I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new when I say that pressured bass need to be seduced into a bite.
On lakes that take a pounding over the weekend, even weekday anglers need to adjust their approach to lure wary bass into a strike - and finesse techniques are definitely the way to go.
That’s just as true when the bass are feeling the heat, driving them deep and keeping them lethargic.
One of our favorite techniques for both these situations is the Ned rig, a dynamite way to present soft plastics like stick baits, craws, and minnows.
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What is a Ned Rig?
Essentially, a Ned rig is nothing more than a small, mushroom-shaped jig head with a small plastic trailer. Invented by Ned Kehde and first picked up in the midwest, the Ned rig has since become a staple finesse technique across the country.
The secret of this rig’s success is simple: true finesse. With a small plastic trailer on a tiny, light jig head, you can retrieve this combo across the bottom, bounce and let it fall, and even swim it back toward your boat without spooking wary fish.
Small and light are the keywords here, and you want to throw the smallest, lightest Ned head you possibly can.
Typically, that will mean starting at a 1/10-ounce Ned head, moving to ⅙ ounce if you’re fishing on a windy day.
On the heavier end, my favorites are the ZMan Finesse Shroomz 0.1 ounce and ⅙-ounce options, but weedless variations are also great for throwing a Ned rig into the thick stuff. But I start with a 1/32-ounce Owner’s American 4151 Block Head; it’s just ideal for the Ned.
How To Set Up a Ned Rig
Rod, reel, and line
Finesse techniques rely on light terminal tackle, and that means spinning gear reigns supreme.
For my finesse fishing, I prefer a 6 ½- to 7-foot rod in medium light to medium power, like the St. Croix Mojo Bass. I’m looking for a fast action to provide extra sensitivity, and of course, that rod will be wearing a high-quality spinning reel like a Shimano Ultegra or Pflueger President.
That combo is going to provide the best feel for finesse fishing while still allowing great abrasion resistance if a bass decides to tie me up around a stump or downed tree. And that InvizX is going to be very, very hard to see for any spooky bass.
For more on choosing a ned rod, here, we explain what makes a perfect Ned rig rod and review a few of our favorites.
Braid to fluorocarbon connections can be tricky, as neither of them accepts a knot as well as mono.
We’ve covered this topic at length before, and if you want the complete run-down, take a look at this article:
If you’ve got the right tackle and your knot-tying skills are tight, the next thing you need to consider is your choice of soft plastic trailers. The good news is that you’ve got a ton of awesome options.
The key here is to go small, keeping the overall length of your bait to around 3 inches.
I’m a sucker for a stick bait with some ticklers, and the Ned head combined with a buoyant body tends to take a head-down position on the water, leaving those appendages wriggling. And whether you’re bouncing or dragging a Ned rig, that subtle action is where it’s at for getting a wary bass to strike.
Strike King’s Rage Ned Craw is a perennial favorite among bass anglers, and it’s just fantastic when riding on a Ned head.
Soft plastic minnows, like the YUM Ned Minnow, are simply deadly, too.
They maintain a head-down posture on the bottom and flutter on the fall, enticing strikes from even the most lethargic bass.
How to Fish a Ned Rig
The Ned rig is often said to be at its best with a slack line. You often won’t feel a bass take your hook, but you’ll notice its sudden weight when you go to move your rig.
Most anglers like to work the Ned rig in situations where the excellent drop shot rig just isn’t suitable, including cover that will snag the drop shot’s bottom-hugging weight. Rock piles, downed trees, and any other cover-wary bass will stick to are excellent places to throw a Ned rig.
But some prefer the Ned for open bottoms, ledges, and humps that attract bluegill and other small prey items.
Three techniques are common.
Slow is essential with this technique, and it’s amazingly productive on wide-open flats and shallows, as well as spawning beds.
You want to cast your Ned rig and wait for it to sink. That’s not a fast process with a buoyant stick bait and a tiny Ned head jig.
Then, you want to use your rod to drag the Ned rig slowly across the bottom, keeping your line loose but taking in most of the slack with your reel.
If you do this right, you’ll be keeping constant contact with the bottom, letting the Ned head drag and hop across any tiny features it encounters. Your stick bait should be more or less head-down the entire time, waggling for all it’s worth.
Check out this video at 6:46:
The Lift and Glide
The trick with this technique is to learn to leave your reel largely alone.
You want to lift your rod tip a foot or two, pulling your Ned rig up and off the bottom. But don’t reel in the slack; just let the rig settle.
This motion will loft the Ned rig a foot or two, allowing it to glide and flutter to the bottom.
You’re looking for some slack, but not enough to leave slack line on the surface.
8:14 is the place to start in this video:
Finally, you can retrieve a Ned rig, keeping it just off the bottom.
This is especially effective if you run it along or over a weed bed.
Unlike a lot of worm techniques, you want your rod tip at about 10 to 11 o’clock.
This will help keep your plastic’s orientation true and give you a better feel for the inevitable subtle suck of a hungry bass.
One thing that’s really different about the Ned rig is the hookset.
Unlike most bass techniques where a hard hookset is a good thing, with the Ned rig, that’s a surefire recipe for pulling your hook loose.
Instead, you want to treat the Ned like a circle hook: start retrieving and take up the slack from your line. The hook will drive itself home, and you’ll land a lot more fish.
The Ned rig is one of our favorite techniques, and as a finesse presentation for a small stick bait, creature, or minnow, it’s very, very hard to beat.
We hope that this article has taught you something new, and as always, we’re here to field your questions and answer your comments.
More resources on fishing rigs: Best Fishing Rigs