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Bass Fishing Rigs: Rig Like A Tournament Pro

Last Updated: November 21st, 2020
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As any bass fishing veteran can attest, an excellent worm rig has won more tournaments than anything else, hands down.

And while there’s no one rig to rule them all, with just a handful of tried-and-tested options, you can improve your odds of catching trophy largemouth.

Want to learn more?

Keep reading!

Gear-Up for Bass Rigging

Gamakatsu Superline Offset Extra Wide Gap Worm Hook

Gamakatsu Superline Offset Extra Wide Gap Worm Hook-5 Per Pack (Black, 2/0)

Amazon 

Essential for both Texas and Carolina Rigs, a good offset hook needs to have a wide gap and a sharp point. You can count on Gamakatsu--there’s no better hook company out there.

#2 VMC IKE-Approved Neko Hook

VMC Neko Hook Black Nickel 2 (NK#2BNPP)

Amazon 

These purpose-designed hooks are ideal for Wacky and Neko Rigs, and they really do result in more good hooksets than the alternatives.

Reaction Tackle Bullet/Worm Weights

Reaction Tackle Worm Weights 3/16 Silver

Amazon 

Bullet weights are used for both Texas and Carolina rigs, and I prefer them to other styles. Your mileage may vary, but for my money, these are my top choice--and I like to keep a few dozen on hand every time I hit the water.

VMC Half Moon Wacky Weight

VMC, Half Moon Wacky Weight, 1/8 oz, Natural, Package of 10

Amazon 

Essential for a Neko Rig, these worm weights stay put.

Eagle Claw 8 mm Beads

Eagle Claw A8BEAD20R Plastic Beads, 8 mm, Red, 20 Piece

Amazon 

No Carolina Rig is complete without a big, flashy bead for the bullet weight to slap.

Mimilure Soft Silicon Float Stops

Mimilure 100 Pcs Rubber Fishing Bobber Stopper,6 in 1 Float Sinker Stops,Black Orange Oval Cylinder Float Stop Available (Black & Oval, M)

Amazon 

Float stops are a critical component of the Carolina Rig.

Reaction Tackle Drop Shot Tungsten Weights

Reaction Tackle Drop Shot (Silver, Skinny, 1/8)

Amazon 

While almost any style sinker will work with a Drop-Shot Rig, I find that pencil sinkers are the least likely to get hung up.

Riptail Barrel Swivels

Riptail Barrel Fishing Swivels – Steel with Corrosion-Resistant Finish, Size #8 (45lb) - 100 Pack

Amazon 

You’ll need a good barrel swivel to connect your weighted main line to your leader on a Carolina Rig.

Reaction Tackle Wacky O-Rings

Reaction Tackle Wacky O-Rings-125 Black

Amazon 

Some anglers prefer to hook an O-ring rather than the worm when Wacky and Neko rigging. These are sized just right for that.

Best Bass Rigs: Tournament Favorites with Step-by-Step Instructions

The Texas Rig

texas rig

The Texas Rig is probably the most popular choice among bass anglers on any lake I’ve fished, and the reasons why are easy to understand.

Weighted at the nose, the Texas Rig casts true, making tough-to-navigate cover easier than it should be. It also provides enticing action as the weight slides the worm deeper into the water, letting that tail waggle for all its worth. And when worked across the bottom in short hops and falls, it’s proven to catch big bass, season after season.

Add to that that it can be rigged to run essentially weedlessly, and you’ve got a winning combination than any largemouth angler can appreciate.

I really like to run this rig with a soft plastic that makes the most of the downward flutter, whether that’s a craw in spring or a worm in summer.

To assemble a Texas Rig, follow these steps:

  1. Slide a bullet sinker, tip first, onto your main line.
  2. Using a Palomar Knot, attach an offset shank hook. Wet your knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.
  3. Pass the point of an offset hook through the tip of the worm’s head. You want to run the hook about an inch into the worm.
  4. Push the worm up and over the eye of your hook. You want to get the worm to lay straight, using that offset to your advantage.
  5. Rotate the point back toward the worm. Stretch the worm out along the hook.
  6. Measure the bottom of the curve of the hook on the worm’s body. That’s where you want to bury the point in the next step.
  7. Push the point back into the worm’s body, bringing the tip through to the opposite side. 
  8. Push just a bit of your worm onto the hook, creating a weedless rig.

