Though the drop-shot rig has been popular among expert bass anglers for many years, I still talk to anglers who haven’t tried it, especially those who fish for walleyes and panfish. The beauty of this rig is its simplicity and that you can set your lure or livebait some distance above the bottom.
This makes it more visible to cruising fish or where vegetation like sandgrass covers the bottom. And you don’t have to set the hook, just start reeling and they’re hooked. All you need it a 6 1/2-foot spinning rod and reel spooled with 6- or 8-pound mono. I’m a fan of VMC Spin-Shot hooks, since they prevent line twist; a #2 or #1 for bass and walleyes, #6 for panfish.
I often cast my rig a good distance to work an area of structure. But when you cast, tie the hook farther above your sinker so it stays well above bottom on your retrieve.
I often fish this rig for walleyes on structure in 18 to 24 feet of water, baiting with leeches or ‘crawlers. Cast out and it lands quickly; raise the rod to move it, then give slack; repeat that motion back to the boat. It often outfishes Lindy Rigs or slip-floats in those situations, as you can cover more water and fish particular targets more precisely.
I also drop-shot panfish along deep weedlines, using a small insect imitation. If the big ‘gills get tough, though, a leech or piece of ‘crawler will activate them. You may spot crappies suspended on sonar and you can adjust the hook placement to keep the lure in their zone.
For smallmouth and largemouth bass, drop-shots are unmatched, especially in cover that’s not too thick. In vegetation, I favor a cylindrical sinker since it slides through the stalks easily; on harder bottoms, a round weight is best, since it helps you determine if you’re on rock, sand, or gravel. You can catch bass on a huge variety of small softbaits; it’s hard for fish to pass up. A favorite for largemouths is the tail section a swimming worm with about an inch of the body, skewered on the hook. The action is amazing when you shake it. You can even fish a heavy version of this rig on a bait casting rod with heavier line, dropping lures in thick vegetation. They don’t sink into the bottom and disappear, as can happen with jigs in mucky areas.
In mid and late-summer, this rig is always on my deck, no matter what species I’m after and what type of like I’m on. Gear up and drop in on your favorite spots. You won’t be disappointed!