Best Drop Shot Rods for the Money: Our Favorites Reviewed

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Drop shotting is one of the hottest techniques for bass. It offers a subtle, finesse presentation of a worm that largemouth can’t resist. In fact, you can work the edge of a weed bed that’s been hit hard by other anglers and still hook a big one!

But because this technique demands a finesse presentation, a standard bass rod with a heavy backbone probably isn’t the best choice. And though you can spend roughly $1,000 on a high-end rod, we’re pretty sure you don’t need to. Keep reading–we’ll explain what you should look for in a quality drop shot rod and review a few of our favorites.

Here’s a quick look at our top recommendations for the best drop shot rods:

Casting

Spinning

What We Consider When Selecting The Best Drop Shot Rod

You don’t need to get a rod specifically designed for drop shotting, but there are some things all good drop shot rods have in common.

Action

A rod’s action describes where along its length it will begin to bend under load. Fast action rods are stiff for most of their length, bending near the tip. By contrast, slow action rods begin to give closer to the handle and reel seat, curving over a much greater percentage of their length.

For finesse techniques like drop shotting, we almost always choose a fast action. You want that tip to be sensitive, and you want to be able to use that whip-like tip to impart action to your bait, but you also want the rod’s backbone to start applying power relatively quickly for good hooksets.

describing power and action

Power

Power describes how much force is required to bend a rod. Together with its action, a rod’s power tells you a lot about how it will perform.

Hypothetically, you could drop shot with a broomstick, but it’s not the best choice!

And while a lot of bass anglers like stiffer rods for increased hookset and muscle, most pros recommend a rod featuring medium to medium-light power for drop shotting.

Length

7 feet is about perfect for a drop shot rod, providing enough length for good casting while still giving you a lot of precision.

Line and Lure Weight

As we note above, monofilament weights of 6-10 pounds are more than sufficient, as are the lightest weights you can get away with. Pretty much any medium or medium-light rod will offer what you need in terms of line and lure weight.

Guides

Guide quality is essential for bass fishing. Since they help your rod and line take the strain of a big fish, this is not a point for compromise. You also want as many as you can get. Since each one helps distribute friction and force, more means less stress on each guide.

The best way to test guide quality is also demonstrated below. Just try sawing the line you use against a large guide. If the line breaks quickly, it’s a sign to give that rod a pass.

video demonstrating how fragile line really is and how quality guides can be tested

Material

Modern fishing rods can be made from a variety of materials, including carbon fiber, graphite, and fiberglass. Some feature composite construction, using more than one material in the blank that provides their backbone.

  • Graphite is strong, stiff, and ultra-light. Due to its high stiffness, it’s also quite sensitive, and it makes a great, durable choice for a rod.
  • Fiberglass is heavier than graphite and usually less expensive. It’s not quite as sensitive or as stiff, but it can be incredibly strong, earning it a place in your angling arsenal. Especially for crappie, this is not necessarily a disadvantage, as cushioned hooksets are ideal.
  • Carbon fiber is the stiffest, strongest, lightest, and most expensive material used for rod blanks. Its performance is unparalleled, but so is its price!

Handle

Much about which handle to choose is a personal decision, and what’s comfortable to me may be misery for you. Generally, there are two primary handle materials: cork and EVA foam.

  • Cork is warmer and more attractive, but less forgiving of rough treatment.
  • EVA foam is softer and cooler to the touch, and it’s pretty tough stuff.

Reel Selection

To some extent, whether you run a spinning or baitcasting setup is a matter of personal preference. With heavier lines on heavier rods, baitcasting reels can are at their best.

But using a drop shot rig involves a finesse presentation, and a medium-heavy rod throwing 20-pound test isn’t going to give you the delicate action you want. Instead, you’ll be reaching for medium and medium-light rods, and you’ll be spooling on something as light as 6 pound line.

When you do that, the added friction of a baitcasting reel will really show, and with this light test, a spinning reel is almost certainly better.

We review rods of both styles, but this is an important consideration to keep in mind.

Check out our guides for jigging and pitching rods

Best Drop Shot Rod Reviews

Casting

Abu Garcia Villain 2.0Our Pick!

