The Ned Rig technique involves fishing a small plastic bait on a small jig when chasing bass. Here in the northern reaches of the country, we have been using plastic worms of various shapes on small jig heads for years when casting to bass that live on the deep weedlines of many lakes. “Jig-worming” is basically the same technique as the Ned Rig, though jig-wormers often use bigger plastics.
Regardless of the name, a plastic on a jig cast to weeds and allowed to slowly settle in and then worked with various pops and shakes back toward the boat will produce bass in good numbers on many Midwestern lakes. As a Minnesota fishing guide, this is a go-to method for getting lots of bites from bass. Plus, northern pike, big panfish and the occasional walleye eat Ned Rigs fished on weedlines too!
Most of my plastic worm and small jig head fishing over the years involved baits in the 4-to-7-inch size range. I must admit, however, that as our waters have cleared and fishing pressure for bass increases on many lakes, smaller Ned Rig plastics have taken a very prominent place in my tackle box. In fact, more times than not, weedline fishing for me starts with jigs tipped with the smaller plastics.
The deep weedlines that are often fished with this method are the outside edges of weeds that rim the perimeters of a lot of lakes, grow down the drop-off edges, and eventually fade away as the water deepens and light penetration decreases. Those weed bands and edges often are present on shallower off-shore sunken islands and humps too.
Finding fish on these deep weedlines often involves actually fishing down an edge until a school of fish is encountered. Some anglers prefer to fish Ned Rigs down the edges looking for fish, while others use faster fishing methods involving “moving” baits like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and vibrating jigs to locate fish schools. Once found, the Ned Rig is a great way to slow up and really work over an area and school to maximize bite numbers.
Schools can often be found in the summer relating to points or turns in the weedline, though other changes along the edge like variations in weed type or bottom composition changes can be key spots too. It’s good advice to mark fish-holding spots on GPS, as productive spots often hold fish throughout the summer season well into fall.
Small “stand up” style jig heads like the Tour Grade Ned Rig Head in the 1/8-ounce size are often preferred. My favorite plastics to fish on those jigs have quickly become the new Ned Ocho and the Rage Ned Cut-R Worm. These baits come in a variety of colors, get bit under just about any fishing conditions, and their textures usually allow for positive hooksets too. Various colors will produce and it often pays to experiment to find the best color pattern, though green pumpkin and the dirt patterns are two favorites.
The right baits are important to Ned Rigging, as is fishing those baits on the right rod, reel, and fishing line set up. Because this is a technique that usually works best when fishing light line, I often tie an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader into a small diameter braided mainline. This combination allows for good sensitivity and hook-setting power when making long casts to weeds.
Ned rigs on light line also usually fish best on lightweight, sensitive spinning rod and reel combos. The Lew’s TP1 Black Speed Stick “finesse” model works great for this style rigging and their Custom Pro Speed Spin reel in the TLC2000 model is the perfect size for Ned Rigging and features a silky smooth drag system too.
There is no perfect fishing method that matches all fishing situations. If you want to get bit by a bunch of bass in the summer, however, it’s hard to beat a Ned Rig fished on the deep weedline.
As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest to see more.