Deep Water Dropshotting

Fishing Techniques

One of the great benefits that we bass fishermen have here in middle Tennessee is that we can chase our prey all year long. Under normal conditions our lakes never freeze over. Most of the time, even with the winter draw down, we have great boat ramps that are always assessable. We have shallow water lakes and river type lakes that have a constant current and flow. We have lakes that have hot water discharge plants that keep several miles of water with spring like temperatures all winter. We also have several clear deep lakes like Center Hill located near Smithville Tennessee in middle Tennessee where the water temperatures will get down into the 40's and offers fantastic "Deep" water smallmouth-largemouth and spotted bass fishing. How "deep" is "deep"? How about consistently catching bass straight down in 25 feet-35 feet-45 feet or even 50 feet of water or more?

There are several techniques that seasoned bass fisherman like Tennessee Bass Guide Billy Campbell (pictured) uses to reach these deep water bass. But none more enjoyable than a "Drop Sot" rig. Over the next several paragraphs it is our intention to give you some useable information that Billy passed on to me that will help you immediately on your next deep water bass trip.

What Is A Drop Shot And How Is It Rigged?

Drop shot box

Billy explained it this way. A Drop Shot is simply a finesse worm technique that is rigged with a plastic worm or small shad type bait fished on a #1 wide gap hook tied approximately 18 to 24 inches ABOVE a 3/16th ounce weight attached to the end of the line. The picture to the left is a little deceiving so let me repeat this again. The worm is tied ABOVE THE WEIGHT.

How Is The Hook And Weight Tied On? Billy stressed the importance of tying the hook on correctly. I watched as he tied the hook to the line 18 inches above the loose end with a Palomar Knot. He then took the loose end of the line and brought it back through the eye of the hook-when he did this it left the hook standing straight out away from the line. By using this rigging method, Billy believes it increases your successful hook sets. He then attached the 3/16th ounce drop shot weight to the loose end with another Palomar knot. Very simple, very easy procedure. Now what do you do?


Choosing Your Bait: I guess the word "Finesse" defines where you start. As with many innovative techniques it appears that western bass fishermen gave drop shotting its birth. It is critical much of the time that a "small" bait be used in their ultra-clear lakes. So you can see how this technique fits perfectly in lakes like Center Hill. Once again Billy's bait selection is very simple, he stays with 3- and 4-inch worms and shad-type imitations. The Case Plastics Company of Clarksville Virginia offers many great plastic baits that the entire Tennessee Bass Guides Team uses for finesse technique fishing. Bait color is dictated by water color. Billy uses watermelon and green shades in clear water and reds and June bug in stained water.

How Do You Rig It?

There is basically three methods used.

  1. Texas Rigged- where the hook point is buried back into the worm to make it weed less. This is the preferred method if fishing structure such as deep timber and logs.
  2. Hooked directly through the tip of the nose where the hook is left exposed
  3. Wacky Style where the hook is placed through the center of the worm and left exposed.

The last two rigging methods work great out in deep open water where the fish are suspended away from structure.

Rod And Line Selection

Lets start with the rod. It's no secret that the All Pro APX Series Spinning Rods in the medium 6-to 7-foot range is our choice for this technique. Why? It's simple. These rods are the most sensitive graphite rods we have ever used. When you have a 4-inch worm with a 3/16th ounce weight hanging in 50 feet of water directly below your boat you must be able to feel even the lightest "TAP". There are times the bass will almost rip the rod out of your hands, but there are also times that the hit is very subtle. That is exactly why we use the APX series rod. 

Next lets talk about line. Billy explained that line weight and color depends much upon water clarity. Under most conditions on Center Hill you can easily use 6- and 8-pound test line. Billy had rods rigged with both clear blue fluorescent and lo-vis green high quality line.

Where And How Is The Drop Shot Fished In Deep Water?

Drop shotting in open water

Take a look at the picture to the left. What do you see? Much of the time on Center Hill you will find the bass suspended in and around pods of shad out in open water. When this situation occurs it is extremely important that you rely on good electronics.

   Billy's approach to finding shad is to probe various coves and creeks starting with the deepest water and working his way in by zigzagging back and forth across from bank-to-bank until a good pod of bait fish was found. Some of the fish were found in 50 feet of water some in 30 feet or less. At that point Billy would man his trolling motor and look for suspended bass (this is important) on the outside edges of the pod. 

Drop shot electronics

Billy would then search out the larger fish and watch his electronics as the drop shot fell into the strike zone. Billy would make the bait quiver as he gently twitched the rod tip. He explained that this presentation is much different from using a spoon where you want to impart a more erratic motion. If you have good electronics you can actually see the bass move up or down to attack your bait and immediately feel that "Tap" we talked about earlier.

Billy explained that another method of presenting these little baits is called "Strolling". This method is used when you know which direction the bass are pushing the shad and you simply drag the bait along as you move with the trolling motor, letting the motion and boat movement impart all action.


Will this technique work? I guess the proof is in the picture to the right. A beautiful 4 pound plus largemouth that came out of 55 feet of water (Yes 55 feet) suspended on the outside edge of a pod of shad.

   Just a couple reminders, if you're planning to try this technique on Center Hill or another clear deep water lake near you:

  1. Image
    Drop shot bass
    Remember that under normal conditions shad won't suspend around cover like bass do. They prefer open water where they can mill around and travel freely.
  2. You have to rely on your electronics to help you find and stay on the bait fish.
  3. The Drop Shot method is deadly on both active and not so active fish "IF" you get it in front of his face.
  4. Don't over power your finesse baits with rods and line that are too heavy for this technique.
  5. Stay alert watch the birds for feeding action and last but not least
  6. Don't get discouraged if your results the first trip or two is slim.

Like all other effective methods there is a learning curve to this technique. Have fun....enjoy and let us know how you do fishing the "Drop Shot".