A Ned Rig is a very simplistic bait and presentation at its core – it is the most do-nothing looking rig and one of the most effective fish catchers. Born out of the Midwest finesse bass fishing niche by Ned Kehde, the Ned Rig is simply a small plastic, usually 2 to 3 inches long, rigged on a mushroom head jig.
There are two key things to look for when deciding when and where to throw a Ned Rig. You want to make sure fish are relating to the bottom and that the bottom is fairly clean. Neither of these are a complete deal breaker but rather a good general rule of thumb.
Spinning gear is the best option for a Ned rig. We estimate 99% of the best anglers with a Ned Rig would suggest spinning gear. As for a line, a 10# braided main line to a 10# fluorocarbon leader would be the choice of 99% of anglers. The braid allows you to cast farther and ensures a better hookset. Low visibility of the fluoro leader, near the bait, generates more bites.
The central component of a Ned Rig is the Jig head or Ned head. A Ned head has a flat surface to it so the bait will stand up when dragged across the bottom. With the introduction of new Finesse T.R.D. stick bait and Finesse ShroomZ jig heads anglers now have all the tools needed to employ the Ned Rig right at their fingertips.
Grab a light, 1/16- or 1/8-ounce lead head jig like the Finesse ShroomZ, cut a 5″ stick bait in half (or grab the Finesse TRD) and thread it on. Z -Man ElaZtech is a proprietary material that renders soft baits resistant to rips and tears. However, this resiliency is not what makes ElaZtech baits the best choice for Ned Rigs. Rather, it is the fact that ElaZtech baits do something that a traditional soft plastic bait – made from plastisol – does not: ElaZtech baits float.
At its simplest, Ned rigging starts with a long cast, once you’ve found a likely spot, just throw the Ned Rig out there and let it sink on a slack line. Once on the bottom, give it a minute to let the fish get a look. Bait action is imparted by the angler in the form of subtle hops and twitches, separated by pauses while the bait settles through the water column to the bottom. Slow and subtle is good; slower and subtler is better. Watch as it falls for the telltale ‘tick’ that indicates a fish.
Despite its ease to fish, there is one thing that anglers should know when fishing the Ned Rig, and it’s that you shouldn’t set the hook traditionally. The tiny gap on the hook tends to pull out of the bass’ mouth if you really jerk on it. Instead, just lean in and start reeling once you feel the bite. It seems crazy, but the fish will hook themselves.