The Ned rig came along and completely changed the finesse bass fishing world a few years ago. Anglers who previously thought shaky heads were the foundation of finesse fishing were biting off half a Senko and threading it on a small jighead 90 to nothing. It's rare to see a bait or rig take the fishing world by storm but the Ned rig certainly did that.
In the wake of its burst of popularity, we are left with a ton of options to throw on it. No more wasting half a pack of regular-sized soft plastics that you used to have to modify to make work. There are a tiny craws, worms and stick baits of all shapes, textures and materials for your Ned head now. One of those is the Strike King Ned Ocho. Let's take a closer look.
The full-sized Ocho from Strike King is an extremely popular bait. And I believe the Ned Ocho will be just as popular in time. For such a do-nothing technique, a good bit of design work went into setting the Ned Ocho apart from some of its competition. As the technique gets more and more popular, the fish will inevitably be conditioned to a Ned rig little by little. So having something just a little different can make a big difference.
One of the first differences I noticed was that the Ned Ocho has more of an oval cross section than a round one, meaning the bait is a little taller than it is wide. Most other Ned baits are more rounded, but this iinteresting characteristic gives the bait a slightly different profile. Another unique trait of the bait is the set of ribs or channels running down each side. These were designed to trap air bubbles, which is cool. But I found something else they really make this bait work well for.
An even more finesse wacky rig
The channels along the Ned Ocho make the bait perfect for rigging a small wacky rig and the chunkiness of the bait still allows you to skip it really well despite its overall small stature. The absence of material between the ribs also allows the bait to quiver a little on the fall, producing a similar action to that of a full-sized wacky rig.
Since the O-ring is gripped snuggly between the ribs, you lose far fewer of these baits when casting and fighting fish than you do when fishing baits with a smoother surface. This solves one of the more frustrating things about wacky rig fishing and is a feature I'm not sure exists even in a 5-inch bait. After rigging the Ned Ocho this way, it's something I definitely think should be incorporated into a bait designed specifically for a wacky rig.
Soft but durable
Whether rigged as a wacky rig or for its intended use on a small jighead, the Ned Ocho's material helps it hold up to numerous bites and fish catches, while still not being so hard that it's unappealing to a fish. Some baits are so hard that a fish will suck the bait in and spit it out before you even have time to set the hook. Others are so soft they'll only last for one or two fish catches.
Finding the perfect material seems to be a never-ending pursuit as companies sacrifice tiny increments of one thing for the other. But Strike King did a great job here picking a composition that's soft but still durable. This bait has a subtle action and a consistency that's soft so the fish will hold the bait long enough. You're also not burning through a pack as fast as you can get it opened, which can be a real burden when you're getting dozens of bites on a Ned rig at times.
The Ned Ocho is another fine bait in the endless lineup of Strike King products. Surprise, surprise. Strike King does a good job of finding a niche in a bait category and filling it with something a little different. They've done that again here with the Ned Ocho, incorporating a few key variations into the design with the bait's vertical channels and taller profile. And the Ned Ocho's density is right on point to create an optimal bite-per-bait ratio.
All in all, this is a solid little bait to give us one more option for the Ned rig and something new for the wacky rig as well; perhaps even more precisely designed for the latter, albeit a likely fortuitous happenstance. Okay, I'm getting a little poetic here towards the end. Time to wrap it up. 'Til next time.