Abu Garcia Villain 2.0 Casting Rod
Amazon 

Length: 6’ 10”
Power/Action: Medium-light/Extra-fast
Material: Graphite
Handle: split EVA foam/casting
Guides: 10 + tip/titanium
Lure size: ⅛ – ½ ounces
Line weight: 6 -12 lb.
Pieces: 1

Abu Garcia’s Villain series of casting rods is winning more than a few converts from the likes of Shimano and G. Loomis. If you’re not familiar with the Villain, it’s worth noting that you can expect top-notch quality at a pretty modest price.

Right up front, you’ll notice two things about the medium-light Villain: it’s very, very sensitive and it has plenty of power for muscling a big fish. If you’ve never fished an Abu Garcia, keep in mind that their version of a “medium-light” may be a touch more stiff than average. With that in mind, I’d probably call this rod medium.

Despite that backbone, the tip is shockingly adept at translating bottom composition, the wriggles of your soft bait, and the actions of bass to your hands. You’ll know whether the bottom is muddy, sandy, or rocky–and you’ll feel when it changes, too.

And because the tip is limber, it makes working a worm a breeze. You’ll be able to make it gyrate enticingly with a few pops of your wrist, and still know that when it’s time to set the hook, the Villain has the power to do so with authority.

In my book, that’s about as good as it gets for drop shotting.

 

The Villain offers 11 titanium guides of truly excellent quality, and its EVA foam handle is comfortable and durable.

Pros:

  • Awesome sensitivity
  • Great backbone–more like a medium than a medium-light
  • Excellent guides
  • Excellent handle
  • Great action on your soft bait

Cons:

  • May be a bit light for anglers who want a true medium rod
  • Casting will suffer with lighter lines

St. Croix Premier Series PC70MLF

St. Croix Premier 7ft MLF 1pc Casting Rod
Amazon 

Length: 7’
Power/Action: Medium-light/Fast
Material: Graphite
Handle: 15 ½”cork/casting
Guides: aluminum oxide inserts in black chrome frames
Lure size: 3/16 – 5/8 ounces
Line weight: 8 -14 lb.
Pieces: 1

St. Croix is a well-respected name in the fishing industry, and we like their rods a lot. In fact, with a St. Croix in my hands, I’m more than satisfied. The 7’ Premier in medium-light is no exception to this general rule.

Light, well-balanced, and carefully made, the St. Croix offers an ideal balance between strength and sensitivity for drop shot rigs. The fast tip provides plenty of opportunities to play a senko or worm, while the medium-light backbone quickly provides the power you’ll need for a firm hookset or a serious fight. There’s plenty of strength in this blank, and for a finesse technique like drop shotting, I think the St. Croix hits the sweet spot.

Though medium-light, this rod is rated for a heavier lure than the Abu Garcia. I have no doubt that the Premier can take the test of a tough fight, but to my eye, if you generally prefer a stiffer rod, the Abu Garcia is probably the better option for you.

The Premier’s Fuji guides are slick and strong, which is why they’re the choice for so many manufacturers.

Another strong point for the St. Croix is the handle. Made from premium natural cork, it’s long enough for two hands and then some, a feature I appreciate when I need to muscle a brute away from a stump or tree.

Pros:

  • Awesome sensitivity
  • Great backbone
  • Excellent guides
  • Superb handle
  • Great action on your soft bait

Cons:

  • May be a bit light for anglers who want a true medium rod
  • Casting will suffer with lighter lines

Spinning

G. Loomis IMX-PRO 820S DSROur Pick!

G. Loomis IMX-PRO 820S DSR Spinning Rod - Drop Shot
Amazon 

Length: 6’ 10”
Power/Action: Mag-Medium/Fast
Material: Graphite
Handle: cork/spinning
Guides: Fuji K-Frames
Lure size: ⅛ – 5/16 ounces
Line weight: 6 – 12 lb.
Pieces: 1

It says a lot that G. Loomis rods are the comparison group by which you judge excellence. Yes, they’re pricey, but you really do get what you pay for with these incredible performers.

The 6’10” Loomis IMX-Pro DSR is designed specifically for drop shotting. Featuring a “Mag-Medium” action, this is a Loomis exclusive blank. Basically, it’s a bit stiffer mid-rod than you’d expect, providing more oomph than a comparable medium power blank. If you prefer a stiffer rod for drop shotting, you probably can’t do better. You certainly won’t find yourself holding a limp noodle in a fierce fight!

This rod is extremely well-balanced and light weight. It’s also probably a contender for the most sensitive rod we’re reviewing today, a testament to its blank quality. The action and power are well-matched, and the play you can impart to your soft baits is excellent.

