Drop Shot Nymphing on a Tight Line Rig — Pt.1

by | Apr 13, 2022 | 65 comments

** NOTE ** This is the first installment of the Troutbitten Short Series covering drop shot nymphing.

Find the full series HERE.

— — — — — —

The more time I spend on the water, the more I find new ways to use old ideas. I enjoy finding inspiration through conversations with other anglers and from the writings of fishing authors old and new. The fly fishing industry suffers a bit by having blinders on. While the rest of the angling community seems to trade ideas freely, fly fishers seem all too willing to stand apart. Unfortunately, that mindset costs a lot of opportunities for learning, for blending tactics and moving forward with something new. In my view, drop shot nymphing on a tight line rig is one of those chances. It’s a deadly-effective method that wins the day under a variety of situations, and it deserves a place in every nymph-angler’s quiver.

Placing the weight at the bottom of the leader is not a novel idea. The history of drop shotting goes back a long, long time. And just a little research reveals a host of sources that detail drop shot nymphing with many of the same principles, rigging and drifting ideas that I’ll explore in this Troutbitten Short Series.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover drop shot nymphing on a tight line system and Mono Rig in five or six installments. When finished, this Troutbitten Short Series will cover the drop shot tactics that I use every day. Because as the years pass, I’ve found a few refinements, I’ve learned a few advantages that lead me toward drop shot as the solution for more on-stream problems. It’s a tactic that has its place alongside all the other ways that I like to drift nymphs. Because the principles of dead drifting a nymph usually come down to imitating a natural drift as close as possible, but the methods for doing so are remarkably varied.

Every river scenario has a solution. And quite often, drop shotting is the perfect answer.

Everything Old is New Again

I think I first tied and cast a drop shot rig a couple of decades ago. Right around the time I was trying to dial in my nymphing game, I read an article from In Fisherman, about a bounce rig for fly fishing. It was drop shotting, but the method included an indicator. And at the time I was dead-set against adding an indy to my line. I did sense the possibilities of simply placing the weight beyond the nymphs instead of ahead of them, and I tried drop shot rigging a handful of times. I don’t even remember if I caught fish before putting it aside. And honestly, I just didn’t have the confidence back then to branch out or deviate too far from the standards.

Drop shotting is big in the bass fishing world, of course, and I ran across it enough to keep me cycling through it once in a while. Galloup had an article and a couple of good videos that helped a lot of anglers almost a decade ago. Galloup’s wisdom helped me turn the corner and put drop shotting in my regular bag of tricks. I started using it more, but it generally remained at the bottom of that bag.

I published a couple of articles on drop shot nymphing here on Troutbitten over the last few years. And one of those articles highlighted Dave Rothrock’s rigging method. He placed all nymphs on tags instead of tying them in-line. And for me, that made a big difference. So I used it more, until drop shotting finally started to become a large part of what I did on the water.

READ: Troutbitten | Streamside — Dave Rothrock’s Drop Shot Video
READ: Troutbitten | Ask George Daniel — Drop Shot Nymphing

Weighted or Unweighted

Two more key moments of understanding finally gave me the necessary closing confidence, and I now employ drop shot as much as I use traditional split shot placement and just as often, weighted nymphs.

I had always been told that unweighted flies must be used with drop shot. But most of my confidence nymphs had a bead. Never one to get ahead of my fly tying, I just wasn’t the kind of angler to carry a whole set of unweighted or lightly weighted versions of my confidence flies, tied specifically for drop shot. And that held me back.

Then one day, on a whim, I tied a pair of my favorite flies (with tungsten beadheads) to a drop shot rig. While fishing a local tributary, I quickly learned what I should have understood decades ago — weighted flies work great in a drop shot system. Just like with traditional split shot placement, it’s fine to mix and match weighted flies and split shot — together in harmony.

