Techniques

Mastering the Ned Rig for Bass Fishing: How and Why

The Ned Rig is one of those unique finesse presentations that is responsible for winning millions of dollars, in the highest level of competition. Although definitely not the most attractive looking on the circuit, this rig is capable of getting obscene amounts of bites, even in pressured systems. 

Learning this technique and presentation will without a doubt give you a seriously powerful finesse option when struggling on the water, and who knows, it may turn out to be your next favorite finesse application.

Mastering the Ned Rig for Bass Fishing: How and Why

What is a Ned Rig?

The ned rig is a finesse technique that involves using shorter stickbait or craw-like soft plastics on a light, mushroom-style jighead hook. The rig was initially called the Mid West Finesse Rig, and this was created by Ned Kehde - who was too humble to accept having it called the “Ned Rig”.

Ned caught an unbelievable amount of bass on this rig and broke records for the amount of bass caught in a 4-hour period.

The ned rig has a similar stature to that of a shaky head, as it almost stands up on the bottom with the weight keeping the head down.

The ned rig has its unique name as it's named after Ned Kehde - the man who discovered this unique presentation. After experimenting and slamming bass with this application, the rig was rightly named after him.
The Ned Rig for Bass Fishing
Basic illustration of the Ned Rig.

Why is the Ned Rig so Effective?

The ned rig may easily be the least attractive presentation ever seen, and for some reason bass absolutely love it. Here are some reasons why the ned rig is so effective:

  • Action like no other: There’s no other rig that has an action like this. Its motionless, gliding fall is extremely attractive to bass -  even though it may not seem like it when outside the water
  • Superb craw imitator: Its short, stubby stature gives the rig a craw-like shape and presence, especially when sitting on the bottom
  • Quiet, small profile: The basic, small profile of the ned rig doesn’t spook any fish, and often bass will find a smaller bait more attractive
  • Creates curiosity in bass: The attractive falling action and stature on the bottom will often cause curiosity in bass, and the only way for them to get more information, is to bite
  • Finesse technique that can cover water: Unlike many other finesse techniques, fishing the ned rig entitles one to cover water at a decent rate

Best Ned Rig Rod Setup

Think about your drop shot rod - this should do the job. Having a rod power to match the weight of the lure you’re throwing will always help with sensitivity, casting, and just feeling your bait in general.

Here are some ideal features in a ned rig rod:

  • 7’ and up spinning rod is ideal for a ned rig: This gives anglers greater leverage, as well as the ability to twitch and move their bait in an attractive manner. 
  • Medium-light to Medium power: You’ll be throwing light for most of the time, so you’ll want to match that with a lighter rod. 
  • Fast action with a soft tip: This will help with imparting the ideal action on a ned rig.

Best Ned Rig Reel Setup

Nothing special needed here - a spinning reel that is braid-ready and matches the weight of your rod will do just fine. 

I like to go with a 2500 - nice and light while having the necessary line capacity. 

Best Line for the Ned Rig

Like many other finesse applications, the braid to fluorocarbon leader is the most popular application. 

  • I usually go with 6-8lb fluorocarbon. 10lb max when fishing around heavier cover. Berkley’s Trilene XL does the job.
  • In terms of braid, 12lb finesse braid is always a good option. I’ve also experimented with matching the line diameter of the fluorocarbon. 30lb braid is usually pretty close to 8lb fluoro, which makes it more comfortable with knot tying and manageability. 

Best Ned Rig Hooks

In terms of the jighead, these will generally range from 1/32-3/16 ounces. In my opinion, you don’t want to go heavier than 3/16. This will reduce the gliding action of the rig, which will be discussed a bit more later. 

Ideally, 1/16 or ⅛ ounces should be used. This will give your bait the finest action on the fall. 

In terms of hook size, a size 1 hook is perfect. There are also weedless options for a ned hook, which should be considered when fishing heavier cover. As you’ve seen, the ned rig has a very exposed hook, which is one of its drawbacks.

