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largemouth bass in hand

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

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 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.

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. 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.

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

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.

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 wiht 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. This 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!

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.

We 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)

How To Tie The Uni Knot

In this N1 Outdoors® video we show you how to tie the versatile Uni-Knot (or Hangman’s Knot). Step-by-step instructions below video. We hope it helps you Put A Hook N1!

The Uni Knot [Hangmans Knot] | Step-By-Step Instructions

How to tie the uni knot illustration

Time needed: 1 minute.

Instructions for how to tie the Uni Knot

  1. Thread line through eye of hook or lure.

    threading eye of uni knot hook

  2. Grab the “tag end” of the line (the end NOT connected to your spool).

    grabbing tag end of uni knot

  3. Make a loop with the tag end of the line.

    looping tag end of uni knot

  4. Pinch the top of the loop you just made against the line with your index finger.

    holding uni knot loop end against line

  5. Loop the tag end of the line inside and around the top of the loop 5 times.

    loop the tag end 5 times

  6. Slowly pull the tag end away from the hook/lure.

    pulling tag end of uni knot

  7. Trim the tag end of the line. FINISHED! You have completed the Uni-Knot!

    trimming tag end of uni knot

See below for video transcript of how to tie the Uni-Knot

(Uni Knot video transcript)

Hey everyone. We know many of you enjoy learning how to tie different types of fishing knots. You may have watched some of our other videos on how to tie the palomar knot, or double palomar knot.

Today, we’re going to show you how to tie the uni knot, sometimes referred to as the hangman’s knot. And, it’s not a very difficult knot to tie, but we want to show you how to do that. And, it’s a great knot for just about every fishing scenario. So, it’s a good one to have in your skill set. So, we’re using just a lure today, because it’s a little bit easier to see and hold onto for the video and 12 lb. mono.

So, we’re going to take the line, insert it through the eyelet. And, we’re going to pull about 6 inches or so on the tag end.

You’re going to take your two fingers right here. And, we’re going to just hold them right here above the eyelet.

We’re going to take the tag end and we’re going to make a loop. We’re going to loop it and then we’re going to hold that loop against the line in between those same two fingers. So, this is what it looks like.

We’re going to take the tag end and we’re going to go down behind and through the big loop and then back up and we’re going to keep twisting that around like that five different times. So, we’re going to take the tag end and begin to loop it. One, two, three, four and five. And, when you’re done, the tag end will be sticking up right here.

Now, you can just take that tag end while you’re still holding the line against the eyelet and begin to pull on that tag end. And, you’ll see that knot begin to cinch up in the middle of the line.

Now, you can let go of the tag end, grab the long end. Hold onto the lure and just pull. And, you’ll see that knot cinch down on the eyelet of the lure, or the hook in your case. We’re going to take our snips and snip there.

Now, you’ve got a really strong, very versatile uni knot. And, this knot is great, as I said, for many fishing scenarios. You can use it for line to leader combinations as well. There’s many different uses for that.

So, we hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to tie the uni knot, or hangman’s knot. And, we hope you Put A Hook N1.

Be sure to check our Put A Hook N1 fishing shirt designs!

noodling aly from alabama catfish over shoulder

Catfish Noodling | Learn How To Put A Hand N1

“I stuck my hand down in this hole and pulled out a giant catfish.”

Wait… WHAT??

If you’ve ever heard about noodling for catfish, you might wonder what in the world might possess someone to stick their hand into a dark hole and hope something latches on.

Or, maybe you’ve never even heard of noodling before now.

So, what exactly is “noodling?” Well, it’s basically catching a fish with your bare hands.

Some call it hand fishing. Some call it grabbling (or grabblin) or hogging, and of course, some call it noodling.

Even though noodling might seem scary at first, it can be fun like you’ve never experienced when you #putahandN1!

We’ll talk more about how you do it later on in the article… But first, some photos of some flathead catfish caught while noodling…

So, Can I Go Noodling For Catfish In My State?

You may have watched these videos and read the stories on this page and said, “There’s no way I’m ever doing that!” But, you might love experiencing the thrill of catching a catfish with your bare hands and wonder, “Is noodling legal in my state?”

If you live in one of the following 16 states, you may be ready to put a hand N1! (But, be sure to check your local game laws for legality and restrictions on noodling for catfish.)

map of us states where catfish noodling is legal
Noodling for catfish is legal in the following 16 states… if you live in one of these states, you can put a hand N1!

