Discover How Savvy Bass Fisherman Use These Little-Known Neko Rig Tips To Catch More Fish Even You Have Have Little-To-No Fishing Experience
Welcome friend! I wanted to take the time and talk to you all about an insanely fun way to catch fish that I have recently decided to try, and it’s called the Neko Rig. I was resistant to try this new technique but after being out fished by a ton of buddies, I decided to give it a shot and boy I was glad I did!
The Neko rig has been out for a couple years now and it is really going strong in lakes that are clear and pressured. I kind of think of it as a cross between a Drop Shot Rig that mated with a Shaky Head Rig that mated with a Wacky Rig! Hahaha!
All kidding, you may be asking what is Neko rig fishing and what is the best Neko rig setup? A Neko rig is an amazing soft plastic fishing technique where an angler typically uses a long soft plastic wacky-style worm that is threaded through an o-ring that is positioned at the mid section of the bait. A small weight is then inserted into one side of the bait. A hook is then threaded through the o-ring parallel to the bait.
I know this may sound a little confusing. I know when I first heard about the Neko rig I was doubtful it would work. But after reading dozens of articles and watching countless videos I put the Neko rig to the test.
By golly it works amazing! I soon realized why numerous professional bass anglers are ditching other finesse techniques and going with the Neko rig.
But a word of warning… Some of these tips are definitely controversial, and not everyone will agree with it. But, you be the judge for yourself.
Either way, I hope you find this Neko rig blueprint valuable and I truly hope that you catch a ton of bass using this technique. So let’s get started…
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Best Hooks – VMC Neko Hook
Best Weights – Reaction Tackle Nail Weight
Best O-rings – Doubled Up o-ring tool + o-rings
Best Bait – Yamamoto Senko
Best Rod <$150 – Dobyn’s Fury Spinning Rod
Today, I want to introduce you to an ace in the hole of many pro-anglers: the Neko rig. This technique has been making some serious waves in the bass fishing world, and for good reason. So let’s dive in, shall we?
Picture this: a soft plastic worm, weighted at one end, and a hook pierced through the upper part of its body. Sounds simple, right? But simplicity can be deceiving, because when it comes to catching bass, this little rig is a beast.
The Neko rig offers an irresistible combination of a wacky rig’s enticing horizontal fall and the bottom-contact feel of a Texas rig. This baby really shines in clear water when bass are relating to the bottom. It’s a finesse technique that can deliver, especially when those finicky bass are giving you the cold shoulder.
The Neko Rig is a Japanese rig. And in an interview with Japanese pro angler Shin Fukae, it’s pronounced “neck-oh.”
He described its origin…
There are many small ponds and lakes in Japan, as well as the large Lake Biwa and fishing is a very popular sport. So the majority of reservoirs are over crowded and highly pressured.
To make matters worse the water is incredibly clear making fish very hard to catch. So in order to catch those highly-pressured bass, anglers were forced to think outside the box and try all kinds of wild finesse setups.
It’s definitely one of the hottest ways to catch fish in Japan, however it is incredibly slow to really catch on here in the states. – And that’s a great thing for you!
How To Set Up a Neko Rig
Okay, let’s cut to the chase. How do we rig this bad boy up? Here’s a quick rundown:
- Pick Your Plastic: The first order of business is choosing your soft plastic. Any stick bait will work, but I’m a big fan of the 5-inch soft stick baits, especially when the bite is tough.
- Weight It Down: Next up, you need to weight one end of your plastic. You can use a nail weight or a Neko rig-specific weight here. Just insert the weight into one end of your worm.
- Hook It Up: Now, let’s get that hook in place. Use a size 1 or 2 wacky rig hook, piercing it through the worm about a third of the way down from the weighted end.
- Cinch Your Knot: Finally, tie your hook to your line. A simple Improved Clinch knot will get the job done.
Common Items You’ll Need For Neko Rig Fishing...
