the eye of your hook, so that when your weight touches the bottom, it positions the hook horizontally, creating a more natural look to your bait. This also provides an optimal hook set.

    putting tag end through hook eyelet

  4. Attach your weight.

    Now, just tie your weight on with a simple overhand knot and all you need is bait!

    hands tying on drop shot weight

Scroll down for more info on how to fish the Drop-Shot Rig.



Bait Placement And How To Fish It

Soft plastic placement is key with the Drop Shot Rig. Go through the head portion of the bait. This will give your bait a more natural look as it moves up and down with the hook in the water column.

Wacky rig and Texas rigging the bait on the hook also works well depending on the situation and conditions.

The drop shot works great with a baitcaster and can be Finessed, Dead Sticking and vertically jigged, however the majority of the time, just work it like you would a Carolina or Texas Rigged setup.

When you are around schools of active fish, try twitching, hopping or shaking the bait to get a reaction strike from a hungry bass. After, you want to get a hook in that bass’s mouth!


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When the fish bite gets tough, dead stick your bait or slightly shake your bait without shaking your weight this can get even the most stubborn of bass to bite.

Work around points and rock pile or humps, deep in the water column, fishing any structure where foraging bait fish might congregate.

Don’t be afraid to experiment a little, because anything can work for a hungry bass.

You can use the Drop-Shot for other fish as well, like trout.

So, rig up a dropshot on your bass fishing rod today!

I hope this article about the Drop-Shot Rig was informative and helps you to put a hook N1 and land that new Personal Best so when all your fishing buddies ask how you did it you can confidently say, “The Drop Shot Rig is the most effective rig for bass fishing anywhere at any time!”

ralph peiper holding smallmouth bass
You can follow Ralph Peiper on Instagram: @sgt_smallmouth or subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

^Header image and smallmouth bass image in this article provided by Brad Alan (Instagram: @tactical_testosterone)

rifle and bow hunter

Are You A Pro Hunter? [or just a complainer?]

I listened intently as a popular outdoor podcaster explained, in great detail his disdain for rifle hunting – and rifle hunters. He pontificated for 30 minutes about its inherent lack of challenge and illegitimacy in the deer woods.

Promptly following his passionate albeit exhaustive diatribe, he said, “but that’s okay. Not everyone has to hunt the same way.”

His ending statement came too late – at least in my mind.


boy with buck and doe

Is rifle hunting, or any other type of hunting for that matter – “better” than another? And, is that really the point?

Days later, I listened to another show where several minutes of banter were dedicated to the lameness that is hunting with an outfitter.

Here, you got the impression that, anything short of traversing public land with not much more than a bow and climbing sticks, was a “short cut”. 

I’d never felt so lazy in my life (not really, I’ve got pretty thick skin). The negativity and chest puffing seemed to increase with the sound of each new cracking beer tab in the background.



Though these are guys that consistently provide a lot of entertaining and useful hunting information, they are like many other outdoorsmen – they’re not pro hunters…

A Pro Hunter is…

So, by now you’ve probably figured out that this article has a misleading title.

Jim Shockey is a pro hunter. Larry Weisuhnn is a pro hunter. Charles Alsheimer was a pro hunter.  Though just three of many examples, these sportsmen have a lot of cred, with gobs of skill, skins on the wall, knowledge of wild game, and efforts for conservation.

man punching deer tag with buck

With hunting numbers down in the U.S., hunters should promote hunting in general, instead of bickering about topics surrounding which type of hunting is better and which buck is big enough to harvest.

But they have more than that.

It’s no secret that hunting numbers are down in North America. Indeed, it’s a pivotal time for our hunting heritage and future. Obviously, the anti-hunting sentiment plays a large role here for sure. However, it’s obvious that many members of the hunting contingent are intent on eating their young.

A recipe for disaster – outdoor future thwarted.



What is pro hunting? Yes, it has a lot to do with expertise, accomplishments, and positive contributions to habitat, and the like. However, in this vernacular, to be a pro hunter simply means to PROmote.

Promote the way you prefer to hunt, your weapons of choice, or other philosophies.

I’m “pro-bowhunting because I prefer to get closer to the deer I hunt.” I’m “pro-public land hunting because I find it challenging and I get to seek new places and find deer there.” I’m “pro-private land hunting because I like to have more control over my hunting grounds and deer management.”



If You’re Not A Pro, Then What Are You?

In my mind, problems arise when people become “con” hunters. So, what about this word con?

Definitions include “against” or “contrary.”


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Maybe you’ve heard comments like,  “I get irritated with guys that shoot the first buck they see – if I see one more photo of a guy posing with a young 8-pointer, I’m going to explode. They have no idea what they’re doing.”




Now there is a con I hear often. How about just promote hunting?

