The ‘Ned Rig’ in Sunset Country

If you are a bass angler you have likely heard of or fished with the “Ned Rig” over the past few years.
It is the simplest, stupidest looking fishing bait you have ever seen but for bass and most species of fish across the Sunset Country Region, it is probably the deadliest fish catcher there is, better than live bait in many situations.
The Ned Rig is named after veteran outdoor writer Ned Kehde who started fishing with half of a straight-tailed worm on a small mushroom head jig and was experiencing tremendous success on lakes in the Ozarks Region of Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas.
Using a spinning rod and light line, the Ned Rig is a finesse tactic that quickly gained traction amongst pro bass anglers who started using it on heavily pressured waters where they were fishing tournaments.
Today it is a mainstay in the arsenal of most anglers.
My first experience with the Ned Rig came in 2016 prior to an FLW Tour bass tournament on Beaver Lake in Arkansas.
Drew Reese, a friend from Kansas who spends his summers in Sioux Narrows and has been a regular competitor in bass tournaments on Lake of the Woods for several years told me that he wanted to meet me at nearby Table Rock Lake while I was on my way to Beaver so he could show me how he rigged up and fished his Ned Rig.
Reese is a friend of Kehde’s so he was in the loop with this technique as it came about.
He was also friends with the people at Z-Man who were manufacturing soft plastic baits designed for this finesse technique.
He put his two cents into designing a bait called the Hula StickZ and that is the bait that he wanted to show me.
We went out on a super windy afternoon and the fishing was not great but I could see how much confidence that Reese had in this bait.
He also told me that it worked well back up north in Sunset Country as well.
I ended up using that Hula StickZ bait exclusively at the Beaver Lake event the following week and had a great tournament.
Over the past few years I have won a lot of money traveling across North America fishing that Hula StickZ on a 1/6 oz Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ jig head.
It is my first choice on clear water fisheries in the south and is particularly deadly for spotted bass.
Around home, it has put more bass in the boat for my partners and I in tournaments than any other bait the past couple of years, including a couple of big fish awards at events on Lake of the Woods, Crow Lake and Shoal Lake.
On Rainy Lake it has been very productive as well.
Green Pumpkin is the colour that I choose most often but there is a full line-up of good colours.
I like to fish this bait on eight pound braided line with a six-foot leader of eight pound fluorocarbon.
Because the hooks are fairly light you want to use a medium action rod, I like a seven-foot rod that has enough length to offer good shock absorption to prevent tearing the small hooks out of the fish’s mouth.
In addition to the Hula StickZ, Z-Man also manufactures the TRD worm, which is the most popular “Ned Rig” bait available and coming out this summer they have another bait to add the line-up called the TicklerZ, which is a shorter, thicker version of the Hula StickZ.
While they are proven on bass, these finesse baits are excellent for walleye as well, throughout the open water season. You can also trim the baits down a little bit and they are great for crappies.
With some of the guide trips that I do, a Ned Rig is the first bait I tie on for inexperienced anglers because you simply have to cast it out or drop it over the side of the boat, let it get to the bottom and bounce it along.
The Z-Man plastic, called Elaztech, floats so when the jig head is on the bottom, the worm actually stands up.
Bounce it along as if it is a small crayfish and hang on!
If you want an easy to use, fish catching bait for our Sunset Country lakes you need to try a “Ned Rig.”