High | Low | Jigs | Go

Lastly, my biggest personal breakthrough happened while fishing the saltwater surf with a spinning rod. On our family vacation a couple of summers ago, I was fishing what the bait shops called a high-low rig. And as I bumped the one-ounce lead sinkers along the sand with two Gulp Minnows suspended above, I had a though . . . “I wonder if anyone makes these sinkers small enough for fly fishing.”

Because I weigh almost everything on a gram scale at one time or another, I knew what I needed: nothing heavier than 1/8 ounce and much more often something like 1/32 of an ounce. Like most of you, I’m pretty good at searching the web. But I found nothing.

About a week after we got back from vacation, that high-low rig was still on my mind. And as I pulled out one of my favorite streamers — a Bunny Flash Jiggy, tied on a lead ball jig, I saw my solution. Cut the shank off, and you have the perfect drop shot for a nymphing rig.

This changes everything

I carry these in 1/64, 1/48, 1/32, 1/24, 1/16 and 1/8 ounce options. Are they better than just putting split shot on the end of the line? Surprisingly, yes. Nothing bumps and ticks bottom — without snagging — like these little balls. (I’ll cover a lot more about weighting options in a dedicated article later in this series.)

From the moment I started using the lead balls, I felt like my drop shot system was complete. I was finally comfortable with every element. I had enough years, enough errors and enough answered questions to understand exactly why I like it and when to use it.

I now spend about half of my time nymphing this way, and my guided guests love it too.

Why Isn’t Drop Shot Nymphing More Popular?

I think there are three main reasons why drop shot nymphing isn’t seen as a mainstream technique.

It requires more rigging. Most anglers avoid tying knots, to a fault. Drop shot nymphing requires a couple more knots than other rigs. So the time investment and potential for frustration increases too. And most anglers won’t commit to it.

Some states disallow the weights placed below the fly. This is most often an old law put in place to discourage snagging of salmon and other species. Sadly, this restriction limits an enjoyable and effective technique for nymph anglers in those areas too, even though the rigs we are using are much lighter than anyone would ever use for snagging fish.

It’s not FIPS Mouche legal. The majority of information written about tight line nymphing these days is laser-focused on euro nymphing, which is a tight line system with nothing attached to the leader but the flies themselves. Most of the information shared about tight line and euro nymphing is offered by competition anglers. But they operate under a restrictive set of rules than the rest of us. One of those rules is that no additional weight may be added to the leader. And that’s too bad.

Let me put it this way: If drop shot nymphing was an option, it would be one of the most widely used rigs on the comp scene. I have no doubt about this. It’s just too effective for good anglers to miss.

READ: Troutbitten | What You’re Missing by Following FIPS Competition Rules

My Favorite Drop Shot Rig

There’s really nothing complicated about a drop shot nymphing rig. I simply use my standard Mono Rig and replace the point fly with a drop shot weight. I also add a tag about six inches up from that shot.

Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig

24 feet — 20 lb Maxima Chameleon
2 feet —12 lb Maxima HV
12” — 12lb Red Amnesia or 12 lb Sufix Neon Fire
12” — 10lb Gold Stren (Backing Barrel with tag, attached here)
Tippet Ring (1.5 or 2mm)
14″ — 1x Rio Two Tone Tippet Material (Optional)
36″ — 4X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for upper nymph —
16″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Tag for lower nymph —
6″ — 5X Fluorocarbon Tippet
— Split Shot or Drop Shot Ball —


Photo by Bill Dell

Why Choose Drop Shot?

I select a drop shot nymphing rig for specific reasons.

— When I want to contact the riverbed throughout the drift. (Bottom rides instead of pure strike zone rides.)

— To deliberately slow the drift.

— To stutter or “bounce” the tag nymphs above. (This is often a great trigger.)

— For stable drifts on windy days.

— To feel contact with the riverbed through the rod.

— To tick the bottom, but keep the flies clean and rarely hang up.

— To drift light nymphs at long distances without the dragging effect of line/leader sag.

— For ultimate control over the position, depth and speed of the nymphs.

— For fishing very small and/or light weight nymphs, adding the necessary weight in the drop shot to fish effectively.

