Seth Feider on Choosing the Perfect Hook for Your Neko and Wacky Rigs
What is a Neko Rig
A Neko Rig is a technique that involves rigging a soft plastic bait vertically with a nail weight in the nose of it. The Neko Rig is considered a finesse technique that can be used to cover an area thoroughly.
To rig a Neko Rig, the angler starts by inserting a nail weight into one end of the soft plastic bait. The bait is then threaded onto a hook with the hook point facing up.
When fished, the Neko Rig presents the soft plastic bait in a vertical orientation, with the weight on one end causing the bait to stand up off the bottom. The exposed hook point allows for quick hooksets, while the finesse presentation of the bait can entice even finicky fish to bite.
What is a Wacky Rig
A Wacky Rig is a popular fishing technique that involves rigging a soft plastic bait horizontally in the middle, creating a "wacky" or off-center presentation. The technique is used primarily for fishing finesse baits, such as worms or stick baits, and can be particularly effective for catching bass in clear water or pressured conditions.
To rig a Wacky Rig, the angler starts by taking a soft plastic bait, such as a Bang Stickz, and places the hook through the middle of the bait, leaving both ends of the bait to hang freely. The positioning of the hook and the free falling action of the bait are what cause the fish to bite.
When fished, the Wacky Rig presents the soft plastic bait in an off-center orientation, causing the bait to wiggle and flutter as it falls through the water. The slow fall of the bait can be particularly enticing to bass, while the off-center presentation can create a more natural look to the bait.
What makes a good Neko/Wacky Rig hook
2021 Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year and VMC pro, Seth Feider, says “there are three key features every Wacky/Neko hook needs to have”. The most important details are hook sharpness, shank length, and strength.
When fishing a Neko or wacky rig, it typically requires spinning gear because they are considered finesse techniques. That means there are no powerful hooksets. Feider explains, “An extremely sharp hook point is needed to penetrate the fish because the hookset is more of a lean into it rather than a hard snap of the rod”. VMC’s new RedLine series of hooks incorporate a compressed needle point design for increased sharpness and hookup capabilities.
The earliest versions of wacky hooks had a short round shape to match the contours of the stick baits that are used. The problem with a short shank is that anglers were noticing that they were losing more fish. A longer shank not only helps with better hook penetration but it also keeps the fish pinned better during the fight.
Durability is also a huge factor because of the tactics of fishing finesse. The goal is to be as stealthy as possible but have the strength to hold up to fighting the fish of a lifetime back to the boat. That is why the new VMC RedLine Wacky Neko Hooks stand up to the test. They are made out of Vanadium Steel, which is commonly used in Formula 1 race cars.
When to use a weedless hook?
Most series of Neko/Wacky hooks come with a standard and a weedless version. Feider says, “The majority of the time I am using the standard Wacky/Neko hook but will switch up to the weedless version when fishing around brush or wood”.
The VMC RedLine Series Weedless Wacky Neko Hook is equipped with a double Fluorocarbon weed guard that helps your bait crawl over hard structures like wood and brush. It’s equipped with the perfect balance between stiff enough to push the hook point over cover and soft enough to not impede on hooking the fish during a hookset.
When fishing around softer cover like grass, Feider opts to still use the regular version because he can rip the hook free as he works the bait back to the boat.
How to fish a Neko/Wacky Rig?
The Neko and Wacky rig have a very similar profile, the only difference is the hook positioning and the addition of a nail weight in a Neko Rig.
When fishing around a specific structure or in water that is 5ft deep or less, Feider goes with the wacky rig. “When fishing a wacky rig, the initial fall is what I am looking for to cause the bite. The weightlessness of the bait provides all the action needed.”
If Feider is working an area like a main lake point or is fishing deeper than 7ft he likes to go with the Neko Rig. “The added weight in the Neko Rig helps the bait get down quicker so I can be more efficient working the bait. With a Neko Rig, I am giving the bait action with my rod tip, whereas on a wacky rig, I let the bait create its own action.”
When should you fish a Wacky Rig
- Fishing a specific spot
- Less than 5ft of water
- Very subtle presentation is needed
When should you fish a Neko Rig?
- Covering an area
- Deeper than 7ft of water
- Lively presentation is needed
Seth Feider’s Neko/Wacky Rig Setup
Fishing a Neko or a Wacky rig isn’t complete without choosing the right equipment. From years of experience, Seth Feider has his gear dialed in specifically to how he likes to fish. Below is a complete list of tackle he uses to fish the Wacky and Neko rig.
Z-Man Bang StickZ
Weight: Z-Man Neko ShoomZ
VMC Crossover Rings and Pliers
7ft 6in Medium-Light / Medium Fast Action Daiwa Tatula Elite Spinning
Daiwa Tatula LT 4000
Sufix 832 Neon Lime main line with an 8-12 lb Sufix Advance fluorocarbon leader