There are those days on the water when you feel more like a vegetable farmer than a fisherman. Every cast brings up the slimy contents from the bottom of a lake or river. After a while, you get a little frustrated, clean up your line, bait or lure for the umpteenth time, and just pack up and go home.
There is no doubt that pulling up slick masses of “grass bass” as fishermen often call this unwanted dredging is frustrating.
Adding to the frustration are the crappie, walleye, bass, perch, sunfish, and bluegill hiding out in the vast expanse of these underwater prairies. These species of fish like the cover this provides. Whether they’re an apex predator like a mature largemouth or walleye, or a lowly baitfish, the cover provides stealth on both ends of the eating spectrum.
Avoiding the sticky cover, while still attracting fish, has led to the development of a technique called drop shotting.
In simple terms, you tie a sinker below your hook. Setting the proper depth is critical. Set it too high and the fish don’t notice, set it too low, and now you’re dragging your bait, along with a lead weight through the moss.
Drop-shotting rods must be strong with a sensitive rod tip. You must have the power to plow through the algal growth, but you also have to be able to feel the fish when they bite. Drop shot rods can come in both baitcasting and spinning styles.
You can drop shot with just about any rod, but there are dedicated drop shot rod models that make it much easier for you to work this method.
Top 9 Best Drop Shot Rods
BEST OVERALL - Dobyns Fury 702SF
A medium/light power rod, in a seven-foot length, this rod has the combination of casting power with the finesse you need on light biting fish.
Composed of a high modulus graphite blank, this rod has the range to reach out to where the fish are, while still having a short enough length to drop your line right over the edge of the boat when fish are underneath you.
Rated for 6 to 12-pound test line, and designed for light lead/lure weights of one-eighth, to one-half ounce, this rod gets high marks for drop-shotting, jigging, or any other technique that requires a bit of finesse fishing, versus raw power.
A Fuji reel seat with a cork handle and Kevlar wrapping creates a rod that is durable as well as functional.
In our opinion, the Fury 702SF is the best spinning rod for drop shot fishing.
Fit the well-balanced Fury 702SF with your favorite reel and watch the line fly out to reach those fish.
BEST VALUE - Fenwick HMG
A bewildering array of rods, rod styles, grips, power, and sensitivity standards await the modern fishermen. It’s a problem those of earlier generations would have loved to deal with. You can spend less than $100 on a quality rod or ten times that amount.
If you are looking for the best drop shot rod for the money, you can probably stop with the Fenwick HMG. It is available in both casting and spinning models depending on your preferences.
Fenwick is synonymous in the world of angling, and their HMG is the height of inexpensive technology.
Made of 30-ton graphite blanks, spiral bound with carbon thread for extra strength and durability, these rods bring the world of precision action to the water.
Stainless steel line guides with aconite inserts guarantee smooth casting and snag-free retrieving after you hook into that monster largemouth or catch a trophy walleye.
Full grip AAA cork handles, and a Sea-Guide Soft Touch Alien Reel Seat completes the assembly.
BEST PREMIUM - G. Loomis GLX 822S DSR
A little shorter than the other popular drop shot rods, this one comes in at 6’ 10”, but don’t expect anything less when it comes to distance casting, medium power, and sensitivity.
At the higher end of the price scale, this is a classic case of “you get what you pay for.”
The reputation of G. Loomis as a manufacturer of quality rods from powerful rod blanks, combined with great sensitivity lives on in the GLX 822S.
One of the lightest in the drop-shotting rod category, the feel of that light electric sensation as a fish takes interest in your bait remains high.
While other rods in the drop shot category serve multiple functions, the GLX 822S is dedicated to the finesse fishing of the drop shot technique.
The medium power rating makes it perfect for 6 to 12-pound test line. It works better with a slightly higher lure weight range than other rods that are rated as low as one-eighth ounce. For optimum function, a lure/bait weight of three-sixteenths to one-half ounce is recommended.
Sic inserts, Fuji K-frame guides, a split cork handle, attached to a high modulus graphite blank makes this rod the perfect match for your favorite reel.
Other drop shot rigs aim at a varied market, this one is exclusively designed for jigging your bait just above the moss in anticipation of a battle with a largemouth bass or big perch. If they live in the weeds in your neck of the woods, this is the bass fishing rod to bring them in with.
