So what is a Neko rig is the question most anglers new to the rig want to know. The Neko rig came through intervention on the very popular technique the wacky rig. The wacky rig effectively catches bass because of its seductive horizontal shimmy on the fall. And it can be lifted and dropped over and over again. Problem was when it was on bottom it just laid there looking like nothing blending into the bottom. And in deep water, you would get old waiting for it to get to the fish.
So guys started experimenting with the rig. Using weighted Flick Shake heads and putting nail weights into the body. And eventually they head. Then they found the bait dropped, spiraled and shimmied, but when it got to the bottom it could be worked with a lot of action as well. So it was great for a bit deeper water and when fish were really locked on the bottom. Not a replacement for the wacky. Which is why you still need to know when to wacky vs Neko.
First we’ll tie it up and rig it. And then we’ll talk how to fish it and components and setups for fishing it.
HOW TO RIG A NEKO RIG
To rig a Neko rig you simply need your worm of choice, usually a straight tail or stick bait works well but anglers have Neko-rigged small craws and other baits with success as well. Then all that is needed is an o-ring, hook and nail weight to insert into the bait. Essentially you just need to get a few steps right for the Neko rig to its fullest potential.
Step 1: Slide the O-Ring onto the Bait
You can use an o-ring tool or o-ring pliers or simply wet the o-ring and then slide it onto a narrow end of the bait and slide it on. Position it slightly off center towards the head to give more tail action.
Step 2: Stick nail weight in nose
Push a 1/32 to 3/32 ounce nail weight into the head of your worm. You can leave a little sticking out to feel the bottom a little better with your weight. Or use a nail weight that has a weight on the end of it that scrapes along the bottom and transmits a more sensitive feel to your rod.
Step 3: Run hook with point up towards tail
This part is fairly critical. The nail weight is going to force the nose of the worm down. So as you fish it the nose is down and the tail is up. So you want to be sure when you run your hook under the o-ring that the hook point faces up towards the tail so that the hook point has a better hook-up percentage.
HOW TO FISH A NEKO RIG
The nice thing about a Neko rig is it can still fall like a wacky rig (if you use a lighter weight). But then when it hits bottom, you can make it stand and dig in the silt while the tail or flappers flail and flip around attracting fish with its lively action. You can then fish it a lot like a shaky head or other normal type worm technique. Or you can lift and let it drop again.
Most of the time if a fish doesn’t get it on the initial cast, I will then begin just slow dragging and twitching it along the bottom. It has a ton of action just being dragged. Every little pebble it snags on causes the tail to whip as it breaks free. So simply dragging it along makes the tail dance and undulate wildly.
It’s also super effective fished around docks, especially docks with clear and deep water under it. It skips really well with a light weight, falls awesome and can be fished and hopped along to entice fish all the way back to the boat.
It’s a dynamite bait for bedding fish. You can make it look like something is nosed down in a bed disrupting a nest. Which makes it super effective fishing in the spring around feeding and spawning fish.
We like it with a weedless wacky hook to fish offshore around offshore ledges with stumps and other cover. And it’s surprisingly effective with oversized straight tail worms designed for fishing deep.
NEKO RIG WEIGHTS
Nail weights are the go-to for Neko rigging. Push them into the worm and get fishing quickly. It’s very unlikely that the bass will throw the worm off or the nail weight will come out. Usually when you hook a fish the worm will just slide up your line on the o-ring.
We like to leave just a bit of the nail weight sticking out so we can feel bottom unless we are fishing it around woody or grassy cover.
Lots of good nail weights on the market and just about any will work. Tungsten gives you a lot smaller weight for the same weight so you can use smaller worms with tungsten nail weights. Some newer designs have balls or bullet points on the end to make it fish more like a traditional shaky head or Texas-rigged worm.
Some nail weights we recommend:
- Ark Fishing No Chip Tungsten Nail
- Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Tungsten Pagoda Nail
- Freedom Tackle Tungsten Nail
- Missile Baits Neko Weight
- VMC Half Moon Wacky
- WOO! Tungsten Nail
NEKO RIG HOOKS
After Nail weights you need the right hook for Neko rigging. The hooks most everyone is using nowadays derived from a saltwater fly hook that guys were getting from Gamakatsu to Neko rig in professional tournaments.
When Brett Hite showed off what a Neko rig could do at Bassmaster Elite on Kentucky Lake, the cat was out of the bag. I can remember the ugly things other competitors said about Hite at that tourney because they had been keeping it under wraps and winning a lot of money on the rig and Hite spilled the beans. And the industry took notice and next thing you know we went from no neko nail weights or neko hooks to a pot full of them.
Basically the shape of the neko hook everyone has settled on gives you a really good pull point when a fish picks it up off the bottom or on the fall where there is no hook set. You just pull into the fish and they are pinned.
Here are some of the hooks we recommend:
NEKO RIG RODS
Neko rods are a matter of preference. I know a handful of guys that fish Neko rigs on bait casting gear, but I prefer it on spinning setups or bait finesse setups. A medium light rod is perfect for Neko rigging. You have the right balance of skipping, accurate casting and fighting big bass on light line.
I’ve caught several bass over 8 pounds on Neko rigs, so it is a big fish catcher no doubt.
So you want a rod that can cast well, stick a light wire hook in a big bass and play down a fish. A light action rod is not enough in my opinion and a medium heavy rod will struggle with small Neko rigs or light weights. So medium light to medium is the sweet spot for a Neko rig rod.
Some good recommendations for Neko Rods:
- Shimano Expired B 610 ML
- G. Loomis GCX 820S DSR
- Shimano Poison Adrena 67 ML
- Daiwa Tatula Elitę 7 ML Meyer
- St. Croix Legend Tournament Spin 610 MLXF
FISHING NEKO RIGS WEEDLESS
I almost always recommend fishing a Neko rig with a weedless hook with the two heavy fishing line dual guards. They do a good job keeping the hook off of a piece of wood or stump. And when you’re fishing a Neko rig, that’s where a big bass is likely to bite. So coming through that one piece of cover clean is of maximum importance.
The way a Neko rig fishes standing up, the hook is generally oriented in the right direction if you keep semi tight line tension throughout the cast. But if it falls limp or flat then it’s more likely to snag than if you fish it with semi-tight line.
The Neko rig will catch big bass. It’s effective in clear water and can give you a more finesse search bait than even a drop shot or a wacky rigged plastic. It’s more finesse than a Texas rig but still covers water. It’s the best of all worlds really which is why it deserves your attention.