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Neko Rig Hooks
Since more bass anglers are fishing the Neko rig, tackle shops have plenty of wacky rigging hooks and dedicated VMC Neko hooks. Most anglers tend to use wacky hooks, while others appear to use specialized straight-shank hooks.
But don’t get too caught up with the options. When choosing the right Neko rig hook, there are just a few items to consider.
First is where you will most likely be fishing… and second how big are the baits you’ll be using.
Honestly, just use wacky hooks because most likely you’ll have a lot of them. And in my opinion, a Neko rig isn’t any different from a wacky rig because you’re just increasing the weight on one side of the bait.
The best gap size you can use is a 1 to 1/0 weedless wacky hook or a light wire straight shank hook.
When it comes to rigging soft-plastic baits, a straight-shank hook is hard to top. What makes it so deadly is a combination of two factors – The hook gap and the length of the hook.
A good hook gap to length ratio is 1:2 or 1:3. Good examples of straight shank hooks are:
- VMC Neko Hook
- Roboworm’s ReBarb hook
- Owner Mosqito Hook
Why Fish with A Weedless Neko Hook?
Most professional anglers will use a thicker gauge hook with a dependable weed guard.
Here are some great examples of weedless wacky hooks:
- Mustad Weedless Wacky Hook
- Gamakatsu Weedless Split Shot/Drop Shot Hooks
- Lazer Trokar Wacky Weedless Wide Gap
- VMC Weedless Wacky Hook
- Tsuyoi Weedless Wacky Hook
Keep in mind the shorter shank wacky rig hooks, cuts the distance between the hook and the line, rendering it more weedless than a long-shank hook.
Neko Rig Weights
Make sure to have nail weights in various sizes.
The weights and that will help you determine the fall of the bait.
Using Tungsten nail weight is strongly recommended. Reaction Tackle’s Nail Weight is a great choice to give your bait extra action without being too big.
Sure you can use a lead nail weight (or even a dry wall screw)…
But lead weights are so much larger than Tungsten and so they may rip the bottom of the bait.
Lead also does not give you a good bottom feel that Tungsten consistently gives.
The size of the weight determines the action of the bait. In other words, by adding less or more weight, you can make this bait fall extremely slow, or extremely fast.
Let the fish tell you what they want. Is it really easy to insert a small weight first, then if you’re getting no bites then go with a have you ever wait to get those reaction bites! Or visa-versa!
Season plays a role in the weight size decision…
If it’s summer or fall, it’s recommended to use a heavier weight 1/8 to ⅙ -ounce.
If it’s winter or spring, we suggest lightening up the weight.
DIY Neko Rig Weight
If you cannot get your hands on any Neko weights you can always use a regular nail.
However, another great idea I had was telling me about is to use a cheap crappie jig! Simply snip off the majority of the hook and thread on your bait! Cool Right?!
He says they tend to hold onto the bait a little better and he can add some custom colors like red, chartreuse, white, or orange. Best of all you don’t have to use any messy dye
What Size O Ring For Neko Rig?
If you’re serious about Neko rig fishing you’ll want to safeguard your baits.
Yes, a simple Neko rig can be made by merely impaling the hook through the soft-plastic bait, but it isn’t very sturdy. Unfortunately your worm will rip apart, sometimes even after a few casts. Now increase those off of tearing if you catch a bass or two.
Let my failure help you… It never fails, just after I find out the bass will eat the Neko I always seem to lose my last few precious baits! So stock up on some o-rings!
This tiny, circular rubber ring is essential to preventing excessive damage to your baits from aggressive strikes, and it allows the bait to move freely, mimicking the erratic, enticing action of a feeding baitfish.
Not only does it improve the longevity of your bait, but it also plays a key role in achieving that irresistible, natural presentation that’ll have the bass biting.
They’re also sold with a small tool for working them into your soft-plastic lure.
Place it where you’ll hook your bait (but we’ll get into that later).
But really, the only sizes you need is ¼ – ⅜ diameter o-rings.