Fenwick Elite Tech Bass
Fast action in a medium/light rod makes the Elite Tech a favorite among bass fishing enthusiasts. Fenwick is renowned in the world of bass fishing, offering a wide variety of rods and rod designs, but the Elite Tech Bass, as its name implies, is their most popular model when it comes to coaxing largemouth bass out of their underwater hiding places.
Rated for a slightly lighter line than other drop shot rods, the recommended line test is four to 10 pounds. A wider range of casting weight provides an interesting combination of casting distances and sensitivity. The Elite Tech is rated for one-eighth to five-eighths casting weight.
Fenwick’s proprietary “hidden handle reel seat” is included with this rod.
A composition of TAC and cork gives the rod handle good grip no matter the weather conditions.
Titanium frame guides ensure long life, even when heavily fished.
If you’re searching for long-lasting quality this is a good drop shot rod - titanium guides are hard to beat.
St. Croix Triumph
The Triumph by St. Croix is a premium quality SCII carbon rod. It is rated as outstanding in strength, sensitivity, and hook setting power. This well-balanced drop shot casting rod simply gets the job done.
Triumph is renowned in the industry for the 5-year warranty aligned with their Superstar Service.
Black aluminum oxide line guides allow your cast to sail as far as you can whip the lure out. A premium-grade cork handle, with Sea Guide ECS or TCS reel seats, make a rod that will last you many seasons.
Available in lengths from 6’ to 7’, with power ratings in the medium, to medium-heavy range, these rods are designed for 10 to 20-pound test line. Depending on the model, the recommended lure ranges from one-fourth to a full ounce, while still keeping rod weight between 3.6 and 5.1 ounces, adding to the tip sensitivity when you’re trying to set a hook on light striking fish.
A more diverse rod than those exclusively designed for drop shotting, the St. Croix Triumph fits the bill for many fishing techniques. If you had to have just one rod for a variety of fishing styles this would be it.
Abu Garcia Veracity & Villain 2.0
It’s not as easy as they made it in the old westerns when the villain always wore a black hat. This Villain, the 2.0 version created by legendary Abu Garcia is the hero to fishermen but could be considered the villain if you’re on the business end of the hook.
This one is loaded with the features Abu Garcia is renowned for, including 40-ton graphite construction for light balance and increased sensitivity. Their trademark V Wrap carbon construction adds even more strength and durability.
This drop-shotting rod in skilled hands will bring in the hard-to-catch fish lurking in the weeds below.
A Fuji reel seat, titanium alloy guides with zirconium inserts not only balances the rod but lets the line flow out effortlessly allowing for longer casts.
A grip of high-grade cork and high-density EVA provides great sensitivity that will last many seasons.
A standard length of 6’ 10” rated as medium-light all the way up to an 8’ model with an extra heavy rating provides the exact range for your angling needs.
This rod is available in both casting and spinning rod types. The model changed name to Abu Garcia Veracity, but it’s identical to the preceding Villain 2.0 that took the market by storm.
St. Croix Mojo Bass Graphite
Combine a little high-modulus, high-strain graphite fiber with a bit of integrated poly curve tooling and you’ve got a great fishing rod on your hands - or rather in your hands. This is one of the best spinning rods for drop shot fishing considering the value it packs at a relatively affordable price.
St. Croix pulled out all the stops in building this design. Kigan Master Hand 3D guides, combined with slim aluminum oxide rings set in black frames, a Fuji DPS reel seat, and the final touch: A split-grip, premium-grade cork handle, make this rod something special.
A Kigan hook keeper and a couple layers of Flex-Coat slow cure finish and you’re ready for years of angling action with the Mojo Bass.
The rod starts in a 6’ 8” medium power extra-fast model. It’s a little shorter than other rods, but perfect if you’re hitting water with heavy overhanging brush or Spanish moss.
Designed for six to 12-pound test line and lures from three-sixteenths to five-eighths ounce, the entire rod weighs just 4.2 ounces.
The preferred model for drop shotting is slightly longer at 6’10” with medium-low power in an extra fast action design. This design almost tickles the fish as they hit your lure. Ultra sensitive when used with six to 10-pound line.
