Neko Rig Fishing 101

A Neko rig is just a fancy name for a weighted stick bait or a nail weighted bait. It is a really simple technique similar to the wacky rig. It is a head weighted soft plastic with a hook in the body normally in the bottom 1/3 or middle of the bait. When fished it has the wiggle of a wacky rig that fish find irresistible but it will stand up on the bottom instead of lying flat. Another benefit of the neko rig is its ability to be fished in deeper water. The wacky rig can be a pain when fishing deeper than a few feet since the bait takes so long to sink. The neko rig does not have this problem since you can adjust the weight depending on the depth you are targeting.

How to Rig a Neko Rig

Setting up a neko rig is very simple. Start by inserting a nail or screw style weight into the fat end of a soft plastic bait. Then place an o-ring on the bait an inch or two from the end with your weight. Next slip your hook under the o-ring with the point up away from your weight and slightly out. Rigging your o-ring and hook an inch or two up will help keep the hook up off the bottom and still leaves about 3/4 of your bait without anything ridged in it. So the top 3/4 will to produce a lot of movement and action. The benefit of an neko rig is you get a different action than the wacky rig. With the weight in the head your bait will stay down on the bottom sticking up with your hook is exposed, pointing up.

Neko Hooks

The most important part of the neko rig is a good hook. When I fish smaller profile baits with lighter line I use size #1 Owner Mosquito hooks. For larger baits I use a 1/0 TitanX hook. The neko rig is fairly weedless, you have an exposed hook but the o-ring keeps the hook up off the bottom so it doesn’t get hooked up very often. If you find yourself getting hung up a lot or you fish around a lot of vegetation, TitanX makes a weedless version that might be better for you.

Neko Rig Weights

Neko rigs use a nail or screw style weight that are available in lead and tungsten. They also come in head or headless. So if you fish a lot of rock piles or stained water you can get weights with exposed heads to produce clicking noises as you hop them along bottom. For weight size choose based on the depth you are targeting.  For nail styles Swagger Tackle makes a good one. I personality like screw design like the G7 more. I find that screw designs help hold the weight in soft plastics better than a nail designs. For weights with exposed heads I go with Lunker City’s weights. You can save a few bucks by going the diy route by using 1/2″ – 1″ drywall screws. To make them headless you can cut the heads off with bolt cutters.

Fishing DepthRecommended Weight
Under 5ft1/32oz
5-10ft1/16oz
10-20ft1/8oz
Over 20ft1/4oz

O-Rings

The neko rig requires o-rings to prevent the hook from ripping out the soft plastics every time you get a bite. This is an easy thing to setup, simply roll the o-ring to the middle of your soft plastic and slide the hook under the o-ring. This will help protect your soft plastics and make them last longer. Make your life easier by picking up an O-Ring tool and some extra o-rings and you will be set.

When to Fish the Neko Rig

The neko rig is great when fishing rocks or breaks deeper than you would typically throw a wacky rig. Wacky rigs take a long time to sink so they aren’t ideal for fishing very deep. One of the benefits of the neko is you can fish it in 20, 30, or 40+ feet deep and still get a similar action of a wacky rig.

During late fall bass start to school up and and feed on bait fish. In doing so the bass sometimes get the balls of bait fish pinned way down deep in 30 or 40 feet of water. If you have a fish finder these schools will be easier to find. When you find a school on the bottom you want to cast out into the school and let your bait sink to the bottom. When it reaches the bottom slowly drag and shake it like you would a drop shot. When you shake your rod tip it makes the worm’s tail dance which produces a lot of motion. It makes your worm look like a bait fish rooting around in the rocks and mud. This action drives bass wild.

In the school the littler bass will be on top aggressively going after the bait fish, keeping them pinned. What you want to do is target the bigger and lazy bass that are below them just picking up the scraps. All you have to do is drag your rig in their face and shake it.

The great thing about finesse fishing styles like the neko rig is that they can work all year round. It works well in clear and stained water but when it comes to super muddy water there are better options. I like to fish the neko rig when I am targeting deep bass and want a bigger profile bait than a drop shot.

Neko Rig Baits

Like I discussed above the neko rig requires a soft plastic of some kind. The most popular choice is worms but craws and lizard style soft plastics work too. You can use baits as small or a large as you want, generally in the 4″ to 8″ range.

Neko Worms

During warm months skinnier worms are typically better because they produce more action. During colder months choose thicker worms for a little less action. I personally like Yamamoto Senkos, which I use a lot for texas and wacky rigs. I also like Yamamoto Neko straight worms and Zoom trick worms.

Neko Craws

I haven’t used as many craw baits as worms for the neko rig so I can’t give you too many suggestions but one I have used with success is the Yamamoto PhychoDad. Craws are a good choice in the early spring when bass are fattening up before spawn.

Neko Rig Rod & Reel Setup

The neko rig is similar to ned and dropshot techniques in that you want to use a finesse rod & reel.

Best Neko Rig Combo: G Loomis NRX 852S JWR paired with a Shimano Exsence 3000

Budget Neko Rig Combo: Shimano SLX medium or medium light paired with a Shimano NASCI 2500

I use 15lb Power Pro with a 8lb Maxima Ultragreen leader.