Split Shot Rig: How To Use Split Shot For Fishing

If you are an angler who loves to catch bass, then you are going to want to learn how to use a split shot.

It is a type of strategy that is known to be popular at Bassmaster tournaments, and it has been considered as a reason they are so successful.

Split Shot Rig How To Use Split Shot For Fishing

If you’re new to split shots, then fear not.

There is a lot to learn, but we’ve put it in a nice digestible format to get you started. We’re going to be looking at what a split shot is, how to rig it, and how to use it.

Hopefully, once you have read this article you will be heading on outside to give it a try.

You should be able to tell what a split shot is in comparison to a drop shot, and why it is going to be advantageous to use on your next fishing trip. 

So, without further ado, let’s get to it. 

What Even Is A Split Shot Rig? 

Before we get into how to use a split shot, you need to understand what it actually is. To put it simply, the split shot is in reference to putting a weight that is pinched onto the hook on the line just below the swivel. 

It is actually a pretty basic and easy setup when it comes to tying and rigging, compared to that of a drop shot, for example.

What you will then do is rig up the sinker around six inches away from your hook, followed by adding a bit of plastic to the end. 

The end will be in a Carolina or Texas style rig, depending on where you have decided to fish. Once all the above has been done, you should now have a completely rigged set up with the plastic and weight added. 

Don’t worry about having a really heavy weight.

Go with something small, but never above the 8 size type of sinker. If you do, it might become too heavy for the line. It can mess with the overall presentation and cause too much drag for the lure.

How Does A Split Shot Rig Work?

Whilst an unsuitable heavy weight will cause too much drag, you will want there to be some drag. This is because of how a split shot works.

The weight will cause itself to drag along the bottom under the water, but the bait used will be floating around six inches above the ground, but behind where the weight is. 

This is the kind of presentation you are after, with the bait trailing behind everything. Another ideal solution here would be to use a low-visibility fluorocarbon line too.

If you decide to go with the Texas rig setup, then you will find that the bait will not drag anything along with it.

In fact, it will move wonderfully through any vegetation whilst the weight keeps everything moving evenly at ground level in the lake.

Knowing The Difference Between A Split Shot And A Drop Shot

As a new angler, you might think that a drop shot and split shot sound pretty similar. Well, you’re not wrong – however, there are differences. Let us tell you what they are.

A drop shot is basically a reverse of the split shot set up. That means that you will put the hook where the weight is, and the weight where the hook is.

You now have a weight at the end of the line, with the hook around six inches away from the bottom of the lake. 

So the presentation of both is practically the same, but the lure’s action is very different. For example, because with a drop shot you pull the lure first, it then impacts every move that you make.

drawing of drop shot rig and split shot rig

This means if you move to the side to grab a drink, then you will tug on the lure.

That will cause a slight movement on the lure, perhaps a quick pull. In doing so, it becomes a natural movement for the bait such as a worm, and may actually just spook the bass away.

Comparing this to a split shot, you pull the weight and then the lure comes second. So if you move to the side to have some drink, you would pull at the split shot instead.

The weight would just slow down, and the lure would begin to trail at an even slower speed. 

So you wouldn’t end up spooking the bass whilst you had some water or some coffee. Instead, you likely would have a more successful and better catch. You will also find that the overall presentation is much easier to do. 

This is a reason why anglers prefer using a split shot rig setup. Hopefully you can see why it is such a popular set up!

Equipment Needed For Success

We have covered what a split shot actually means and how to do it, so let’s take a look at the equipment you will need to make it a success. 

Because a split shot is a simple method, it means that even if you are a novice angler, you can build up the equipment needed to master this common set up. 

Spinning Rod

Whilst you could use your everyday fishing rod, it is much better to go with the best spinning reel or rod that you own.

This is because there is a higher success rate when using a spinning rod because they have a higher sensitivity level.

This means you will be able to strike at a faster rate because you are doing so against the feeling of the weight.

This is even more successful if you stick to keeping the line as taught as you can whilst dragging the weight and lure.

