Drop Shot Techniques

In essence this is a very simple rig, 'hook, line and sinker'. It is a variation of the paternoster rig with the weight at the end of the line and a hook placed above it. It was developed in Japan and is now widely used in America and Europe to catch a range of species. By combining different combinations of all three elements it is possible to produce a variety of different presentations.



This is the Gamakatsu Drop Shot hook which I use when nose hooking baits. Even with this simple hook style there are a couple of slightly different ways of nose hooking.

Here the hook is passed from bottom to top right through the bait. This allows the bait to pivot around the hook and provides extra movement on days where a faster retrieve is helpful or in flowing water where the current can impart the extra movement.

In the second picture the hook exits right though the nose of the bait. It helps keep the bait in a horizontal position which can help when fishing vertically, either fishing in deeper water close to the bank or from a boat.

I tend to use this arrangement with small split tail shads like the 2.5'' Lunker City 'Fin-S' pictured or slim bodied finesse/trick worm lures like these...

These type of hooks can also be used to 'wacky' rig lures like the Jackall Bros 'Flick Shake' worm below.

There are weedless versions of this hook style available too.

If you want to try drop shotting and can't get hold of these hooks the stiff rig hooks used in carp fishing or some of the shrimp hooks used for fly tying can be used as reasonable substitutes.

For larger worms or fish imitations I often use an Aberdeen type hook, whilst it does limit the movement a little they have the advantage of placing the hook point further towards the tail and can increase hook up rates. I tend to use the Gamakatsu G36 straight-shanked worm hook which has two small barbs near the eye to help keep the lure in place on the shank. These hooks are fine wired and very sharp. Other makes of Aberdeen hooks can usually be found in the sea fishing section of tackle shops and I would recommend the smaller sizes of these as in larger sizes the wire is often too thick and hook up rates diminish.

I will occasionally use Aberdeen hooks with smaller lures if the fish are tentative and tail nipping, however these tend to be smaller fish and if the larger fish are around they tend to engulf the lure anyway.
If weed  is a problem, or when flowing water is carrying suspended debris, offset weedless hooks can be an advantage. The hook point can also be nipped into the skin of the lure to further reduce the chance of the hook picking up rubbish. It took me a while to gain confidence in this arrangement but even small fish apply enough force when they bite to expose the hook point. If the lure has moved on the hook it is a clear indication of a missed bite and may signal time to pay more attention or think about altering the set up!

In through the nose and out under the chin.

Slide the lure round towards the eye and twist.

Then check at which point the hook needs to enter and leave the lure, I use my thumb to mark the position though you can just nick the lure with the hook point top and bottom.


The hook point just nicked into the skin of the lure.

In larger sizes the wider gape can also help with very small nuisance fish as it makes it harder for them to engulf and means you spend more time with the lure in the water in the hope of picking up a better fish.
This style of hook, similar to the Lunker City 'Texposer' is almost a half way house between the Aberdeen style and the offset worm hook. Designed specifically for their slug-go, they work well with other slim lures and have the advantage of not having to thread a lure over a long shank hook. By varying the position of the lure on the bend they can be used weedless or with the hook point exposed and have a narrower gape than other weedless hooks.

There are standout hooks made specifically for drop shotting, the line is tied on the bend and passed down through the eye to the weight. I've never used these as most of my fishing is done from the bank and it would mean the lure being presented at an unnatural angle. I can see that when fishing vertically it would hold a nose hooked bait horizontal.

When fishing close to the bank or from a boat retrieving the lure vertically can cause line twist. This is a particular problem when using mono straight through. I live with this if using braid mainline with a fluorocarbon leader and very occasionally make the effort to remove line twist from the braid. To solve this problem a few manufacturers have developed a hook mounted on a swivel. There are several variations, some with a swivel eye above and below the hook, and some where the bottom eye is pinched in a similar way to the pinched swivels found on specialist drop shot weights. They certainly help with line twist and also provide an easy attachment point for using wire traces above the hook should they be necessary.

