Winter has settled in across any part of the country where it’s going to. At this point, water is clear, lack of sunlight starving the algae a zooplankton that can stain it during summer. Shad and other baitfish have often settled to deeper strata of the water column. Bass follow. Bass can be caught shallow year-round, during brief spells, but for consistent success you better dust off that spinning rod and let a small worm pendulum back to you at a glacial pace.
The time-tested Ned Rig, as the inventor himself, Ned Kehde, thinks of it is nothing more than a lightweight mushroom head jig paired with a small, straight worm of not much more than three inches and fished slowly on 10lb line, always on spinning gear.
No matter how you tweak it, the heart of the technique, insists Kehde, is its simplicity, its light weight and lack of feel.
He says the most misunderstood – and most important – thing is what he calls a ‘no-feel retrieve’. Most anglers prefer to fish a jig so they’re in constant contact with it, mostly hopping it along bottom. But according to Kehde’s system, if you’ve got constant contact, it means you’re using a jig that’s too heavy. Trust your sixth sense – your intuition – to keep contact with the bait.
The aspect of the Ned rig that makes it most effective also makes it super easy for kayakers to use – that non hookset hookset. As mentioned, too much information is detrimental to proper technique with the rig in the first place. And without said information, anglers don’t set the hook so much as they simply tighten up and start reeling, letting the fish take it from there.
A strong suggestion: to help make sure the fish actually do ‘take it from there’ and set the hook in their own jaw rather than spit it out, use a fish attractant such as Bait Fuel which is water soluble. Oil based scents can’t pass a bass’s olfactory pores and, therefore, can’t be detected by fish.
His favorite retrieve is something called a swim-glide-shake. It involves retrieving the lure 6 to 12 inches above the bottom, which is difficult to do with a heavier jig.
Kehde would rather fish a jig that is too light than drag one that is too heavy. Not only is the posture of the lure important as it mimics a defensive crawfish on bottom, but the slow descent itself is a major draw for fish that may see the lure from far off.
The folks at Z-man, seeing the potential of the Ned rig, were smart to consult Kehde when designing their Ned-specific lure designs. Buoyancy is a key feature of most Elaztech baits and makes the Z-man Finesse TRD a great fit for the technique.
To get even more action and buoyancy out of his Z-man lures, Kehde will boil them and then squeeze them vigorously to release much of the salt impregnated in the lures.
Kehde also dotes on the small size of the hooks on Z-man’s Finesse Shroomz jig heads. He admits that a size 4 hook looks too small but insists that it is actually perfect.
Light action spinning outfit, light line, and a Ned rig. That’ll get you bit this winter.