Double Drop Bottom Rig (Setup & Fishing Guide with Pictures)


by Robert Ceran

Are you planning to use a double drop bottom rig, but aren’t sure how to set it up, or how to fish it for the best results?

While the double drop rig is a great 2-hook saltwater fishing setup, it can be a little tricky to set up and fish correctly. 

In this article I’ll explain how to set up a double drop bottom rig, and will aso cover what bait to use with it, and how to fish it for optimal results.

Double Drop Bottom Rig (Setup & Fishing Guide with Pictures)

What is a double drop bottom rig (and what is it good for)?

A double drop bottom rig is a saltwater fishing rig that consists of a sinker tied to the end of the line, as well as two hooks tied above the sinker with 3 way swivels. 

The double drop rig is one of several double hook rigs used for saltwater fishing, the most popular of which are the high low rig and the paternoster rig.

What sets the double drop bottom rig apart from these other 2 hook setups is that it uses 3 way swivels to attach the hooks to the leader, while the other two setups use dropper loop knots and T-knots for the same purpose. 

The use of 3 way swivels makes the double drop fishing rig easier and quicker to set up for beginners, as it can be tied with the help of basic fishing knots. 

The double drop bottom rig can be used either for surf fishing, or from a boat, and is great for targeting snapper, grouper, striper, flounder, sheepshead, tautog, and many more saltwater species. It also comes in handy for targeting catfish in freshwater.

Double drop rig components

Here are the tackle components that you’ll need for your double drop bottom rig setup:

  • Size #2 barrel swivel
  • Two 3-way swivels
  • 2 to 6 oz bank sinker
  • Two hooks (size 4/0 to #2 circle hooks or Kahle hooks)
  • 30 to 80 lb test leader line (monofilament or fluorocarbon)

Note that the strength of the leader depends on the size of fish that you want to target. For smaller inshore species, 30 to 40 lb test monofilament is sufficiently strong, but if you’re targeting larger fish, such as goliath groupers, it’s better to increase that to 80 or even 100 lb test.

Image showing double drop bottom rig diagram

The same thing goes for hook size: choose hook sizes according to the size of your bait and the size of your target fish. The best all around hook type to use for this setup are circle hooks, but you can also go for standard J-hooks.

Finally, the size of the sinker depends on the strength of the current. Make sure it’s heavy enough to hold your rig in place at the bottom.

If you want to be able to switch out weights easily on this bottom rig, you can either tie a loop at the end of the leader (and use a cow hitch to secure the weight), or you can use a snap swivel. 

How to tie a double drop bottom rig

Start by measuring out about 1 foot of your leader line, and tie the end of it to the bank sinker with a palomar knot, or with a loop knot. 

Next, cut the leader line about 8 to 12 inches above the weight, and tie the tag end to a 3 way swivel. Then tie another 1 foot piece of leader line to the second eye of the 3 way swivel (choosing the eye that is positioned at 90 degrees with respect to the first eye).

Cut off about 3 to 4 inches of the leader line, and tie the tag end to your hook, using either a palomar knot, uni knot or snell knot.

Then tie another piece of leader line to the third eye of the swivel, and cut it off about 6 to 8 inches above the first swivel. Now repeat the same process with the second 3 eye swivel, which you will use to attach the second hook.

After the two 3 way swivels and hooks are tied to the leader, add about another 1 foot piece of leader to the last eye of the 3 way swivel, and tie the tag end to a regular barrel swivel.

Now you’re done setting up the double drop bottom rig, and can tie it to your main fishing line with the swivel. 

What bait should you use with a double drop fishing rig?

The ideal bait to use with the double drop rig is cut bait (such as cut fish, squid strips, or cut crab), or whole shrimp (live is best, but dead shrimp also catch fish).

The best fish species to use for cut bait are oily fish, such as mackerel or herring, and always try to get them freshly caught, as that will result in a lot more bites.

Freshly cut fish releases enticing oils and scents into the water that are irresistible to snappers, groupers, and other fish . 

How to fish a double hook bottom rig

You can fish this double hook rig either from the beach, from a boat, or from a pier. 

For surf fishing, cast out your baited setup from the shore, and aim for deeper holes or troughs in the surf that are located next to sandbanks. These deeper spots in the surf accumulate food, and hence attract foraging fish.

After casting out your rig, put the rod in a rod holder, keep the line taut, and watch your rod tip to detect bites, which show up as several jerks of the tip being pulled down.

If a fish eats the bait and swims away with it, it can actually pull your whole rod down into the water, and so it’s better to keep a close eye on it. 

Photo showing angler holding two red snappers caught with a double drop rig

Image source: instagram/@joshfishes813

When fishing a double drop bottom rig from a boat, anchor your boat next to a reef or wreck, and then lower your baited setup straight down over the side of the boat.

After you weight reaches the bottom, keep your line taut and wait for bites. The nice thing about a 2 hook setup is that you can test two different baits at the same time, to find out what the fish prefer to eat.