Cons can of course also be good if offered up in a non-confrontational or non-combative manner. After all, independent thought and respectful discussion and debate is healthy.

It’s a slippery slope though and some folks have a hard time maintaining a healthy balance.



Play Nice

“Slinging mud doesn’t get anyone anywhere. When we have problems with fellow hunters, hunting policies, or anything else, resolving issues the right way is a must,” says outdoor writer, Josh Honeycutt.

Arguably, mental wrestling matches regarding hunting issues are healthy. However, it’s a fact that, like in any community, the entire hunting collective doesn’t play nice.


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So, perhaps it’s best to develop (or stick with) your pro hunter side (or at the very least, emphasize it). It can slow the momentum of the negative trends inherent in the current hunting and the outdoor culture.

Put differently, embrace the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it” mindset. Consider approaching social media channels and deer camp fire pits as a pro hunter.



Michael Waddell once said, “I don’t care if you hunt with a recurve, rifle, a powerful crossbow, or anything else as long as you’re safe and legal.”

A pro hunter statement if I ever heard one.

This may all sound trite and dramatic, but it’s worth thinking about. Perhaps it’s best to concentrate on our pros.

With that, hunt well and play nice.

jerald kopp of first light hunting journal
Jerald Kopp of 1st Light Hunting Journal and Empowerment Outfitter Network.
whitetail buck standing in field

Don’t Hunt Like A Rookie | Avoid These Deer Hunting Mistakes

People hunt for many reasons, including sport, culture, and food. No matter what reason you’ve taken up hunting, you’re likely hoping to become the most proficient hunter you can be. We’re going to help you out by discussing the rookie mistakes that many new hunters make so that you can be ahead of the curve on your next hunt.

Lack of Weapons Practice

Proper marksmanship is necessary for any competent hunter. You need to be proficient with any of the firearms or bow hunting equipment that you may bring with you on a hunt so that you’re prepared no matter what weapon you choose.

Spend ample time at a shooting range to perfect your shot with different targets. You’ll also want to vary your weapon choice with each hunt so that you gain experience in the woods with all of your firearms.

If you’re looking for a weapon that’s smaller than a rifle, consider using a pistol as your primary hunting firearm. An AR-15 pistol can be the perfect addition to your gear pack in this case. An AR-15 pistol is much smaller and lighter weight than a rifle, freeing up space in your pack for additional gear.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! You should be proficient using any weapon that you plan to hunt with.

Over-hunting One Area

whitetail buck in velvet
Deer have an incredible sense of smell. You must avoid over-hunting one particular spot until the time is right, or the deer may pattern you and avoid that area altogether.

Most of us don’t own acres of property on which to scout and set up stands. If you’re like the average hunter, you probably hunt on public land or on private land with the owner’s permission, or even in suburban areas.

>> Check out creative and clever deer hunting shirt designs from N1

Because many of us don’t have endless options at our disposal, we end up with one or two areas that we go back to season after season. The problem with this is that going back to the same location every year can result in a reduced chance of making a kill.

It may seem like going to the same area year after year would give you a chance to get to know the area more intimately, increasing your chances of finding game each time. The truth is that the deer in that area get better at avoiding you with every season you hunt there.

This is true during a single season as well. If you set up your tree stand in one area and never move, you might possibly bag a buck or two. But, once you move into an area, deer will view that area as a dangerous space. So, the longer you stay and hunt in that area, the more potential you have for driving away the very deer you are trying to harvest.

Your best bet is to travel the area you plan to hunt as little as possible until you are ready to actually hunt it. Carefully plan your entry and exit routes to and from your deer stand or blind location.

Depending Too Much on High-Tech Gear

Hunting gear and accessories are getting better every year, to the delight of hunters everywhere. Marketing makes it seem like all of this gear is necessary for a successful hunt. The truth is, all of the gear in the world can’t replace skill and experience. While laser scopes and other accessories will give you an edge, they can’t replace the skills required for hunting, tracking and harvesting deer.

Remember, people have been hunting for thousands of years without any of the technological advancements we have today. Skill and experience are more important than any piece of gear you can purchase for a hunt.

Relying heavily on technology can also go wrong if that technology malfunctions. For instance, marking a certain spot on your GPS can be incredibly helpful unless that GPS stops working. This is why you should be able to back up any high-tech solutions with manual work. If you mark a spot on a GPS, take the time to mark it on a physical map as well. 

Some would argue that relying too much on technology even applies to bowhunting with mechanical/expandable broadheads. Fast and forgiving arrows with expandable heads that help them fly more like field points are attractive for sure. But some argue that heavier arrows lead to more recovered deer.

Don’t rely too heavily on specialized gear and gadgets when hunting. Your mind is one of your greatest assets.

