Try Ned Rigs for Smallmouth Bass and Walleye

One of the hottest rigs today for largemouth bass fishing in the US is called the Ned Rig. This same rig can also be adapted to be extremely effective on both smallmouth bass and even walleye. The cool thing about this rig is that it is so simple to rig up yourself in just a couple seconds and you're ready to fish. A little modification here and there and you can target either smallmouth bass or walleye.

The next time you are out fishing on Lady Evelyn, right after lunch when the water has really calmed down and the walleye action has ground to a halt, why not pull out a Ned Rig and start casting? Besides being effective and easy to fish the Ned Rig also makes a fun rig for keeping those younger anglers involved when things slow down because it requires casting and retrieving with light spinning tackle. Young anglers love to cast and watching the excitement of your son or daughter setting the hook into a bulldog smallmouth is a really special memory. While you are preparing your tackle box for the next Lady Evelyn trip you should consider bringing along a few Ned Rigs for some fun change-of-pace action.

Here are a few rigging tips to help you get started but first click the picture to watch this fun video of a couple professional anglers catching big smallmouth on the Ned Rig.

Video on Ned Rig fishing for smallmouth bass.

Tips on Fishing With Ned Rigs

It doesn't take a lot of fancy gear to make this method work. Here are the components for successfully making and fishing these Ned Rigs.

Ned Rig.

Fishing Line:

I almost exclusively prefer 6# test monofilament for Ned Rig fishing for a few reasons. Monofilament floats or at least has a neutral buoyancy so when fishing artificials you can watch your line for strikes and detect the fish running off with your lure. Monofilament stretches and gives you a measure of forgiveness for any mistakes such as when your reel drag chatters. Monofilament can be broken by hand when a snag just doesn't want to let go. Monofilament casts these lighter weighted Ned Rig lures much further than braided line.

Ned Rig.


For Ned Rigs a medium heavy rod from 6' to 7' length works nicely. I prefer 6' because I have a better control of the cast and also have a better feel of the bait during the retrieve. Since I am using 6# test monofilament line, I prefer a small 1000 series reel with a quality drag like a Shimano Stella if you have deep pockets or a Shimano Stradic if you want a top quality reel with a high quality drag at a fair price.

Ned Rig.

Ned Rig Heads:

This style of fishing has been around for many years but over the last few years it has been refined to be much more species specific. Without going into too much detail you are going to want a Ned Head about 1/8 oz. for most days when fishing down to about 15' to 20'. You'll want a 3/16 oz. or 1/4 oz. for windy days or deeper water from 20' to 30'. Usually a good quality Ned Head has some sort of "keeper" to help keep the body of your bait from pulling down the hook on the cast. If your bait is pulling down and won't hold in place well try turning it 180 degrees on the hook so you are using the opposite end of the lure. If that isn't working bring along some super glue. The ZMan Pro ShroomZ with its lure keeper style makes a good choice if you are not in need of a weedless setup and the XXXX is a great design choice for fishing the Ned Rig weedless

Ned Rig.

Ned Rig Lures:

There are many dozens of potential Ned Rig baits to choose from. It seems like everyone has an opinion of a lure that works better than another so just have fun coming up with your own theories and proving them by catching some fish. I'm going to make a few suggestions of Ned Rig guidelines that have worked for the pros.

  • Floating or naturally buoyant bodies made with a durable material like ZTech Elaztech or Strike King's Elastech will stand upright and last through many fish
  • 2 inch to 2 1/2 inch chubby profile bait for big smallmouth bass
  • 3 1/2 inch chubby profile bait for walleye
  • Buoyant baits stand up and look more lifelike on a slow retrieve
  • Smallmouth prefer colors of natural creatures like browns, greens and black
  • Walleye aren't color conscience and will hit almost any color during the day however in periods of low light white, silver, pink and chartreuse often get more strikes
  • Rattling baits work but the difference in number of strikes is not that noticeable

Fishing the Ned Rig

The Ned Rig is relatively easy to fish but requires a lot of patience. It is really just a modification of a 40 year old method championed by a great fisherman and lure manufacturer named Charlie Brewer and was called the "do-nothing-method." Charlie used to say to just toss it out and barely crawl it back to the boat. He used to say that any action added to his method was too much action. Back then he used small narrow 4" plastic worms. Now we have almost indestructible salt impregnated plastics of all sizes and shapes that are designed to stand up and wiggle like something alive and feeding on the bottom. One thing that Charlie eventually added to his line of worms was a ringed worms that you could shake before casting and air bubbles would fill the rings and be released slowly during the retrieve. Also a good spray bottle of lure scent would give off oil bubbles at the same time. These methods and modifications were extremely deadly.

A: The Ned Rig works best when the bait is rigged perfectly straight on the hook. It also falls much straighter and more natural looking to a fish. Even the slightest bend in your bait will change the natural look slightly and can turn off wary fish.

B: Lay the hook beside the bait so that you can visually mark exactly where the bend of the hook will exit the bait and then carefully thread the hook exactly through the center of the bait exiting it in the correct spot.

C: Make nice long casts and watch your line closely as the lure sinks to the bottom. Many strikes come just before it reaches the bottom. If you see your line go pop, go ahead and take up the slack and set the hook.

D: After the rig settles to the bottom very slowly move the rig steadily along the bottom on the retrieve. Although jigging slightly can produce at times many of the pros that fish this rig claim it works better by not trying to give it a lot of extra action. Experiment with the retrieve until you find the one that works best for you.

E: When you are in an area and know that the area has walleye or smallmouth showing on the fish finder and they just aren't biting on your slow presentation, try "snap jigging" your Ned Rig. Snap jigging plays on the fish's natural instinct to react to an easy meal. I'm not talking about just jigging the Ned Rig. I'm talking about really snapping the rig hard with a hard two or three foot upsweep of the rod and as soon as the rig settles back to the bottom immediately snap it back up vigorously again and then again. Always keep in mind then when you consider the amount of stretch in monofilament it is pretty hard to actually get it to move that far off the bottom. Also if you are going to try this snap method you might want to try changing to a bit heavier head.

Ned Rig for smallmouth bass and walleye.
Angler holding walleye.

Setting the Hook

Since most all Ned Rig heads require some sort of a bait keeper soldered to them, these hooks tend to be rather stout for fishing with 6# test monofilament! (If anyone ever comes out with a Ned Rig head made with an aberdeene hook I'll be the first to order a bunch) Here is a statement you won't hear often in light tackle fishing. When you feel the bite, set the hook hard because these stout hooks do not penetrate all that well when used with light tackle. One trick I have found works good for me with 6# test mono. When you first suspect a bite slowly crank your line with your rod tip about eye high until you feel the first little bit of resistance on the line. At that point just drop the rod tip to get a small amount of slack into the line and then set the hook hard enough to "cross his eyes." When you jerk hard it will take up the slack first and tends to sling shot the hook into penetrating.

There are a lot of advantages when using 6# test mono in Ned Rig fishing but hook sets are a bit more difficult. Just the same, you will get a lot more bites and have a better feel of what's going on when you use a good quality 6# test monofilament.

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