Deep Drop Rigs — What You Need To Fish Deep

Photo of author
Last Updated:

Deep Drop rigs prove invaluable when fishing deep. Fishing in water that is 500 feet deep is way different than fishing in a shallow reef.

When you are fishing for a queen snapper, tilefish, or those that live in frigid temperatures and complete darkness, you need to step up your rig game. This is where deep dropping comes in. 

caught fish on the deep drop rig
Descend deeper into the water with deep drop rigs. Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife

Deep Dropping Techniques

Deep dropping is essentially bottom fishing at significant depths. Most anglers use electric deep dropping reels to do this. Some people may not agree, but this type of reel can be quite useful.

Just reeling up a line from, say, 500 to 700 feet can take a long time, which can take a toll on your wrist. An electric reel can do the job much faster and without effort.

You can get plenty of catch when you fish deep drop rig, including yelloweye rockfish, barrelfish, tilefish, queen snapper, Warsaw grouper, and longtail sea bass, depending on where you’re fishing. Here in Southern California, we like to use rock fishing rigs.

Most of these fish can be found midway or right down on the bottom of the seafloor. Larger fish usually remain at the bottom. 

Deep Drop Fishing Setup

The best terminal tackle for these deep drop rigs should include everything you need to make your experience easier. Besides your basic hooks, reels, lines, lights, etc. Here are some of the gears that should be in your deep drop tackle:

1. Rods

The type of rod you get should depend on the depths you will be fishing in. For the 400 to 450 feet range, go for one that is heavy and about 8 feet long. When you get into the 800+ range, use a rod rated for a 50 to the 200-pound line, complete with roller guides.

2. Reels

As mentioned before, you can use an electric reel for deep drop rigging rather than a manual one. You don’t want to spend half of an hour just cranking a reel by hand; that will take time and effort. Daiwa’s Tanacom 1000 is a solid choice. We also have a guide on how to use a spinning reel to help you set it up properly.

3. Lines 

The best mainline for deep drop fishing is the braid since it is nice and thin on the spool. Use at least a 70-pound braid, depending on what you’re targeting.

4. Leaders and Rig

It’s important to use a strong leader. You can make one yourself using an 80+ pound leader and crimping your rig with the number of hooks you’re legally allowed to use based on where you live. If you don’t have access to a crimp kit, you can buy premade kits similar to what’s shown above.

5. Baits

Bait is dependent on what fish you’re targeting. Options that are common as bait include squid and various cut baits.

6. Hooks

Use circle hooks exclusively. You need to feel the bite because, with 500 or more feet of line, you won’t be able to see fish take the bait. A circle hook will hook the fish before you even feel the bite. You can use both the inline and offline varieties. Large hooks are common up to 12/0.

7. Deep Drop Rig Weights

You’ll need heavy weights to fight the current when you’re super deep. Say, for example, you’re going for fish at 800 feet deep, then it’s not uncommon to use 6 pounds or more.

8. Deep Drop Rig Lights

Deep drop lights, especially if you are deep dropping more than 350 feet. Get a light that emits a green-colored light, as those are the most attractive to fish, but you can also go with blue or white. Just make sure the light is waterproof and coated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type and size of weight should I use for deep dropping?

Drop weights can range from 1 pound to 14 pounds depending on the depth and current. Plus, they should be heavy enough to allow your bait to touch the bottom. The size should depend on the depth and the speed of the current.
For example, if you are deep dropping at 400 feet in 2 knots of current, use a one or 1.5-pound weight. As the speed of the wind and current increase, so should the weight, or you may end up losing a lot of lines and still not end up at the bottom. 

What type of fish can be caught using this technique?

You can catch swordfish, grouper, queen snapper, rockfish, tile fish, sharks, and the black belly rosefish using deep drop rigs. The deeper you go, the larger hooks and baits you will need.
You can find them when you fish deep, from 400 to 1000 feet underwater, with some, such as the wreckfish, can be found almost 2,000 feet deep. You can find swordfish off the bottom but near it during the day at about 1,600 to 1,800 feet.  

What are the top baits for this deep rig fishing?

Since you will be fishing for bottom-dwelling fish like queen snapper, yelloweye, or barrel fish, you need to adjust your bait accordingly. Luckily, these fish are not picky eaters compared to fish that swim in the shallows.
You can use squid as bait and even fresh barracuda when you fish deep. Just cut it up into matchbox-size pieces and place a piece on the rig hooks. 

Are the lights necessary?

The depth you are fishing in will influence your need for lights. As you go deeper into the ocean, the lesser light and visibility there is.
If your rig descends more than 400 feet, a light will be necessary, or you won’t be able to see or attract fish with the bait you attached to the hooks. 

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
× How can we improve it?
× Thanks for your feedback!

We're always looking to improve our articles to help you become an even better fisherman.

While you're here, why not follow us on Facebook and YouTube? Facebook YouTube

slip bobber rig

Slip Bobber Rig (Everything You Need to Know)

The slip bobber rig is the most adaptable catfish rig available that every angler should be familiar with. It is ideal for catching channel catfish and other different species like freshwater game fish. The versatility of the slip bobber rigs allows fishermen to fish at various depths and adjust their fishing depth in response to
shaky head rig

Shaky Head Rig

Anglers of all skill levels have a preferred bait when the going gets rough. Not every day is guaranteed to have a full icebox, stringer, or premier fishing conditions. In fact, some of the best fishing days start out slow and unproductive, requiring some critical thinking as well as trial and error. Unconventional techniques, new
speckled trout fishing rigs

5 Best Speckled Trout Fishing Rigs

If redfish is to salt and brackish water, what bass are to rivers and ponds, then speckle trout are the bream. A species full of piss and vinegar, speckled trout are known to bite off more than they can chew.  An aggressive and tenacious predator, they are one of the most popular fish angled for
redfish fishing rigs

The Best Rigs for Redfish Fishing

Redfish are an incredibly popular species when it comes to angling inshore. Oftentimes found in fishing destinations, redfish are delicious staples of southern seafood cuisine.  Understanding that redfish will feed throughout the water column in its entirety, but are also predators that rely on vibration, sight, sound, and scent, rigs that focus on these factors
best carp fishing rigs

5 Best Carp Rigs in 2023

Carp is one of the favorite games for many anglers. Their size, strength, and availability make it fun to catch carp. For a successful and enjoyable carp fishing session, it is important to use the best carp rig. There are a lot of factors that determine which carp rig is best for carp fishing at
Texas rig

Carolina Rig Vs Texas Rig — Know When to Use

Ever wonder what the difference is between a Carolina Rig vs Texas Rig? If you want to know how each type of rigging works to decide which one best suits your needs, this article will help!  As you’ll know, the Carolina rig is a popular fishing technique that uses a long, heavyweight to cast out