I had known about the half-worm rig for years, but I could never quite get myself to test it.
That is, until—quite literally—the last hour of the 2014 season when eight bass—including a 3 1/4 pounder—inhaled my bait in the closing minutes of the season!
A King’s Endorsement
I had learned some important details about the Ned Rig from FLW pro Stacey King a year earlier. Like me, King had been a reluctant convert.
Ned Kehde, along with a couple of other anglers in Northeast Kansas, had explained the rig to King but ... well, just look at it!
“Yeah, I pooh-poohed it for awhile,” confessees King. “But I started messing with it more and more. Now it is a key part of my arsenal—especially in cold water!”
King chose the Z-Man ZinkerZ as his stickworm of choice, due in part to the durability and sink rate of the ElaZtech plastic formulation. He cut the bait in half and mounted it on a jig head in simple grub fashion.
This past winter, Z-Man dove headlong into the Ned Rig market. The company packaged its deadly half-worms and began to market them as Finesse TRD (“The Real Deal!”) baits. Z-Man has also designed a Finesse ShroomZ JigheadZ, a mushroom-head jig with an effective plastic keeper, available in 1/8- and 1/4-ounce sizes.
I pulled out a Z-Man Ned Rig combination shortly after ice-out this season. The results? Largemouth, white bass, hybrid stripers, channel cat, and yellow bass on a day when other anglers on the lake had scarcely a fish to show for their efforts!
A “less is more” approach is advised—a slow, steady retrieve.
Stacey King fishes the rig on a 7-foot, 2-inch Johnny Morris Bass Pro CarbonLite dropshot rod and 10-pound braid, with an 8- or 6-pound fluorocarbon leader.
“I just love fishing this little bait this way because it is so sensitive,” says King. “You can feel them hit it. You don’t have to hit them hard to set the hook. There’s no stretch involved (with the braid).”
King has caught big bass on the Ned Rig, but he regards it primarily as a “numbers” technique.“It has played a part in helping me get a lot of checks in recent years,” he says. “You will catch lots of quality keepers on it!”
Learn more at Mike’s SmallWatersFishing.com!