Anglers have been catching fish with a simple jig head and soft plastic for decades, but it wasn’t until recently that this common setup was given a set of guidelines and a name. The Ned Rig is named for Ned Kehde, who is known for catching absurd numbers of fish on a regular basis with this simple bait.
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Selecting the Right Jig Head:
The components are simple, but the variations are limitless. First, you will need a light wire hook attached to a moon head or round-shaped jig head. The light wire combined with the smallest head applicable to the situation you are fishing (anywhere from a 1/32oz to a 1/4oz) will give the bait the most realistic/natural action possible. The shape is important because round heads allow the bait to stand up when dragged across the bottom.
Variations can include head style, hook size, and the presence of a weed guard. The head style is dependent on the structure you are fishing. For instance, if you are fishing rip rap or rock chunk it may be better to switch to a football-style head to prevent snags.
Hook size should match your bait size. As you increase your bait size, you’ll want to size up your hook to improve your hookup ratio. Generally, for a bait 3 inches or less use a #1 and anything larger use a #1/0 size hook. If you are fishing around wood, consider using a jig head with a weed guard.
Selecting the Right Stick Bait:
Choosing the right stick bait comes down to size and buoyancy.
Stick baits can come in many different lengths and girths. Figuring out what the fish want on any given day could mean the difference between loading the boat or going home empty-handed. If you are on a spot where you know there are fish, try out different sizes to hone in what the fish want.
Buoyancy will determine the rate of fall and action of the bait. More buoyant soft plasticswill produce a slower gliding presentation as the bait falls through the water column. If you’re looking for a faster fall, use a heavily-salted bait (which will also produce more bites).
Since this is an ultra-finesse technique you will want a rod in the Medium to Medium Lightrange with a parabolic bend. Having a soft tip is also important to help you pin the light wire hook in the fish’s mouth during the initial hookset. The strong backbone in a parabolic bend rod helps you fight the fish on the light line that is used in this presentation. A 7 ft. length is perfect for making precise casts to targets and is also long enough to help make long casts in open water.
For the most part, you will be fishing this technique on a spinning reel setup. The two main factors you want to have in a reel when fishing the Ned Rig is a butter smooth drag and a larger spool size. The drag is key when fishing light line applications. Setting your drag properly allows you to fight the fish and prevents you from breaking off. Since you will not be horsing the fish in and instead be waiting for the fish to tire out, you want to have a larger spool size to pick up slack line faster. A 2500 series reel is the perfect size as it gives you more spool pickup but isn’t so big that you lose feel when working the bait.
Using the smallest line possible in any given situation will not only make the presentation stealthier but will also enhance the natural movement of the bait. For a leader, use 6- to 10-pound fluorocarbon depending on the water clarity and structure you are fishing. For the main line, 15- to 30-pound braid will increase your sensitivity, reduce line twist, and allow you to cast farther.
How to Fish It:
The Ned Rig is ideal for clearer water fishing when the bite gets tough. It’s a perfect follow-up bait when more active techniques shut off or when fish are hard to come by altogether.
Focus on subtle color patterns: silvers, chromes, greys, and blues imitate bait fish feeding on the bottom while greens and browns will imitate crawfish scurrying across the floor.
The Ned Rig is a high percentage-area bait, meant to be cast to precise spots or structure. The highest probability of getting a bite will come on the initial fall and within 5-10 ft. of working it on the bottom. If you don’t get a bite, reel in and cast to a new location – no need to waste time working the retrieve with this technique!
Let your initial cast fall to the bottom on a semi-slack line to prevent the bait from swinging back towards you. Semi-slack line also gives the bait the realistic action needed to elicit a strike.
Once the bait hits the bottom, reel in extra slack and let it sit for a second or two. From there you can do just about anything with it, depending on how the fish want it that day. The most common retrieve is dead sticking – dragging the bait along the floor with the rod tip and then reeling up the slack line. Repeat for as long as desired. Another popular retrieve is hopping it along the bottom. Again, make the bait move with the rod and only using the reel to pull in the slack line.
During the retrieve, pay additional attention if the bait gets hung up. If you feel it against a rock, stump or any other piece of structure, take a couple seconds to shake the bait in place. That action along with popping it free from a snag will often produce a reaction strike. You can also watch for line jumps or it swimming off, indicating you got a bite.
Money Saving Tip: Do you also Wacky or Neko Rig soft plastic worms? When you retire a worm because it is ripped or torn, save it for your next Ned Rig. A slight trim with scissors will give the bait a second life and save you money!
Ready to fish the Ned Rig? Shop all of the tackle featured in this article here!