Drop Shot Weights Explained (Types, Rigs, & Tips)

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Drop shot weights can be quite confusing for beginner anglers as there are a few types of drop shots out there to choose from and using the right one for the right fishing situation is key to your fishing success. 

In this article, we will run through all the different types of drop shots out there, when to use them, and how to fish them. By the end, you should be able to pick the perfect drop shot weight for every fishing situation you find yourself in. 

What Is A Drop Shot Weight?

A drop shot weight is used in fishing when an angler needs to fish on the bottom of a lake, river, or canal. The weight is tied to the end of a fishing line that lays on the bottom. They are made from lead or tungsten which is moulded into various shapes and sizes.

When Would You Use Drop Shot Weights? 

Drop shot weights are designed to be used when drop shotting, so what is a drop shotting method? Drop shotting is a way of fishing a plastic lure for predatory fish like bass, zander, pike, and perch. 

When drop-shotting you will fish your lure in conjunction with a drop-shot weight which will sit either above or below your chosen lure. This allows you to fish your lure near the bottom and bounce it along in deeper depths than without the drop shot weight. 

Another great thing about drop shotting is that the drop shot weight is heavy enough to allow you to cast long distances and therefore cover a lot of ground with each cast. 

What Are The Types Of Drop Shot Weights? 

There are three main types of drop shot weights out there and these include round weights, teardrop weights, and cylinder weights. Let’s run through them all in more detail. 

Round Drop Shot Weights 

Round drop shot weights look like a pool ball and usually come with a swivel at the top of them that allows them to slide up and down your line or for you to tie it on so it is fixed. The swivel also prevents line twists and tangles.

These are the perfect type of drop shot weights to use when fishing around a rocky bottom as the shape stops them from getting snagged in the small gaps between the rocks. 

While these are great for rocky bottoms it’s best not to use them around weed covered bottoms as they tend to get tied up in vegetation.  

Cylinder Drop Shot Weights 

Cylinder drop shot weights come in the shape of a long thin cylinder and these are specifically designed to be used when fishing in areas with a weed covered bottom. The shape allows this type of drop shot weight to move in and out of weed and grass with ease. 

You should not use cylinder drop shot weights when fishing around rocky bottoms though as the shape of the drop shot weight easily gets caught in the gaps between the rocks and you will get snagged and lose your rig. 

Cylinder weights are also sometimes called skinny weights or pencil weights.

Teardrop Drop Shot Weights

Teardrop drop shot weights are a hybrid design that mixes both the shape of a cylinder and round drop shot weights. This makes them good in both scenarios as their round bottom stops them from getting snagged in rocks while their thinner tapered top stops them from getting tangled in weeds and grass. 

Since most fishing spots have a mixture of rocky and weedy bottoms this means the teardrop drop shot weight should be your go-to drop shot for most fishing situations. If you are unsure which weight shape to use then pick the teardrop shape.

Should I Use Tungsten Or Lead Drop Shot Weights? 

When it comes to buying a particular type of drop shot weight you will have the choice between tungsten and lead.

There are a few differences between these two materials and the one that will catch your eye first is the cost. Tungsten drop weights are approximately 30% more expensive than lead ones, so is the extra cost worth it? 

Tungsten is a heavier material than lead meaning, for example, a ¼ ounce tungsten drop shot weight will be a lot smaller than a ¼ ounce lead weight. This has a lot of advantages when drop shotting as the fish are less likely to see the drop shot weight and it is less likely to get snagged on the bottom too. 

Another reason why tungsten drop shot weights catch more fish than lead is because of the sound it makes. Lead is malleable to a point therefore when it hits the bottom it doesn’t make much noise whereas tungsten is harder and makes more noise to attract fish. 

So, is it worth the extra cost? Generally, I would say that staying with lead is the way to go as it is much more affordable and you will still catch fish with it. However, if money is no object and you simply want to fish with the best drop shot weights possible, then tungsten is the way to go. 

Also, if you are fishing in a competition, tungsten is the obvious choice as it gives you every advantage you need to catch as many fish as possible. 

It should be remembered that lead is banned in certain states and also in European countries, always check the rules and regulations before using weights made from lead.

Can I Use Stainless Steel Fishing Weights?

Yes, stainless steel whilst more expensive can be effectively used for fishing including drop shot weights. They are a lead-free alternative available to fishermen comparable to brass or Tungsten weights.

What Size Drop Shot Weight Should I Use? 

The weight of your drop shot should match the depth you want to fish at, obviously choosing heavier drop shot weights for deeper water and lighter ones for shallow water. 

The most commonly used drop shot weights are 3/16 or 1/4 ounce (7 grams) and then you can go up from there to 3/8 and 1/2 ounce (14 grams) drop shots. However, if you are fishing in a moving river you should double these guidelines. If it is a fast-moving current you will find you may have to use 3x the weight.

Ideally, you should use the lightest drop shot weight possible that allows you to fish the correct depth and still feel your drop shot at the same time as you fish. This will allow you to bounce your lure close to the bottom with the smallest profile weight possible. 

As a rule of thumb, use a 1/4 ounce weight when fishing in water that is 15 feet deep and when fishing in 25 or 30 feet go up to about a 3/8-ounce drop shot. Using the lightest weight possible will also help you feel the bites easier.

The one exception to this guideline is if you want to drop shot at very long distances. However, drop shot casting fishing is very difficult, and not very effective due to the length of line that is between the lead weight and the rod tip. The nearer you fish to the bank, and around the margins make it easier to drop shot fish. 

Do Lead Weights Rust?

No, lead does not rust. However, the lead material will oxidize on the outside surface of the weight and looks like a whitish powder. This only affects its outer appearance and can be easily cleaned off.

What Are The Best Drop Shot Rigs? 

Now that we have covered everything we need to about drop shot weights, let’s look at some great drop shot rigs that will have you catching fish with ease. 

The Fixed Rig 

This is the most popular type of drop shot rig and putting it together is very easy. You will want to start by tying on a length of 10 ft fluorocarbon to your mainline as your leader. This line is almost invisible to fish and is the perfect leader material. 

Once you have added your leader to your mainline tie your hook for your soft plastic lure to the leader line using a Palomar knot. This knot allows you to attach the hook so it sits straight along the line leaving enough of a tag end to attach the drop shot weight to. 

Next, tie the drop shot weight to the end of your leader line, it should be about 2-3 feet below the hook you tied on before. Use a Palomar knot again or an improved clinch knot to tie it on. 

Now all you need to do is add your soft plastic and fish the rig at your chosen depth. When fishing the rig you can slowly jig it, keeping your lure at the desired depth you want it to be. 

You can read my in-depth guide on drop shot rig fishing here!

The Carolina Rig 

The Carolina rig involves using a sliding drop shot weight. You will want to slide it onto your main line and tie a swivel beneath it with an improved clinch knot. Now add 5-7 feet of fluorocarbon with the same knot as a leader to the swivel. 

At the end of the leader tie on your hook with the same knot and add the soft plastic. Now you can fish your lure at your desired depth but there won’t be a weight for the fish to see underneath it. 

Dropping Out 

Thanks very much for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it and have learned everything you need to about drop shot weights so you can choose the right type, weight, materials, and fish with them successfully too.  

Please share the article with your fishy friends and why not check out some of our other in-depth articles? We cover everything from the best baits and lures for fishing and choosing the best tackle accessories available. 

Steve Fitzjohn