— Because it’s a fun way to fish.

What’s Coming In This Series

This Troutbitten website gives me the platform to deliver high quality, book-length material on these topics. A single magazine article cannot cover this kind of topic in detail. So look at this Troutbitten Short Series on drop shot nymphing as chapters in a book. I encourage you to read it that way. Follow the links (in-orange) contained within.

There are hundreds of supporting articles here on Troutbitten about tight line nymphing tactics, so I won’t go into great detail on how to cast or exactly how to drift the flies. Those articles are already written and easy to find on Troutbitten. (Follow the Nymphing Category above the article title on this page. Also follow the Mono Rig Category. Or use the Search Page in the menu.)

I’m excited to write this down and share it with you.

Here are a few of the topics for upcoming chapters:

  • Rigging Methods and Options
  • When and Why Drop Shot Wins
  • Drop Shot Weights and Strategies
  • Perfecting the Bottom Ride
  • Struggles and Solutions

Fish hard, friends.

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Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.


  1. Dom, it’s become my “go to” set up lately. Many of my confidence flies are not weighted, or just slightly weighted. The drop shot setup helps with my tuck cast because of this. Also, I lose less flies because of this setup. I use roughly 6” of tippet off the bend of my point fly. At the very end of that 6” piece, I tie an over hand ‘wind knot.’ This keeps my shot from sliding off the tippet, but also allows an ‘easy break away’ on a snag. One tip I’ll add: I use a plastic twist tie to keep my drop shot section from wrapping around my rod, when I’m walking from spot to spot, while my flies are locked up in my guides/hook keep. I simply use the twist tie right beside the shot, wrapped snuggly around my rod…..

    • I like that plastic twist tie idea. I use a hair tie. Pretty much same result. The fact that you recognize the need for that certainly reveals that you’ve used this tezhnique!

      I don’t care for going in-line. I feel like my flies are liberated on a tag. Also … much easier to change flies.

      I also don’t find the “break away” idea to be very reliable. Not easy, anyway.


  2. I look forward to the rest of this series. One question I have about drop shooting may be answered in what ensues, but, in any case, here it is. It seems to me that the only reason to use relatively light tippet is to allow for a better drift (not for reduced visibility, which is, in my mind, a myth). Since a drop shot rig sort of takes care of the drift issue, wouldn’t using tippet that is rope-like by today’s standards work well? BTW, I understand that Dave Rothrock uses 3x most of the time.

    • Nice, Alex. There’s a price for everything. 3X adds drag to the system, and then, yes you can defeat that drag with added weight. And yet, it would be nice if that drag was never there in the first place.

      That said, I’m on the same page as you in your comment. Competition anglers are obsessed with ultra-light tippets because it’s the only way to get small flies down, since they can’t add any shot. That approach, of course, comes with its own consequences. And at some point, it’s actually MUCH more effective to simply add weight in the form of split shot or drop shot.

      Cheers, Alex.

      • Just building on this: would it then also follow that a regular fly line would also perform reasonably well with this technique and sag far less than it does normally?

        • Hi Dave,

          Fair question, but sagging less really has nothing to do with drop shot. Think about it this way . . . there’s enough weight to counteract any sag, and leader, any fly line. And you can put that weight in the flies, in a regular split shot set up, or in drop shot.

          Make sense?


  3. Early in my fly fishing career, before I discovered your website and the mono-rig, I gave the drop shot a try on a traditional fly line set-up and my first cast became so tangled, I had to start over and tie up a whole new rig, granted I didn’t have that much experience at that time casting an indicator, 2 flies, and a significant weight tied below. After re-rigging the same rig, I was casting and the drop shot weight hit the tip of my fly rod, causing me to break the tip off a few casts later. These were all rookie mistakes, but caused me to give up on the drop-shot rig, and in the 10+ years since then, I haven’t gone back to it with any sort of confidence, and so I haven’t really given it a chance. In fact I can’t recall ever catching a fish with this method because I’ve always given up on it so quickly. This new series has me very excited to start exploring the drop shot rig again, especially with weighted confidence patterns that I didn’t originally think could be fished effectively on this rig. Looking forward to your next article (s), and can’t wait to get out on the river and start exploring this rig. Thanks Dom!