Lack of Patience

The anticipation of making a kill can make you forget that sitting in a stand can be incredibly boring. It’s often hours before any game come along, and you’re left just sitting there waiting until something happens to come your way.

It can be tempting to get distracted by your phone or a book and lose track of what’s happening in the woods around you. While having means of entertainment makes the time go by faster, it can also prevent you from noticing when a game animal walks into range. You don’t want to hear a deer noise, look up and realize that the deer has already seen you!

If you choose to bring any sort of entertainment to pass the time, make sure that you don’t get too absorbed in it. Look up from your phone or book frequently so that you don’t miss anything that walks into your field of vision. 

Waiting Too Long To Take a Shot

You may be waiting in the stand for hours for a target deer to pass you by. When it finally happens, you may be waiting too long for the perfect shot before doing anything.

The problem with waiting for the “perfect shot” is you may end up letting a perfectly ethical shot slip away because you were indecisive. Now, the last thing you want to do is take a reckless shot that leads to wounding an animal and causing it to suffer unnecessarily. However, some hunters wait a little too long and get busted before having a chance to harvest the deer.

Keep an eye on the target as soon as it walks into your field of vision. Carefully track it with your rangefinder, if you use one, or your sight. As soon as the target is within range and you have a clear shot, take it.

Be sure to take an ethical shot, but don’t let your chance slip away due to indecision.

Not Reading the Wind

Many hunting rookies fail to read the wind when hunting. Wind can factor into shot angles, scent trails, and the direction that game travels. Reading the wind is as important as assessing any other environmental factors, such as game signs or elevation. If you don’t have experience reading the wind, or any other natural signs for that matter, take the time to gain this skill. You can research how to read the wind or ask a more experienced hunter for advice.

Gaining this skill will make you a much stronger hunter in the future. It will take some time to perfect it, but be worth it when you’re able to use this skill on a hunt.

Leaving Scent Behind

deer on high alert
Pay attention to wind direction and do everything possible to not leave human scent in the area you will be hunting. Human scent will put deer on high alert.

This is one of the most common rookie mistakes in the hunting world. Leaving human scent behind is a surefire way to ensure that game avoids the area where you’ve been.

Game animals learn to avoid human scent, as they regard humans as predators and smell is one of deer’s strongest senses. Anywhere that human scent is, game will try to avoid in the future.

Leaving human scent can be catastrophic in an area that you hunt frequently. It may result in not seeing any more game during the rest of the season, which can be devastating if that is your only hunting location. So, if you continually leave lots of scent in your hunting area, deer will simply avoid that area as they move to and from food, water and nutrient locations.

There are a slew of products on the market that are made to reduce the human scent present in your skin and on your clothes. There are also some free steps you can take to minimize your scent.

First, don’t wear any artificial scents such as cologne and don’t shower with scented soap right before you go out.

Another handy tip is to gather debris such as fallen leaves and dirt in a bag and put your field clothes in that bag. This will help your clothes take on a natural scent and lessen its obvious human scent. It’s also good to avoid flowery detergents when washing your hunting clothes.

Not Recognizing Good Days and Patterns

Experienced hunters can recognize when a favorable day for hunting rolls around. This could be types of weather such as cold fronts and rain.

rainy deer hunting weather
Storm fronts that come through your hunting area could produce an increase in deer movement. Learn how weather patterns affect your deer herd.

Pay attention to the rut. This is a key facet of the hunting season and it will tell you a lot about a buck’s behavior. Before the rut, bucks often stay in bachelor groups, but by the time the rut hits, there’s going to be a lot of competition between bucks. Their behavior will tell you a lot about where and how to hunt.

Using Scents Incorrectly

We already touched on the fact that deer have a strong sense of smell. Because of this, many hunters use scents like doe estrous. A common mistake is that this scent is dumped in one spot and the hunter waits. However, this isn’t always convincing enough to entice the buck of a lifetime to approach.

Instead, you should use a drag. This lets out the scent in more natural way and you can use it to lead bucks close to your stand. When you do this, opt for a pair of latex gloves. This will make sure that the scent from your hands isn’t left behind with the trail your setting. Some scents are best with other strategies such as in mock scrapes.

Scents also need to be used at the right time. While you can get away with using doe or buck urine during the whole season, doe estrous is most effective during the beginning or end of the rut. A

ll in all, you’re going to want to do plenty of research when you’re considering using scents. While deer certainly use scents in scrapes and other areas, be sure you’re using scents at the appropriate time to avoid spooking the very deer you are trying to harvest.

Conclusion

So, even if you’re a rookie hunter, you don’t have to hunt like one. While hunting is a sport and pastime that takes a lot of skill and experience, you can jump past many of these beginner hurdles and start your first season off right. Good luck and shoot straight!

Josh Montgomery is founder of Minute Man Review.