Deep Water Drop Shot – A fishing article by Durban based fishing charter and guide on Deep Water Drop Shot fishing, the name given to lure fishing with soft plastics saltwater, the article covers rigging and techniques

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Blue Water Charters | Durban

Marlin & Big Game Sport Fishing

Deep Water Drop Shot


Article by Mike Laubscher of  Blue Water Charters | Durban


Drop shot in essence has become a named used for fishing soft fishing plastic lures in saltwater, and there are several ways to do this.


If you are going off-shore and are considering using drop shot, or perhaps you have already tried it you will find that there are more factors that come into play in deeper water than drop shotting in estuaries, around the rocks or surf zone. In most cases saltwater drop shot fishing has been done with jig heads from Ό ounce to 1 ounce and there are larger jig heads around, but these usually require a heavier drop shot rig and then there is the problem that the lure does not look right or swim right.

The real truth about drop shot is that the movement of your lure is everything, and things like colour, scents and so on play a very secondary role, no matter what anyone says. I have seen so many anglers constantly changing lures and colours to try get a fish to bite and they achieve absolutely nothing. What you need to do is get your lure to where the fish are, and then you need to make it move properly to entice the fish to take it.


In this article I will cover drop shot off-shore in the deeper blue water. This is a very exciting way to fish as here you have a very real chance of landing a big one from game fish right through the water column to bottom fish and so you need to tackle up to suit your environment and the fish you are going to catch.


The rig I would recommend would be a light jigging stick that can handle up to around 150g, I do not really like long sticks on the boat, and so this rod should be 6’6” to 7’0”. On to this rod I would put a spinning reel of around the 6000 size which can take around 300m or more of braid from 30lb to 50 lb. I have about 500m of 30lb on my personal rod and chose the lighter braid so I could get more line to allow the bigger fish to run.

My rig of choice for this application and what I use personally is the Shimano Trevala Medium Light 7’0” Jigging stick in the spinning version, paired with a Shimano Stella 6000 and 500m of Mustad 30lb Ultra Braid. This is a very expensive outfit which will set you back around R10000.00, but will handle anything you hook up even a Tuna or small Marlin. There are many other options. For my charters I use four King Fisher Evolution GT 150g Jigging Sticks, paired with Penn Accord 6000’s and 300m of Kingfisher 45lb braid, and these rigs cost less than R1500.00 including the braid, and I see these rigs work every day and have seen what they catch, what they can handle and what they are capable of, and that they have proven to be reliable.


The most important thing with any rods and reels is good maintenance and cleaning. Every day when I come back from the water all the rods and reels are hosed down with fresh water using a spray nozzle and whilst they are dripping wet I spray them with silicon spray (Q8) and then leave them out to dry, the silicon spray will also not damage your line, do not pack anything away in reel or rod covers until the next day as the water is still there and it will cause corrosion. Also very important is to release your drag and leave it loose so you do not compress your drag washers. When you take the rods and reels out again to use them, simply wipe them off to remove the silicon residue and they are ready to use. Do not use an oil spray like Q20 as this will get into your drag washers and cause them to swell.


For deep water drop shot the leaders I like to use a flouro carbon leader from 30lb – 50lb, but mono will also do the job and the length of leader I like is 6-7m long.


As mentioned earlier there are other factors that come into play when drop shotting in the deeper water and these are water depth and current which cause a huge influence on your lure and getting it to the fish. So based on experience gained from Bass fishing and vertical jigging we have come up with a method to get the drop shot lure down to the bottom (100m is no problem) to where the fish are with out sacrificing the movement of the lure, and the result is an extremely effective way to catch fish consistently and a way to get good bottom fish and game fish without having to change your rig.

Deep Water Drop Shot – The Deep Water Drop Shot Rig

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing
Based at Wilsons Wharf in Durban Harbour
Member of Durban Charter Boat Assosiation
Deep Water Drop Shot – Rockod (Grouper) caught using Deep Water Drop Shot

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing
Based at Wilsons Wharf in Durban Harbour
Member of Durban Charter Boat Assosiation

The deep water drop shot rig is made up differently to the conventional drop shot jig head as the weight is now separated from the lure and this allows the lure to move freely with a lot of action and it allows you to use much heaver weights like 5ounce or 6 ounce sinkers.

