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Admittedly, I've been pretty much a three-lure fisherman the past 15 years. Give me an inline spinner, a black plastic Senko-style worm, or a jig and twister tail, and I'll catch pretty much anything.
I'll occasionally buy a lure for a specific type of fishing, but pretty much I'm sold on those three basic baits.
But, I could no longer sit back and not try the Ned Rig, which I've not only been hearing about more and more lately, but have seen first-hand it outfish me as much as 5-1 by the person fishing in the back of the boat.
Now, I don't like to promote products, but when it comes to putting fish in the livewell, telling my readers about the Ned Rig is a necessary evil.
The Ned Rig is basically a finesse style of fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass, using a mushroom-head jig and any number of plastics, drug along the lake or river bottom. It forces you to fish the depths that the majority of the fish inhabit -- the bottom third of the water column.
The system has been made famous by retired professor, fishing guide and writer Ned Kehde, who describes the style as finesse fishing. He's part of the Finesse Fishing Network (FNN) that blogs and sends emails daily on the exploits of the "Ned Rig."
ZMan Fishing Products has been able to cash in on the craze and has developed the "Ned Rig" line of plastics and jig heads. However, just about any mushroom-head jig and unsalted plastic (they stand up better) will do.
And, as simple as it seems, the Ned Rig catches fish. While it may not win tournaments and put huge bucketmouths in the boat, it's a numbers bait, and that makes Kedhe happy, as he believes catching fish is more important for the sport than targeting behemoths.
According to an article in In-Fisherman Magazine, Kehde says one Z-Man Finesse WormZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 102 largemouth bass, seven crappie and one bluegill during a single five-hour span in March 2012.
Earlier this spring while fishing for smallmouth bass at Milton Reservoir west of Youngstown, fishing partner Gene Post caught 30 smallies to my 5 using the ZMan, and two weeks ago on a fishing trip to the Ohio River, 12-year-old Brian Keim became a believer of the Ned Rig, using it most of the day to outfish both me and his father, Leroy. I would have fished the Ned Rig on the Ohio River, because it's perfect for rocky bottoms, but I only had one jig and TRD plastic (given to me by another Ned Rig believer), so I hooked Brian up with the bait and he learned fast how to "finesse" fish it.
The ZMan ElaZtech baits are made to last 10-times longer than most plastic baits, and I can vouch for that. You'll probably get the jig stuck before the plastic fails.
Weedless versions are worth considering, and the Ned Rig experts have found that 1/16th-ounce jigs seem to work the best, although it depends on fishing conditions.
The suggested setup includes spinning tackle and light line in the 6- and 8-pound test range.
Besides the FFN, there are plenty of tutorials on the internet about the virtues of the Ned Rig.
I've also tried the adapted wacky-worm style of Neko Rig fishing, but without much success to date. I'm not giving up on that, though.
The Neko Rig uses any bait that you would "wacky rig," but inserts a weight (anything from a screw or nail to specific weights intended for plastic worms) to stand the worm up on the bottom of the lake. Admittedly, I have to do some more on-the-water research to figure out the best plastics and weight ratio to make the presentation work, but can tell you now that using a floating worm isn't ideal. We'll get back to you on the Neko Rig.
In the meantime, check out the Ned Rig, and put some numbers in the boat.
Outdoor Editor Art Holden can be reached at 330-287-1650 mornings, or at email@example.com