The split shot rig is an angler’s oldest companion. If you haven’t tried fishing a split shot rig, you’re missing out on some of your life’s greatest fishing.
In this article, we’re going to talk about fishing a split shot rig as well as how to tie it, which bait to use, and the other necessary materials.
We’re also going to provide you with the most popular split rod fishing techniques to guarantee success on your next outing.
Keep reading to learn more about the good old split shot rig, how to put it together, and how to use it.
Best Conditions for the Split Shot Rig
Split shots rigs can work just about anywhere a Carolina rig would. However, split shot rigs are best suited for shallow water. Anything as shallow as six feet or less is where the split shot rig shines.
Since they’re lightweight, they’re especially effective when used in areas of dense grass mats. Their lightness allows the lure to sit effortlessly atop the vegetation without being pulled down out of sight. That is, of course, given the proper leader length.
Despite their likeness to vegetation, split shot rigs aren’t compatible with fallen trees or hollow logs. They can quickly become wrapped up in a tree branch or trunk. Aside from that, split shot rigs work well with most other types of cover.
For example, isolated wood coverings, docks, and grass are where anglers have the most success with their split shot rigs.
When you’re facing post-frontal conditions or heavily pressured bass, the split shot rig should be your go-to. When the bass or trout don’t seem like they want to bite, a split shot rig will do the trick.
How to Tie a Split Shot Rig
The split shot rig is relatively simple to construct, even for first-time anglers. It’s essentially a split shot, bobber, and worm rig. Of course, one of the biggest mistakes that can easily be made in its construction is using equipment that’s too large.
The main features of this rig are a split shot weight and a hook.
If you’re planning fishing for trout, who have smaller mouths, you want to make sure they can handle the hook so smaller is better.
If you plan to fish for bass, you can get away with using a larger hook, but it’s not totally necessary.
Let’s take a look at the materials and other items you’ll need to make an effective split shot rig:
- Six-pound monofilament leader line
- Two split shot sinkers
- A size eight fly round hook (or size ten)
- Scissors (or a nail clippers)
- A set of pliers (to pinch the split shot with)
- One snap swivel
- A spin reel or bass rod
- Bait (we’ll get into that more later)
Now, here’s a step by step guide to constructing your split shot rig:
Step 1: Choose the Right 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.
From there, tie your hook to one end of the monofilament with whichever knot tying technique works best for you. We suggest using a palomar knot or a uni knot.
Step 2: Clamp On Split Shot Sinkers
Next, you’ll use your pliers to clamp the two split shot sinkers onto the line. Clamp them about one to two feet away from the hook, keeping in mind the depth you’ll be fishing at. Be sure to place the sinkers about one inch apart.
Step 3: Tie On a Snap Swivel
Now tie the snap swivel onto your main line. You can use whichever knot you’d prefer, but we’d suggest the clinch knot for this as well.
Once you’ve tied on the snap swivel, you can go ahead and attach the leader section with the hook to your snap swivel. A small perfection loop will do the trick here to attach the leader section with the snap swivel.
Step 4: Attach Your Bait
The last step is to attach your bait to the hook.
The above listed are the primary method and materials to construct your split shot rig. Depending on what you plan on fishing for, the bait, type of hook, and sinkers you use will vary.
Let’s take a closer look at the materials.
Rubber Worms for Split Shot Rigs
When it comes to split shot rigs, you’re depending on two variables: the weight and the lure. Split shots are all about the presentation in the water, so you must get the bait profile right.
Your two best options for split shot bait are live worms and rubber worms. Live worms are pretty straight forward, which is why we’re going to talk about rubber worms and their advantageous presentation.
Rubber worms are arguably the most productive bait an angler can use, especially when fishing for bass. This is because they resemble the baitfish that bass come out of hiding for.
The most common rubber worms that anglers use with their split shot rigs include:
- Straight Tail worms
- Ribbon Tail worms
- U Tail worms
- Paddle Tail worms
Other styles of rubber worms used—but not as commonly—include stick baits and finesse worms.
Straight tail worms are typically straight with a thick head that tapers down through the body to its tail. The tapering of its body and tail gives the rubber worms it’s “life” or motion in the water.
Straight tail worms come in every color imaginable, whether it be solid, mixed, or glittery. You can also find them as big as 12 inches long.
Ribbon Tail worms sport a thin tail that has a gradual twist to it. This twist creates a ribbon-like effect in the water, which agitates the bass like nothing else.
Ribbon tail worms are made from the same materials as straight tail worms, and they also come in an infinite number of colors and levels of brightness.