I'm sure there are other hook styles that could be put to use when drop-shotting but these are the ones that work for me!


Lines are for me a simple choice between monofilament lines such as fluorocarbon or braided lines.
I have used and can recommend Trilene XL or Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon as mainlines in 6-8lb breaking strain. They both have the advantage of being low visibility lines but like all monos they have a degree of line memory, a particular problem when used on small fixed spool reels as the spring like coils formed on narrow diameter spools reduce casting distance. If you decide to use fluorocarbon I would go for the lighter breaking stains as they are more supple and less prone to problems caused by line memory. They also have a degree of elasticity which reduces feedback and lessens the force that can be applied on the strike to set the hooks. For these reasons I have switched to using braided mainlines and a 3-4’ fluorocarbon leader, this compromise gives me the advantage of low stretch and excellent feedback and the low visibility and abrasion resistance of the fluorocarbon at the business end.
 I’ve tried several brands of braided lines and like Power Pro ‘Super 8 Slick’ particularly the ‘Timber Brown’ colour which suits the peaty waters I fish close to home. This is a coated development of the original Power Pro which has been around for a long time. It is smoother and therefore casts further and is quieter as it passes through the rings. It also doesn’t lose its colour as quickly as the original. The Suffix 832 is an excellent braid as are the Daiwa and Sunline braids.
My current favourite is the YGK G-Soul SS Hybrid Sinking Braid one of the many hi-tech PE braids now available. For most of my light drop shotting I use 10lb and have a spare spool  loaded with 16lb for fishing really snaggy or rocky venues or using heavier weights in a heavy flow where a stronger line can be an advantage. It is bright yellow which makes it easy to see in most light conditions and I colour the last few feet using different coloured marker pens depending on the venue and conditions at the time. This probably isn’t strictly necessary but gives me confidence that the bright colour close to the leader isn’t putting the fish off. The advantage of using brightly coloured main lines lies in the fact that seeing where the line is travelling aids accurate casting and in other forms of finesse fishing enables bites to be seen more readily. It is very low diameter, smooth and knots really well. The fact that this is a sinking braid also keeps me in more direct contact with the end tackle and gives better bite registration.

There are a huge number of good quality monofilament and braided lines on the market and everyone has their favourites, the above are mine!

.....and SINKER.

The purpose designed drop shot weights are by far the easiest to use. They have a pinched swivel which grips the line meaning no knots are needed. They make it very easy to alter the distance between hook and weight. They have the added advantage of cutting through the line should the weight get snagged meaning you get hook and lure back and have to simply re-attach another weight and you’re back fishing. There are two main styles round/tear drop or pencil shaped.

Round ones are preferred by some when fishing on a soft bottom as it stops the weight sinking into the mud or silt and is supposed to give better feedback. I now only use the pencil shaped weights as they are less prone to picking up weed and other debris and less likely to get snagged on rocky bottoms. I also believe they offer less resistance to finicky biting fish as initially the top of the weight is lifted whilst the bottom remains in contact with the bottom – the fish is not feeling the full weight until it is lifted completely off the bottom. The advantage may only be small but I like to think that lots of small advantages add up over the course of a season to more fish on the bank.
I use the lightest weight I can which will allow me to achieve the distance I need and will sometimes use a heavier weight if a soft, smooth bottom is not allowing me to feel like I am in contact with the lure. Fishing flowing water or from a drifting boat often needs regular changes in weight to keep fishing effectively and this is where the pinched swivel type really comes into its own.
You can also use large split shot if fishing at very close quarters, if they are not pinched on too tight they will slide off the line if they get snagged.
Almost any type of swivel lead can be used, though I would use a weak link of low breaking strain line or ‘rotten bottom’ to tie the weight on to make sure I got the hook and lure back more often.

...HOW TO USE IT!...