You can click on your home state name below to find out what the catfish noodling laws are where you live. Also, be sure to watch the incredible noodling videos further down the page!

If you want to see pure outdoor joy, watch these catfish noodling videos below of our friends, Andrew Urban and Luke-Avery Urban and “Aly from Alabama” as they noodle some huge catfish! The videos below will make you smile… we promise!

After watching these, you’ll understand why we decided it was time for us to try noodling (be sure and read about that trip below!) You can also read about some other noodling adventures and learn about some other interesting names for noodling and how to try it yourself!

Catfish noodling joy

Watch Andrew noodle this huge flathead and the awesome celebration that follows… (video transcript below)

(Andrew’s Catfish Noodling video transcript below)

Shake it boy! Look at that. That’s a big boy. Hold him above your head if you can. That is a nice cat!”

“I think we might get him. Got him! Holy crap! Look at that, son! Look at that! Whoo! That’s a cat daddy right there, boy!

MORE NOODLING VIDEOS BELOW THAT YOU WONT BELIEVE…

Another Monster Catfish Noodling Video Moment

In this noodling video, Andrew’s brother, Luke Avery-Urban, puts a hand N1! Check out this incredible catfish noodling video!

Watch Luke-Avery put a hand N1 as he grabs a huge flathead catfish…

(Luke-Avery’s Catfish Noodling Moment video transcript below)

“Luke’s under there. He’s got a fish hitting. Let’s see what he’s got. Whoo! Yeah baby! Yeah baby! C’mon… c’mon. I got you. Who’s your daddy?”

WATCH OUR FRIEND ALY FROM ALABAMA BELOW, NOODLE “A STINKY ONE…”

Aly From Alabama Noodles Big Blue Cat

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(Aly From Alabama’s Catfish Noodling video transcript)

“It’s a big, big fish. It’s a big blue, I think. Or, a good size flat. It bit me good. It’s got to be a blue.

I can’t get my hand in its gill. I wish you could feel this fish right now. Can’t tell what’s going on.

It just swallowed my whole hand! My whole hand is in its stomach. It’s starting to go crazy.

That’s big blue. I didn’t even think it was a blue. It swallowed my whole hand like that.

It stinks! She’s a stinky one.”

So, How Can I Learn to Noodle A Catfish?

You’ve seen some incredible videos and pictures of people noodling. So, after watching and reading about it, do you want to learn to Put A Hand N1? Read below for a step-by-step noodling tutorial!

How to noodle for catfish:

  1. Safety First!

    Always have at least one person in the water with you, spotting you, when you noodle for catfish. Noodling can sometimes require you to go under water and holding your breath. Don’t overestimate your ability to hold your breath. Also, catfish are extremely powerful fish, so be sure you don’t underestimate their strength. You may also want to wear gloves to protect your hands. They bite hard!

  2. Find where they’re hiding…

    Check under boat ramps on holes in the bank. Some people also noodle in man-made boxes that have been submerged to attract catfish during the spawn. You can use a stick to probe in the holes. If there’s a catfish in the hole, it will often bite the stick with a distinct “thud.”

  3. Stick your hand in the hole

    This can be the most unnerving part of noodling. Be sure to keep your 4 fingers together so you don’t break a finger unnecessarily (see picture below!) Slowly move your hand around in the hole and get ready to get bit!

    hand placement when noodling

  4. Grab it!

    Once the catfish bites your hand try to close your hand, grabbing its lower jaw. Once you get a grip on it, try pulling it from the hole. Once you are able, slip your other hand up under the catfish’s gil plate (see picture below). This helps prevent the catfish from “rolling” and getting away. The roll is very powerful, so don’t neglect this step. On larger fish, you may want to wrap your legs around its tail to lock it up.

    men holding flathead catfish caught noodling

  5. Celebrate!

    There’s nothing like the rush of noodling. You’ll be able to handle this step with no problem! And be sure to shout, “Put A Hand N1!”

What Do Other People Say About Noodling?

Check out some quotes below about catfish noodling from some people you may have seen on social media catching huge catfish with their bare hands!

“I love noodling because there isn’t anything that can prepare you for it. Every aspect of noodling is based on your ability to conquer your own fears — you can’t prepare yourself and you can’t practice. There is a level of surprise that is untouched in any other sport or hobby, and the adrenaline rush is absolutely incredible.”

Aly “Aly from Alabama” Schreiber

“Noodling challenges me every time and the feeling of conquering fear is absolutely addicting!”

