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3 Great Ways to Use a Split Shot for Bass Fishing

Split-shot bass fishing weights have long been used for fishing of all kinds. These little clamp-on weights can be attached to your line to create rigs for bass, catfish, bream, crappie and just about any other species you want to target. Although these weights are often used for live bait fishing, a split shot can actually be used a few different ways with artificial lures as well.

That’s what we’re here to talk about today. A few different ways to use a split shot for bass fishing with artificial baits.

e-rig for bass fishing


I’m not sure exactly what to call this little rig, but it’s one a buddy of mine named Neal Webster used a lot on Lake Eufaula to target largemouth bass in shallow water. That’s why we just kind of deemed it the E-rig; short for “Eufaula rig”.

It’s a really simple rig but it gets lots of bites. It’s kind of like a little Carolina rig but without the leader line, swivel, beads and sliding weight. Instead with the E-rig, you simply tie on a hook, slip a soft plastic on it and ease maybe 10 to 12 inches up your line and clamp on a split-shot weight.

Now you have a rig that resembles a small, lightweight Carolina rig in a lot of ways. This is a great setup for fishing shallow flats, seawalls and other areas where you can drag the bait slowly along. Because it is so lightweight, it has to be fished slowly but that’s a large part of the appeal to it and what helps it generate more bites.

It’s also a great setup for blind fishing for bedders. If you believe the bass are spawning in an area but can’t physically see them, this setup works really well. Simply drag it alongside stumps and other cover where a fish might be spawning and, because it moves so slowly, a bedding bass can hardly resist hitting it.

split shot weight for bass fishing

Belly weights

Rigging a paddle-tail swimbait weedless and weightless is a great way to catch bass around shallow vegetation. Sometimes, however, you need to add a little weight to get the bait down or to help you be able to cast the bait a little farther.

There are lots of hook options out there these days that come with weights pre-molded onto the shaft of a hook. But if you don’t have any of these hooks and do have a handful of split-shot weights available, you can easily convert a standard Extra Wide Gap (EWG) hook or worm hook into a weighted hook by clamping a split shot or two onto the shaft of the hook.

Again, this works well for swimbaits, whether you’re fishing them around shallow vegetation or you want to fish them out in open water a bit and just need a little extra help getting the bait down a little deeper. You can also clamp these weights onto the shaft of a worm hook with a soft jerkbait or stick worm that’s otherwise rigged weightless and create an entirely different presentation there as well, as that bait falls belly first as opposed to say nose first like it would with a traditional Texas rig.

split shot weight for bass fishing

Weighted wacky rig

Wacky rigs are some of the most effective baits on the planet at getting bit. The slow shimmy of a falling wacky-rigged floating worm or stick worm is almost irresistible to a bass sitting near the surface. The only real drawback of a wacky rig is that it is extremely slow to fish. The slow fall that makes it so effective on fish near the surface kind of makes it ineffective on bass that are staging down deeper.

By taking a split-shot weight and clamping it just below the eye of a wacky rig hook, you can create what basically amounts to a wacky jighead. This little bit of added weight will help the bait fall a good bit faster and get it down to where you can effectively fish brush, dock poles and other cover that’s a little deeper.

This added weight also makes it easier to fish a wacky rig when there’s a little bit of wind or current present. Without the weight, current and wind will simply wash a wacky rig right along the surface, far too shallow and fast for it to be effective. But with even just the little bit of added weight of a split shot, you can more effectively fish a wacky rig along bluff walls, rip rap and other areas where the wind and current might otherwise make a wacky rig obsolete.

bass fishing split shot

Final thoughts

You might have to play around with the size split shot to use, as well as the options of either using one bigger one or a couple smaller ones depending on the particular presentation. I personally like using the split shots with the little ears on them, so I can pry them back off and reuse them for something else later. But the ones that are more perfectly spherical work well too.

Also be sure to be careful any time you’re clamping one of the split shots to your line, not to pinch it too hard. It can make a weak spot in your line and cause your line to break if you clamp it down really hard. It’s a good idea to check the inside of the split shot prior to clamping it on your line, to make sure there aren’t any sharp burrs or edges that might cut the line.

Outside of those couple of tips, these are three pretty straightforward ways to try using a split shot the next time you go bass fishing. You can create a little E-rig for finesse Carolina rig situations or you can add a little belly weight to the hook of a swimbait by clamping it on your hook to help keep it down. There’s also the option to create a little weighted wacky rig to get that finesse presentation just a little bit deeper a little bit quicker. Feel free to let us know if there are other ways you use split shots for bass fishing.