These Neko Rig Worms & Baits Will Catch You More Fish!
There are a variety of baits and stick worms that work well with the wacky rig and even more so with the Neko rig.
The most popular lure on a Neko rig is a fat straight tail worm – hands down. But other lures may also be used.
The best Neko rig worms will have a distinct movement from the time it hits the water to the time it reaches the bottom.
Many times a Neko rigged bait will glide to the target on an angle, instead of dropping straight down like a shaky head worm.
From there the nose weighted bait forces it to remain upright the majority of the time underwater.
Here is a list of potential Neko baits (in no particular order)….
However, this is only a PARTIAL list there are soo many other baits you can use. Fortunately, we wrote a complete roundup report going over all the details of the exact Neko baits the pros are using (…but are not talking about). Click here to read more.
Choosing the Correct Rod For Neko Rig
The choice of rod and reel setup for a Neko rig can make a big difference to your catch rate. So, let’s dive right into the details:
Rod: A spinning rod is often preferred for Neko rigging, especially when using light line or targeting finicky bass in clear water. I’d recommend a medium or medium-light power rod with a fast action tip. The length is mostly personal preference, but something in the 6’8″ to 7’2″ range is a good starting point. The medium power provides enough backbone to drive the hook home, while the fast action tip gives the sensitivity to detect those subtle bites.
Reel: A high-quality spinning reel in the 2000 to 3000 size range is ideal. These sizes offer a good balance of line capacity and compactness, perfect for Neko rigging. In terms of gear ratio, a reel with around 6:1 gear ratio should be perfect – it offers a nice balance of speed and power.
Here’s why this setup works well:
Sensitivity: The Neko rig is all about finesse, and the fast action tip on the rod will let you feel even the slightest nibbles.
Casting Distance: With a light bait and weight, casting distance can be a challenge. A spinning setup is great for maximizing casting distance, especially with light rigs.
Line Management: A spinning reel is less likely to tangle or backlash with light line, making it a better choice for Neko rigging.
So, with these tips in mind, you’ll be able to get your Neko rig exactly where it needs to be and feel every bite when it happens.
Best Neko Rig Setup - Step By Step
First choose the bait you’re going to use…
Now it’s time to insert the nail weight, and do this a couple of ways:
(A) The first way you can just push it in and right before the end is inserted inside the bait you can add a drop of glue and push the rest of the weight in.
(B) The second way to secure the nail weight is by heating up the weight with a lighter and then inserting the weight. And this is the third reason you need use tungsten. I’ve actually had the lead nail weight melt before I got a chance to insert it into my soft plastic bait! As the hot weight is inserted into the plastic bait it would actually melt the bait around the wait and will cool quickly.
Next, time to put on the O-ring…
To get the O-ring on your bait, use your long needle-nose pliers to stretch the O-ring around the soft plastic bait that you’re going to use. That way you don’t have to carry multiple tools on your boat. Otherwise a wacky rig tool works great.
If you’re just getting started, you need to position the O-ring typically toward the middle of the bait, approximately half way.
The more action you want out of the bait position the O-ring closer to the head of the bait.
The Neko rig is great in cold water too! All you have to do is position the O-ring more towards the tail. Having it higher up on the bait, reduces action and gives the bait a soft subtle action that is perfect for cold water and still gives it a vertical presentation, keeping it on the bottom of the lake floor.
Before we move on, yes you can fish a Neko rig without the O-ring, but remember, you’ll burn through a ton of baits!
It’s important to insert the hook with a hook pointing up towards the tail, or in other words have the gap facing up.
Having the hook facing upward will also make the bait more weedless.
An unspoken trick is, inserting the hook sideways (as if you were to wacky-rig it) to get more hookups!!! By having the hook sideways excels in open water or structure-free zones. Many anglers have been swearing that it has an increase in hookup ratio!
