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Sensitive Strength: The Best Rods for Fishing a Ned Rig Reviewed

Written by: Pete D
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The Ned rig is a fantastic finesse presentation for bass. But unlike worm fishing, a stout rod and heavy line are counter-productive with a light Ned head and a small trailer.

Instead, you want finesse tackle - and that means reaching or an entirely different kind of “bass rod.”

If that idea leaves you feeling confused, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll explain what makes a perfect Ned rig rod and review a few of our favorites.

Quick glance at the best ned rig rods:

Related:

Best Ned Rig Rods Reviewed

St. Croix Mojo Bass - Best Ned Rig Rod

St. Croix Rods Mojo Bass Spinning Rod Medium-light/X-fast Titanium, 6'10'

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/extra-fast

Length: 6’ 10”

Line weight: 6 - 10 lbs.

Lure weight: ⅛ - ½ oz.

Material: graphite

Guides: Kigan Master Hand 3D guides with aluminum-oxide rings

Handle: split cork

Pieces: 1

Here at USAngler, we’re big fans of St. Criox’s rods - but then again, pretty much everyone is!

Uncompromising in the quality of their components, manufacture, and fit and finish, St. Croix’s Mojo Bass rods are simply fantastic.

The 6-foot, 10-inch, medium-light Mojo Bass is a tad stiffer than competitors’ medium-light rods, placing it somewhere between medium-light and medium power, while retaining an extra-fast action.

For Ned rigs, that’s perfect.

The blank is manufactured from graphite, providing incredible sensitivity and plenty of backbone. It’ll really strut its stuff with a light Ned head, allowing you to feel every detail of the bottom and each bump from a curious bass. It’ll also translate your hook set into a hard punch, and despite being slender and light, it has more than enough fight for big bass.

This medium-light Mojo Bass loads and casts well, allowing you to launch a light Ned head and its tiny Senko or grub trailer into the next zip code if need be. Most of the time, however, that’s not necessary, and accuracy counts more than raw distance. Here, too, the Mojo bass excels, precision when it counts.

As you’d expect on a rod of this quality, everything from the split cork handle to the Kigan Master guides is top-notch.

It’s very, very hard to beat the medium-light Mojo bass for Ned rigs, unweighted Senkos, shaky heads, drop shot rigs, and other finesse techniques.

But keep in mind that a medium-light graphite rod needs to have an appropriate line weight and drag setting. If you choose to run 30-pound braid and set your drag to 10 pounds, you may well snap your rod in two!

That’s user error, not a design flaw.

Pick one of these rods up; you’ll love it as much as we do!

Pros:

  • Exceptional blank quality
  • Exceptional guide quality
  • Exceptional handle quality
  • Very sensitive
  • Great backbone
  • Ideal for finesse presentations

Cons:

  • ???

KastKing Crixus - Best Budget Ned Rig Rod

KastKing Crixus Fishing Rods, Spinning Rod 6ft 6in-Light - M Fast-2pcs

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/moderately-fast

Length: 6’ 6”

Line weight: 6 - 10 lbs.

Lure weight: ⅛ - ½ oz.

Material: graphite

Guides: stainless steel with zirconium oxide rings

Handle: split EVA foam

Pieces: 2

KastKing has a well-earned reputation for delivering performance that won’t force you to sell a kidney to afford. And while the other rods we’ve reviewed today wear premium price tags, the Crixus is within reach of any angler.

That’s nothing special: a rod can be made to any price point. What’s exceptional about the Crixus is the care and attention KastKing puts into this product.

Right off the bat, let’s note that it ships in a tube to protect it from rough handling. That’s a big deal with a graphite rod: any lateral shock can cause a micro-fracture that can catastrophically fail. If this happens to you, you’ve probably whacked your rod on something, creating an invisible point of potential failure.

The medium-light blank on this rod is very sensitive, allowing you to feel your Ned rig bump and slide across the bottom. Soft strikes and gentle nudges will be transmitted to your hand with ease, and this rod is great for finesse presentations.

