How to Fish a Drop Shot Rig for Largemouth Bass: In-Depth Guide
The drop shot rig has simply become the most prolific way to catch bass of all kinds. It has one of the most attractive presentations and it has the ability to get any bass to eat, even if he or she isn’t hungry. The drop shot has often been regarded as a smallmouth bass killer, but there is no doubt that there is equal fish-catching ability when it comes to largemouth bass as well. Let’s dive into the drop shot rig and its ability to catch largemouth bass.
Drop Shot Fishing for Largemouth Bass
Let’s cover the basics first. The drop shot is a finesse technique that boasts one of the most natural and attractive actions ever seen in a soft plastic application.
The mainline is attached to a finesse-style hook, or any hook of your choice, followed by a short leader with a weight attached to that. This means the weight and hook are completely separate.
The point of a drop shot is to have the weight sticking to the bottom, while the hook and bait sit and move just above. Movement is created by gentle rod twitches with an effort to keep the weight on the bottom.
The drop shot is considered a stationary technique and it’s not the most efficient when it comes to covering water. There are however several ways to fish this rig, which can accelerate the process of covering water.
Drop shot fishing for largemouth bass can be considered as different compared to traditional drop shot fishing. It differs in the way we apply soft plastics, as well as the areas in which we throw our bait.
Why Fish a Drop Shot for Largemouth Bass?
The drop shot is quickly becoming the go-to technique for any keen bass angler. One key reason for this is that it’ll catch fish when nothing else does. Here are some of the main benefits of fishing a drop shot:
Like many other finesse techniques, drop shot fishing will catch you bass in any season and in pretty much any conditions - much like the wacky rig.
Pressured fish formula
Our systems are seeing fishing pressure like never before and a lot of the time we’re catching fish that have already been released. The drop shot presentation is a proven winner when bass are pressured and we see how dominant it is in a competitive environment.
Versatile in application
The drop shot rig can be altered to cope with different forms of cover and water. Many anglers feel this is an offshore-only technique with a focus on deeper water, but this definitely not the case.
Drop shot rigs can be adjusted to cover deep water or shallow water, as well as to deal with different forms of cover.
The drop shot is an incredibly effective way to catch bass on spawning beds. Keep your bait stationary around these beds can frustrate males but can all pull females away from their beds.
Largemouth Bass and Drop Shot
As mentioned earlier, the drop shot is well-known for being a deep water and offshore application. When we think offshore, smallmouth bass often come to mind. The drop shot rig is an incredible method for targeting smallmouth bass, but in my opinion, it’s equally effective for both largemouth and spotted bass as well.
Largemouth Bass vs. Smallmouth Bass
There are a few key differences when comparing largemouth and smallmouth bass. Both of these fish will hold different areas and will behave differently in certain conditions.
Largemouth will tend to hold more heavily covered water in terms of vegetation and structure, while smallmouth prefer deeper water and will often hang around sparser forms of cover, such as boulders or rock piles.
Smallmouth are more comfortable in clear water and deep water, while largemouth will be more active in shallower, warmer water.
Understanding these factors will help you when making slight alterations to your drop shot rig which will without a doubt be necessary when targeting these 2 different game fish.
Fishing a Drop Shot for Largemouth Bass
When I'm targeting largemouth, I'll make considerable changes to my drop shot presentation. Here's why.
As we know, largemouth bass love hugging denser cover such as brush piles, trees, or any other form of vegetation. Anglers like myself often prefer targeting largemouth for this reason.
Fishing vegetation is definitely more threatening on our tackle. Getting snagged absolutely sucks and we need to account for this for whatever rig we throw.
Here are some ways I like to set up my drop shot rig when fishing around isolated cover for largemouth bass:
Rig the bait Texas-style
Texas rigging our drop shots will mean our hook point is hidden and less vulnerable to getting snagged. Largemouth bass love hugging vegetation and a Texas-rigged drop shot bait will help us when fishing heavy cover.
Nose hooking or wacky rigging our drop shots will make us way more susceptible to external threats and we may get cut off pretty often.
Fish heavier line
We often associate a drop shot with very light line - as with most finesse techniques. Fishing 6-8lb line is acceptable when fishing more open water as there are fewer threats when it comes to getting cut off. When targeting largemouth on a drop shot, I'll apply heavier line to help deal with any vegetation. When I say heavier, I mean 10-12lb fluorocarbon.
Dial-in on the spawn
Twitching a drop shot around a largemouth’s spawn bed is a lethal method to get an aggressive bite. Targeting any bass during the spawn can be challenging, so it’s key to understand what kind of areas they’ll move to in this period.
Adjust the style of weight
Weight size is key to any drop shot rig. A cylinder-style weight is better suited to getting through mats, grass, or any other vegetation. For this reason, the cylinder-style weight would probably be a better choice when targeting largemouth bass on a drop shot
Drop Shot Rig Setup for Largemouth Bass
When it comes to equipment, one should consider making slight adjustments for targeting largemouth bass on drop shot. The key change is going slightly heavier than you would be if you were fishing more open water.