The hook is attached to a swivel snap, and here you can use a normal fishing hook 4/0 or 5/0 or you can use a wide gape heavy gauge bass hook 4/0 or 5/0 or even a light circle hook 3/0 or 4/0. I personally prefer the wide gape bass hook or a circle hook as these hold the soft plastic much better. On the other end of the swivel (the side away from the hook & snap) you attach your line directly to the swivel and a snap or split ring to which you attach your sinker. I like to use a 5 ounce tear drop shape sinker. I also like to use a spot of super glue on the top of the hook shank to hold the lure in place on the hook due to the extreme pressure placed on the lure with all the erratic jigging movements.


When vertical jigging off-shore it is very much like hunting, as you look for pinnacles, reefs and ledges and any good showings and you cruise around to find these points and then drop you jig down. With deep water drop shot it works the same but it is even better, as you can now play around on the way down and expect to catch fish, and when you get to the bottom you can stay there for a long time and just move your lure around on the bottom until you get a bite, you can also retrieve your line and expect to get fish on the way up. You can even troll you rig whilst you are moving around looking for good spots, and even at higher speeds.

Once on the bottom you can set the sensitivity on you finder up and you can watch your lure whilst it is on the bottom.


The first thing to do is set you drag, the you let you open your bail arm to drop your lure, but don’t just let the lure fall down, hold a finger on the spool to control the speed and every now and then jig it up 2 or 3 times and then continue to let it fall so you can capitalise on any fish that are suspended in the mid water section or any game fish hunting in the mid water section. Then once on the bottom, do not just leave it there you must bounce it up and down like fishing with yozuri’s and even jig it up 4 – 6 time like vertical jigging and then let it drop again. You can also jig it up like a vertical jig fast or slow.

This is such an amazing way to fish lures, and you can catch almost anything, it is clean and the whole family can enjoy it. It is a good way to get good fish fast, and it does not require the same input of energy as conventional drop shot or vertical jigging.


As with all fishing, when you get a bottom fish from a deep reef, do not force him up to fast as you will cause his/her swim bladder to expand and even come out his mouth (looks like a tongue) and then if you release him, he then just floats on the water surface as he cannot get back down to the reef, rather bring him up slowly so that it will be easy to release him.

When you get a big fish do not panic and over tighten your drag, let him run and play him, after all that’s what you went out there for in the first place. If you force him you will lose him.


There are many lures on the market some are scented and they are made from plastics with all different kinds of properties. On many occasions the scented lures are actually a disadvantage as the smaller fish actually take bites out of them and eat them and thereby render your lure useless and can cause a costly day.


The lure that I like to use the most is from the Strike King saltwater range and is called the 5” Magic Zulu; my favorite colours are the pearl white, pearl white with blue glimmer, chartreuse, white with chartreuse glow tail, ice and smoke and there is also a dark green with chartreuse tail that has delivered good results. The reason I like the Strike King lures is that they are biodegradable, the patented elza-tech plastic is so durable and can stretch a mile with out breaking and so you can often fish the same lure all day and catch fish repeatedly on the same lure, and even use again on another outing. Many lures break after one fish or one hit and this can become expensive. Strike King also makes a nice range of 4” lures called Glass Minnows and these also work extremely well. I even like to use bass worms and finesse worms with deep water drop shot. My favorite is the bright pink 7” finesse worm from Strike King (which is so bright the fish from the other reef come over to take a bite. lol); this lure always produces a good bottom fish like a Rockod.


You need to get out there and get this rig down, you will catch a lot of fish and a whole variety of fish and you can take some really nice size fish. I like to practice catch, photo and release as much as possible, try use biodegradable lures and high carbon hooks which are razor sharp and rust quickly so we can preserve our environment for our children. All the fish shown in this article were safely released back into our oceans.

The Deep Water Drop Shot Rig

Rockod (Grouper) caught using Deep Water Drop Shot