If you’re going to fish the hook sideways make sure you use TWO O-rings. Position them close together and make sure they form a cross over each other. That way your hook stays perfectly sideways!
Next choose your Neko rig weight…
Before you chose a Neko weight at random, take a brief moment to think about the conditions you’re fishing in.
Remember to consider these factors:
- Chose the correct weight that matches the bait
- The season
- Water Clarity
- The depth you’re fishing in
Then insert the weight in the larger end/ the “head” of the bait.
How Do I Fish The Neko Rig?
The key to the Neko rig is all about subtlety and finesse. It’s not about power reeling or aggressive jigging; it’s about a smooth, calculated presentation that mimics a foraging baitfish or an injured prey.
However there are some things to keep in mind when you want to fish the Neko rig.
First, Neko rig fishing needs to be fished with very little slack in the line. This means that you can’t allow the bait to have a ton of slack, like you would if you were fishing a lizard Texas rigged.
Some anglers feel that you really need to keep the line as tight as you can because they feel that this allows the tail to remain upright at all times.
Second, every time that you shake and hop your bait, you must real in the slackline. Don’t let the tip of your rod go any higher than the two o’clock position.
Your goal is just to make sure that hook is off the bottom and doesn’t get hung up unnecessarily.
So, here are some of the best ways to present and retrieve a Neko rig:
- Slow and Steady: Cast your rig out and let it sink to the bottom. Once it’s settled, reel in very slowly. You’re trying to keep the lure in contact with the bottom as much as possible.
- Lift and Fall: This is a very effective method, especially in deeper water. Lift your rod tip slowly, then let the lure fall back to the bottom on a slack line. The action of the bait falling horizontally, as opposed to vertically, can be a real trigger for bass.
- Shake it: With the rig on the bottom, give your rod tip a slight shake. This will cause the tail end of the worm to wiggle, drawing attention and hopefully provoking a bite.
- Deadsticking: If the bass are proving particularly finicky, let your Neko rig sit stationary on the bottom for extended periods. Often, the mere sight of an easy meal, not darting away, can coax a reluctant bass to strike.
- Spawning Bass Assassin: The Neko rig is also a phenomenal bed fishing tactic.
Here’s a secret use for the Neko rig I love…
Surprisingly, the Neko rig can also be used to target suspended fish, or suspended around docks and bridge pilings.
Lastly, if you graph a school of fish the Neko rig most likely get a few bites as it’s falling through the school of bass.
Where Is The Best Location To Fish The Neko Rig?
The Neko rig, with its subtle presentation and alluring stand-up nature, is a versatile tactic that works in a lot of different scenarios. Let’s break down the top 10 places you should be chucking this rig:
Docks & Piers: Neko rigs are great for skipping under docks and along piers. Bass often hide in these shaded areas, waiting to ambush prey.
Rocky Structures: Fish can’t resist a Neko rig bounced along rocky bottom structures, whether it’s a rock pile or a rip-rap bank.
Drop-offs: Fish often suspend along these underwater cliffs, especially during transitional periods. A Neko rig falling down the face of a drop-off can be an irresistible presentation.
Grass Lines: Bass use these vegetative boundaries as highways for travel and feeding. Rig your Neko rig weedless to avoid getting hung up.
Points & Humps: These structures often hold fish and a Neko rig can effectively target bass hanging around these areas.
Flats: Whether it’s a sandy flat or a grass flat, a Neko rig slowly worked across the bottom can be deadly.
Stump Fields: This is another great spot to throw a weedless Neko rig. Work it slowly around and between stumps where bass are likely to be hiding.
Submerged Vegetation: Bass love to hide in vegetation and ambush prey. A weedless Neko rig worked through the vegetation can coax out these hiding bass.
Brush Piles: Just like with stump fields, bass will use brush piles as hiding and ambush spots. A Neko rig is a great way to probe these structures.
River Channels: These natural pathways in reservoirs or lakes are often bass magnets. A Neko rig can be a perfect choice for presenting a bait in these current-ridden areas.