Those seasoned monster largemouth bass hanging wisely in the moss won’t know what hit them when they get a little angry, as bass do, and strike that annoying lure you’re tossing at them.
Okuma Scott Martin Spinning Rod
If you found a football designed by Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or a Nolan Arenado third-baseman's glove, you’d take notice right away.
That’s what Okuma, one of the top rod designers in the world did in joining with Bassmaster legend Scott Martin.
Martin is renowned on the professional bass fishing circuit, finishing in the money 13 times in 27 tournaments.
He’s taken his professional expertise, worked with engineers at Okuma and they’ve produced what many consider the most versatile drop shot rod on the market.
Versatility is the operative word with these rods. Available in lengths from 6’6” to 7’11”, and power from medium-light to heavy, they come in both baitcaster and spinning options.
Martin himself considers the 7’0” and 7’2” lengths the best for drop shot fishing.
Designed to deliver top performance in casting, accuracy, bite detection, hook setting, and the all-important retrieving, these rods are as close to a one-size-fits-all as the world of drop shot fishing gets.
Made of 30-ton carbon blanks, they’re lightweight, ultra-sensitive, and durable for years to come.
The EVA split grip and EVA foregrip guarantee long performance, even in the harshest conditions.
9. Trout Hunter - TB Custom Rods
There is a growing niche market springing up all over the world in rod design. An innovative startup in the midst of the wilderness that still is Wyoming is gaining notice in the drop shot market.
Trapper Bradshaw - an experienced fisherman and guide on the waters of Wyoming and Idaho - has come up with a special design in the “Trout Hunter,” but don’t let the name fool you, this is a sensitive, innovative rod that works well for perch, crappie and the championship walleye that the central lakes of Wyoming are renowned for.
High strength graphite MHX or Rainshadow blanks, with Nanolight or Nanoplasm ring guides, and an Aero Palm Swellor reel seat give these rods sensitive action and an attractive look not found in mass-produced fishing equipment.
A Winn Dri-Tac or cork split grip in either 6’10” or 7” lengths finishes off this fast action, medium-light powered rod. It works best with six to 14-pound test and lures from one-eighth to three-eighths of an ounce.
The TB Custom Trout Hunter brings in big fish when nearby anglers don’t even realize they have a bite.
Things to Consider When Buying Drop Shot Rods
You took your trusty old baitcasting rod to a section of the lake where you always get snagged on moss and aquatic vegetation and you tried a drop shot rig for the first time. It isn’t just the fish that were hooked, you are too.
This technique is addictive, so addictive you’ll want to have a special rod perfectly designed for this style of finesse angling.
Here are some considerations when you decide to buy a rod solely for drop shotting.
Power, aka how stiff do you want the rod to be? In drop shot settings, you want a rod with a sensitive tip so you can feel the fish hit, but you need power for setting the hook once the vibration hits your hand.
Power varies greatly in rod construction. Generally, you want a medium or medium-light power rod when working the weed beds for bass, walleye, crappie, or perch.
Rod length is a consideration that many don’t consider initially. A long rod will cast farther with identical reels, guides, and construction materials, but sometimes throwing the lure a long way isn’t nearly as important as accuracy. or even being able to manipulate the rod if you’re working in heavy cover.
Most drop shot rods range from 6’6” to 7’6” with 6’10” and 7’2” the most popular lengths. Anything within the 6’6” to 7’11” will do nicely.
Graphite, spun carbon, and varieties of those materials in spun graphite fiberglass combinations bring strength and light weight to a rod. Graphite - specifically 30 and 40-ton graphite blanks - bring strength while the wall thickness, taper, and spinning techniques enhance or limit flexibility.
The handle is your interface to the fish waiting on the other end. Many consider natural cork to be the only choice in handle material, but CVA and other composites last a lot longer when you fish in adverse conditions. Split or standard grip is a choice of the angler.
You choose what feels best in your hand. Feeling in control, with a good grip enhances your chances of landing that big one because you can feel it when they strike.
Price is always a consideration in fishing rods, no matter the style. Drop shot rods can range from $59 to over $1000, with good drop shot rods available at $80 to $125, and excellent rods a few dollars more.
You can find great rods for less than $200 from a variety of manufacturers, but you’ll need to weigh other purchasing factors rather than just the price if you want to be satisfied.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is drop shot fishing?
