Winter Drop Shot Fishing Tips

Winter Drop Shot Fishing Tips: What You Need To Know

Fishing in the winter can be difficult but if you employ the right approach and the right types of bait it can be incredibly productive. One of the best ways to get bites during the winter is to use the drop shot technique. So make sure you these winter drop shot fishing tips and it will make you a better angler when you hit the water.

Before You Get On the Water...

“Organize and Prepare.”

Remove the clutter in your boat or in your tackle box. Clean out all the bins to remove all the ripped up soft plastics and stripped off line. This time of year you really need only a few types of baits. 

Prepare your vehicle and boat for the conditions in the snow or ice. 

  1. Make sure your vehicle maintenance is current.
  2. Make sure you have the appropriate tires on your vehicle and trailer.  As well as, make sure you carry a set of snow-chains.
  3. Double check all fog/snow lights and  breaklights to both the vehicle and trailer.
  4. Carry a set of traffic triangles in case your vehicle breaks down.
  5. In case of emergency carry an extra set of clothes (including wool socks), a thick wool blanket, hand warmers, air horn and extra flashlight and batteries. 
  6. Always tell someone exactly where you are going, the time you are leaving and the time you should be expected home.

Best Baits For Winter Drop Shot Fishing

“Small, short and boring.”

Smaller drop shot worms, soft plastic chunk baits, and small fluke-style baits are all you need.   In the winter the water is going to be most likely clear then chose natural looking colors like green pumpkin, watermelon can work really well. Black-and-blue also works very well and remains our personal favorite for the wintertime.

Before you dive into this article, if you’re new to drop shot fishing you need to read our article: 7 Best Drop Shot Fishing Tips For Beginners

Winter Drop Shot Worms

The best drop shot worms all have the same quality, they are less than five inches and have natural-muted coloring.  The diameter of the bait does not matter as much in this situation. Have a variety of baits ready to rotate through and bass will tell you what baits they want.

Our Recommendation - Roboworm 4.5 inch Straight Tail Worm

These worms are perfect for fishing in winter conditions. Each worm hand-poured by a robot leaving a perfect triple color layer.  Most of the worms have salt on the bottom or on the exterior coating the plastic. Roboworm impregnates the head of the worm allowing the salt to slowly permeate into the water during the retrieve of the worm.  When a fish bites down, the salt in the bait will release and will make the fish hold on longer…giving you an improved catch ratio. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Runner Up - Yamamoto Senko 

The Yamamoto Senko is known for its simplicity and its ability to catch a ton of fish. The 4 inch Senko performs the best in winter cold water conditions which is why it excels as a winter drop shot bait. These baits have a larger diameter and are loaded with salt. When the bait falls it descends with a natural shimmy action that cannot be beaten.  These are our runner-up choice because they are not transparent and some colors can be hard to find. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Honorable Mention - Strike King KVD Dream Shot

Strike King exploded on the drop shot bait market when they released their KVD Dream Shot. Each lure is perfectly poured and each lure has it’s proprietary blend of Coffee Scent which attracts fish to bite and will mask human scent as well.  The Dream Shot was designed to be the best all-around drop shot bait by hall of fame pro Kevin VanDam. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Winter Drop Shot Craw Chunk Baits

Craw chunk baits were originally designed by be trailers for jigs and spinnerbaits. Their claw-like appendages are made to displace enough water to give the baits a realistic action the mimics a fleeing crayfish. Some of the brands will even offer claws that float when the bait is stopped. This gives s the bait a real-to-life action for a crayfish raising its claws trying to defend itself. However, when used as a dropshot trailer you can give it a little extra action to raise the bait above the lake floor and allow it to slowly drift down. This gives the bait a very different presentation that the fish are just not used to.

Our Recommendation - NetBait Paca Craw Chunk

The NetBait Paca Craw Chunk was designed to have a soft meat-like texture that actually feels alive. The small body with its large claws create maximum drawing attention is important for winter drop shot fishing. It also has an incredibly solid body and will remind secured on your hook which is why it got our recommendation. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Runner Up - Zoom Super Chunk

The Zoom Super Chunk was given a minimalist design to have great action and to amplify its water displacement which is why it is such a great bait for winter conditions. Zoom adds salt into the plastic mixture to give it a realistic flavor to the fish that makes the fish hold onto the bait for that extra time that will increase your hookup ratio. This was our runner up because we liked the shape action of the appendages slightly more. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Winter Drop Shot Soft Plastic Jerk Baits

Most soft plastic jerk baits/ shad fluke baits are elongated and shaped like a minnow with a forked tail section. This gives it the lifelike action of a real baitfish especially when the presentation requires the angler to be subtle when winter drop shot fishing. These baits are phenomenal to mimic real forage such as shad, minnows, chubs, dace, shiners and suckers. During the winter, bass will feed on dying shad and juvenile bluegill that cannot handle the cold water temperature.