    • Good stuff, Mike.

      I find that a small percentage of my guests have trouble with casting, and they tend to blame it on whatever rig is tied on — it’s because of the indy — it’s because of the drop shot — it’s because there are two weighted flies.

      Reality is, good casting takes care of all this. An accomplished anglers can cast all of the rigs above all day with very few mistakes.

      Is that easy? NOPE! But that’s what we’re all striving for. And I’ve found that drop shot rigs do NOT cause more tangles than anything else.

  4. Thanks for this great article. I drop- shot a majority of the time while nymph fishing. I can’t offer any better description of drop-shot nymphing better than you. I do have two personal insights.

    1) If you tie flies, it’s cheaper to drop shot as you spend less on beadheads. (If you’re an average fly tyer like myself, without a bead head you are less likely to crowd the eye of the hook.)

    2) In Minnesota and Wisconsin where I fish there’s been a lot of low water for the last year or two. I find this style of fishing not as good for low water conditions. I think floating the sighter can be a much more versatile technique in this situation.

    • Right on, David. I have about a thousand things to say about the differences between floating the sighter and drop shotting. They are almost at polar opposite ways of drifting — and yet, both are VERY effective.

      I’m with you, drop shotting is not my first method for low and clear water.


  5. I have contemplated drop-shotting with unweighted flies, one goal being fewer flies needed and simpler fly box organization, i.e. no different weights to arrange which is somewhat problematic my old eyes. I further imagined that situation could result in the unweighted flies on a tag dropper floating ahead (downstream) of the leader which is weighted with the drop shot. Given the above situation, one can further imagine a trout mouthing the downstream floating fly and it never registers on the sighter due to the 4″ tag which is only loosely connected, i.e. not tight, to the leader. The above situation, which is strictly imagined and not proven, has kept me from fully committing to drop-shotting. I will greatly appreciate any comments or guidance on this or any related particular scenario.
    Thank you for sharing your fishing knowledge with the fly fishing community and helping us all to be better and more thoughtful anglers.

    • David…..don’t over think the technique, i.e., as your comment “strictly imagined and not proven”. Trial and error will provide you the answers you seek. Don’t hesitate to try just because you don’t know the outcome. My first cast with a DS rig landed in stream side bushes, resulting in a break off. But I was determined, and further research of Troutbitten revealed my errors(thank you Dom), and now days, DS rigging is my go to nymphing technique. Don’t allow your imagination to become you nemesis.
      Try, test and refine are the tools of success.
      Good luck.

      • Good stuff been waiting on your take drop shotting to come along.I have used the drop shot alot over maybe the last 4 yyears.I first started off with weightless flies.But soon reverted back to lightly weighted flies I found i got fewer tangles going with lightly weighted flies. Flourocarbon also helps with fewer tangles.

    • Love your thoughtful suggestions. Ready to add them toy bag of tricks.
      (I have drop shotted as a bass fisherman)

    • Hi David,

      “one can further imagine a trout mouthing the downstream floating fly and it never registers on the sighter due to the 4″ tag which is only loosely connected, i.e. not tight, to the leader.”

      Respectfully, this is not specific to a drop shot rig. Your concern is with the system of using tags for added flies rather than trailers. Check this out:


      FWIW, I disagree with your assessment. But you can read about why in the article I just linked.


  6. Great stuff and Im really excited about the rest to come! I use a drop shot rig very often in many different scenarios and my go to for fishing eggs. You nailed it on how many issues it solves on the water, and you can vary the rig so many ways. Ive only ever used split shot, but there is little doubt in my mind of the advantages to using the jig head over it… just have to convince myself to cut some perfectly good hooks off…

    On the egg rig I make my “anchor” tag half as short as the tag to my fly (4-6″). Your fly stays hugged but not hung

    • Please elaborate on what issues have you experienced while using split shot for drop shotting that using a jig head will address?