The Carolina Rig

carolina rig

The Carolina Rig wonplenty of fans for its ability to free soft plastics from the constraints of a closely-associated weight. That allows the worm to wriggle and float to the bottom very slowly, and this downward fluttering fall is lethal, triggering a reaction strike even when the bass aren’t particularly hungry.

The addition of a bead below the weight also creates some rattle and vibration as you work it.

And when rigged Texas-style, the Carolina Rig’s worm is pretty much weedless.

Considering all that, it’s easy to see why this rig is a tournament favorite.

To assemble a Carolina Rig, follow these steps:

  1. Slide a bullet sinker, tip first, onto your main line.
  2. Follow this with a bead large enough to stop your sinker.
  3. Add a silicon stop below the bead.
  4. Attach a barrel swivel using a Uni Knot. Wet your knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.
  5. Cut approximately 18 inches of leader.
  6. Using a Uni Knot, attach your leader to the barrel swivel. Wet your knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.
  7. Using a Palomar Knot, attach an offset shank hook to the end of your leader. Wet your knot, tighten it, and trim the tag end.
  8. Pass the point of an offset hook through the tip of the worm’s head. You want to run the hook about an inch into the worm.
  9. Push the worm up and over the eye of your hook. You want to get the worm to lay straight, using that offset to your advantage.
  10. Rotate the point back toward the worm. Stretch the worm out along the hook.
  11. Measure the bottom of the curve of the hook on the worm’s body. That’s where you want to bury the point in the next step.
  12. Push the point back into the worm’s body, bringing the tip through to the opposite side. 
  13. Push just a bit of your worm onto the hook, creating a weedless rig.

The Drop-Shot Rig

drop-shot rig

We’ve written quite a bit about the Drop Shot Rig, and suffice it to say, it’s one of our favorites. Check out our drop shot tips!

My go-to finesse option for largemouth, I can’t sing its praises loudly enough. The Drop Shot allows you to work near the bottom at a predictable depth, avoid snags, and provide unbelievable options for soft plastic action.

And whether you nose hook, tail hook, or wacky rig your worms, it gives them unbeatable life as you twitch this rig.

But unlike most worm techniques, this rig is best fished with a lighter bass rod for greater finesse.

To assemble a Drop Shot Rig, follow these steps:

  1. Using a Palomar Knot, attach the hook of your choice. I prefer a finesse hook, but you can rig a worm Texas-style as well.
  2. Make the tag end long, approximately 18 inches to 3 feet. This length will control the depth of your presentation.
  3. Run the tag end back through the eye of your hook.
  4. Attach a pencil sinker to the bottom.

Drop Shot Rig

The Wacky Rig

wacky rig

 

The Wacky Rig and a fat Senko are pretty much all you need to drive bass crazy. By lifting your rod tip, you send your worm shivering and wriggling on the fall. And that’s just magic!

And whether you like to hook your worm or use an O-ring, one thing’s for sure: fished properly, the Wacky Rig is money.

That exposed hook can be a problem in the thick stuff, so I like to run a Wacky Rig where I know I won’t get hung up.

To assemble a Wacky Rig, follow these steps.

  1. Using a Palomar Knot, attach a #2 VMC IKE-Approved Neko Hook.
  2. Either pierce your worm at the midpoint or use an O-ring to connect your hook to your worm.

The Neko Rig

neko rig

The Neko Rig is the new kid on the block, but it’s already getting the nod from pro anglers on the tournament circuit.

Allowing variations in rigging that result in erratic action or predictable trips to the bottom, the Neko Rig takes advantage of off-center weighting and multiple possible hook positions to turn a worm from vertical to horizontal presentation--and back again!

The Neko Rig is really a modified Wacky Rig, although you can vary where the hook runs through the worm (or where you place the O-ring). What remains the same is weighting the fat end of your soft plastic.

To assemble a Neko Rig, follow these steps:

  1. Using a Palomar Knot, attach a #2 VMC IKE-Approved Neko Hook.
  2. Either pierce your worm at the ⅓ toward the unweighted end or use an O-ring to connect your hook to your worm. You can also try the midpoint or ⅓ toward the weighted end.
  3. Weight the fat end of your worm with a VMC Half-Moon Wacky Weight.

Final Thoughts

These are proven rigs that tournament pros know and trust to put them in the money, and whether you’d like to fish the circuit or just enjoy a morning’s bass fishing, they’ll help you land more big largemouth--guaranteed!

We hope this article has helped you find a new rig or improve on your old ones, and as always, we’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
John B
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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