A dropshot is one of the most effective presentations of all-time when simply trying to get bit. And this by far the best bait to use when fishing vertically. Today, we’re going to dive into the rigging options when it comes to setting up a dropshot.
Basic rigging -
Dropshots work best with spinning gear. You’ll want to use 10- to 15- pound test braided line as your mainline, then a 6- to 10- pound fluorocarbon for your leader line depending on the water clarity, cover and finickiness of the fish you are targeting. This leader will vary in length, but 6- to 8- feet is a good place to start. Keeping it short enough so that the knot doesn’t enter into the reel when making a cast is a good idea.
In the Great Lakes where the water is super clear and the visual feeding smallmouth can see really well, 10-pound braid to a 6-pound leader is often necessary. On a southern fishery with stained water and brush, 15-pound braid to a 10-pound test leader (or perhaps even something a little stronger) may be necessary to get the fish out of the cover, and doesn’t pose a problem as far at the bass being able to see the line.
Once you’ve decided on your line sizes, you can tie your leader onto your mainline using one of several joining knots, such as an FG, double-uni or Albright knot. There are a few different hook styles and sizes that work, but you’ll want to make sure that whatever hook you choose is tied on with the hook pointed up. Again, you can use several different knots here, and there are a lot of great instructional videos for these.
Leave a 10- to 12- inch tag end when you tie on your hook. This will be the leader that is used to attach the dropshot weight. There are again a couple options here with the weight: either a pinch style weight or one with a ring. With the pinch weight, slide your line into the bigger part of the opening and pull it up into the tighter area. You can simply tie on a ring weight. There are more options with the weights that we’ll get into in a moment.
Selecting the hook size and style and how to rig it -
Anything from a #2 to a 1/0 hook is commonly used with a dropshot. The smaller, circle hooks work well when nose-hooking a bait and with smaller baits. But a 1/0 thin-wire EWG works really well when rigging a 6-inch bait weedless around cover for bigger bass as well. The size #2 and #1 hooks though are the most commonly used however.
Using the small circle hooks, you can rig the bait by simply slipping the hook point through the nose of the bait. This works well when targeting smallmouth and spots in fairly open water with baits around 3 inches in length. These shorter baits have better action when nose-hooked as opposed to rigged Texas style and weedless with a larger EWG hook.
You can either poke the hook point all the way through the nose of the bait, or rig it without the hook point exposed when fishing around a little more cover. To make the nose-hooked bait weedless, slip the hook point into the bottom of the nose of the bait, more inline with the bait as opposed to a perpendicular entry. Then stop the hook point just before it pokes out of the tip of the nose of the soft plastic. The goal in rigging a dropshot is to always have the bait sticking out perpendicular to the line in the end, thus horizontal in the water column.
Rig a larger worm weedless on an EWG hook by slipping the hook point into the tip of the nose of the worm and then back out the bottom of the nose, going through just enough of the soft plastic for it to slide up onto the bend of the neck of the hook, without covering the knot. Then bend the body of the bait and slip the hook point through the belly and out the back, finally skin hooking the back with the tip of the hook point to create a weedless and straight presentation.
Selecting your weight -
There are the two basic choices we already discussed when looking at how the weight is attached to the line: pinch style and ring style. But when looking at the shape of the weight, there are three additional options: bell, ball and cylindrical.
Ball weights work best when fishing on a clean bottom. Cylindrical weights come through cover like grass and brush best. And a bell weight is a good combination of the two. It has more bottom contact for better sensitivity than the cylindrical weight and comes through cover better than the ball weight.
When selecting the weight size, you want to go as light as you can and still be able to feel the bottom. It’s good to start with a 1/4-ounce weight when fishing less than 15ft deep, backing down if you fish shallower. Move to a 3/8-ounce weight in 25-feet of water and work your way up when you go deeper.
This is most of what you need to know to rig a dropshot for almost any situation. Remember, smaller baits work better on smaller hooks. Rig your baits weedless when fishing around cover. You’ll almost always want to use spinning gear. Select your line sizes and leader lengths based on the water clarity, cover and depth you want to fish off the bottom.
A 1/4-ounce, pinch-style bell weight is probably the most commonly used dropshot weight of all time. But you can certainly pivot from here and go heavier or lighter based on the depth and slimmer or more round based on the cover. And it may be a good idea to use a ring style weight with particularly thin diameter line, as you can lose a lot of pinch-style weights in that situation.
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