March 14, 2024

The Best Rig For Deep Speckled Trout: The Heavy Drop Shot

What is the best rig for deep speckled trout? Hands down, it is the Heavy Drop Shot.

But why this particular rig? What makes it so great?

In this guide you will learn the answers to those questions, as well as the best way to tie the Heavy Drop Shot and, just as important, good tips to fishing it the best way possible.

To get started, we’ll identify exactly what a Heavy Drop Shot is.

What is a Heavy Drop Shot?

The Heavy Drop Shot is a rig that’s used to fish the bottom of deep water.

This exact rig caught a lot of speckled trout in deep, fast moving water in December and January. Keep reading to learn how to tie it plus tips on using it!

It is somewhat based on the standard drop shot, which consists of light line, a small hook and specialized weight.

The standard drop shot is actually not a bad rig to use for finicky speckled trout, but I would not fish it for general purpose use in the realm of inshore fishing in Louisiana.

Instead, I would use the Heavy Drop Shot, which possesses all the great qualities of the standard version, but is modified with thicker line, a stronger hook, cheap sinkers and a swivel.

This way it can withstand the punishment of day to day use on Louisiana’s coast and bigger inshore species like redfish and sheepshead, and incidental trash fish like sail cats.

This is what makes this the best rig for deep speckled trout.

So now that we are clear on what a Heavy Drop Shot is, let’s look at the parts you need to tie one and then how to tie it:

The Parts You Need To Tie a Heavy Drop Shot

You will need the following parts:

  • size 4 swivel
  • 3ft of 20lb monofilament
  • 3/0 octopus hook
  • assorted bank sinkers
Quick Note On Where To Buy

All the tackle listed in this guide you can find at your local tackle store, or you can support my business by using the links below, for which I get a small affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

Thank you!

Size 4 Swivel

Buy on Amazon at this link.

Your standard drop shot doesn’t feature a swivel to attach the drop shot to your main line, but for the best rig for deep speckled trout we are using a swivel and I’ll explain why:

A swivel is important because it makes rigging up easy in the first place, and not just tying this rig, but tying it to your main line on the day of your fishing trip.

It is unnecessarily more difficult to tie line-to-line knots out on the water.

That and the drop shot rig can spin a bunch, putting twist in your line. But, if you use a swivel, this twist will mostly be eliminated.

So that’s why we use a swivel in a Heavy Drop Shot. Your standard drop shot doesn’t feature this.

But, with that said, sometimes I fish without a swivel, and that’s because I enjoy a slicker rig, make a habit of regularly removing twist from my spinning rods and — if needed — I’m comfortable tying a uni to uni knot on the water.

knot versus swivel on hds rig

However, I still have extra Heavy Drop Shot rigs with swivels ready to be tied on in the event I get on a hot bite somewhere there’s lots of snags.

Moving on:

Monofilament Leader Line

Buy on Amazon at this link.

Here we are using monofilament as a leader line because it is cheap and stands up to abuse.

Conventional drop shots use fluorocarbon, and that’s because they are typically being used somewhere the water is clear and the fish are pressured, like when pro anglers are fishing for smallmouth in the clear water of northern destinations.

But that is not the case when fishing the best rig for deep speckled trout in Louisiana.

So, you can use fluorocarbon for a Heavy Drop Shot if you think it is needed, but for the sake of this guide it is not.

With that said, you should definitely not use braid for a leader line. It will tangle more because it is flimsy and thin, not to mention that it’s not as clear as monofilament and certainly sticks out like a sore thumb.

If you use braid you will be wasting time untangling it, rather than reeling in fish.

3/0 Octopus Hook

Buy on Amazon at this link.

Next up is this particular hook, but what matters is not getting this exact hook but getting one with its qualities.

First off, this hook has a flat eye. The eyes on most hooks are oriented vertically, and this will not do on a Heavy Drop Shot.

That’s because of the way you tie a drop shot (which we will get to shortly). If the hook has a vertical eye, then it will orient sideways on the line.

But, if the hook is oriented horizontally, then it will rig straight up and down, resulting in a better presentation of the bait and good hook sets.

Next, you want a hook that is stronger. This is why we are using an ought sized hook (in this case, 3/0) over a number sized hook, like what we see on standard drop shots.

Assorted Bank Sinkers

Buy on Amazon at this link.

Last, but not least, you will want to have some bank sinkers handy.

An assortment of 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz and 1 ounce bank sinkers is plenty.

However, having a few 2 ounce sinkers couldn’t hurt for the rare occasion you are fishing for speckled trout somewhere that is deep with swift moving current.

Now, the reason we are using these sinkers is because they are cheap and easy to swap out on the best rig for deep speckled trout, the Heavy Drop Shot.

There are specialized tungsten drop shot weights out there that feature a built-in swivel and line keeper to bail you out of the occasional snag, but these tend to be more expensive and are not as widely available.