It loads and casts well, too, offering plenty of distance and accuracy.

The stainless steel guides sport protective zirconium oxide guides, reducing friction and heat. I wouldn’t run 4-pound test on the Crixus, but 6 should be no problem in a hard fight if you know what you’re doing.

Overall, I’m impressed by what KastKing delivers for the money, and I think you will be, too.

Pros:

  • Great price!
  • Very good blank quality
  • Very good guide quality
  • Very good handle quality
  • Very sensitive
  • Great backbone
  • Ideal for finesse presentations

Cons:

  • Not as refined as premium rods

St. Croix Triumph

St. Croix Rods Triumph Spinning Rod Light/Fast , 6'6'

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/fast

Length: 6’ 6”

Line weight: 4 - 10 lbs.

Lure weight: ⅛ - ½ oz.

Material: carbon fiber

Guides: Sea Guide Atlas Performance SS304

Handle: continuous cork

Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s Triumph lineup is another top pick of anglers the world over, offering premium-quality components and superb attention to detail.

For anglers who love St. Croix’s rods but prefer a continuous handle, their medium-light Triumph may be a better choice than the Mojo Bass we reviewed above.

A tad lighter in power than the medium-light Mojo Bass, you’ll notice that the Triumph is rated for slightly lighter lines. Chalk that up to a slightly different taper on the rod and a blank made from carbon fiber rather than graphite.

In the hand, I find this rod just as sensitive as the Mojo Bass but with slightly less backbone. I may be wrong about that - that’s just how it feels to me. You’ll detect the flutter of a short trick worm on a Ned head, note the texture of the bottom, and feel the soft suck of a wary bass taking your bait.

The blank is excellent, loading easily and casting well. Precision is fantastic as well.

The guides on the medium-light Triumph are the awesome SGAP SS304, and you can count on them in a hard fight with tiny diameter mono. They'll cushion your line, reduce friction and heat to almost nil, and ensure that 4-pound test holds for its full strength rating.

Like the Mojo Bass, this is not a rod that I’d run heavy braid on, especially if the drag isn’t set to between 2 or 3 pounds. Anything higher than that risks breakage, a result of user error rather than a design flaw.

For fans of lighter rods and full grips, St. Croix’s Triumph is simply superb.

Pros:

  • Exceptional blank quality
  • Exceptional guide quality
  • Exceptional handle quality
  • Very sensitive
  • Great backbone - a bit lighter than M
  • Ideal for finesse presentations

Cons:

  • ???

Dobyns Fury

Dobyns Rods Fury Series 6’6” Spinning Fishing Rod | FR661SF | Light Fast Action Rod | Modulus Graphite Blank with Kevlar Wrapping | Fuji Reel Seats | Alconite Guides | Line 4-10lb Lure ⅛-⅜ oz.

Amazon 

Power/action: medium/extra-fast

Length: 7’

Line weight: 8 - 17 lbs.

Lure weight: 3/16 - ⅝ oz.

Material: graphite

Guides: stainless steel

Handle: split cork and EVA foam

Pieces: 1

Dobyns’ Fury series has been a top pick of ours before, and nothing has changed in our minds to unseat these fine rods.

The medium-power, seven-foot rod is an incredible choice for finesse techniques, offering a slightly more supple blank than most. For me, in my hand, I find this rod’s blank to be about equidistant between medium-light and medium, right in the sweet spot for Ned rigs.

Like its competitors from St. Croix, this is a premium rod with a premium feel, offering terrific sensitivity and plenty of backbone to set a hook or fight a big bass. The graphite blank will transmit every bump, ripple, and nudge immediately to your hands, and any missed strikes will be entirely your fault!

As you’d expect, this rod loads and casts well, and the guides work superbly, despite not wearing a brand name like Fuji.

The split cork and EVA foam is an unusual combination for a handle, but it’s both attractive and effective. 

And like the two St. Croix rods above, if you want to break this rod, go ahead and run heavy braid with a high drag setting. You’ll put lots of strain on the rod, and you’ll almost certainly crack the blank.

