Neko Rig vs. Wacky Rig: Key Differences

Two techniques that continue to show their value in today's bass fishing climate: the Neko Rig and the wacky Rig. These are two techniques that are often misinterpreted, and although they almost look identical, there are few subtle differences that make them each effective in certain scenarios. Let's look at the Neko rig versus the wacky rig.

Neko Rig vs. Wacky Rig: Key Differences

The Neko Rig and The Wacky Rig: 2 Powerful Finesse Techniques

The Neko rig and wacky rig are two rigs that are arguably considered modern day techniques. They thrive when fishing pressure is high, and as we know, this is growing by the year. Our waters are seeing more anglers than ever, and it's often the finesse anglers that are getting bag more consistently.

These rigs both possess one key trait: An undulating, subtle horizontal falling action that looks like an attractive meal for any bass — little hassle required.

However, these rigs are often misinterpreted, and although they look almost identical, these techniques have their differences and its best to understand them. There's no doubt that these techniques are suited to specified circumstances, and understanding how they differ will help a lot when it comes to technique selection.

Let's talk about each in a bit more depth.

The Neko Rig for Bass Fishing

The Neko rig is a finesse technique where the hook runs through the middle of the bait, or through an O-ring that surrounds the worm.

This splits the bait in half, creating an undulating horizontal falling action of the soft plastic. This presentation is one that has grown dramatically in popularity over time, and bass sees the profile as an easy meal.

What makes the Neko rig unique is the nail weight which goes in one end (the head of the bait). This causes the bait to fall more head first, but still maintains that horizontal fall. It also gives it a faster sink rate.

Many love the Neko rig because of its ability to cover water pretty quickly as a finesse technique, while keeping that attractive horizontal falling action.

It also has an attractive profile on the bottom, as the weighted head sticks to the bottom, giving more freedom to the tail - similar to a shaky head.

The Neko rig profile

Where to fish a Neko Rig?

The Neko rig thrives in shore-based cover scenarios. Throwing a Neko around docks, or other manmade cover will often turn a bass' head, especially if other baits haven't worked before.

Here are some great zones to fish a Neko rig:

  • Docks and manmade cover based on-shore
  • Brush piles and other shallow vegetation
  • Offshore rocky bottom, this requires a heavier weight in order to get to the bottom

Best Neko Rig Setup: Rod, Hook, Bait

A spinning setup is best for the Neko rig, purely because this is a light line technique, and spinning gear aids casting.

Best Rod for a Neko Rig

You'll need a spinning rod that is generally between 6'8"-7' in length, will medium-light or medium power. This will match the weight of your bait ideally.

Best Hook for a Neko Rig

You'll want a lighter wire hook that is super harp. The VMC weedless Neko hook is a fantastic option for the Neko rig, and results in ideal hooksets. It involves a weed guard, providing added protection from getting snagged.

In terms of size hook for the neko rig, a 1/0 is pretty versatile.

The VMC Weedless Neko Hook

Baits for a Neko Rig

Straight worms, as well as round worms should be your go-to when setting up your Neko rig. Here are some great baits for the Neko rig:

  • Zoom Trick Worm
  • Daiwa Neko Straight Worm

The Wacky Rig for Bass Fishing

The Wacky rig is also a finesse technique, and it’s more finesse than the Neko rig. This is because it usually doesn’t have any added weight. There are however weighted options for the wacky rig.

This technique doesn’t involve any weight, and the soft plastic falls more horizontally. The weightless design also makes the bait fall slower, and the wacky thrives on getting eaten on the initial fall — this is where you’ll get most of your bites.

The subtle shimmy that a wacky rig performs on the initial fall is hard to resist for any bass, whether pressured or not.

The Wacky rig profile

Where to fish a Wacky Rig?

The wacky rig is more suited to shallow shore-based cover. This technique is an absolute weapon around isolated cover, especially in clearer water scenarios. Here's where the wacky rig will get you bites:

  • Brush piles and other shallow vegetation
  • Seasons where bass have moved shallower - spawn, early summer, fall
  • Spawn beds
  • Weighted wacky rig can work for offshore bass

Best Wacky Rig Setup: Rod, Hook, Bait

A spinning setup is also best for the wacky rig, purely because this is again a light line technique, making casting more accurate and pleasant.

Best Rod for a Wacky Rig

You'll need a spinning rod that is generally between 6'8"-7' in length, will medium-light or medium power - a very similar setup to the Neko rig.

Best Hook for a Wacky Rig

For the wacky rig, you have two options. You can either got a finesse-style hook, which present the bait in a quieter fashion and are arguably less visible. Or you can go for a Neko-style hook, as mentioned above.

Here are some good options for both:


  • Gamakatsu Wicked Wacky Weedless Hook
  • 1/0 or 2/0 are good sizes


  • VMC Weedless Neko Hook
  • 1/0 is a versatile size
The Wicked Wacky Hook from Gamakatsu

Baits for a Wacky Rig

Stick baits work amazingly as they have slightly more weight helping with sink rate and castability. Here are some of the most prolific baits for the wacky rig:

  • Yamamoto Senko
  • Strike King Ocho

Key Differences between the Neko Rig and the Wacky Rig

As mentioned, the neko rig and the wacky rig share one incredible trait, and that is the horizontal falling action. For this reason, these techniques will work well in similar zones.

The key differences to acknowledge are the following:

The Neko Rig will sink faster

The neko rig has added weight in the head, which will drag the bait down faster. This will mean you can make more casts and cover more water with the neko rig.

The downside to this is that if you’re fishing more pressured water, you may want your bait to stay in the fish’s vision for longer — this is why the wacky rig might be better if you’re fishing water that sees a lot of bass anglers.

Different profiles on the bottom

The weight in the head of a Neko-rigged bait creates a unique profile on the bottom, almost giving it a ned rig shape. This can create curiosity in bass, and the neko rig can get bites on the bottom

The wacky rig truly gets most of its bites on the initial fall and tends to sit flat on the bottom.

Bait selection is different

The weight in the neko rig arguably gives anglers a bit more versatility when it comes to bait selection. Many pros around the circuit will fish trick worms, and other straight-tail worms. These soft plastics don’t have much weight to them, so the neko weight makes them a good option.

With the weightless wacky, you’ll need at least some weight, and this comes in the form of salt-impregnated stickbaits.

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