Top Neko Rig Fishing Expert Reveals How To Fish A Neko Rig For Bass [Setup Examples + Pictures]

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…

The Basics…

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!

In A Hurry?

If you don’t have much time to read this detailed report, simply use the links below to quickly find the best helpful products for trout trolling on Amazon. You can be assured we only choose the best products…

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

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. 

"All you really need is a 3/32 to 1/8 oz weight and you can use that pretty much anywhere." said Bass Pro Kevin Van Dam. Whereas BASS Pro Brian Latimer says he mainly uses 1/16 or 1/32 ounce weights from most of his Neko rig fishing.

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, can make 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, if I run out of o-rings I always seem to lose my last few precious baits just after I find out the bass will eat the Neko rig.

To avoid this disaster, use a small rubber o-ring to reduce the risk. 

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). 

For the most part you can get away with using size ¼ – ⅜ diameter o-rings.

I like the o-ring kit made by Doubled Up that gives you two wacky worm tools plus hundreds of o-rings to get you started.  

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

To make it easy on yourself, the best neko rig setup would be the same rod/reel combination that you would use for other finesse fishing applications like shaky head fishing!  

It should also be paired with a 2500 series spinning reel that is spooled with 20-lb braid and tipped with an 8-lb fluorocarbon leader.

If you’re looking for a good finesse fishing rod, and want to avoid being scammed into buying the wrong rod, I wrote an in-depth report of the best Neko rig fishing rods for any budget. 

People are freaking out about the price drops on these rods.  Click Here to read more.

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! 

Hook Position

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?

To keep it simple, the Neko rig 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.

So once you cast it out just let it sink to the bottom. Then with a continuous slow methodical retrieve slowly shake and hop the lure back to the boat. 

Again, it’s really important that you have a semi tightline and that you maintain contact with the bottom.

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.

The Neko rig is also a phenomenal bed fishing tactic.

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?

Since the Neko rig is a bottom-dwelling bait it really excels in floor conditions that don’t have a lot of grass… aka: hard bottom conditions. 

This rig definitely excels in:

  • Points
  • Bluff walls
  • Over the tops of submerged vertical timber
  • Fallen trees/ laydowns
  • Mid lake rock piles and isolated brush piles
  • Mid lake ledges and drop-offs.

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.

In Summary...

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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Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

My name is George and I'm been fishing my entire life and love all things outdoors. My passion is helping anyone catch more fish. The newest things I've been doing lately is learning how to break down and clean all my reels, teaching my boy how to kayak fish, and bushcraft wilderness survival.