Our Recommendation - Zoom Salty Super Fluke

The Salty Super Fluke from Zoom Baits is one of the most sought after baits on the market. It also sports a natural fish shape that will attract fish if you’re fishing fresh or salt water.  The streamlined shape allows the bait to glide through the water when being worked which makes it appear like a fleeing baitfish. When drop shot fishing in the winter, the Zoom Super Fluke is offered in many different colors which is very important since it is vital to match the hatch which is why it edged out the competition. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Runner Up - Berkley GULP! Jerk Shad

The Berkley GULP! Jerk Shad is an absolute beast when targeting finicky, spooky or pressured fish. This bait works great over vertical cover like bluff walls or around docks. The real-to-life texture Berkley gave this lure is uncanny and when coupled with the proprietary GULP! scent it is absolutely dangerous. The only reason this was our runner-up is that this bait will dry out if you do not take it off the hook and place back in the GULP! scent reservoir. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Honorable Mention - Strike King Caffeine Shad Bait

The Strike King Caffeine Shad has a standout “bubble tail” to give this baitfish imitator a never seen before action in a jerk bait. Strike King lure is perfectly poured and each lure has its proprietary blend of Coffee Scent which attracts fish to bite and will mask human scent as well which is essential for winter drop shot fishing. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Best Winter Drop Shot Weights

The best drop shot weight to start with would be lead skinny drop shot weight.  Nothing’s more frustrating than having your fishing weight get snagged on the bottom. Use these Skinny Finesse Drop Shot weights when you are fishing from shore and/or fishing around rocks and cracks. These resist snagging since the skinny shape tend to slip through better and can really make a difference between having a fun day or a frustrating day!  Start with the lightest weight available until you feel the bottom but without getting snagged. 

Best Winter Tackle Box/ Bait Organizer

Stay Organized. The box we recommend is the Flambeau 6189WP Ultimate Tuff Tainer Waterproof Utility Box.  ULTIMATE is the name of the game in this box!  It has huge secure latches that lock, a design that is durable and rigid and you can easily open and close this with gloves on!  This is our preferred choice for storing gear that you want to be protected.  Not only is it rust proof with the addition of Zerust in his hinges, it is also WATERPROOF due to is the o-ring seal on the lid. These boxes are available in 8 sizes so they can fit your every need.  You can also use these in your workshop, RV, and camper. You’ll love these boxes. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Best Winter Gear For Drop Shot Fishing

Best Winter Drop Shot Fishing Reel

Having the right reel is important because you need a dependable reel that has a smooth drag after you hook up a fish. You don’t want to have the fish break itself off when you have a junky reel.

Our Recommendation - Shimano Stradic FK Spinning Reel

The Shimano Stradic FK Spinning Reel incorporated the newest technology while keeping it’s tried and true base design. We love this reel for winter drop shot fishing because of the large reel handle with is large enough to control when wearing gloves. No more freezing your fingers off just to retrieve a cast!

Shimano utilizes it new HAGANE reel design and the X-Ship technology to make it incredibly lightweight and extremely durable. The merging of this new technology has also made the reel increase its winding power and nearly eliminated any noticeable flex. Read the reviews on Amazon.

The Stradic FK Spinning Reel also boasts its Fluidrive II system and when combined with its Dyna-Balance rotor gives the angler an exceptionally smooth casting and retrieve.  This line management system also controls even re-distribution of line back on the reel.

What this means to you… is that this reel can be your go-to reel and it gives you a great peace of mind that this product is worth the money and can take a beating day in and day out and not wear out the tendons and muscles in your arms, hands, and wrists. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Runner Up - Daiwa BG 2500

The all-new Diawa BG 2500 Spinning Reel is chalked with updated features that are seen on other reels twice it’s cost.  To start it has a rock solid Hard Bodyz frame and has perfect balance and alignment with it 7-ball bearing system that delivers superbly smooth drag. Diawa has improved the BG Spinning Reel’s casting performance by incorporating a smooth cut aluminum ABS spool. The black anodized machined aluminum  Digigear housing and waterproof inner-gear casing increase durability while offering a dependability that only Daiwa can. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Best Winter Drop Shot Fishing Rod

Having a sensitive rod that detects even the smallest bite is paramount especially if the conditions are very difficult and the bites are few and far between.