      • Hi Steve,

        It just hangs up less — way less. Even perfectly round shot hangs up more than the little lead balls. It’s just true. Give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean.

      • Thanks for taking this approach on in Troutbitten. Should be good. Matt Kowalchuk of the Feathered Hook taught this on a guided trip on Penns. The single best day I ever had on the water. He used a ten foot Trouthunter 0x leader, tags, and shot at the bottom. Little balloons as indicators. I also ran into a Bob Bizak a retired lead guide From Home Waters. He too was using drop shot with tiny midges. Saw him on a tough section of Spring Creek. He fished water I just left without success. He caught two in ten minutes. Looking forward to your insights as to when, how, and why to use this technique. The two best fisherman I’ve seen both used this technique. Now you. I need to give it another try. Can you also give tips on avoiding tangles. Maybe I was just too inexperienced at the time is the reason for the tangles.

        • Hi Paul. Good stuff. Yes, drop shotting is very prevalent in nymphing and across fly fishing styles. You’ll notice many variations for rigs. But the most important thing is to learn to USE those rigs. Drift them. Leader design matters, but what matters more is the cast, the delivery and the drift. There’s too much focus, I believe on the flies and the rigs. It is, of course, much more about what you do with the rigs.

          As for tangling. If an angler has trouble not tangling two nymphs, then adding a third thing to the rig will complicate things. However, using good casting fundamentals is the way to go. I DO NOT recommend lobbing a nymphing rig around “to keep the loops open.” No thank you. Lobbing is limiting and not at all accurate. It’s a crutch that falls apart under challenging circumstances. I advise learning to cast all nymphing rigs with a standard stroke, feel the weight, use speed between two points, build good casting loops, have enough power to unfold those loops and get a tuck cast.

          Fish on!


          • When I have had tangling issues with the Standard drop shot rig especially in wind, I remove the 14 ” inch Rio Tricolor and attach the tippet section directly to the Gold Stren. I can’t see myself going back to spli shot 5 inches above the point fly. Actually using the 1/32 jig head most of the time with a tuck.

          • When I have tangled its not the bottom tag and drop shot that tangles. I recently upgraded from a traditional 4 weight 10 foot 6 nymphing rod to a 10 foot 4 weight Hardy which is way more powerful. Tangling issues with this rod have been operator error as I learn the nuances of this rod and have involved the upper tag. Removing the Rio has helped me as I work through the learning curve. When the upper tag tangles it generally results in a birds nest

          • Roome, those are really great points. And I’m glad it’s all working for you. Choosing power and turnover is a shift in thinking, and in my opinion it really pays off.

            See you soon, Roome.

        • Bob Bizak from Home Waters??!@@
          I was with him maybe 25 years ago, Spring Creek was full blown out but with the weight on the bottom of the rig, the indicator would tick along only to stop dead once a 20 incher was on. Small 22 beadheads were the game. Now out west, I still roll with the rig and with good results too.

    • Hi Jacob:

      “”On the egg rig I make my “anchor” tag half as short as the tag to my fly (4-6″). Your fly stays hugged but not hung


  7. Thank you for addressing this issue. Three points & 1 question:
    (1) would it be better to use 6x for the drop shot tippet to make it “easier to break off”?
    (2) At some point produce a diagram of the flies and drop shot section–no need to show the whole mono rig.
    (3) Much change in casting technique or rod (?better with 4 wt vs 3 wt [Rothrock uses 10 ft. 4 wt]? (I know now that I am making it more complicated than it should be.)
    (4) Where are the weights shown in this article commercially available to the “average clunker”

