A lot of hot new techniques and baits come and go. A quick flash in the pan and then we’re on to the next thing. One technique that’s gotten a lot of attention in recent years is the Neko Rig, but it doesn’t seem to be losing traction. If anything, its gaining in popularity as more and more anglers experience its effectiveness, especially on highly pressured bass.
The Basics of the Neko Rig
The basic Neko Rig consists of a wacky-rigged worm with a weight inserted into one end of the worm, typically the thicker end which is usually referred to as the head. When fished, the weighted head of the worm stays on the bottom while the rest of the bait stands up due to the positioning of the hook in the middle of the bait.
“It’s a completely different look from a Texas-rig or shaky head or anything else,” said MLF Pro Brandon Palaniuk. “It creates that flex in a worm but also allows you to keep the bait on the bottom and keep that tail up.”
Brandon Palaniuk’s Success with the Neko Rig
Brandon Palaniuk knows a thing or two about the Neko Rig, having relied on it heavily for his 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series win on Sam Rayburn.
“I was using a Neko Rig and a Zoom Ole Monster Texas-rigged to target suspended bass in standing timber and brush piles,” Palaniuk said. “I could idle by those fish and look at my Humminbirds and tell if the fish were actively feeding or if they were just relating to the cover.
“If they were all huddled tight around the cover, I could catch them on the Ole Monster. When they weren’t feeding, they would still relate to the same cover but just be scattered around it. That’s when I couldn’t catch them on the Texas-rig but they would chomp the Neko Rig.”
When the fish were tight to the cover, Palaniuk would cast past the cover with the Texas-rig and drag the bait through the cover. But when the fish were scattered, he wouldn’t throw at the cover but instead randomly throw the Neko Rig around it.
“I like a Neko Rig for more offshore stuff than shallow cover. My three favorite things to throw it around are standing timber, rock-piles, and brush-piles.”
How Palaniuk Rigs his Neko Rig
Palaniuk puts his Neko Rig together by first putting a band around his worm using the VMC Wacky Tool, then taking a VMC Weedless Neko Hook and running it through the band to where his hook point is facing up and away from the weighted head of the bait.
“With that weight in the nose of it rigged that way, you can fish that thing right through a brush pile. If you’re patient.” Image Credit: Wired2Fish
“Most of the time I’m working the bait right on the bottom. Just a slow, cross-body pull like a Carolina Rig or football jig and I’ll shake my rod tip just a little while I’m pulling on it. That’s my go-to.”
“The biggest thing to keep in mind is the style of weight to throw with a Neko Rig. I mainly stick to three baits: a Trick Worm, a Magnum Trick Worm and a Fluke Stick. All three of those will have a little different action based on their size and salt content. But the biggest thing that will change the action is the style of weight.”
“If you want your bait to fall quicker and more vertically, throw a VMC Half-moon Whacky Weight. The majority of that weight is centered around the bottom of the weight, so it pulls the worm straight down through the water column. But if you insert the same size weight in a pencil style Neko Weight or like the VMC Skirted Neko Weight, it will cause the bait to have more of a gliding, spiral action. That more even disbursement of the weight in the nose of the worm causes it to want to wander and drift.”
How to Fight a Fish with a Neko Rig
“If you have the right setup, just keep pressure on the fish and let it do its deal. If that fish wants to run, I’ll just let it run as long as there’s not a lot of timber or brush nearby. If there is, you just want to try to lead that fish away from it.
“If one does get hung up, just be patient. Hold steady pressure but let the fish have just enough line so they can still shake their head and move. Just not enough where you’re going to get slack in your line. A lot of times they’ll shake themselves free.”
Brandon Palaniuk documented his win at Sam Rayburn through his video series called BMP Fishing: The Series. We have included it below for your viewing pleasure. It starts off with a bang.
“The very first fish catch is me catching a 8-4 on the Neko Rig at 7:30 AM on the first day of the tournament and I fought it for 3 minutes in a tree.”
Palaniuk’s Neko Rig Gear
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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