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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)

rifle and bow hunter

Are You A Pro Hunter?

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.

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.”

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.

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, crossbow, rifle, 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.

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!

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