Plenty of serious bass anglers choose this Dobyns Fury for finesse techniques like Ned rigs, shaky heads, and weightless Senkos. Give it a try; you won’t be disappointed.

Pros:

  • Exceptional blank quality
  • Exceptional guide quality
  • Exceptional handle quality
  • Very sensitive
  • Great backbone - a bit lighter than M
  • Ideal for finesse presentations

Cons:

  • ???

13 Fishing Omen Black

13 FISHING - Omen Black - 6'7' ML Spinning Rod - OB3S67ML

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/extra-fast

Length: 6’ 7”

Line weight: 4 - 10 lbs.

Lure weight: 1/16 - ⅜ oz.

Material: graphite

Guides: ALPS 316 stainless steel with Zirconia inserts

Handle: split cork

Pieces: 1

13 Fishing’s medium-light Omen Black is an excellent Ned rig rod, offering a great combination of sensitivity and strength. Like the St. Croix rods and the Dobyns Fury, the Omen is a premium rod that sports awesome components and is made with the highest-quality manufacturing processes.

The result is a six-foot, seven-inch rod that can cast light lures, fish light lines, and still deliver hard hooksets and head-turning power. Maybe a touch stiffer than a normal medium-light rod, you’ll find that the graphite blank on the Omen is sensitive, easy to load, and very precise. 

I might quibble a bit with a 1/16-ounce overall lure weight - it may not load that well with a tiny spinner, for instance - but with a 1/16-ounce Ned head and a tiny worm, it loads just fine and casts like a dream.

The ALPS 316 guides work wonders with 4- and 6-pound lines, providing plenty of friction relief and keeping you in the fight no matter how fierce it gets. They’re also reduced in size in the Gen 3 rod, transmitting feel just that much better than the larger alternatives did.

Like the other rods on our list, we strongly recommend sticking with appropriate weight line and reasonable drag settings to avoid cracking the graphite blank.

If you like a little stiffer finesse rod that still delivers incredible sensitivity, the 13 Fishing Omen Black may be just about perfect.

Pros:

  • Excellent blank quality
  • Excellent guide quality
  • Excellent handle quality
  • Very sensitive
  • Great backbone - a bit stiffer than ML
  • Ideal for finesse presentations

Cons:

  • ???

Daiwa Tatula Elite Signature Series

Daiwa Tatula Elite Signature Series Bass Rod

Amazon 

Power/action: medium-light/fast

Length: 7’

Line weight: 4 - 10 lbs.

Lure weight: 1/16 - ⅜ oz.

Material: carbon fiber

Guides: Fuji Alconite

Handle: split EVA foam

Pieces: 1

Daiwa’s Tatula Elite Signature Series is designed by a handful of the world’s best anglers, and this seven-foot, medium-light rod wears Cody Meyer’s name.

To say that the graphite blank on this rod is fight-winning isn’t going quite far enough. Despite being light, supple, and super sensitive, this rod punches well above its weight in terms of usable backbone. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to fish reds with this rod, for instance, provided that I set the drag properly on 8- to 10-pound test. For finesse techniques like a Ned rig, this rod is simply superb, offering killer sensitivity and enough backbone to take any bass in America if you do your part.

The carbon fiber blank loads like a charm and casts like a dream, and the Fuji Alconite guides are going to keep even 4-pound test in the fight long after they should have surrendered.

The split foam handles are wonderfully designed, too, making this a comfortable rod to cast and fish.

In fact, from the butt to the final guide, you can be sure that this really is an elite rod, and Daiwa’s legendary experience on the water really shows.

Pros:

  • Exceptional blank quality
  • Exceptional guide quality
  • Exceptional handle quality
  • Very sensitive
  • Great backbone - very strong blank can really take a hard fight
  • Ideal for finesse presentations

Cons:

  • ???

Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Rod for Ned Rig Fishing

Sensitivity is king

If you’re looking for a good Ned rig rod, you’ll want to balance two things: sensitivity and backbone.