Rod Setup for the Drop Shot Rig
A spinning rod with a medium power and a fast action is a perfect option for this technique when targeting largemouth bass. You’ll still be fishing relatively light so a medium power will match your presentation nicely.
A fast-action becomes particularly important for this technique, especially if you’re rigging your bait Texas-style. The faster action will help with setting the hidden hook point.
Anything between 7’-7’2” is a versatile length for targeting largemouth on a drop shot.
Fishing Line for the Drop Shot Rig
Probably the most important ingredient - line. As we know, the drop shot is famous for being a lighter line technique. Using 6-8lb fluorocarbon targeting smallies offshore is the most recognized line application for the drop shot, but this may need to be altered when targeting largies.
Going heavier and using 10lb or even 12lb straight fluorocarbon may be the safe option for a drop shot when going for largemouth, especially if you’re looking to fish around vegetation.
One can also look to use braid as a mainline with a fluorocarbon leader. This will help provide added strength for cutting through vegetation and getting bass out of sketchy zones.
You can't go wrong with Sunline FC Sniper.
Tag End for the Drop Shot Rig
The tag end for the drop shot rig will often come down to personal preference and overall personal confidence.
12-13 inches is a good length to start with if you're new to the drop shot and this will give you ideal comfortability when it comes to casting while having the ideal action on the bottom.
One can consider a long tag end (such as 18 inches) if they're using electronics and can see that the bass are sitting just above the bottom.
Terminal Tackle for the Drop Shot Rig
Terminal tackle needs to be varied accordingly when targeting bass on a drop shot rig. Changes in hook style and weight size will play a pivotal role in the success of a drop shot presentation.
Drop Shot Hook
For targeting largemouth, one may want to rig their bait Texas-style. Consider a traditional Texas rig-styled hook such as an EWG hook and a traditional pitching hook.
This will give us the ability to have a weedless presentation and we won't get snagged or cut off when fishing cover. Sizes from 2-3 are the most versatile for the drop shot.
Alternatively, traditional finesse hooks, such as hooks you'd use on a wacky rig will do fine if you aren't fishing around vegetation.
Drop Shot Weight
Weight selection should be based on the type of cover and water depth you're looking to fish. For largemouth, you'll often be fishing heavier vegetation, and this makes a cylinder weight a more suitable choice.
The cylinder weight cuts through grass and other vegetation a lot more than the traditional circular weight.
A 1/4 ounce weight is always a good starting point and one can always go up in size from here.
The tungsten vs. lead argument is always an interesting one. Tungsten weights are considerably more expensive, so one may want to look at lead for largemouth, as you'll be fishing more threatening forms of cover.
One thing to consider is lead's detrimental effect on water quality. Leaving loads of lead in the system will contribute to water pollution, so it may be more ethically correct to opt for tungsten.
Fishing a river system is another key consideration when selecting your weight for the drop shot. A heavier weight, such as a 3/4 ounce will ensure your bait gets to the intended zone without getting dragged away by current.
Best Baits for the Drop Shot Rig
The drop shot rig is blessed with some of the finest soft plastic baits in the game. Brands are constantly bringing out patterns at profiles that simply look awesome when twitched on the bottom.
Straight-tail worms such as Roboworm's Straight Tail Worm remain arguably the most successful for any drop shot rig. These profiles are the original style of baits for the drop shot rig.
Hand-poured baits are another feature to look out for when looking for your next bag for the drop shot. Hand-poured material helps give the bait a lot more movement as they are generally a lot softer.
Here are some of my favorite baits for a drop shot:
- Roboworm Straight Tail Worm
- Strike King Dream Shot
- Berkley Maxscent Flat Worm
- Zoom Trick Worm
- Strike King Half Shell
How to Fish a Drop Shot for Largemouth Bass
Fishing for largemouth on a drop shot compared to fishing for smallmouth on a drop shot is very different in terms of where you're fishing and the way you're searching for fish.
For largemouth, I'll generally look for shore-based cover and pitch into zones where I think they might be holding - just like any other pitching-based technique.
Cast into your target area, wait for it to hit the bottom on a semi-slack line, and then give it a few twitches while keeping the weight on the bottom.
This technique is incredibly effective when fishing a spawning bed. Once we've found a bed, cast your drop shot in and around it, and give a few more twitches than normal. This will often entice an aggressive bite from a protective female.
The drop shot rig has changed the game of bass fishing for good. It's a technique that thrives when fish are pressured, which is something us as anglers are seeing more and more often.
There's no doubt that the drop shot is powerful technique for targeting any sub-species of bass, but slight alterations do need to be made with regards to application, areas you're looking to fish, and cadence.