Over the past several years, no finesse rig has been as popular or effective as the Ned Rig. This tiny soft plastic rig looks like nothing in the water and doesn't have the aggressive action or flash of other baits, but it gets bites. It excels in tough conditions when the bass are finicky but will perform in all situations.
If you are new to the Ned Rig, here is all you need to know about the hottest technique in bass fishing.
The Biggest Myth
Starting right out the gate with the biggest myth of the Ned Rig is that it only catches small fish. It does catch small fish and plenty of them, but it catches fish of all sizes. Big bass have no problem eating small baits, and countless large bass have landed on these tiny rigs. The simplicity of this rig makes it practical for bass of all sizes, and if you use it enough, you are sure to experience plenty of by-catches because it's a rig that no fish can resist.
Selecting the Right Bait and Jighead
In the beginning, Z-Man was the only company to offer specific baits and jigheads for this technique, and they still make excellent products with expansions every year, but more companies have entered the scene. It gives Ned Rig fans a massive variety of Ned-specific tackle items for the technique.
The most important consideration is picking the right jighead for the job. They are pretty light compared to techniques like shaky heads, which is part of what makes them so effective. A lightweight head gives the bait a slow fall, which can be crucial as many bites occur as the bait spirals down or immediately after the angler begins to work it along the bottom. As a general rule, use as light a weight as possible to cast effectively still and feel it along the bottom. Wind and deeper water will necessitate heavier jigheads.
Most of the jigheads on the market have a mushroom head design that was the original choice when the "Midwest Finesse" technique was developed by anglers, including Ned Kehde, credited with popularizing the technique. The style used by these anglers gives the bait the best look along the bottom and helps prevent some snags. There are also now weedless versions, which are crucial when fishing around brush and other objects along the bottom.
For the plastics, various styles now imitate small crawfish, creatures, and other forage, but the original straight tail design is still hard to beat. One further consideration is the buoyancy of the plastics, as the floating material used in some, like Z-Man's ElaZtech, allows the bait to float up at rest, which helps generate bites when the bait is at rest along the bottom.
The added benefit of ElaZtech and other similar technologically advanced plastics is their durability. You can expect to catch many fish on the same bait without damaging it, and you will likely get snagged and lose the jighead before retiring the piece of plastic and swapping it for a new one.
Ned Rig Gear
Selecting the right gear for a Ned Rig is pretty simple because you likely already have what you need if you are a fan of other finesse techniques like the drop-shot rig. Because of the lightweight jigheads used for the Ned Rig, spinning tackle is a must, and a standard 7-foot spinning rod in either a medium or medium-light action will be great for the technique.
Pair it with a good spinning reel with a solid drag system for fighting big fish on light line and spool it with a braided mainline and fluorocarbon leader, and you are ready to go. Since it has no stretch, the braided line helps set the hook with the small hooks used on the jigheads and compensates for the lighter action rods.
A smooth casting braid like 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown in the Flash Green color with an 8-pound Seaguar Gold Label fluorocarbon leader is a good starting point. Both of these lines have extremely small diameters and will allow for long casts and the best performance of your bait. In addition, the high visibility braided line is essential for detecting light bites with your Ned Rig, as many of them occur as the bait falls.
Fishing a Ned Rig
One of the best things about fishing a Ned Rig is how simple it can be. It's an excellent technique for kids and beginning anglers but effective enough to be used by professional anglers fishing tournaments and trying to catch bass for their livelihoods.
The easiest way to start fishing this rig is to cast it out, let it hit bottom, and then work it with slight hops. This simple approach helps to imitate small baitfish or crawfish. It's the simplest way to fish the Ned Rig and one of the most effective.
As you experiment more with the technique, you may also discover more ways to fish it. For example, you can also fish the Ned Rig by slowly dragging it along the bottom or fished with slight twitches followed by pauses, as long as you let the bait rest long enough on the bottom to generate bites. Reeling and then stopping is another good way to fish it, and this gives the bait the appearance of moving prey.
When using your electronics and you notice fish on the screen, simply dropping bait to them will often be enough to get one to bite. Heavier jigheads help in this instance as the bait will quickly reach what you see on your screen.
The Ned Rig entered the scene in the past several years and shows no signs of slowing down. This finesse technique continues to become more popular as anglers and tackle companies help to refine it further.
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