How to Use the Split Shot Rig to Catch More Fish

How to Use the Split Shot Rig to Catch More Fish
November 7, 2022

There are a lot of different fishing strategies. You should try new ones to see what works best for you. Having a few different fishing methods up your sleeve will give you a higher chance of success at catching. If you have not tried the Split Shot Rig then, give it a go! You won't be disappointed.

What is a Split Shot Rig?

The Split Shot rig was invented by Dick Trask and is one of the most popular and widespread rigs. However, many professional anglers, especially bass fishers, claim that a Split Shot rig is a secret to successful bass fishing. 

Let’s find out what makes the rig so special, but first, you might be wondering what is a Split Shot and how it works.

It’s very simple, split shot is the weight that you attach to the hook, through the line. It’s placed just below the swivel and is much easier to rig than the drop shot rig.

A Split Shot is ultra-convenient, especially if you’re a beginner. It doesn’t require a lot of experience. You only need to know all the key facts and techniques that we’ll cover in this article, and you’ll be ready to catch more fish than ever.

How to Fish with a Split Shot Rig?   

Split shot rig fishing heavy cover

The Split Shot rig creates the ideal presentation for fish as the movements of the bait are perfectly natural and realistic. The split shot weight drags the rig all the way to the bottom and lets the bait “swim” about 6 inches / 15 cm off the ground. 

It’s especially useful in low-vision situations and low clarity waters as the movement is easily noticeable and attractive to bass. You’ll need to use extra colorful and vibrant baits to make the presentation even more outstanding. 

You have a huge privilege over fish when you’re using a Split Shot as when you’re moving the rig, you pull the Split Shot weight first and the bait follows naturally, whereas, using a Drop Shot rig does the opposite. When using a Drop Shot rig, you pull the lure first, your every tiny movement is noticeable as prompt actions are unnatural and strange for worms. 

It’s one of the main reasons why using the split shot rig is much easier than the drop shot rig. The presentation and setup are simple, so it’s a great choice even if you’re a beginner.

Your primary goal is to move the bait very close to the bottom very slowly and naturally, balancing the weight of your rig with the bait weight not to slow it down.

You’ll feel the bite when the fish strikes, even if you don’t have any experience in fishing or bass fishing, you’ll easily identify each movement and action under water pretty soon.

The Split Shot fishing process is super simple, you should drop the weight down into the water to let it sink to the very bottom. Always make sure to keep the bait steady, avoid sudden movements and let the rig do its job without moving it too much.

Texas rig is one of the best rigs on which you can easily use Split Shot weights. The light sinker weight and the small soft plastic create the perfect balance for smooth fishing.

When and Where to Use a Split Shot Rig?

You can use the Split Shot Rig anywhere you want, but there are some factors to take into consideration.

First, you should be aware of the covers and hurdles that are in the way, as it will significantly change the movement of the bait. You need to be ready for any barrier, thick covers, and heavily vegetated areas. Covers require a slightly different technique and lighter weights.

  • Shoreline: one of the most strategic hotspots for fishing, especially bass fishing, is the shoreline. Split Shot Rig is best used in shallow waters, but you can also use it in deeper waters without any problem. Bass usually hunt in 6 feet / 1.8 m - 8 feet / 2.4 m waters, which is mostly clear and clean. 
  • Structures: Split Shot fishing under docks, buildings, and other structures is also a strategic move. When you’re fishing under structures, make sure you point the rod tip to the bait. It’s vital, as bass will feel the tension on the other end of the line and there is a chance, they will let the bait go. Move the rig super slowly and be patient to make the presentation as natural as possible.
  • Covers: some of the best bass fishing areas include covers and vegetations. Split Shot Rig is the ideal choice for heavy covers because of its hook that has a wider opening. Bass are frequently hunting in their favorite hideout spots, in grass covers, where they can easily wait for the prey and attack out of nowhere. This strategy is especially common among larger bass as grass covers their easily noticeable massive body.

Split Shot rig is practical and effective in any situation, but it’s especially strategic on some specific occasions. You should try it out after a cold front, heavy rain, and stormy weather. Generally, when the air pressure is high, Split Shot Rig is one of the best choices. You can rely on it at any time, even on high-pressure periods when nothing else seems to be effective.

Split Shot Rig Setup Guide

The setup of a Split Shot Rig is super easy and doesn’t require too much gear. No matter your level of experience in rigs or generally, in fishing, you’ll manage to set your rig up swiftly.

Let’s dive into more detail about Split Shot Rig Setup steps and the necessary gear for it:

The Best Rod and Reel to Use for a Split Shot Rig

The split shot rig consists of using a really good spinning rod and reel of your choice. This is the best way to fish split shots due to the amount of weight we will be casting.

