Best Drop Shot Rod And Reel Setup (Explained)

PUBLISHED 24 JANUARY 2021

by Robert Ceran

If you want to try drop shot fishing, the first thing you need to figure out is what tackle you need, and how to set it up correctly in order to get the best results. 

In this article we’ll go over all the main tackle components that you need, and will give a specific recommendation of what specifications and sizes to choose. We’ll also tell you how to put it all together in the right way, so you’ll be ready to start drop shotting in no time at all.

We’ll cover the following components that you need to have in order to get started:

  • Fishing rod
  • Fishing reel
  • Fishing line
  • Weight
  • Hook
  • Baits

We’ll give you specific recommendations for what type and size to get for each of these tackle items, except for the baits, since there is a vast selection to choose from, and we won’t be able to cover all of them in full detail here.

So let’s dive right into the details!

See also: Best drop shot rod reviewed.

Choosing the right fishing rod for drop shot fishing

Drop shot fishing is most often used as a finesse technique, and because of this you need to choose a lightweight tackle to get the best results. 

What type of rod should you use for drop shot fishing?

Spinning rods perform better than casting rods when it comes to fishing with lightweight tackle, and are therefore the best choice for drop shotting. While it is in principle possible to use a casting rod for this purpose, it’s much more difficult to cast lightweight tackle on this rod type, which is why a spinning rod is by far the best choice. 

See also: The best rod type to use for topwater fishing

What is the best rod length for drop shot?

The best rod length for drop shotting is 7 foot. That’s a perfect compromise between a shorter rod length, which works best for vertical fishing from a boat, and a longer rod length that performs better in terms of casting. If you know that you’ll only be fishing vertically, you can choose a shorter rod length (around 6’6” to 6’8” is best). Alternatively, if you know that you’ll only be casting from shore, then a slightly longer rod length would be better (between 7’2” and 7’4”). 

See also: When to use a drop shot rig

What is the best rod power for drop shot?

The best rod power for drop shotting is medium power. While drop shot fishing is definitely a finesse technique, you don’t want to choose a rod that’s too light, since you need to have sufficient rod backbone to set the hook in the hard mouth of a bass, and you also need enough power in case you hook a big fish.

That’s why medium is the ideal choice for most scenarios, but you can also go slightly lighter with a medium light rod (especially if you’re fishing in open water, and there’s no danger of a big fish getting snagged in cover).

See also: Bass spinning rod and reel setup

What is the best rod action for drop shot?

The best rod action for drop shot is fast action. You want to have a tip that’s soft enough to be able to impart subtle movements to your hook & bait. This requires a sensitive tip, which is why you shouldn’t go with extra-fast action for most drop shotting scenarios, since this comes with a tip that’s too stiff.

See also: Topwater fishing rod and reel setup

What is the best drop shot reel?

The best reel to go for is a lightweight spinning reel with a fast retrieve rate. Both the Shimano Stradic CI4 and the Abu Garcia Revo SX  are great reel choices for drop shot fishing, as they combine lightness with speed. 

  • Reel size: 2500 to 3000
  • Retrieve speed: fast (more than 30 inches per turn)

It’s important to get a lightweight reel for drop shotting, since that pairs best with a lightweight rod, and also works well with lightweight lines. On the other hand, you don’t want to go ultra lightweight, since you need to be able to handle bass that are over 5 pounds.

The reason for choosing a fast retrieve speed is that bass sometimes swim right towards you after being hooked (especially smallmouth bass like to do this, swimming straight upwards to the water surface, even after being hooked in 30 foot of water). When a bass does this, it’s really hard to take up the slack line fast enough to keep up with it, which is why a high speed reel is the best choice.

See also: Bass jig fishing rod and reel setup

What fishing line is best for drop shot fishing?

Since drop shot fishing is a finesse technique, the best line for this fishing technique is fluorocarbon, which has the lowest visibility underwater.

  • Main line: 12-16 lb test braided line
  • Leader: 6-8 lb test fluorocarbon

While you can go with fluorocarbon as your main line, and tie that directly to your hook and weight, most anglers prefer to use a braided main line (since braid has better casting properties), and tie that to a fluorocarbon leader.

See also: Rod and reel setup for ultralight fishing

How long should your leader be?

The ideal length of your leader depends on how clear the water is (and on how finicky the bass are). If you’re fishing in muddy water, you can keep the leader short (around 1 to 2 feet is usually fine). But if you’re fishing in a lake with 20 or 30 feet visibility, you’ll want to make the leader as long as possible (up to 7 or 8 feet). The latter scenario is most common when fishing for smallmouth bass in northern lakes.

See also: What are ultralight rods used for?

What size drop shot weight should you use?

The best weight size to choose depends on how deep you plan to fish:

  • Less than 15 feet: 1/8 oz
  • 15 to 25 feet: 3/16 oz
  • More than 25 feet: 1/4 oz

Also, if you’re fishing in a situation with lots of wind, choppy water, or even a strong current, you’ll also need to switch to a heavier weight in order to get the job done. And while you can use almost any type of weight for this, you can also opt for one of the specialty drop shot weights designed for this purpose. 

See also: How to set up a jigging rod for walleye

Choosing the right hook

When it comes to hooks, it’s best to choose either a hook specifically designed for split shot or drop shot fishing. Alternatively, you can also opt for a regular octopus style hook, but if you do, try to get one that has a straight tip, and not one of those with the curved tip, since this will improve your hook up ratio. 

Among the most popular hook brands are Gamakatsu and Owner, which produce hooks specifically designed for this technique. In terms of hook size, either a size 1 or size 2 is perfect (depending on the size of your plastic worm).

See also: Topwater frog fishing setup (detailed guide)

What is the best drop shot bait?

While there is a huge variety of soft plastic baits that can be used for drop shotting, the most commonly used models fall into the following two categories: finesse worms and shad imitations. Here are some of the most popular models:

  • Roboworm straight tail worm
  • Yamamoto shad shaped worm
  • Strike King Half Shell
  • Damiki Armor shad
  • Strike King Dream Shot

But let me reiterate: there is a nearly endless supply of different bait sizes, colors, and shapes that you can experiment with, and this topic deserves a whole article on its own. Once you have your bait ready, you can either hook it through the nose, through the middle (wacky rig style), or with the whole hook embedded inside the plastic worm (texas rig style). 

See also: The best lure types to use with spinning rods

When it comes to colors, there is unfortunately no hard and fast rule for what works best. But in general, it’s best to use natural colors in clear waters, and switch to brighter colors if you’re fishing in stained water. Also, if you notice that bass are feeding on baitfish, then choose a bait size and color that matches the baitfish.

See also: What frog colors are best for bass fishing?

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