You’ll find that ribbon tail worms are longer, ranging up to 14 inches in length. The longer the length, the bigger fish you’ll catch. Of course, there’s still a chance of catching large fish with a smaller rubber worm.
U Tail worms are almost like a hybrid of the first two rubber worms mentioned. What makes them different is their U-shaped tail, which usually has one singular ribbon-like curl.
U tail worms also come in an endless amount of color schemes, and they also range in size up to about 14 inches long.
Paddle tail worms have varying body types. Some will have a straight body down to the paddle-shaped tail while others become thicker in the middle before tapering into a paddle.
The paddle-like tails also vary. Some paddle tails are square while others are round. Some are even a mix between square and circular.
Like all the other rubber worms, paddle tail worms can be found in any color and up to 14 inches. They’re also comparable to fishing swimbaits.
Hooks for Split Shot Rigs
Your hook selection is incredibly important when it comes to fishing with rubber worms. The type of hook you use will play a large role in your split shot rig’s water presentation.
Each hook has a specific use, and it’s essential to understand those uses. The most common hooks used with split shot rigs that we’re going to talk about include:
- Straight Shank hooks
- Octopus hooks
- Wacky hooks
- Offset Shank hooks
- Extra Wide Gap hooks (EWG)
Straight shank hooks are a great option if you plan to fish under heavy cover. These hooks are made of thicker metal and have no bend, which allows them to set harder and slide right through dense cover.
Straight Shank hooks are offered in a few different sizes and thicknesses. Sizes typically range from 1/0 to 5/0, but you can find larger straight shanks out there.
Octopus hooks are ideal for nose hooking baits thanks to their circular bend. Since they’re a smaller type of hook, they’re perfect for drop shotting and giving your rubber worm baits more movement in covered waters.
Octopus hooks range in sizes 6 through 5/0.
Wacky hooks are finesse hooks that are used for wacky rigging bass fishing rubber baits. They’re short-shank hooks with wide haps and round bends, making them perfect for giving your rubber bait movement in dense grass.
Wacky hook sizes typically range from a 4 to a 4/0, and you can find them weighted.
Offset Shank hooks are a popular option for cover-less areas as well as great all-around hooks. The offset of the hook allows for its point to become buried in your rubber bait while also allowing the rubber worm to remain straight and in line with your fishing line.
Offset shank hooks typically range in size from a 1 to a 5/0.
Extra Wide Gap (EWG) hooks are a variation of the offset shank hook. They both have a similar design, but the EWG has a wider gap between the shank and hook. EWG hooks work best for thicker-bodied baits, such as the paddle tail worms.
EWG hooks will work with any type over cover and range in sizes from a 1 to a 5/0.
Each of the above hooks has a specific use. The straight, offset shank, and EWG hooks are more or less interchangeable, while the octopus and wacky are used more for finesse fishing. The type of hook you use will also depend on the size and thickness of your bait, as well as what you’re fishing for.
Weights for Split Shot Rigs
The weights (or sinkers) you use will depend on a few variables. Namely, what you’re fishing for, the barometric pressure of the water, the season, the coverage, and the water’s depth.
The design of the split shot rig makes it easier for you to change your weight as well. This is especially helpful if you’re fishing in fast-changing conditions. However, the rule of thumb is to use the lightest weight possible to stay on the bottom.
Split shot weights with ears or wings are your best bet since they can be quickly opened and closed with pliers. They can also be fastened directly to your lure.
The weights typically range from a #BB (.007 ozs) to a #5 (.052 ozs). Tougher conditioners will require heavier weights, but it’s all about finding that balance between the weight of your split shot, lure, and presentation.
How to Fish the Split Shot Rig
Fishing with a split shot rig is fairly straightforward, once you get the technique down. The main objective is to get your bait out further and keep it down low. Overall, split shot fishing can help you snag those stubborn fish.
Technically, there’s no wrong or right way to fish split shots. However, many anglers agree that trolling the shoreline, fishing around structures, and targeting dense grassy areas yield the best success.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t cast a split shot—you drop it. You drop your split shot by hand and then create drag to troll your presentation. The purpose of dropping your split shot presentation by hand is to ensure that it hits bottom with the lure traveling behind.
You also want to keep your drag loose because the fish will feel the pressure of a tight dragline. Trolling with a loose dragline allows the fish to take their time, which means there’s less chance of scaring them off. Trolling also will enable you to present your lure more naturally, just try not to jerk the line as you troll.
Split shot rig fishing is a simple method that works great for both beginners and drop fishing veterans. However, it does require a lot of attention to detail in terms of your presentation because you won’t be able to hide your mistakes.