How To Rig a Neko Rig for Bass: An In-Depth Guide

The Neko Rig is an underrated bass finesse presentation that offers a fresh spin on the traditional wacky rig. It boasts unique action and versatility that make it a must-try technique for any finesse fishing enthusiast.

How To Rig a Neko Rig for Bass: An In-Depth Guide

What is a Neko Rig? 

In a nutshell

A Neko Rig is essentially a head-weighted wacky rig that boasts a unique presentation and action. Much like the wacky rig, the hook attaches to the center or slightly upward of the center of the bait whether piercing the plastic directly or through an o-ring. The defining characteristic of the neko rig is the nail weight which goes into the head of your worm. This gives this presentation a unique action that sets it apart from a traditional wacky.

The action

The iconic Neko action is extremely effective for catching smallmouth and largemouth bass, especially those who have seen plenty of traditional weightless and weighted wacky rigs in their time.

Because the weight of the Neko sits in the head of the worm, it digs into the bottom as you work it, leaving the tail of the worm to quiver and shimmy naturally in the water. This looks just like a real worm moving along the bottom and bass simply cannot resist it!

When and where to fish it

The Neko rig is a finesse tactic and is thus a great option when fishing gets tough. There is no right/wrong time or place to fish it as it is extremely effective around weed lines, rocky bottoms, isolated cover, and even offshore locations. Nail weights come in a variety of sizes allowing the angler to fish this presentation at pretty much any depth.

Terminal Tackle for the Neko Rig

Choosing a Hook

Step one is to choose your hook. There are a variety of weedless and non weedless options out there (we have listed some below) but first let’s speak about a few factors to consider in terms of size and style. You want to use thin-wire finesse style hooks for the neko rig as they are compact and allow you to get a good hook set using light line (as you will be using a spinning setup for this rig).  In terms of size, try and keep this relative to the finesse worm you are using. 

Non-weedless Neko Hooks

A non-weedless, exposed hook will always give you a better hook set. If you are fishing open water/sparse cover this is going to give you your best chance of getting fish in the boat. Here are some of the best options out there:

  • Mustad TitanX Wacky/Neko Rig Hook
  • VMC Finesse Neko Hook

Weedless Neko Hooks

Weedless neko hooks are great if you are looking to fish this technique in some cover. Here are some of the best options out there:

  • VMC Weedless Neko Hook
  • Gamakatsu G-Finesse Stinger Weedless Wacky Hook

Choosing a Weight for the Neko Rig

As stated previously the x-factor of the neko rig comes from the nail weight in the head of the worm. In terms of weight size, you want to adapt this to the size of the worm you are fishing and the depth you are looking to fish it at. For smaller worms, stick to smaller weights to get a natural action. For larger worms you can get away with a larger weight. In terms of depth, stick to smaller weights in the shallows and up size the weight as you move into deeper water. There is no right or wrong here and you really just need to use discretion here!

Here are some great nail weight options:

  • Mustad Tungsten TitanX Nail Weights
  • Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Tungsten Pagoda Nail Weight
  • Big Bite Baits Neko Screw Weights

Choosing Soft Plastics for the Neko Rig

Any straight-tail finesse worm or stickbait/senko style plastic will work well for the neko rig. This is a flexible presentation and can be fished with worms of just about any size so gauge that based on how finicky the fish are or the size of the bass you are trying to catch!

We've written a piece on some of our favorite neko rig baits.

How to Rig the Neko Rig

Once you have your bait, hook and sinker handy it’s time to rig this thing up. 

  1. Firstly, go ahead and screw your chosen nail weight into the head of your worm making sure it is solid and secure. 
  2. Now it's time to position the hook. In order to save your bait I recommend an o-ring to fasten the hook to your bait. Place your o-ring over your worm and secure it around 2/3rds of the way towards the head of your bait. You want it further up so you have as much tail as possible flapping around the water!  Next, you want to place the hook through the O-ring ensuring that the tip of the hook is facing towards the tail. That positioning is going to help you get a better hook up ratio.

Rod, Reel, and Line for the Neko Rig

This is a finesse presentation and you therefore want to be using a light spinning setup. You can find more information on the neko rig on this post.

Tips on Fishing a Neko Rig for Bass

The neko rig is versatile and can be fished in cover or open water and across various depths depending on how you have set it up.

Cast the neko rig at your target of choice and let it sink to the bottom on a semi slack line. Often you are going to get a bite on the fall so watch for line movements while it is dropping! Once the bait hits the bottom you can start hopping it along the bottom and this is where the head down, tail quiver action comes into play. You can either hop the lure back to the boat if you are trying to cover water or reel in once you have moved it out of your target cover. 

If you feel a bite, resist the urge to strike like crazy. You will be using a light-wire, sharp hook so there is no need to strike too hard. Simply reel in your slack and lean into the fish to get a good hook set. This will give you the best chance of getting a solid hook up and not ripping the bait out of the fish's mouth.

Wrapping Up

The neko rig is a versatile and effective finesse technique that offers something different to its traditional and more commonly used wacky cousin. The unique action it provides and versatility of depths that it can be fished at make it a powerful addition to any finesse angler’s box of tricks. 

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