Jess Bond

“There’s just something about the adrenaline rush of going into a hole blind, but expecting to get bit every time! That’s what I noticed the first time I tried it a 12 years old! From the first bite of a little 3 lb blue cat, I was hooked on that adrenaline rush! It’s become something of a passion for me, not just a hobby at this point! Couldn’t really see myself going back to not doing it at this point!”

Nate Kennedy

“It’s just the adrenaline you get from getting on a big fish, and the experience of having fun while doing it. But it all comes down to putting a hand N1 and that’s what I love the most!”

Lane Allen

What Is Noodling Anyway?

Watching catfish noodling videos like the ones above from the Urban brothers and Aly from Alabama made me want to put a hand N1 too! What was it about sticking your hand into dark holes where you couldn’t see anything and hoping something huge would bite your hand?

We weren’t sure what the buzz was all about, but we were fascinated to find out what it was like to get bit.

So, we scheduled our first noodling trip with Luke-Avery Urban on Clarks Hill lake in Lincolton, Georgia.

blue catfish noodling pic
A great day on the lake noodling for catfish! This was a nice blue catfish we noodled.

But first, a limit out

Luke-Avery was generous enough to spend the whole day with us, teaching the N1 Outdoors audience how to fish for striped bass and hybrid bass. So, we spent the first part of the day striper fishing and it turned into a striper and hybrid limit

Once we had limited out on striped bass and hybrid, we were off to some boat ramps that had produced some quality noodling trips over the years for Luke-Avery. 

Catfish spawning

Spawning time is the optimal time for noodling catfish. We learned that water temperature is key in learning when the catfish spawn happens. The female lays her eggs in hollow logs, crevices or caverns under the bank, and in holes or openings under boat ramps, which is where we would be searching.

Once the female catfish lays her eggs, the male guards the nest fiercely until the hatch occurs. We found out that they will bite down hard on anything entering the nest!

Optimal water temperatures for blue catfish is 70-84 degrees, while some believe that 81 degrees is the magical temperature for blue cats. Most believe that the flathead catfish spawn an temperatures of 66-75 degrees. Whatever the perfect temperature is for each, we were able to experience both species in one outing! 

Hurt at first bite

At our first stop, I got to experience what it feels like to get bit on the hand when trying to noodle a catfish for the first time. I learned quickly that it’s best to keep your fingers together when noodling. The first bite was actually on just my little finger. It sure didn’t feel very good! If you have never experienced how strong the mouth of a catfish is, noodling will help you understand!

catfish noodling giles pic
Getting a big catfish to bite your hand and then pulling it out of a hole is a rush like other!

Luke-Avery said he’s taken a lot of grown men noodling and most of the have yelled underwater the first time they get bit. I was determined to not do that. But, I will say I was certainly startled. 

I tried multiple times to grab the catfish in that first hole and just could get a grip fast enough.

Finally, Luke-Avery said to let him try. He stuck his hand into the hole and got bit as well. When he came up he said, “that’s a blue cat. They bite harder than a flathead catfish does.” (Flathead catfish are sometimes referred to as mud cats, yellow cats or shovelhead catfish.)

We left that hole and moved farther down the boat ramp. Eventually, we were both diving down in 10 feet of water checking other holes. Luke-Avery was able to pull out a nice blue cat.

My first noodling success

When we left there, we went to another ramp where Luke-Avery had noodled some 40+ pound catfish in prior years. We got bit several times but were having trouble landing any cats. Finally, I was able to get a hand N1 and land my first flathead catfish! It was a rush for sure!

I found out that noodling was definitely worth all the hype and I can’t wait to put a hand N1 again!

Another Big Catfish story
catfish noodling man

– By Charles Farmer

Summer is upon us and in Southern Illinois, and that means it’s time for catfish to start spawning, which means noodling! Catfish swim up in holes under all sorts of things such as stumps, boat ramps, and rocks.

With noodling, the first thing you do is feel around with a stick in the hole because fish this big will be in holes 15, maybe 20 feet, back. We found a big flathead catfish under a boat ramp and we knew it was time to put a hand N1. So, I went under the murky water and put my arm in the hole, waving it around inside there and… Bam, I got bit!

So, I grabbed its bottom jaw and ripped it out of the hole while putting my other hand under it. We ran a stringer in it to see how big it was once he broke the surface. It was a monstrous 40+ pounder! I’ll never forget the day I put a hand N1! 

Have fun, be safe, and put a hand N1!

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