You really don’t want to fish with these, because you will inevitably be fishing around places with lots of snags, such as cypress stumps, oyster reefs, oil rigs, bridge pilings and more.

Losing tackle at these fishing hot spots will eventually happen, there’s no getting around it.

So, you can lose specialty sinkers that cost four dollars and need to be shipped to you, or you can lose mass produced, bank sinkers that cost 30 cents at your local tackle store. It’s your call.

Luckily for you, here on the Gulf Coast, bank sinkers practically grow on trees.

Now, they don’t have the neato line clip like the specialty sinkers but, if you keep reading, I’ll show you a handy dandy trick to save your rig in case a bank sinker gets snagged.

For now, we have detailed our list of tackle, now let me show you how I prefer to tie it:

How To Tie The Heavy Drop Shot

We begin with cutting a three foot length of monofilament leader line. It doesn’t need to be exact, just more or less that length.

Then, tie your hook to it using a Palomar Knot. You want the pig tails to be about the same length.

palomar knot how to for drop shot rig

Make sure the knot is snug and is not sitting on the edge of the hook eye.

Next, you want to pull one of the pig tails through the hook eye. It doesn’t matter which one, just grab an end, thread it through the eye of the hook and pull it tight.

This will make the hook stand straight out. It even protects the knot to a degree. Either way, you can clearly see how much cleaner this rigs than if you left the knot outside of the hook’s eye.

Your next step will be to tie a Loop Knot to the bottom of the rig. Then attach whatever weight bank sinker you require by running the Loop Knot through the eye, around the sinker then pulling tight.

Finally, we tie that swivel to the top of the rig with an Improved Clinch Knot.

The best rig for deep speckled trout is now ready to be attached to the braided main line of your favorite spinning rod with another Improved Clinch Knot, or stored away for future use.

Of course, practicing tying the Heavy Drop Shot will make you better at it over time, so don’t sweat it if your first time tying it wasn’t picturesque.

Remember, practice makes perfect.

Why The Heavy Drop Shot Is So Good

Now, this could be a new rig for you. And a recurring problem I’ve seen with new rigs for inshore anglers — even those rigs that have stood the test of time — is a lack of confidence fishing with them.

Confidence is everything!

So, stay with me as I explain why this rig is so good, which is a lot easier to do now that you’ve seen how it’s tied and have something to look at.

Use Lures or Bait, Whatever Works For You

The Heavy Drop Shot is the best rig for deep speckled trout because it works well with live bait, whether that’s cocahoe minnows, pogeys or Louisiana’s favorite: live shrimp.

But it also works well with a variety of soft plastics.

This is great because it accommodates the fishing preferences of you and your friends. Nobody is left out with the Heavy Drop Shot.

Now, two quick notes:

First, keep reading and I’ll share a good soft plastic that has worked very well for me.

rigging shrimp onto HDS heavy drop shot rig

Second, when fishing live shrimp with the Heavy Drop Shot, you will want to hook it through the tail, so it doesn’t spin in the current.

Moving on.

No Extra Tackle Required

Furthermore, you don’t need casting tackle to fish a Heavy Drop Shot aka the best rig for deep speckled trout. I say this because I feel that most deep water is actually fished best with a jig which, in my humble opinion, is best used on casting tackle.

If you’ve seen the videos on my other channel, then you know that I am almost always throwing a jig and, when I do, I am throwing it with a baitcaster and casting rod.

Daiwa Tatula SV Casting Reels

While casting tackle has its benefits, it is necessary to field the Heavy Drop Shot.

The problem with casting tackle is that it requires a whole new skill set to use and more tackle to buy if you don’t already have it.

The Heavy Drop Shot solves this problem, because it is best fished on spinning tackle, which is what most inshore anglers already use and are familiar with.

It's The Best Rig For Deep Speckled Trout Because It Fishes The Bottom With Authority

The Heavy Drop Shot also gets to the bottom with authority. As you may have seen in my video about How To Fish Deep Holes For Speckled Trout, fishing deep water can be challenging.

The Heavy Drop Shot is a great solution to this problem. All it requires is a big, heavy weight secured on the loop knot.

Easily Swap Out Sinkers

Next, it’s very easy to change out sinkers on this rig, which is important if you need more or less sinking weight to dial in a good presentation on speckled trout (or redfish, sheepshead or whatever you are targeting).

On a Carolina Rig you are stuck with cutting the line, swapping the sinker and having to re-tie. Same thing for a jig.

But for a Heavy Drop Shot, you have that Loop Knot to swiftly change out bank sinkers, another reason this is the best rig for deep speckled trout. Easy day!

best rig for deep speckled trout loop knot easily swap out sinkers

Less Tangling & Better Presentations

Another advantage to the Heavy Drop Shot is that — during the cast — it is being led from the bottom by the sinker. This keeps it from tangling, unlike a Carolina Rig.

That and the Heavy Drop Shot keeps the line tight while the sinker sits on the bottom, keeping the bait just above the bottom, and making it a lot easier to feel the bite.