Spinning rod and reel: using spinning rods and reels will make your fishing experience more enjoyable and much more practical, as spinning rods are also relatively more sensitive than casting rods.

The sensitivity lets you feel the movement of the line and puts you in control. Being in total control of the line helps you feel the bite and fish strategically.

A spinning rod and reel will help you keep the line tight and rigid enabling you to constantly move the lure.

Choose the Right Line

If you are looking to catch some walleye and bass, use a 6- to 8-pound test line; for panfish, smaller fish or even trout, I would normally use a 3- to 6.5-pound test line.

The first step to constructing your split shot rig is to cut a little over four feet of your six-pound monofilament leader line. The extra line is to accommodate the knots you’ll be tying.

We suggest using a palomar knot or uni knot to tie your hook to one end of the monofilament with whatever knot tying technique works best for you.

The Best Hook For Split Shot Rig

Hooks for split shot rig

Hook: the hook that you need to use for split shot rigs has a wider opening which is perfect for weedless fishing in vegetations and thick covers. It’s the same hook that you need to use for a drop shot rig.

You can also choose other hooks but it’s better to use a proper hook with a wider opening for a more productive and successful fishing trip. Make sure the hook is light not to make your rig too heavy, as it will hinder its natural and convincing performance.

Which Split Shot Weight to Use

Weights: the split shot weight depends on your location and fishing spots. If you’re planning to fish in deeper waters, opt for heavier split shot weights. Shallow waters require much lighter weights.

If you’re going to fish in covers use relatively lighter split shots. Fishing in covers is especially strategic when you’re after bass. Also, pay attention to the air pressure, as it has a significant impact on the fish behavior, feeding patterns, and swimming locations.

Once you know the depth you will be fishing at you want to clamp your shot to the line. I normally like to clamp the split shot about 2 feet away from the hook.

Split shotting couldn't be easier. You can then use the split shot with many fishing rigs.

The Best Baits for a Split Shot Rig

Choosing an appropriate bait is the main part of setting up the Split Shot rig, as it’s the final presentation that fish see and attack.

Here are some of the most popular and most effective baits for a Split Shot Rig.

  • Soft plastic worms are among the most common baits used when fishing with a Split Shot Rig, especially for bass.
  • Shaky head worms are also very popular. The shaking head creates a very natural and realistic presentation and attracts fish's attention without sensing any possible danger.
  • Soft plastic baits are really great when used in conjunction with a popular rig like the Texas rig or Carolina rig. The soft plastic bait mimics natural bait the fish eats and is highly effective when used with split shot rigs.

The color of the bait is up to you, make sure it creates a good contrast with the water so that your targeted fish will notice it easily. Use vibrant and bright colors if the visibility is low, the weather is relatively bad, or it’s dark outside. Use natural colors if the water is clear and there is enough light.

Nymph Rig with Split Shot

Adding the split shot weights will be a game-changer when using a Nymph rig. The weights sink the bait much faster and let it rest at the perfect depth, very close to the bottom. The Split Shot enables you to roam the most common depths and areas for fish, especially for bass. The imitation of the creatures that fish are hunting for is perfect as the weight lets the bait glide through the water naturally, attracting fish with lively and consistent movements.

You can also put two split shots on your Nymph rig instead of just one, 2-3 inches / 5-7.6 cm apart. Two sinkers help your bait move around more freely without getting trapped in covers, grass, rocks, and other hurdles. The weights will pull the bait in slightly different directions and it will easily get away from rocks.

Ready to Go Fishing with a Split Shot Rig?

Split Shot fishing has been around for a long time and it never disappoints. The main reason it’s still widely popular is that it doesn’t require too much gear, knowledge, and experience. The presentation is simple and fishing techniques are easy to master.

The key to the success of Split Shot fishing is the sinker weight that keeps the bait at the ideal distance from the bottom of the water. The bait glides through it naturally and looks super convincing.

You can always use some fancy lures but be certain that the Split Shot rig will always do its job. The Split Shot rig requires only a hook, sinker, and bait. It’s simple to set up even if it’s your first time fishing with a Split Shot Rig.

Feel free to use the Split Shot Rig any time you want in any location, but the best time to use it is after a heavy rain, cold front, and a storm. When the barometric pressure is relatively high, and fish are much less active. Split Shot Rig will have your back no matter the level of air pressure.

The split shot works great with these 6 rigs I wrote about and gave detailed instructions on how to setup and use these very successful rigs

Aim bigger and catch fish with a Split Shot Rig. Happy fishing 🙂

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