If you’ve ever spent most of a day on the lake or river, cleaning moss, algae, and underwater plants off your lure, line, guides, and reel you’re a candidate for drop shot fishing.
Drop shot fishing is the technique of keeping bait just a few inches above an aquatic weed bed. You do this by tying a sinker below your lure or bait so only the sinker drops into the weeds.
The bait stays just above the weed bed, tantalizing the fish with a free meal floating just about their underwater hiding place.
What kind of rod do you use for drop shot fishing?
Any rod will work for drop shot fishing, but not just any rod will produce the results you can achieve with a rod specifically designed for the technique. The rod has to have a unique combination of finesse and power. Finesse to feel the soft bite of a fish moving just a few feet to hit the bait, with the power to set a hook quickly once you feel the hit.
Drop shot rods come in both baitcaster and spinning models. The preference stays with the angler, though many experienced drop shot fishermen prefer the baitcasting setup since your thumb is easy to place on the spool and can feel the strike through the line, grip, and reel easily.
Others like the two-handed technique necessary with a spinning rig.
You hold the rod in your right hand (reverse this if you’re left-handed) and hold the taut line between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. You can feel a strike with your left hand then set the hook with your right.
How long should a drop shot leader be?
An ideal leader should present the bait about six inches above the weed bed you’re fishing. Any lower and you’ll snag, any higher and the fish won’t be as interested. Weed beds can be very deep depending on where you’re fishing. The kelp off the California coast is sometimes 300 feet deep.
You won’t find any kelp beds in the Mississippi drainage, in the tens of thousands of rivers and ponds near the Great Lakes, or on the plains and high altitude lakes of the west, but you will find weed beds that vary from a few inches to several feet in depth. Finding the correct depth so you can adjust your leader properly is probably the most difficult aspect of drop shot fishing.
What is the best drop shot weight?
There is no single “best” drop shot weight. The rod you use will have a lure rating from one-sixteenth to one ounce.
The best weight is the one that fits the action and power of your rod. Too heavy a weight diminishes your ability to feel a fish strike, and too light a weight doesn’t give your rig a chance to sink into the proper depth so the lure is optimally presented.
What is the best line type for drop shotting?
Line selection depends first on whether you’re fishing with a baitcaster or spinning reel on your drop shot rod. Ideally, the weight of the line should reflect the type of fish you are angling for. If you’re working in a section of the lake known for 12 to 15-pound walleye, a six-pound test line will give you the sensitivity to feel the strike, but the ensuing battle might end up with a snapped line.
Too heavy a line and you’re sensitivity drops. Your rod will be rated with a recommended pound test line, adhere to the specifications for an ideal setup. Most fisherman drop shot with line from 10 to 14 pounds, but some prefer lighter weights don’t to six pounds and others will use 20-pound test.
How do you rig a drop shot?
If you’re fishing with a hook and bait, the drop shot rigging is straight forward. Pull out the length of leader you’ll need then put a loop through the hook at the apex of your leader. Pull a double-line through your hook, wrap it around once to tie the knot then attach the weight to the end of the line. Your bait will sit at whatever distance you choose to tie the knot.
Most jigs used in drop shotting work the same way. If you have a swivel attached with a short length of line to your jig, you can tie a separate line to the weight, tie a loop the line with the weight and use just one snap swivel to connect your entire rigging.
Drop shotting can open up an entirely new world of fishing to you, even if you’ve fished these waters for decades.
As humans, we learn to avoid frustrating or difficult situations when we encounter them repeatedly. It is in our nature.
Avoiding sections of a favorite lake, stream or river, just because it has too much vegetation is a common occurrence. Once you waste a good day on the water constantly removing slimy plant growth off your gear, you’re not likely to return to that spot.
How many times when you’ve asked a friend how the fishing was have they responded, “Too much moss, I packed up and went home?”
With drop shotting, that doesn’t have to be the problem it once was. Don’t kid yourself, you’ll still get snagged, still pick up weeds, and still have to clean your gear occasionally, but odds are you’ll be doing that after landing a few fish from a spot you’ve never taken one from before.
Angling success always makes the entire process more enjoyable. Why not give this technique a chance? Maybe the trophy you’ve missed all these years is just waiting for you to try something new.