Top 3 Finesse Bass Baits When the Bite Gets Tough

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Pro bass angler Jonathan Dietz shares his top 3 favorite finesse bass baits on fisheries throughout the country. Few anglers question the drop shot rig, Ned rig, and Damiki rig as dominant fish catchers nationwide. And while they’re known to excel in the clear glacial lakes of the north, these setups perform everywhere, including dirty water. Think about it. Real minnows don’t vibrate or rattle—bass find their food and make a living no matter the clarity.

The bottom line is that intense pressure makes consistent catching more difficult—dominant power fishing tactics like ChatterBaits, and crankbaits commonly take second to the downsized and subtle realism of finesse bass fishing baits. Smaller realistic plastics fished on light lines present a more natural, less intrusive look and action than their bulkier counterparts. Less visual presence combined with reduced movement and vibration coaxes bites in clear water, pressured fisheries, and just plain tough bites.

Here are Dietz’s top finesse bass baits:
  1. Drop Shot Rig: A small plastic fished on a drop shot rig is the perfect in-your-face meal when bass feed near the bottom. Moreover, it protects your mainline from abrasion from the likes of zebra mussels and other objects. Dietz loves a finesse worm, which has an irresistible undulating action bass can’t resist.
  2. Ned Rig: Dietz breaks down when and why he prefers the Ned rig over the drop shot. When fished on the bottom, the Ned rig is an excellent imitator of forage, such as gobies and sculpins. You can also swim Ned rigs through the water column to mimic a wide range of baitfish.
  3. Damiki Rig: Bass commonly shift from bottom-based forage to suspended baitfish. It’s hard to beat a Damiki rig in this scenario. Dietz explains when he reaches for a minnow-profiled plastic rigged on a jig head and his go-to jig and plastic combo for targeting minnow eaters.

Finesse bass baits require lighter and highly calibrated rod setups to present baits as naturally as possible, high sensitivity for detecting soft bites, and the power to take command of the fight. Dietz provides an in-depth overview of his rod, reel, and line setup for each finesse bass fishing tactic.

TACKLE USED (retail links)
Drop Shot Setup
Ned Rig Setup
Damiki Rig Setup