Split Shot Rig

The Split Shot Rig is a very popular rig that works well with live bait and soft plastics in shallow and deeper water.  Smallmouth bass anglers have so many options when they dig into their tackle box because the split shot rig works so well with so many different baits.

Shallow Water Fishing with the Split Shot Rig

Most anglers are fishing shallower water when using the split shot rig.  Whether you are targeting smallmouth bass in 3 to 6 feet of water or a little deeper in 6 to 10 feet of water, the split shot rig is a great way to target them when they are shallow.

Targeting Suspended Smallmouth Bass in Deeper Water with the Split Shot Rig

When smallmouth bass go deeper, you can usually find some smallmouth bass that will suspend out in open water.  When you find these schools of bass, you can often tempt them into eating by slowly presenting your baits through the water column with a split shot rig.  This technique takes a little patience as you wait for your baits to get down to the right depth, but if you have a good spot with a school of bass around, it can be a super effective way to catch them.

Split Shot Rig & Soft Plastics for Smallmouth Bass

Curly Tail Worms

Curly tail worms look great on a split shot rig.

Finesse Worms

It’s tough to beat a finesse worm on a split shot rig when smallies are in shallow or medium depths.


A small split shot and a soft plastic lizard is one of the better ways to target bass in shallow water.

Minnow Baits

Tie on your favorite 3 to 5 inch minnow bait and rig it on a split shot rig for targeting smallmouth bass in the shallows or for suspended bass over deeper water.

Paddle Tail Worms

Paddle tail worms can be very productive on a split shot rig.  Work these baits slowly through the water column with a jerk and pause retrieve and you’ll get plenty of bites.

Skirted Twin Tail Grubs

These baits look very good with a small split shot weight.


While most anglers think of tubes as a bait for fishing along the bottom, they can also be effective fished through the water column on a split shot rig.  Fish them with a jerk and pause retrieve and you’ll catch fish.

Wacky Worms

Wacky worms work well on a split shot rig.  It’s actually one of the more effective ways to fish these baits for smallmouth bass.  The extra weight helps you get the baits down deep enough to attract some bites.

Live Baits on a Split Shot Rig for Smallmouth Bass

A lively nightcrawler, leech or minnow is tough to beat on a split shot rig whether you are fishing the shallows or down deeper for suspended bass.