  8. Bottom Bouncing or Drop shot lead rigs have been used for many years in salt water and fresh water fishing. It’s an old concept that some fly fishers have started to use in fly fishing. I am a fly fishing guide on the White and Norfork Tailwaters in North Central Arkansas. I have been using the drop shot nymphing system for several years now. My rigging is set up European style, with my shot on the bottom. Instead of using the bottom tag of a triple surgeon’s knot, I tie perfections loop tags and place each one above the triple surgeon’s knot and pull it down against the knot. You get a 90-degree standout from your standing line. I make up several rigs with perfection loop tags and store them in my leader wallet. If I lose my rigging due to a break-off, I pull out a new rigging and tie it to my tippet ring. Put my shot on the bottom, tie on my two flies and go back to fishing. My standard setup is two flies tied with a 3.0 mm tungsten bead on 60-degree jig hooks and shot on the bottom depending on water depth and flow. On each one of my trips I teach my clients how to cast these rigs properly. You cannot cast them using the traditional backcast or forward casting methods. It would help to modify your backcast to keep your tippet from tangles. I use drop shot nymphing 100 percent of the time. I am probably the only fly guide that uses this system in Arkansas for trout. I use this system for tight-lining or fishing from a riverboat with a suspension device. It’s a deadly system in the hands of a good fly fisher. I remember back in the fifties fishing for brook trout, tying a pebble on the bottom of my line and a fly above it, fishing small streams in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. We hillbillies didn’t have the money for a lead shot.

    • “Bottom Bouncing or Drop shot lead rigs have been used for many years in salt water and fresh water fishing. It’s an old concept that some fly fishers have started to use in fly fishing.”

      Addressed above.

      “I remember back in the fifties fishing for brook trout, tying a pebble on the bottom of my line and a fly above it”

      That sounds neat, but how do you tie a pebble to your line? What knot? What method?


  9. For your bottom fly, do you tie a tag on or do you just tie on as a point fly and then run tippet through the hook eye to tie on the drop shot?

  10. Over the winter I tried out drop shots where I wanted to use weightless or very small weighted flies (like size 20 or small). I found it gave me a different option where I think the trout were selective and small was better.
    I’m looking forward to this series. I’m one of your subscribers that asked an article on this topic so thanks for doing a series (even better). 🙂

  11. Love the photo. Looks like that fish didn’t want to wait around for Bill.

  12. Hey Dom,
    You got a link to get a lil kickback for the hooks your sacrificing?

  13. Been doing this for over seventy-five years. Oops I wasn’t born yet? Anyway, I haven’t noticed this in any of the posts yet, but I may have missed it. During my first outing with this rig and several hang-ups, I dropped the knot below the shot. Got fairly proficient at just applying the right amount of pinch on the shot to pull thru it when snagged, instead of breaking off. I hate that

    • I understand the motivation and the goal. It’s a good way to use drop shot. I don’t personally use it that way, because I’d rather just pull 180 degrees from the angler that the snag went it and get it back out (probably about 95% of the time). That’s faster than breaking off and retying for me. But when I have to fish deep and fish water where I can’t retrieve my snag, that’s how I use drop shot too.

  14. I know you mentioned it in the article, but have you tried the 1/8 drop shot weights they sell, or are they too heavy? I did read above that you prefer 1/32.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for the questions. Yes, in my opinion, you’re doing yourself a disservice is you use 1/8 oz weights for this. It’s simply far too much weight, and it changes everything. I use the 1/32 most often. It’s no heavier — lighter actually — than the weighted flies that I most often use. I certainly use heavier drop shot, when the water type calls for it. But I haven’t tied on a 1/8 oz in a long time. Remember, the rest of the rig is built to get the rig down quickly and efficiently. We’re not fighting much, if any leader sag or drag. That benefit of the Mono Rig is one of the key differences here. That’s how the drop shot rig I prefer is a lot different than some others.


  15. Looking forward to this series. Out in UT where I learned to fly fish, they call this method the “Provo bounce rig”. My first time using this method was an extremely high water flow situation where I think this method really shines. It was also my first time catching two fish at once off both the point and tag fly! Do you ever use a straight piece of mono from sighter to shot, with tags tied on above? I tend to use a straight piece of say 4x down to the shot, with two 5x tags tied on with uni knots above.

