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What You Need to Know About Neko Rigs and Bass

Show hard-pressured bass a finesse worm fig with a different look.

What You Need to Know About Neko Rigs and Bass

A weedless hook (twin wire gaurd visible) is an asset around heavy cover.

The widely used wacky rig is simply a straight tail worm with a short-shank hook set through the middle. Tucking your hook under an optional O-ring minimizes worm wear and tear.

From a distance, a neko rig could be mistaken for a wacky rig, but a closer look shows a distinct difference: hook placement. Rather than the dead center position that ensures a wacky’s evenly distributed action, the neko rig’s hook sits farther forward, about a third of the way back from the head. Here, too, you can run the hook through the worm—always parallel to the worm for a neko—or use an O-ring.

The other difference is a lead or tungsten nail weight stuck in the worm’s head. Styles vary, but most have a ribbed or collared design to keep the nail in place. The result combines the wacky rig’s enticing appeal with the increased casting distance and target accuracy of a Texas rig.

Neko rig plastic worm
A ned rig is basically a wacky worm with a weight in an end, making it behaves differently.

The standard offering is a 4- to 5-inch stick worm (think: Senko), which emits lots of action and has a gliding style fall when neko rigged. Some opt for magnum or “fat” style finesse worms, but if the fish are finicky, don’t hesitate to go bold with a ribbontail or paddletail worm.

Presentations

Falling head-first with lots of tail wiggle, the neko hits the bottom and resembles a baitfish or bream feeding low in the water column. Short hops and wiggling rodtip action helps sell the ruse.

While the wacky rig’s more of an area bait, the neko excels at specific targeting. Throw it at stumps, cypress trees, laydowns, dock pilings and rip rap. With practiced delivery, this rig skips pretty good, too.

A weighted rig wants to sink, but experiment with various worm and nail weight sizes to dial in the fall rate that fits the depth and cover you’re fishing. If your budget allows, an entire weight size assortment maximizes your versatility. If not, buy one large size and trim off segments for shallower areas and slower falls.

And remember, this whole “nail weight” concept originated from anglers sticking actual construction nails into their worms. So, if you’re fishing on the cheap, don’t let anyone shame you over a hardware store option. It’s not budget, it’s vintage.

Variations

For open areas with minimal entanglement, a standard finesse hook made for the wacky/neko presentation works fine. Around laydowns, grass or reed edges, or even shell bars, a weedless hook will save you a lot of headaches.




Of the weight placement, legendary bass angler Kevin VanDam shared this tip: “Where you put that weight affects how the bait falls. The tried-and-true is putting a nail weight in the nose, but putting in different positions creates different action.

“For example: With bed fish, put the weight a little farther back from the head of the worm and it creates a crazy action when you’re shaking it around a bed,” said VanDam. “It gives them a different look that drives them crazy. It gives a unique falling action to an already highly productive finesse bait.”


  • This article was featured in the December/January 2024 issue of Florida Sportsman magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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