Ned Rig Smallmouth with Realistic Crawfish Plastics

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With the northern swing of bass fishing tournaments underway, we felt it a good time to publish this Ned rig crawfish video. Wired2fish intern Will Stanley shares his system for finding and catching dog days smallmouth bass using ultra-realistic crawfish plastics on small jig heads fished on the bottom. We’ve seen it repeatedly in clear water — smallmouth often refuse conventional Ned-style plastics and drop shots but will gobble up natural-looking Ned rig baits. Such was the case on this day. *Additional product links at the bottom.

FEATURED TACKLE (retail links)

NED SETUP #1 (light)

NED SETUP #2 (heavier)

A cold front dropped the water temp several degrees, turning off the smallmouth bite and causing the fish to hug tightly to boulders. Stanley shares his side imaging methodology of dropping waypoints on prime boulders (big and isolated) and rock-to-gravel transition zones. After some reconnaissance, he starts running his waypoint milk run using 360 and forward-facing sonar (Humminbird MEGA Live) to confirm the presence of fish.

Stanley employs two similar yet distinct Ned rig smallmouth setups. The first and lighter setup features a 1/16-ounce jig fished on a long, medium-light spinning rod for delivering longer casts and a slower drop speed. The second setup steps up to a 1/8th ounce jig head fished on a medium power rod. The heavier setup lets you experiment with faster drop speeds and more erratic jigging actions to temp reaction strikes.

A bigger 3000-size spinning reel is favored in both scenarios. Larger spools provide enhanced line management through improved casting distance, reduced memory, and smoother drag performance. Stanley stresses the importance of fishing this setup on the bottom; crawfish live on the bottom, so keep your bait there and in constant contact with hard cover. Natural colors usually perform best and provide the ultimate match the hatch scenario when paired with today’s realistic profiles — a proven system for finicky sight-feeding smallmouth. Check out our Ned Rig Tips Channel for more in-depth Ned rig fishing content.