Fail #1) Don't Shake What Yo Mama Gave You

bass fisihg drop shot

The first skill I would like to stress would be to not overwork your bait!

We see a lot of people overthink how much to move the lure.

By shaking it violently it makes the drop shot lure look like it’s having a seizure underwater, Don’t do It! It spooks the fish.

So instead of shaking it just keep your rod as still as possible for two reasons…

First, let the current move your bait.

Secondly, the subtle fascinations in your arm or hand will make the lure undulate and appear more like a real baitfish.

If you are certain that you want to impart more life into the lure think about not trying to shake the lure but gently shaking the slack in the line.

Fail #2) Hate The Straight

Drop shot crankbait swimbait jerk bait jig fishing a point drop shot fishing for beginners bluff walls

The second biggest mistake that we observe is anglers new to drop-shotting straighten their line, making it very tight.

Long story short is the line must always have a slight bow.  

Don’t go to the extreme and leave a ton of slack in the line…again, keep a slight bow in the line.

This will give it a natural appearance and allow the bait to flow freely in the subtle current.

If you keep the line completely straight you will have a stiff appearing bait that is hovering in the water column. And to bass this looks incredibly unnatural.

Fail #3) You're J-Point Is Not On Point

Hook Point Is Up

The third biggest mistake to avoid is fishing with the hook upside down.

Having an inverted hook will result in many missed fish as a result of the hook being yanked out of their mouth!

As you can see in the above picture, the drop shot rig should have the hook point and the hook gap should be facing up.

If you’re still having trouble with this, follow the video that was above section and keep practicing until you get it.

Fail #4) You Chose The Wrong Bait

Great Choice For Drop Shot Fishing

Over the years I’ve helped dozens of anglers answer the question, ‘what lure should I use for drop shot fishing?’

It all comes down to that age-old saying of “match the hatch”.

Use the style of bait that closely mimics the stuff the bass are eating…

The majority of the time if you’re not giving the bass the type of bait they want to eat they will refuse once it’s in front of them.

For example; If its a summer morning and the bass are up shallow chasing shad then you would use a shad-style fluke bait or a worm that has shad colors (ie; transparent, silver hologram, some blues and purples in it).

On the other hand, if the weather is cold and the bass are hugging the bottom then a drop-shotting a small brown or black craw chunk bait may be the ticket to catching a lunker.

Regardless, if you don’t know what the bass are feeding on, call or ask the tackle shop owner who you’re buying from…

You can also ask members of local bass angling groups will quickly answer your question. It’s not like you’re asking them to tell you what their favorite secret fishing spot is.

Fail #5) You're Not "One" With Your Bait

tying a drop shot hook rigging a drop shot Palomar knot weight underwater

The fifth biggest mistake that beginners make is they do not know what their bait looks like underwater.

Take the bait to your swimming pool, bathtub or a clear/shallow part of the lake and take note of what is looks like.

Remember, if you cast a drop shot rig far out in front of you versus dropping it underneath you it will look completely different because of the angle of the line.

Fail #6) You Don't Know Your Electronics

humminbird garmin lowarnce best sonar fish finder easy to work user friendly for beginners

It’s imperative that you become familiar with your sonar.

Doing this will take lots of time and practice…but that means you get to go fishing more!

If you have a sonar that has side scan or 360 imaging it can help identify the best locations to deploy your drop shot rig.

Once you identify the fish you need to know what your rig looks like as a sonar image.

You then can observe what it looks like when fish follows it down or goes to inspect it.

This skill has won tournament anglers thousands of dollars.

Fail #7) You're A Major Hooker

fishing grass

A lot of time you see pro anglers just swing for the fences when they hook up on a bass.  While it’s great TV footage, it’s totally not appropriate when you drop shot fish.

When you get a bite, neither jerk the rod upward or do a side-sweep hook-set (like you would a Carolina Rig)…It’s somewhere in between.

Many bass fishermen have good success by raising the rod tip up until you feel pressure, then give it a slight yank up and start reeling down.

The small drop shot hooks will essentially set themselves.

Fail #8) Wrong Weight...

Using the correct weight is just as important as using the correct bait!  But there are several factors you need to consider.

Weight style…

Nothing’s more frustrating than having your fishing weight get snagged on the bottom! So make it easier on yourself by using these Mythik Lures Skinny Lead Finesse Drop Shot weights when you are fishing from shore and/or fishing around rocks and cracks.

These resist snagging since the skinny shape tends to slip through better and can really make a difference between having a fun day or a frustrating day!

Round weights are used when you’re fishing over sandy or clay bottoms.

Weight Size…

A good rule of thumb is to start with the lightest weight available until you feel the bottom but without getting snagged.

When choosing a weight make sure you choose the lightest weight possible to get the bait to the bottom and keep it on the bottom, all while not getting hung up.

If fishing from shore, choose a 1/8 – 1/4 ounce weight.  Fish will also have a harder time “feeling” that there is a weight attached to the bait the lighter it is.

Under normal circumstances, if you’re fishing 1-6 feet a 1/8 ounce weight will work great.

If you’re over 6-12 feet a 1/4 ounce weight is preferred. And finally, if you’re fishing in 12-20 feet of water a 3/8 ounce weight is great.