There is so much being written about the drop shot rig at the moment I've been moved to add this section to the Drop Shot section of my blog.
When I first put the blog together I stuck to the mechanics of drop shot. I'd been using it in my perch fishing for a while and felt there was so much variation in the way it could be used that, attempting to describe ways of fishing the rig would be pretty pointless.
I do not belong to the 'I've been using it for years brigade' as if some cudos arises from being told about it or discovering it before others. It is a very old technique, two decades or more, even as it is used today and yes, the paternoster rig with hook above weight has been around for even longer.
I'm not claiming any particular expertise but I love the technique and have gained experience over many sessions. Here is some of what I have picked up.
The first comment often to come out in any discussion is that it is a boring technique. If that means chucking a DS rig out, leaving it completely static and maybe jiggling it about it a bit and blanking, I guess I would agree - I would get bored very quickly too.
A completely static presentation is hardly effective lure fishing in my book and waiting for a fish in any venue to find a lure and then to hope it will be inticed into taking it would, for me, be time spent poorly.  I got hooked watching guys who were already profficient when I first became interested in it and found it endlessly fascinating. 
Is there anything completely unique about the drop shot presentation - something that cannot be replicated or approximated to in another way? I can think of only one - the ability to stop and hang a lure in one position in flowing water. That said, there are other features which make it a useful technique in other circumstances. If you can see the bottom or are completely familiar with the bottom contours of the water it might be possible to retrieve a lure at  a constant height above the deck and keep it in the kill zone for the whole retrieve. In any other situation a DS rig will do that job better.
A DS rig allows a lure to be fished around both natural and man-made features very effectively. It is often possible to lower a DS rig in causing minimal disturbance. If the approach has been stealthy it can produce an almost instant hit and if not, it is often only a short time before a fish moves out of the feature to take the lure. Given that neither of those events have come to pass, leaving the rig in place is a fairly pointless activity. You may be lucky if you left it long enough to bank a fish but I need to go hunting in these circumstances. My first response would be to run the lure past the feature, maybe parallel to the shore along the reed bed or a short cast past the trees, bushes or logs and a retrieve working the lure as close as possible to it. 'Run it past' can mean a steady retrieve, fast or slow or a retrieve with pauses, long or short. Therein lies one of the many fascinations for me - an almost infinite combination of retrieves is possible from dead stop (without a nose dive or rise) to ripped. I usually start with a half turn or full turn of the reel handle followed by a pause with either no movement of the rod tip on the pause or only the slightest movement - almost a vibration. The length of pause will increase in coloured water, or low light to give them a little longer to find the lure and in cold water where they are more lethargic. I will usually work the lure faster with shorter pauses in warmer water or in clearer conditions or brighter weather. 
 I usually fish with the reel stem inside my little finger and my index finger resting on the blank.  I want to feel the bite through the rod. I cannot stand for any length of time watching a high rod tip without risking a cricked neck! Any time when the line has some slack I revert to watching either the loop of line from rod top to water or the entry point of line into the water if that is possible. Takes are often unambiguous thumps , especially with the bigger fish. If the fish are smaller or more tentative and you get small sharp taps without hooking up, soft hands are required. I just tip my wrist and allow a small amount of slack. This causes the lure to drop a little whilst at the same time allows the lure to be inhaled more easily - a combination that can result in a hook up.
One of the often repeated ideas is that it is not a good searching technique particularly in open water. However I have found that it allows such a natural presentation, that generates a response so often that I often use it in that way. A fast retrieve in warm conditions will soon have any perch in the area having a nip. In these circumstances once I've found them and realised they are up for a chase I might switch to another method. It really excels in cold water where fish are not so active and less likely to move far to take a lure. For me it is in winter when these cold, clear water conditions are prevalent that the technique really comes into its own. 
In all my years of fishing I have discovered several things of note that are worth sharing - fish do not read the right books, use forums, social media or other online resources and that 'always' and 'never' do not apply to fishing.