Welcome to Splitsville

Gary Klein
Mark Hicks
Gary Klein knows exactly how effective the split shot rig can be.

The shaky head worm and drop shot rig have become essential tools for virtually every Bassmaster Elite Series angler. However, another worthy finesse ploy, split shotting, gets little play among the pros.

That’s just fine with Texan Gary Klein, who has qualified for 29 Bassmaster Classics. Klein always has a little box of assorted split shot weights in his bass boat. When he comes across a situation where split shotting is the deal, it’s lights out.

“On numerous occasions, I’ve hammered bass by split shotting in the same area where I couldn’t get a bite with anything else,” the Elite Series pro says. “I’m talking some 100-fish days.”

Split shotting pays off for Klein in clear water reservoirs from California to Virginia, including natural lakes in the Northern states. The rig appeals equally to largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, Klein adds.


Klein’s introduction to split shotting goes back to his California roots three decades ago. That’s when he learned of San Diego fishermen who were split shotting 15-inch worms to catch giant largemouth. These anglers would anchor their boat and inch the split shot rig over the bottom by weaving the line in their fingers.

“When they got a bite, they’d drop the line, reel up the slack and set the hook,” Klein says.

These days, Klein relies on small baits for split shotting and forgoes the line-weaving gambit. He pinches a split shot 10 to 12 inches from the hook when casting to cover or dragging the rig over a hard bottom structure. The “leader” is increased to 15 to 18 inches when the bottom is soft.

In depths to 12 feet, Klein opts for a tiny BB shot. He also carries heavier shots in sizes No. 4 through No. 7 for deeper water. The No. 4 size, the heaviest, can weigh up to 1/8 ounce, depending on the manufacturer.

A 7-foot Quantum EXO spinning rod matched with an EXO X30 reel spooled with 6- to 10-pound-test Berkley 100 Percent Fluorocarbon handles Klein’s split shotting chores. He always steps up to 10-pound line when fishing shallow cover.