A spinning reel or rod will help massively with achieving this, and over time you will get used to the method. 


A normal hook won’t do in this situation, and instead you will need to either find a drop shot hook or split shot hook to use.

They are pretty much the same thing, hense you can go with either, but they are different from other hooks due to having a wider opening.

The wider opening means you can use it for weedless rigging, and the wideness allows for it. Whilst the wider hook is best to use, it doesn’t mean you can’t use a regular hook.

However, your success rate will be lower. If you are wanting to try a split shot set up, then it makes sense to go all out when it comes to buying the equipment. This means buying the hook that suits the job at hand.

Just remember, the lighter your equipment is, the better.

Fishing Weights

The Weight is likely to be one of the most important pieces of equipment that you invest in for a split shot set up.

Whilst there are no size requirements due to the fact it really all depends on the type of fish that you are trying to catch, there is a rule of thumb that you should follow.

Basically, try to use a weight that is the lightest you can possibly fish with that still makes it possible to keep it at the bottom. 

You will be trying not to ruin the overall presentation, so you will need to use a weight that can successfully cruise itself along the bottom of the lake without it messing up. 

Whilst it might sound difficult right now, what you’ll need to master is balancing a few things together such as the split shot weight, the lure’s weight, and the overall speed of the presentation.

If you can do this, then you are doing it right. 

Where To Use A Split Shot Rig?

There actually isn’t a right place to use a split shot, so really the choice is yours. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to achieve success.

With this in mind, we shall use this section to talk about the places that are recommended to use a split shot set up.

One of the best places to use this set up is by the shoreline. This is because when using the split shot, you don’t want any of the fish to be too deep.

Shallower water is much better, so keep this in mind when looking for a place to fish.

Look for some water that is clear, and where you can get a good six to eight inches of water to find different types of bass.

Here you might find largemouth and smallmouth bass. This type of fish may be very interested in your kind of bait too.

Just keep in mind that clear water should be your go-to because any change, such as big rocks or stumps under the water will change your presentation.

The lure itself will move over any structures in the way and will likely cause fish to stay away.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at location in more detail:

Buildings And Docks

It might sound odd, but fishing and being surrounded by plenty of structure is the best way to go. This is because there are plenty of fish available here and they’ll be ready for food.

A dock is a good place to start. Try to drop the split shot as close to the dock as possible, and as ‘under’ as you can. Make sure the boat glides slowly as you put the tip of the rod towards the lake water, point it downwards.

There will be some resistance for the fish as it bites, but if they find it is just too strong, they will remove their mouth and let go.

To stop this from happening, make sure the tip of the rod is pointed towards where the lure is. 


When it comes to grass, you may want to have the weedless Texas rig to hand alongside your split shot. This is great to use in a heavy vegetated area – though it might not be a good thing to do as a fishing novice.

Split Shot Rig How To Use Split Shot For Fishing

The reason it is best to be around the lines of grass is because the bass will be hanging around there. It is much cooler for them too. 

Again whilst sitting in your boat, drop it into the water. Use the trolling motor to help pull the lure alongside the boar whilst giving it enough drag.

Whilst you might have a resistance issue near a dock, this method should help to avoid it.

Also, the motion that the boat provides should also help to avoid any quick jerking movements that may occur, helping to give it a fluid motion across the water. 

Choosing Bait

Another important factor (there are so many!) is the choice of bait. This is because the split shot is essentially about the presentation, as you need to get that right to achieve a catch. 

Because you need to get the profile of the bait right, you will find there isn’t anything to really draw the attention away from it. The only thing you have is the lure and weight – so the bait profile is everything. 

A common choice is something plastic. These work a treat when using a split shot. In fact, you can use these to practice in a pool or something. 

Another good option is a ‘shaky head’ type of worm. This is because it can create a natural looking worm making its way through the water.

Choose one that has a thinner tail so it looks like the whole body is moving – it works a treat.

