Every once in awhile you see a new lure, or technique, and in an instant, things just seem to "click." You can immediately see the potential, and you know it's going to be something that gives you that extra edge. From the first time I saw the "Ned Rig" I knew it had the power to transform my reluctance to finesse fish into a new love for fooling picky bass, and after putting it to the test during some tough conditions, I can say with confidence- I have found my new favorite finesse bait.
What is the Ned Rig?
First off, I need to introduce the Ned Rig. The ned rig is a simple presentation, which consists of a small mushroom-style jig head, along with an ultra-short, but stalky, worm. Zman is the company that has really brought the Ned Rig to the forefront, and they have made the Finesse ShroomZ jig head (coming in 1/6, 1/10 & 1/15oz versions) to perfectly compliment their ultra-compact, 2.75" Finesse TRD, which resembles a tiny stick bait, but is enhanced by the super soft, durable and slow sinking, qualities of ElaZtech material. Together these two components make up the ultimate Ned Rig.
What makes the Ned Rig so effective?
To me, the definition of a finesse presentation is utilizing simplicity and subtlety with light tackle, and small baits, to entice strikes from pressured, or inactive, fish. Techniques like the Drop-Shot, Shakey Head, and Split Shot, along with many others, have been mainstays in the finesse fishing textbook. Each of these techniques are so effective in part because of the limited amount of action that is imparted to the baits they present- which is important because highly pressured fish become wary of too much action and shy away from conventional power-fishing tactics. With the Ned Rig, there is no tail movement as it falls. No quivering as you shake it. That being said, the reason fish will absolutely inhale this bait, after passing on other appetizing offerings, comes down to it's subtle gliding and darting action on the fall, and it's unusually diminutive size that appeals to bass even after eating their fill. Rigged correctly, the Ned Rig very closely resembles the fall of a finesse tube, featuring a slight spiraling glide as it falls to the bottom, which is a highly desirable action when it comes finding an effective bait. Also, take into account that the Ned Rig is a finesse technique that fish haven't seen on the majority of the lakes around the country, which is another reason why it is particularly effective.
Where should you use the Ned Rig?
The beauty about finesse presentations is that you can use them anywhere, at any time, and catch bass- and with the Ned Rig this is still true. Recently, I have been plying this technique on my local Spotted Bass lakes in Northern California, fishing it around anything from bluff banks to standing timber. Docks are also great places to throw the Ned Rig. You can skip it fairly easily, and the small profile and gliding fall make it a deadly presentation for docks.
What tackle should you use?
Tackle choice is very important for this technique. Spinning gear is king with the Ned Rig. As far as the reel goes, I prefer a spinning reel no bigger than a 2500 size frame/spool, but also has a smooth, reliable, drag system and has an back-reeling option too. The rod I prefer is a 6'6" Medium or Medium-Light action rod, which helps me cast this light bait out, as well as give me the responsiveness to move the bait correctly. When it comes to line, recently I have been changing all of my spinning reels over to 15lb Vicious Braid main lines, with a 6-10' Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon leader. With the Ned Rig I will go as high as an 8lb leader, but rarely will go lighter than 6lb. With the braid I get maximum sensitivity, longer casting distance, as well as a solid hook-up, even in deep water. Finally, I mentioned the TRD and the Finesse ShroomZ jig head, and I really stand by these two components because there has been a lot of effort taken to design the perfect Ned Rig setup by Zman, and they are just plain outstanding for this technique.
How do you fish the Ned Rig?
Im not going to make this harder than it really is- just go fish it! Really, most of the time, the strike occurs on the fall, but in the instances where you don't get a strike on the initial fall, experiment with subtle shakes of the rod tip, yo-yoing, and dead-sticking. One thing I will recommend is to not over-work the bait. Trust the Force (of the Ned) Luke!
In the end, though this may be one of my favorite techniques, you are going to just have to go test it out for yourself to see what the Ned Rig can do for you!