    • Hi Austin.

      Thanks for the comment.

      “Out in UT where I learned to fly fish, they call this method the “Provo bounce rig”.

      I will slightly disagree with you here. The Provo Bounce rig, although it features a drop shot style, includes an indicator. And what we’re focusing on here is a tight line style on a Mono Rig or similar. It’s really a world of difference. That said, I also add an indy to my Mono Rig with drop shot, but that’s another can of worms.

      “Do you ever use a straight piece of mono from sighter to shot, with tags tied on above? I tend to use a straight piece of say 4x down to the shot, with two 5x tags tied on with uni knots above.”

      I rig it most often as shown above, in the formula. I find no need for adding the tags the way you described, as it just takes more time. And rigging time is the main reason people avoid this in the firs place. That said, there’s much more to come in this series. Thanks very much for being interested.


  16. Hey Dom, where I do most of my fishing, lead is prohibited. Do they make those weighted jig ball hooks in any other materials? If not, I’m stuck using tin split shot for the drop.

    • Actually, no one makes those little lead balls. I make them myself. You can use split shot, tin or lead, and drop shot works great. That’s how I did if for so many years and how everyone else does it. Don’t let the lead restriction hold you back.


  17. I first watched my guide rebuild my drop shot rig about 12 years ago and I thought, damn that’s complicated, I’ll never do that.

    It’s been about the only way I fish for the last 5 years. It’s two surgeons knots then put your flies and weight on. I can’t believe I ever thought it was difficult.

    Time on the water!

    I’m looking forward to all your insights Dom and thank you.

      • In the UK we cannot use lead shot larger than no8.I like using Dinsmore soft black tin shot.I just place an overhand knot below & above my tin shot.It will break at either overhand knot. After a shot break-off. i just tie in another short section of tippet with a fo8 knot using my forceps.Takes only a few seconds.Legally we can use lead core as it’s inside a sheath.I carry a few very short sections of leadcore with one loop.Fishing really snaggy river sections.I loop the leadcore on the end.Then add/remove small amounts of tungsten putty to the leadcore.The putty sticks really well to the braid sheath on the leadcore.This setup never gets stuck .Quite similar to the American slinky setup i have read about.

  18. Hi Dom,
    GREAT article. Galluop’s stuff inspired me to pursue drop shotting as well and I use it alot in tailwaters with tiny flies…and elsewhere. However, I mostly only use one nymph on a tag due to my question below:
    One question- how do you prevent/reduce the tag line from winding around the tippet after several casts? This seems to build up with each cast and I’ve not found a casting style (or lob) that really prevents it. Yes, reduced false casts (or none) helps but doesn’t seem to prevent the wrap ups. Thank you, Jeff

  19. Dom… used drop shots for years with plastic worms for bass… heavy weights to get the worm down… the drop shot balls with the little clips worked great.. However, trying to do this for trout with a fly rod something all together different.
    I’ve tried using split shot and just hate those things. I drop two for every one I get on the tippet. Plus, even with a knot to help hold them on, they do come off… thus fighting to get another on….
    No one seems to make the drop balls smaller than 3/64 oz or I can’t find them… and that is the largest size split shot in my kit. I hardly ever use it in the waters I fish. 1/32 like you use would be a bowling ball on my water… I like the shot balls with the clips, but can’t find them small enough to approximate the weight of normal split shot used for trout. Any suggestions.

    • Yes! The answer is in Part One of this series.
      Lead ball jigs with the hook shanks clipped off. East to find. Pics of them in that article.

      • duh…. sorry.. I totally missed that detail… of course snipping the hook of ball head jigs works great… Thanks for setting me straight.

  20. And I thought I was the only one cutting the shanks off jig heads to make a drop shot!

  21. Hi Dom Just read this article before ?? Thanks … just a ton of good advise and tips !!

    PS My best to the Swentosky Family Brian Mac


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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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