As usual, Loomis uses absolutely high-end components throughout. Guide and handle quality are as good as it gets, but of course, you pay a premium for that!

Pros:

  • Awesome sensitivity
  • Awesome backbone
  • Awesome guides
  • Superb handle
  • Great action on your soft bait

Cons:

  • Expensive

Dobyns Fury FR 702SF

Dobyns Rods Fury Series FR 702SF Medium/Light Power Fast Action Spinning Rod, 7'0', Black/Green
Amazon 

Length: 7’
Power/Action: Medium-light/Fast
Material: Graphite
Handle: cork-EVA foam split/spinning
Guides: ?
Lure size: ⅛ – ½ ounces
Line weight: 6 – 12 lb.
Pieces: 1

Dobyns Fury rods are a go-to choice for bass anglers, and they’re well-known for their affordable quality. Dobyns makes much more expensive rods with higher-end components, but for my money, the Fury delivers the goods at a much more reasonable price-point.

The Fury’s blank is probably on the lighter end of medium-light, approaching light power. That won’t please everyone, of course. But for a finesse technique like drop shotting, I don’t have any problem with that. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re expecting to muscle fish from cover with your rod, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

I like that the Fury’s lighter blank provides terrific sensitivity. Not only does that help me impart life-like action to my soft baits, but it also helps me sense every hit. In that respect, the Fury really shines, and I don’t have a problem with a medium-light rod for hooksets.

The handle is a unique split foam/cork design that will either have you raving or leave you cold. It’s well-shaped, comfortable, and plenty long for a real fight. We’re not sure what guide material Dobyns uses on these rods, but it works really well.

Pros:

  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Excellent backbone
  • Excellent guides
  • Great handle
  • Great action on your soft bait

Cons:

  • Definitely on the light end of medium-light

St. Croix Mojo Bass MJS71MF

St Croix Mojo Bass 7.1ft MF 1pc Spinning Rod
Amazon 

Length: 7’ 1”
Power/Action: Medium/Fast
Material: Graphite
Handle: split cork/spinning
Guides: aluminum oxide inserts in black chrome frames
Lure size: 3/16 – 5/8 ounces
Line weight: 6 -12 lb.
Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s Mojo Bass rods offer impressive performance at a reasonable price, making them a top choice on nearly every lake. Their 7’1” medium/fast rod is an excellent choice for drop shot rigs, combining a tip made for finesse with the strength and sensitivity of a one-piece design.

Extremely sensitive–those are the first words that come to my mind when I think about this rod. You can feel the composition of the bottom and every bump a bass makes, and with good braid or fluorocarbon, you’ll rarely miss a strike–even a tentative one.

The stiffness of the blank allows the supple tip to really work a worm in the water, and I like the action this rod creates with my soft baits. Stiffer than the St. Croix Premier, if you’re looking for a spinning rod and you like a bit more backbone, this is a great choice.

Expect the usual (and excellent) Fuji components.

The Mojo’s premium-grade cork handle is excellent, although the fit of some reels leaves the threads exposed on the reel seat in a way that’s uncomfortable for many anglers. I recommend checking that issue before you pull the trigger on this otherwise awesome rod.

Pros:

  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Excellent backbone
  • Excellent guides
  • Great action on your soft bait

Cons:

  • The handle can be uncomfortable with some reels

Our Picks – the Abu Garcia Villain 2.0 and the G. Loomis IMX-PRO 820S DSR!

A drop shot rod needs to provide the backbone you need for a solid hookset, but it also must provide the ultimate in finesse and sensitivity. That’s why we like the Abu Garcia and G. Loomis like we do.

The Abu Garcia is, simply put, super-sensitive. We like that it’s a trifle heavier power than its St. Croix rival, and it’s really hard to beat in terms of soft bait action, strike detection, and hookset. Quality components are the standard here, and from the EVA foam handle to the blank, the guides to the reel seat, expect to be satisfied.

You probably aren’t surprised that the G. Loomis was the best of the spinning rods we reviewed. Indeed, Loomis’s reputation as a rod maker pretty much tells the story. Supremely sensitive and admirably strong, this rod offers a uniquely constructed blank that provides more backbone without sacrificing feel and action. Especially if you have a thing for warm cork handles, the Loomis will quickly find a place in your heart.

The downside? Expect to pay a bit more.

Whichever rod you choose, you won’t be disappointed by any of this bunch.

Let us know how your drop shot fishing turns out. We’d love to hear from you.

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