Unlike a worm rod, where heavy power is where it’s at for hard hooksets, finesse techniques like the Ned rig require delicate feel to fish well. Unless you can feel every nook and cranny on the bottom, every bump across a rock, and every wriggle of your soft plastic, you just won’t fish finesse presentations well.

And while it’d be great to get the hookset power of a heavy rod in a super-sensitive package, that’s just not realistic. Instead, you’ll need to make compromises, stepping down in power to increase feel.

The ideal Ned rod is a medium-light to medium powered rod that prioritizes sensitivity over hookset and fighting power. The best of the bunch still drive a single hook home well and will turn a big female’s head, but they can’t drag a bass from cover or rip a 3/0 worm hook through solid bone.

Spinning tackle is a must

Another aspect of finesse presentations is that you’ll be fishing small terminal tackle. Ned rigs are often as light as 1/10-ounce, and even with the 2- to 3-inch trailer you’ll pair with them, that’s not adding up to a lot of weight.

Baitcasting tackle just can’t perform well in this weight range, and casting will be poor. Instead, reach for spinning rods and reels and never look back!

Blank quality

While rods designed for treble hooks are often made from flexible materials like fiberglass, a finesse rod needs to be as rigid as possible for its diameter. The idea is to transmit every movement of your Ned rig to your hand, and for that, only carbon fiber and graphite will do.

Both materials are exceptionally stiff, strong, and light, and both make excellent rod blanks.

Graphite is the lighter and typically more expensive of the two, but it can be easily damaged by knocks and bumps. Lateral force, like a blow from the side, can create invisible micro-fractures that give way suddenly, causing a catastrophic failure.

That doesn’t make graphite bad - far from it! But you need to be extra careful with a graphite rod.

Carbon fiber is very stiff, transmitting vibration easily. It’s a bit heavier than graphite, but it’s also a touch more forgiving of rough handling.

Irrespective of whether you’re fishing a graphite or carbon fiber rod, what you want is a blank that is - you guessed it - super sensitive. It also needs to load easily to cast light Ned rigs well. And finally, it needs to provide enough backbone to fight big bass.

Just remember: if you choose to run braid, keep the test strength low and set your drag to no more than 3 to 4 pounds.

If you crack your drag up to ⅓ of the test strength of heavier braid, you’ll probably exceed what your rod can take and break it.

That’s just a physical reality of finesse rods. Treat them right and they’ll return the favor.

Guides

Guides are important for two reasons.

First, they help transmit vibration, and good guides can make your rod more sensitive, especially if they’re very small.

And second, they reduce friction and heat on your line.

Even minor heat will cause line failure, and a big bass pulling line through your guides is going to really test their quality.

You want ultra-smooth polishing and coating/inserts that reduce friction.

I test guides by taking the lightest mono the rod is rated for and sawing a length through the guide closest to the handle. If the line breaks, it’s a no-go.

All the rods on our shortlist wear excellent guides, though the premium options are simply exceptional.

Handles

Whether you prefer the aesthetics of EVA foam or premium cork, light feel of natural materials, or prefer the durability of man-made options, you want well-designed, comfortable handles with plenty of room for a hard fight.

Every rod on our list delivers, though you need to choose your preferred handle style from amongst them.

Final Thoughts

All the rods on our shortlist today have something in common: they're excellent options for Ned rigging and other finesse techniques. And depending on exactly what you’re looking for, any rod on our list might be the best option for you.

If we were forced to choose our favorite, it’d be the St. Croix Mojo Bass. It’s blank is simply incredibly sensitive while still offering firm hooksets and head-turning power, and the guides and handle are top-notch. It will excel with techniques like the Ned rig, and you’d be hard-pressed to find something better.

If your budget doesn’t allow the St. Croix, reach for the awesome KastKing Crixus. Priced to suit any angler, this rod is amazing for what it costs, and you won’t feel outgunned on the water. While not the equal of the premium prods on our shortlist today, it sports a fight-winning blank that has the sensitivity you need to fish Ned rigs well.

As always, we hope we’ve helped you make the best choice for your needs, and if you have any questions or comments, please drop us a line.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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