Another option is to use craws. A popular choice amongst anglers, however they are much bigger and can move a little slowly. Despite this, it really is all down to preference. If you have one, give it a try. 

Compare the different types of bait and see what works best for you, and then give it a try in a real life fishing situation. You might even change your mind and decide to use a different bait to be successful at catching fish. 

Tips On Presenting A Split Shot Rig

To use a split shot rig doesn’t require you to be an experienced angler meaning even the novice fisher can master the technique.

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind whilst learning about the presentation. 

You need to make sure you know what it feels like when a bass bites onto the lure. Once you figure this out, you are onto a winner.

The only time that it may not be suitable for a new angler is when using the weedless rig in the style of Texas. 

It can be a little more difficult to know if the bass has bitten, so give it time before you start moving on to different rig styles. 

So, let’s take a look at the top three tips to think about when using a split shot rig set up:

Trolling Is The Best Method

You will want to keep the lure as natural as possible. If you don’t, then you risk the fish being spooked or not believing that it is something to bite into.

Trolling allows for you to drop and move along. The key is to let the motor do all the work.

You will still have to make sure that there are no sudden movements, and take note of what rocks and bumps that there are, because you will want to avoid these. 

The best places to troll are around grass or docks near the shore. 

Do Not Cast

Whilst fishing normally involves casting, this is not something you will want to do when making the most of the split shot method. Instead, it is best to drop it into the water.

This is because the weight needs to hit the bottom of the lake, leaving the lure to travel behind it.

If you cast, then you can make the mistake of ruining the presentation, as well as not really knowing where it has landed.

Remember To Loosen The Pressure On The Drag

If the drag is far too tight, then the bass will feel that pressure right away causing them to swim away.

So the best thing you can do is to loosen the pressure on the drag to give them more time to nibble and see what they are dealing with.

As you might be aware, when it comes to fishing, sometimes you need to be patient. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Just a few commonly asked questions about a split shot rig and fishing

What Is A Split Shot Rig In Simple Terms?

A split shot rig is made up of three things: a weight (split shot sinker), a hook, and your favorite bait to use. You drop it into the water and make sure you keep the presentation correct.

Once you feel a bite, then you have caught your fish. Simple!

Can You Stop A Split Shot Sliding?

Whilst for most anglers it isn’t a problem, it can be if it annoys you whilst fishing. The most successful way to do it is to tight a knot at the leader, and let the split shot slide down to it. 

What Does A Texas Style Rig Mean For Fishing?

It is a type of technique commonly used for fishing with soft and plastic lures. The bullet weight is attached to the line, and then it is followed with a plastic or glass bead, though this is optional.

It is then all secured by using a hook, which can be an offset worm hook. This is used a lot when fishing for bass.

What Is A Carolinia Style Rig When Fishing?

Whilst similar to the Texas rig, however the weight is above the hook and fixed into place. It is said to be a really simple rig that is very suitable for beginners. It is used to catch bottom feeders, with a focus on bass. 

Is It Better To Use A Carolina Or Texas Rig?

It normally comes down to preference, however, the Carolina rig has a heavy weight presentation that allows it to cover more water due to being about to cast out further.

A Texas rig is best for catching bass at the bottom of water, especially during bright and sunny days.

So really, it all depends on the type of fishing that you plan to do, where it will take place, and what kind of fish you want to catch.

Final Thoughts On Split Shot Rig

Whether you are a complete angler novice, or a season pro, we can all learn something new when it comes to fishing.

The split shot rig is a great technique to know, and will help you to catch bass around strong vegetation and clear water. 

It is a very simple and easy method to master, however it does require you to get the presentation correct, and you will need to make sure you give it plenty of attention.

The method also means that you have to get everything right, because there is absolutely nothing to hide any mistakes. However, this is a great way to learn about fishing and being patient – very patient. 

With all this in mind, we hope you enjoyed this article and learnt a lot about using the split shot rig technique. Check out the rest of our website for more information on fishing – and hopefully you can learn even more.

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Tommy Bull
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