Each of these locations offers a unique environment that bass use for cover, feeding, and ambushing prey. The Neko rig’s finesse presentation can effectively entice bites in all of them.
Pretty much anywhere you can fish either a shaky head worm , wacky worm or a drop shot rig you can fish the Neko rig.
Neko Rig Fishing In The Winter
The Neko rig really excels during the winter time when the fish are cold and they’ll be out in the main lake. Be sure to investigate the main lake points.
Every once in a while they’ll be up shallow chasing bait, however for the most part the bass will remain deep.
Once the ice melts and spring comes around the bass will start to stage and get ready to spawn. This is the time their metabolism is going to kick-in and will want to feed like crazy before they need to spawn.
Make sure you look for points with coves that offer shallow flats with ledges that drop into deep water.
Neko Rig Fishing In The Spring
The Neko rig will work in any phase of the spring – pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn.
It there’s largemouth up on the bank it’s a great tool for sight fishing up shallow.
You’ll likely see multiple bass bass are cruising the bank looking for bluegill and brim.
You can consider skipping docks in small bays where the bass will be spawning.
Neko Rig Fishing In The Summer and Fall
Start out with choosing a larger bait, say 6-10-iches. Then slide the O-ring into the bait but this time position it towards the head.
This will give the bait more action as you work it.
Be sure to fish this around ledges, deep weed edges and rock piles. The take away point here is to key in on hard bottom areas. .
Deep Water Neko Rig Fishing
Most anglers will only fish the Neko rig in pretty shallow water, right around 5 to 10 foot range.
But an unspoken secret with a Neko rig is if you can add that little bit of weight and you can extend the depth at your fishing. Professional bass angler Seth Fielder is going just that!
Neko Rig Vs Ned Rig?
Most anglers will use the Ned rig in less than 10-feet deep and the Neko rig in water that deeper
But don’t misunderstand me. It does not mean you’ll catch in deeper water with a Ned rig, it’s just on average the Ned rig tends to catch more fish in shallow clear water conditions.
Both baits excess when fished in current, chunk rock, or rip-rap to sand transitions.
Neko Rig Vs Shaky Head?
For a lot of anglers the Neko rig has almost replaced the shaky head.
Since the shaky head is so popular, bass have been conditioned to seeing this presentation.
On the other hand, they are definitely not used to seeing the Neko rig.
In response, many anglers such as Davy Hite and Seth Fielder are ditching the shaky heads for Neko rigs.
Neko Rig Vs Wacky Worm?
A lot of times it all depends on the depth. Like the Ned rig, If you’re only fishing a few feet deep then a wacky rig is perfect. Anything deeper than a few feet than a Neko rig is recommended.
Neko Rig Vs. Drop Shot?
The drop shot can be rigged in a variety of ways, making it extremely versatile.
The drop shot can be fished around any kind of structure, in any depth of water, and in any transparency of water.
Since the drop shot works better in clear water and you’ll usually be using a straight tail plastic, it’s even effective in murky water.
Conversely, the Neko rig can be used for a wider range of baits.
Learn More: Want To Know Exactly What Neko Bait Works Best? Neko Rig Bait Secrets Helps You Do It.
AVOID THESE 3 HUGE MISTAKES….
Number 1) Your hook is pointed down. This will cause you to get hung up more and will prevent you from getting a good hook up when a fish eats your bait.
Number 2) You’re fishing too light of a rod. You need to have a stiffer Rod that has a medium action to it with a fast tip. That’s why we tell you to use your shaky head rod because typically that’s the perfect Style Rod for this type of technique.
Number 3) You’re not using O-rings on your baits! If you’re not using O-rings you’re going to go through a ton of baits because the bass completely tear them up! You’ll be wasting a ton of money if you don’t use them.
If you haven’t started using it you really need to because you’re missing out on a ton of fish.
Not many weekend warrior anglers have been utilizing it so make sure that you master it before they do.
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