April 24, 2021
By David A. Brown
The Ned rig delivers big results in a compact package. The system has Midwestern roots (Ned would be Ned Kehde; search him at www.in-fisherman.com) but Florida anglers will recognize some local applications. Rigging a stumpy worm like the Z-Man Finesse TRD, a 3-inch Yamamoto Senko or a Big Bite Baits Limit Maker on a mushroom-style jig head does a fine job of mimicking a bream, crawfish or shad, depending on where you fish it and your choice of bait color.
In its standard form, the Ned rig is a good choice when cold fronts or heavy fishing pressure turn the bite tough; but it can also be a great clean-up bait when your primary flipping/pitching deal wanes. In its standard open-hook form, the Ned rig performs well for skipping under docks, pestering bed fish, or bumping around natural or manmade rock.
When bass target bream beds shortly after their own spawn, the Ned rig gives them a different look from the topwaters, jerkbaits and other lures they're used to seeing during this period. Likewise, the fall feeding frenzy will find bass ravaging bait schools in nearly round-the-clock feeding. Such assaults leave wounded baitfish fluttering to the bottom where bigger, savvy bass often wait for the easy bites. Toss a light Ned rig (1/16-ounce) toward the fracas and let it fall to the clean-up crew.
How about some other applications for Ned Rigs:
Shaky Head Worm Rig
Fishing the standard Ned rig around snaggy docks, riprap, reeds, and timber poses a challenge. Rig up weedless on a screw-in shaky head to present a similar look without the liability.
Weedless Worm Rig
While the open-hook Ned Rig can certainly work for bedding bass, a weedless arrangement offers a more efficient choice when bass tuck deep into the cover or under a laydown tree. The Ned style worms boast sufficient body for a 2/0 hook and fitting the rig with the appropriate size weight allows you to probe any depth. Try different weights to determine the fall rate that's triggering the fish.
The main benefit of this compact flipping/pitching rig is the proximity of hook to bass mouth. Often, bedding fish care far less about feeding than they do about running off all the riffraff. That results in a lot of noncommittal bites in which the fish simply grabs enough of the intruder to drag it out of the nest. With standard Texas rigs, the fish may never even have the hook in its mouth, but sling a properly-equipped Ned worm into the danger zone and a bass has no choice but to grab the entire deal.
Dropshot Worm Rig
Nothing fancy here, but we can't exclude a dropshot, as this vertical presentation offers the tantalizing image of an intruding bream for protective spawners. Other uses include dropping to brush piles or submerged stumps, targeting sluggish post-front fish and “video gaming” — dropping to offshore fish following summer bait schools in deeper water.
It's a Drag
Not your typical Carolina rig bait, but give the Ned worms a chance to complement those lizards and big ribbontails. Bridge pilings, flood control canals, storm drains; anywhere you find displaced or disoriented baitfish, dragging a Ned worm on a 2- to 2 1/2-foot leader puts on a convincing show.
You might also keep this rig handy during spring shad spawns. While most of the activity occurs at daybreak near the surface and you're catching them spinnerbaits, bladed jigs and swimbaits; the action diminishes with sun ascension. But the bass don't simply disappear; in fact, they're usually suckers for mid-depth to bottom presentations right below the area where the shad spawn recently raged. Drag a shad-colored Ned worm through such areas and you may score a couple of bonus fish. FS
Florida Sportsman Magazine March 2019