What is Shaky Head Fishing?
The shaky head is almost seen as an ultra-light version of the Texas rig. It has a weight at the head in the form of a jighead and the bait is Texas-rigged. This means the bait is rigged weedless, so it's suitable to be fished in and around shore-based cover.
Shaky heads are light-line applications and are a lot more delicate than the likes of a Texas rig. They're intended to remain in a bass's strike zone for extended periods, with a more subtle and natural action.
Bottom contact with a shaky head is where this presentation shines. The light weight of the jighead keeps the head of the finesse worm down, while the tail almost stands up on the bottom.
Shaky head rigs are often perceived to only attract small bass, however, many professionals on the circuit continually try to persuade anglers that this technique is capable of getting big bass in the boat, one just needs to find where big bass are feeding.
Why Fish a Shaky Head?
The shaky head is an incredibly subtle and natural presentation. It'll get the job done in almost any conditions, and it's a great bait to throw around many forms of cover. Let's look at some reasons why you should own the shaky head.
As mentioned, the shaky head will get bit in almost any situation. Whether you're fishing shallow water, deep water, clear water, or even open water, the shaky head will fall beautifully and attract the eyes of nearby bass.
One of the best summer techniques
Summer fishing can be tough and slow for any bass angler. Water temperatures reach their peak and bass can become lethargic.
Bass will move to deeper water to cool down and they'll be less willing to take faster moving lure. The shaky head can reach deeper columns and its more subtle action may get a bite from a lazy bass.
Finesse worms will be Texas-rigged on a shaky head, meaning the hook point will be hidden within the soft plastic. This makes the shaky head a worthwhile option for throwing around heavy cover and other shore-based cover.
Pressured bass formula
Much like a drop shot rig, a shaky head worm works exceptionally well in pressured systems where bass have already been released by previous bass anglers.
The subtle lifelike presentation is hard to resist, even for bass that have been tricked before.
Stand up stature
Once the shaky head hits the bottom, the jighead's weight will stick to the bottom while the tail of the finesse worm will stand up. This stature will bring about a fair amount of curiosity in the bass, which could easily result in a bite.
Shaky Head Setup
This technique is generally done on a spinning setup. Casting lighter presentations is always better on a spinning rod, and the shaky head is definitely considered a light bait.
A 7' spinning rod with a medium power is probably your most versatile option for this technique. This will match the weight of your bait ideally and 7' will help with making long casts when necessary.
A faster action is important when working a shaky head. Remember, our hook point is hidden, so having a fast action will help with taking up line quickly and getting a crisp hookset.
Line application will play a large role in how many bites you get on a shaky head. As a finesse technique, you'll want to maximize your action by using lighter line if possible.
I love throwing shaky heads on straight fluorocarbon and vary my test between 8-12lb. I'll throw 8lb in more open water scenarios, and I'll go up to 12lb in certain situations where there is heavier vegetation or other potentially threatening cover.
3/8 ounce is probably the most versatile option in terms of weight, with 5/16 ounce probably being the lightest weight I'll turn to.
You won't find much heavier than 1/4 ounce for a shaky head, and this will be used for when working deep water.
Going lighter is a good option if fish are pressured and are more willing to take a slower, more subtle presentation.
Shaky heads are blessed with some of the finest plastic worms in the sport. Many of these baits are designed purely for this technique, with buoyant tails and free-flowing profiles.
Here are some awesome baits for the shaky head rig:
What is a Texas Rig?
The Texas rig is one of the best ways to present a soft plastic into some of the heaviest cover in your favorite lake. It's a heavier technique as that is what's needed in order to get a bait down and into thick vegetation, which is often where you'll find the biggest bass.
The application involves a bullet weight (either tungsten or lead), a pitching hook or EWG hook, and a soft plastic bait of your choice.
The bullet weight plays a key role in getting the rig down and through any form of vegetation, such as a weeded mat. Bass will often sit under this type of cover for shade or as an ambush point.
Personally, there's not much better than casting into these covered areas and getting rewarded for an accurate cast. For this reason, the Texas rig will go down as my favorite soft plastic application.
Why Fish a Texas Rig?
