Hook, Line & Sinker: The Technique of ChoiceBy Dave Duwe - July 6, 2015
The split shot rig is as simple as it gets. A round split shot and a hook. The key is using a round split shot because it doesn't get hung up on the weeds as frequently as the removable ones with the wings. The depth you are fishing dictates the size. The shallower the water the smaller shot you can use. For less than ten feet, I use a 3/0 and go up from there as I fish deeper. All round split shots aren't created equal, Water Gremlin seem to be the best I have used as they stay in place better. Cheaper versions have a tendency to hook up in the vegetation and slide down the line.
Hook size can vary with the type of fish you are after, smaller for panfish and larger for more sizable gamefish. I usually use a size 12 Kahle hook. It is a rather small hook but I find it is effective with a nightcrawler on the hook; it pulls through the weed almost completely weedless. When walleye fishing I will use a #4 hook painted in chartreuse or red, usually tipped with an extra large fat head minnow hooked through the lips. For plastic baits, I like a 1/0 light wire, wide gap worm hook. The leader length for the split shot to the hook is usually eighteen to twenty four inches. It is basically a shallow water version of the Carolina Rig.
Though the split shot rig goes through vegetation easily, it has a tendency of getting snagged in rock or wood. If the bottom structure isn't conducive, I will employ a different fishing technique.
The split shot rig isn't exclusive to freshwater, most of the captains in Florida I fish with employ the rig in their arsenal of techniques. The saltwater approach is slightly different from the freshwater approach. In saltwater most captains use a Berkley Fireline for the main line with a fluorocarbon leader. The length of the leader is 2-3 feet in length with a 2/0 circle hook, tipped with a shrimp or piece of cut bait.
The rig can be backtrolled, casted or fished vertical. My personal choice has been to cast them to the weedline and slowly retrieve them back to the boat. You want to have several pauses on the retrieve. Over 70% of the strikes occur with the initial fall. I don't let the bait sit too long on the bottom. You need to make a bunch of casts for the most success.
The split-shot rig is my go to rig and the choice of many charter captains throughout the country. It's both effective and inexpensive. There are plenty of options out there, but the tried and true hook, line and sinker is still the best.