When Should You Throw A Drop Shot Rig? (3 Things You Should Know)
UPDATED 22 FEBRUARY 2023
by Robert Ceran
Drop shotting is one of the very best methods for catching bass (with many anglers claiming it’s the number one rig to throw for bass).
In addition, setting up and fishing a drop shot rig is relatively easy, which makes it an excellent choice for beginners.
While all of this sounds great, you’re probably asking: when should you use a drop shot rig?
Here’s the quick answer:
A drop shot rig can be used to catch bass all year round, and at any depth. However, it performs best in summer and winter, when bass move into deeper water and become more lethargic.
At these times, finesse drop shotting is the absolute top method for catching bass that are not feeding aggressively.
Now let’s dive deeper into the details, and discuss when you should (and when you shouldn’t) fish a drop shot rig.
When to use a drop shot rig
The drop shot rig is highly effective all year round, and can be used from 2 feet deep water all the way up to 100 feet deep water.
Drop shotting was originally developed for vertical fishing in deep water, but it has since been adapted to casting tactics in shallow water, and performs equally well in both scenarios.
In fact, if you had to choose one single bass fishing method to use at all times, it would be fishing with a drop shot setup, since it is so effective, and so versatile.
But having said that, there are definitely some times when it performs better, and other times when other bass rigs or lures work better.
Here are the best times to throw a drop shot rig:
- When bass retreat to deeper water (in summer or winter)
- When bass hold close to the bottom
- When bass are lethargic (due to either hot or cold temperatures)
- When bass are not feeding aggressively (due to change of weather)
- In open water or in water with light cover
Deep water drop shot fishing
When bass are aggressively feeding in shallow water, you can catch them on almost any lure or rig, and they will attack practically anything you throw at them.
But when they move into deeper water, the story changes. This happens twice every year, in summer and in winter.
During summer, the bass move to the cooler water in the deeper zones, and in winter they move to similar spots, but this time to escape the cold.
When bass hold in deep water, they are often found close to the bottom, and though they tend to be less aggressive, they still feed during this time (including the winter).
So you can definitely still catch them when they’re deep, but you have to use the right tactics.
Drop shotting is perfect for deep water fishing for two main reasons: firstly, it is a bottom fishing technique, which allows you to present your bait exactly in the right place, and secondly, it is a great finesse tactic, which can catch bass even if they’re not in the mood for feeding aggressively.
Especially in winter, drop shotting is great for catching lethargic bass, since you give them a lot of time to investigate the bait before committing to it.
If you’re using a fish finder for deep water fishing, and notice that the bass are suspended a few feet above the bottom, you can adjust the length between the hook and your weight.
That way you can present the bait at exactly the right height above the bottom.
Drop shot fishing from shore
Drop shot fishing from shore is perfect for catching bass with finesse tactics, since it works very well with light tackle.
Drop shot fishing from shore is usually done with a lightweight drop shot rod, and a reel spooled with 10-12 lb test fluorocarbon, which is much lighter than the 60 lb test braid used for throwing lures around heavy cover.
Because of this, you can use subtle presentations and a very slow retrieve speed, which gives finicky bass all the time they need to commit to eating your bait.
I’d like to point out here that finesse fishing with a drop shot rig from shore can catch fish at all times, and not only when they are being finicky.
In fact, when they are feeding aggressively, you’ll find yourself catching a fish on your drop shot rig at every cast.
If drop shotting is so effective, why isn’t every bass angler using it all the time?
Well, the main reason is because it’s so much fun to catch bass by throwing big lures, and the second reason is that while drop shotting tends to catch the largest number of fish, they tend to be smaller on average than if you’re using big lures that attract big bass.
When not to use a drop shot rig
While this is a nearly universal fishing technique, there two main scenarios where it doesn’t work well:
- When bass are feeding near the surface
- When there is lots heavy cover
Drop shotting is a bottom fishing technique, and if bass are actively feeding near the surface, they won’t notice your bait because it’s presented below them.
This is especially true when they are chasing shad in shallow water, in which case you’re better off using a lure fished high in the water, and mimicking the colors of the baitfish they are feeding on.
In those cases, you should always aim to fish your bait above them, since this is where their attention is focused.
Secondly, as mentioned above, drop shotting is mostly done with light tackle, which makes it unsuitable for fishing in heavy cover.
This is especially true since it’s a bottom fishing technique, which means you’ll constantly get snagged on that cover, either with your weight, or lure hook.
The two most common scenarios where this applies are heavy grass beds, and laydowns with lots of branches.
In cases like that drop shotting can be extremely frustrating, either because you’ll get your rig snagged all the time, or because a big fish will dive into the cover after being hooked, and you won’t be able to get it out with your light gear.
In situations like that it’s better to use a lure that is semi-weedless, and that can be fished high in the water column (such as spinnerbaits, for example).