Our Recommendation - St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod - 7'6" Medium Light, Fast

St. Croix’s Triumph Spinning Rod gives superb sensitivity, hooksetting power, and durability. The length of the 7’6″ is the reason this rod made our top recommendation. This rod can easily be used to flip and pitch lures in narrow areas.

Each rod is made with premium SCII graphite the rod is finished with two coats of slow-cured crystal clear topcoat that delivers its high-performance action and tapering.  This also includes an ergonomic premium cork handle and upgraded Fuji reel seats.  Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Runner Up - G. Loomis - E6X 820S Drop-Shot Spinning Rod - 6'10" Medium Light, Extra Fast

All G. Looms – E6X 820S rods are hand rolled in Woodland, WA by seasoned technicians who are just as passionate about fishing a you are.  G. Loomis uses reduced resin, high-strain carbon fiber over the E6X blank and condensed scrim to make the rod lighter and stronger.  G. Loomis also uses their new Multi-Taper technology to distribute the exaction action and flex that you are looking for in a technique specific rod. Check For Best Price On Amazon.

Best Line for Winter Drop Shot Fishing

We always recommend using braided mainline to a fluorocarbon leader, especially for winter drop shot fishing. Braided line casts very easy, has no stretch and has a very thin diameter. We recommend using the Power Pro Hi-Vis Yellow color because it’s much easier to detect small bites.  Don’t worry about the fish seeing the line because you’re going to put on a fluorocarbon leader.  Start with a 30-pound test line.  Don’t worry about the line not having any stretch, reason being is that we chose a rod with a long flexible tip and a strong backbone that can act as your shock absorber!  Do you see how this is all tying into each other! Check For Best Price of Power Pro Braided Line On Amazon.

Fluorocarbon is a fantastic leader line.  One of the most defining qualities is that it is nearly invisible underwater.  It also has very little stretch and it sinks. Start Sunline FC Sniper with a 7-pound test line unless you find yourself fishing in an area that can easily snag or cut the line, then increase to 10-pound test.

Our Recommendation - Main Line -- Power Pro - Braided Line - Hi Vis Yellow - 30lb Test

Our Recommendation - Leader Line -- Sunline FC Sniper Flurocarbon

On The Water - How To Correctly Fish Your Drop Shot During The Winter

Step 1:  Consult Your Map

Find the appropriate structure: current breaks, structures, steep banks, relatively close to spawning beds.

Step 2:   Use Your Electronics

Once you’re on the water and you found the precise location, there are several things to look for before you drop our lure in the water.

Largemouth this time of year can roam. However, you want to find areas that have weed or grass beds, shell beds, stumps or submerged timber.

Smallmouth bass are easier to catch during the winter than their largemouth cousins. Smallies like hard bottom areas of rock. Look for transition changes in bottom structure. Smallies can be frequently found in the “deep, but not too deep” from approximately 20-40 feet.

Step 3:  Deploying Your Lure.

Now that you found the spot on the map, you confirmed the bottom structure consistency, now it’s time to actually fish!  The key is to have patience. Most of the time bites will feel mushy like you’re caught grass.  But remember, most of the lakes the grass will not be present, so if you feel the mushy feel at the end of your line set the hook.

Work the lure slowly over the area in short non-aggressive pulls. Do not overwork the lure this will give it a very unnatural appearance. Here’s a quick biology lesson, all the creatures that live at the bottom of the lake are cold blooded. Meaning that during the winter they will be moving slow and sluggish. Make sure you do the same with your bait.

When drop shot fishing in the winter make sure you keep your leader short, approximately 4-6 inches.  There is an exception to this.  We know an angler who uses a long leader 4-6 feet when fishing flukes during the winter.  The angler will wacky-rig the fluke through the back and allow the bait to flutter down slowly. He knows how long it will take the fluke to flutter to the bottom, so if the fluke stop at mid-fall he knows he has a bite. He says all his bites come on the fall.

So there you have it – Winter Drop Shot Fishing Tips: What You Need To Know. If you want to learn more advanced drop skills and other fishing techniques then check out our VIP community below:

Good luck with this new technique!

Tight Lines.


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