It’s far more sensitive than anything with a loose leader, such as a Carolina rig or dropper loop.

Heavy Drop Shot Lagniappe

Now that you know why the Heavy Drop Shot is the best rig for deep speckled trout, let’s look at some tips and tricks to get the most out of it:

Fish The Right Rod & Reel Combo

You will get the most out of the Heavy Drop Shot when you match it with the ideal fishing rod, reel and line.

To get started, you want to use a medium-heavy, fast action spinning rod that is seven feet long.

Then, pair it with a 3000 size spinning reel spooled in 20lb braid.

When selecting a color for your braided main line, get something bright. You want something bright so you can easily see the fishing line where it intersects the water’s surface.

This way it is much easier to detect visual indicators of a bite that you may not feel as easily.

That and bright fishing line sure does make life easier when handling it, especially if your eyesight isn’t perfect.

And “no”, you won’t have to worry about fish seeing it because you will be using a leader line that isn’t bright.

Lastly, if your rod is a few inches longer or shorter, that’s fine. If your reel is a 3500 or even a 2500, that’s okay, too.

Small variations are fine, I just wouldn’t use a medium-light rod or a 6000 size reel, not for inshore fishing with a Heavy Drop Shot.

Securing The Heavy Drop Shot

The one clunky thing about the Heavy Drop Shot is that it does not secure on a rod as cleanly as a Carolina Rig does.

Once you secure the hook you are left with the sinker swinging around. This can lead to annoying tangles and could unnecessarily beat up your boat and tackle. Leaving the sinker unsecured is not the best way to stow the best rig for deep speckled trout.

While I have seen a few after market inventions that solve this problem, you will find that using a rubber band or your girlfriend’s hair tie works just as well.

Simple To Store For Future Use

As you have seen, this rig is easy to tie, so it can be tempting to think that you’ll just tie one up on the day of your fishing trip.

Perish the thought! This is not the best way to prepare for success!

Yes, it is best to have your tackle already squared away before you launch the boat but, as an added measure, it’s also a good idea to tie a bunch of Heavy Drop Shots in advance.

I like to organize them into quart-sized Ziploc bags so they don’t tangle, stay dry and are easy to retrieve when needed.

If you do this then you’ll always have Heavy Drop Shot rigs available, your life will be a lot easier and your fishing trips a lot more enjoyable.

How To Make Your Heavy Drop Shot Semi-Snagless

Look, there’s no such thing as a snagless lure or rig. There’s always something lurking underwater that’s snaggy enough to snag it away forever.

But there is a way to modify the Heavy Drop Shot to jettison the sinker should it become snagged on something.

The trick here is to use a small rubber band to attach the bank sinker to the Loop Knot.

best rig for deep speckled trout rubber band snagless trick

It will be strong enough to stay attached to the leader line but — should the weight become snagged on something — it is weak enough to give way and save the rest of the rig.

Then all you need to do is put on another weight!

This is much more ethical than leaving an entire rig on the bottom, not to mention that it saves you the hassle of wearing out your main line and having to retie.

Just another reason why this is the best rig for deep speckled trout in Louisiana!

dental rubber band for hds rig

My favorite solution is the 100 pack of orthodontic bands. It’s cheap and effective.

Of course, if the hook gets snagged, you are pretty much done and just need to pop the line and retie. Bummer, dude.

Soft Plastic Lures To Use For The Best Rig For Deep Speckled Trout

Last, but not least, you can use a variety of soft plastics to nose hook onto a Heavy Drop Shot.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Matrix Shad
  • DOA Shrimp
  • Zoom Fluke
  • Gulp Shrimp
  • and even the timeless sparkle beetle

You want to hook these through the nose on a Heavy Drop Shot. As inshore anglers, we are accustomed to threading soft plastics onto the hook, like on a jighead.

nose hook sparkle beetle heavy drop shot rig

But not on a drop shot. We nose hook the lure to give it a little more action and put the tip of the hook where fish strike: the head.

Consider that when fish eat something, they almost always eat it head first so it slides down their throat nice and easy.

Which soft plastic is best?

I recommend getting a large bag of 3” chartreuse sparkle beetles. For one, they’re durable and two, they’re cheap.

And, of course, they just work. See all these fish? Yeah, they were caught on a sparkle beetle nose hooked onto the best rig for deep speckled trout.

You really don’t need a super-realistic lure with lots of action or wiggle. The limits of speckled trout and redfish you want to catch just aren’t that picky.

What Matters The Most On Your Next Fishing Trip

Look, the key to successful fishing is to find biting fish in the first place.

It doesn’t matter if you use live bait, or the hottest new color (or whatever the latest fad is) if you’re not casting at where fish are to begin with.

If you can find biting fish, then it really won’t matter what you throw so long as you get it in front of them and there’s a hook on it.

It really is that easy.

To learn how to do that, I suggest enrolling in my flagship course, Inshore Fishing 101.

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.


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