Tackle & Gear

Best Neko Rig Setup for Bass: Rod, Reel, Line

The neko rig falls into the finesse fishing style and continues to grow in adoption as a technique to target pressured bass. Based on the success of the wacky rig, the slight alteration of the neko rig gives a slightly different presentation to the wacky and it’s one that seems to attract any bass in almost all conditions. 

Best Neko Rig Setup for Bass: Rod, Reel, Line

What is Neko Rig Fishing?

Simply put, a neko rig is a wacky rig with the addition of a nail weight in the head of the soft plastic (thick side). The neko rig is famous for having the similar shimmy action of a wacky while having a slightly different action on the fall and on the bottom. 

The added weight in the head of the soft bait gives the neko rig a pretty similar stature to the shaky head, with the head of the bait falling first and sticking to the bottom while the other half of the bait sits and moves just above.

The neko rig is without a doubt a light line technique as it was introduced mainly to target pressured or released bass. The lighter the line, the more natural and lifelike the presentation, and this is what finesse fishing is all about. 

In terms of versatility, the neko rig is used to target all species of bass in various forms of cover. It works incredibly well for smallmouth offshore, but it also can be used with effect in and around isolated cover near a bank. 

The basic shape of a neko rig

Neko Rig Setup

As with all finesse applications, this rig is very light and will require a spinning rod for the necessary casting. It’s important to try and match the lightweight rig with the necessary line and rod in order to get the most in responsiveness and sensitivity. 

Best Rod for the Neko Rig

This doesn’t have to be anything special really. A spinning rod at around 7’ will do just fine in terms of length, but you’ll want a medium-light or medium power, depending on how heavy you fish your neko rigs. 

I tend to fish a neko rig very light, so I usually opt for a medium-light power. It’s also important to have a faster action rod with a soft tip for better hookups and overall responsiveness. 

Using a lighter rod for this technique is always more enjoyable and you’ll be able to feel a lot more in terms of sensitivity. 

Reel for the Neko Rig

Once again - nothing special is needed. A reliable spinning reel with a decently sized spool (2000-2500) will help with easy casting and organized line lay.

Best Line for the Neko Rig

This is one pretty much down to personal preference but there are two options really: 

The first is straight fluorocarbon and this is my personal favorite. This is a very ‘finessesy’ technique and I feel like straight fluoro gets the best out of my soft plastic. 

In terms of strength, 8lb is probably the most versatile. One can go to 6lb in clear, open water and you can also go up to 10lb if you’re throwing around vegetation.

The second line option is to go braid into a fluorocarbon leader. Many anglers prefer to have braid spooled because of the zero stretch factor along with the added strength. Having a colored braid will also aid line watching - a nice bonus for any finesse application. 

The Berkley Trilene 100% is an incredible fluorocarbon, especially for finesse rigs.

Terminal Tackle for the Neko Rig

This relates to the hook, the nail weight as well as the option o-ring for keeping your bait on the hook and unharmed.

The VMC Neko hook is a fantastic finesse hook that has an incredible hook-up ratio thanks to a 3 degree offset.

VMC Neko hook

There are weedless hook options for the neko rig. These would be more suitable when targeting largemouth in and around vegetation or other isolated cover. 

Nail weights are another key addition for your neko rig tackle box. There should be a fair variety in terms of weights, but a versatile weight to start with is around 1/32 ounces. For more pressured fish, you may want to look at even lighter, such as a 1/64oz. In more ideal conditions, one can go heavier, like a 1/16oz.

The VMC neko weight is my personal favorite and it goes into soft plastics really easily. 

VMC Neko Nail weight

It’s pretty useful owning a bag of o-rings. These make baiting up really quick and simple and they don’t negatively impact the action of the bait. In fact, I find I get a more free-flowing action with an o-ring attached. 

Bait Selection for the Neko Rig

The neko rig isn’t the most versatile when it comes to baits. Like the wacky rig, it simply works best for stick baits and finesse worms that are generally rounded. 

In terms of sizes, one needs to choose this based off conditions and fishing pressure. 4 inches is generally my starting length. I’ll go shorter if the fishing is tough and I may go bigger if I’m targeting largemouth around thick cover. 

Wrapping Up

The neko rig works best on a lighter rod setup along with lighter line. That being said, it definitely doesn’t require the most technique-specific spinning rod out there. Your favorite finesse rod should do the job. 

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