Although the Texas rig may not be as effective as it used to be due to the rapid growth of bass fishing, the technique still has a welcome place in any bass angler's arsenal. Let's look at some key reasons why you should own the T-rig as one of your go-to lures when approaching a bank.
The heavier Texas rig will sink faster than any other soft plastic application, making it suitable for making plenty of casts and covering loads of fishy-looking structure.
Punching through cover
The main role of the bullet weight on a Texas rig is to punch through heavy vegetation such as weeded mats and other thick cover, in order to present the soft plastic into a bass's peripheral.
The weedless application of a T-rig will also mean there's less risk of getting snagged.
The Texas rig is one of the most satisfying techniques to work a bank with. Often, we'll approach a bank full of attractive forms of cover, and the best way to make sure we hit every little spot that may hold a bass, is by throwing a Texas rig.
Bigger bass formula
Often, the biggest fish will be sitting under the thickest forms of cover and vegetation. The Texas rig gives us access to these columns, where we could easily come across a PB.
Texas Rig Setup
The T-rig is simply made to be thrown on a baitcasting rod. it's a heavier application and one can be seriously accurate when casting it on a baitcasting setup.
One should look to a flipping setup for this technique. By flipping setup, I mean a lengthier baitcasting rod (7'2" and up) with a heavier power and a fast action.
A fast/extra-fast action means that only a small fraction of the rod tip bends, which ultimately helps with get a crisp and direct hook set.
Because you'll be fishing heavy cover, you'll need heavier line to help deal with any threats. 14-20lb fluorocarbon will do just fine, but one can even consider 50lb braid if they're looking to work extremely heavy vegetation.
Gamma Edge is an incredibly strong line and is a personal favorite for me especially when I'm pitching a T-rig around thick vegetation.
The bullet weight on a Texas rig should be chosen based on the situation you're fishing in.
The general rule is that the heavier cover you're fishing, the heavier you should go in weight in order to get your bait down. For instance, if you're looking to pitching into a weeded mat, you may want to choose a 1oz weight in order to 'punch' through this obstacle and get under.
If you're fishing lighter vegetation and/or clearer water, you may want to downsize in weight with the goal of getting a more subtle and natural falling motion. When I say light, I mean around 1/4oz.
When it comes to soft plastics for a Texas rig, this very much comes down to personal preference. Many will turn to a creature bait for this technique, but one can always trust a classic worm stick bait as well.
Here are some of the most popular baits for a Texas rig:
Shaky Head vs Texas Rig: Key Differences
Now that we have a fair understanding on the basics of these techniques, let's now outline where these rigs are different in operation.
When I say efficiency, I'm referring to the rate of covering water. There is a big difference when it comes to efficiency for these rigs.
The shaky head is comfortably lighter than a Texas rig, so there'll be a slower fall rate and each cast will endure a longer process of getting to the bottom.
The T-rig will have the ability to get down to the bottom fast, so you can make way more casts in an area and therefore cover a lot more water in a given period.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Which technique is going to get the most bites consistently? That's going to be the shaky head.
The fact is our waters are pressured and we're targeting fish that have been caught and released before. The shaky is a slower, more natural presentation and a released fish is much more likely to be attracted to this. For this reason, you'll get a lot more bites on a shaky head vs a texas rig overall.
The Texas rig is a faster, slightly more imposing lure, and this could easily be a turn off for a bass that has been caught before.
This refers to how suitable a technique is to different scenarios and situations. The shaky head is definitely more versatile compared to the Texas rig.
The shaky will work all season long and many will turn to it no matter where they're fishing in their favorite lake.
The Texas rig requires favorable conditions such as slightly warmer water temperatures and it's probably not the rig you'll turn to when fishing clear and open water.
Forms of Cover
These technique differ considerably when it comes to the types of cover you'd look to fish them.
The shaky is one of few finesse techniques that is pretty weedless, so you can throw it into brush piles and other forms of vegetation. However, it is still a light line technique, so there needs to be boundaries or an adjustment to line weight when fishing the heavy stuff.
The Texas rig is simply made for fishing heavy vegetation. The weedless application with a heavier line application gives you access to the thick stuff! The Tokyo rig has pretty similar characteristics when it comes to this.