Weight size can affect lure action…

Using a lighter weight will also give your bait a slower fall.  If you are fishing in clear water or fish suspended fish this can be invaluable because it gives the fish ample time to see and react to your bait as you cast it out and let it pendulum through the school.

Fail #9) Wrong Leader Length...

The shallower you fish, the shorter the leader length should be, versus the deeper, you fish the longer-length it typically will be. However, if you notice the fish are suspended off the bottom this will help you determine what that leader length is going to be.

Here’s another tip…if you are pitching into vegetation such as fallen trees, Cypress bushes or Salt Cedars you’ll need to use a shorter length so you will have increased accuracy on your pitching. The majority of the time when pitching into vegetation the fish will be hugging the bottom and the large pieces of structure closely so you do not need a long leader.

Leader Length By Season…

Winter – The bass are typically hugging the bottom. Keep your leader length short… 4-6 inches.

Spring – If you’re bed fishing, then keep your leader 2-4 inches. You want it really short!  Make it look like your bait is trying to seal the bass’ eggs!

If you’re fishing pre-spawn staging areas, then give yourself a 6-8 inch leader.

Summer – The bass are active, their metabolism is going crazy during this time of year.  Keep your leader length 6-8 inches above the grass. Otherwise, I recommend giving your leader length 12-18 inches.

Fall – The bass are aggressively feeding in preparation for the winter months. A leader length of 10-18 inches works well.  Shorten your leader as the water cools.

Fail #10) Wrong Line...

Gift Ideas For Anglers fishermen sunline fc sniper fluorocarbon fishing line

Leader Line…

One of the most common fails for drop shot fishing is using the wrong leader line.

Many anglers make the mistake using monofilament or braided line as the leader line…

I know the big companies say monofilament is a good choice because of its cheap price, but nothing can be further from the truth.

I’m here to say that monofilament sucks for drop shot fishing for a number of reasons…

It’s not invisible like fluorocarbon, it floats and it’s super stretchy.  This makes it really difficult to detect subtle bites and you may actually lose fish!

I know other companies say that their state-of-the-art coated braided line can be used for drop shot fishing.

Again, that’s a load of BS.   It’s completely visible and it floats.

Yes, it doesn’t have any stretch, but that’s why I recommend it as a mainline.

I firmly recommend using fluorocarbon as a leader line, especially Sunline FC Sniper.  Definitely not the cheapest line, but easily worth the money. Start with the 7-pound test. 

It has some of the best abrasion resistance on the market and one of the most defining qualities is that it is nearly invisible underwater!

It also has very little stretch, meaning it increases the bite sensitivity factor when coupled with your braided mainline.

Regardless of what fluorocarbon line you buy, make sure you buy 100% fluorocarbon line and in a thin diameter.  You would be disappointed.

Main Line…

By now you probably can sense my hatred of using monofilament anywhere on your drop shot rig… RESIST THE URGE MAN, RESIST THAT URGE!

For all my finesse fishing needs whether its drop shot, shaky head, wacky worm fishing, I always have a braid to fluorocarbon line combo! It’s the preferred approach that will catch you more fish and avoid unnecessary headaches on the water.

Using braided mainline has many benefits…

First, it’s the best benefit is that it has no stretch in it, and is super sensitive. This is perfect for this type of situation when you want to feel the slightest of bites.

Braided line also offers an incredibly small line diameter so it’s very hard for the fish to see.

I recommend using 30-pound test line in a bright Hi-Vis Yellow color.

Equipping your gear with this size line on your spinning reels tends to lay nice and flat on the spool and does not cut into itself.

Using the Hi-Vis Yellow is also really easy to see if you have a subtle bite and you can really watch the line move!

Again… don’t worry…you’re not going to be tying directly to the braid, you’re going to use a fluorocarbon leader line! The fish won’t see this bright line at all! I’ve used this type of line for years and it’s never failed me.

Another thing, when using braided line, you need to make sure that your rod (like we discussed in the previous segment) needs to have an extra fast (extra flexible) rod tip. This acts as a shock absorber so you won’t pull out the hook when setting your hook!

Lastly, using a braided mainline it severely reduces line twist! You DON’T WANT LINE TWIST!

Alberto Knot – Combining Your Main Line To Your Leader Line…

Video Cred: Salt Strong

So there you go you have it… the Top 10 Reasons You’re Not Catching More Drop Shot Fish.

I know I put in a ton of information in this post and I hope I didn’t overwhelm you…

So I hope you’re not mad that I over-delivered just a little bit.

Let me ask you a question…do you want to learn even MORE secrets about drop shot fishing?…

Well, I have you covered. Click Here to be taken to our Drop Shot Secrets page!

All I care about it helping you catch more fish!

Until the time…

Catch Your Legend!


(Chief Fishing Enthusiast)

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons You’re Not Catching More Drop Shot Fish”

  1. You told me everything I needed to know but one thing. I want to know if a swivel shot octopus hook / Gamakatsu is ok to use. Can the fish see this hook swivel and line hole for sinker and won’t bite the bait.

    • If the water is gin clear then the fish could possibly see it, however, since the hook and swivel are black it should blend into the background no problem!


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