Z-Man have also released a new style of head for the ned rig. The Football NedZ is slightly heavier than your usual ned rig head, so it's better suited for deeper waters. It also has a more round head, similar to a football jig. This helps with cruising over hard cover and rocks.

Best Ned Rig Baits

Bait selection is a more simple process when it comes to ned rigs compared to other finesse applications. Motionless, simple stick baits are often preferred for this presentation, and you really don’t have to overcomplicate the process of selecting a bait. 

  • 3 or 4 inches is the ideal length
  • Soft, buoyant materials are best for this rig
  • Motionless is often your best option

One of the first specific ned rig baits was the Z-Man Finesse TRD. This bait is as simple as it gets, but my word it gets bites. Z-Man’s ElaZtech plastic is extremely soft and buoyant, giving the rig a natural, gliding action.

Although the Finesse TRD will continue to grow in popularity, ned rig baits are developing thick and fast, as brands aim to diversify this unique technique. Different shapes and colors are getting tested and optimized and there are now plenty of different patterns to throw on your ned rig. iCast 2021 alone saw a crazy amount of baits specifically for the ned rig being released.

Best Softbaits for Ned Rig
Just a few unique Ned Rig softbait patterns.


How to Fish a Ned Rig

As mentioned earlier, a ned rig is a unique finesse application as it has the ability to cover more water. There are several ways that one can work or retrieve this rig, and I’ll discuss a few of my favorites. 

Lift & Glide

This method was invented by Ned Kehde himself and is a pretty basic technique. 

  1. Cast out to your target area
  2. Let the bait fall with slack, in order to get that natural falling action
  3. Lift with the rod, wind in slack slowly. This give the bait a gliding motion as it comes toward you
  4. Repeat

A lighter head is ideal with this technique - in order to maximize that gliding motion. 

Drag

This method is riskier, as it essentially involves dragging the bait along the bottom. A sideways drag of the rod ensures the rig stays close to the bottom. 

The reason why I say this method is riskier, is because you increase your chances of getting snagged on anything on the bottom. This can cause some serious frustration. 

Hopping

This involves small twitches which leads to a hopping motion of the bait. Cast out, let it hit the bottom, and every now and then give the rod a small twitch. Keeping bottom contact is important here. 

Watch Your Line

As with most finesse techniques, you'll be letting your bait drop on a slack line. Often, bass will hit the bait on its initial fall. This means keeping an eye on your braid/line is extremely important, and any foreign movement is a good sign that a fish has hit you.

Taking too long to set the hook will result in the bass throwing your bait - so watch that line carefully.

When Should You Throw a Ned Rig?

There aren’t many places where fishing a ned rig is a bad option. This is an extremely versatile bait that’ll get bites almost anywhere. One of the key places where NOT to throw a ned rig is heavy cover. The exposed hook doesn’t deal with these areas very well, for obvious reasons. 

Here are some of my favorite places to get out a ned rig:

  • Isolated cover: Finding isolated cover in clearer water is always a good time to throw a ned rig. Here you can work the bait freely, with less threat of getting snagged
  • Clear water: I consider the ned rig a clear water bait. Bass need to see it, and because it’s a smaller profile with little motion - clear water will greatly increase the chances of it getting spotted
  • Grass lines: Bass love edges of cover. Throwing a ned rig off the edges of grass lines is a great option, especially if there is a slight drop-off
  • Hard cover: Rocks and boulders are also the kind of structure to look for when throwing a ned rig. Bass will often hug this structure for warmth, and twitching a ned rig along these points will often entice a bite - especially if you’re targeting Smallmouth
  • Docks: Bass love sitting under docks during the heat of the day. Often, there’ll be less structure under docks, which gives you more freedom with the ned rig


The ned rig is often that bait I’ll throw after trying out with reaction baits. If the fishing quietens down, or they just weren’t that interested in your crankbait, start considering throwing a ned rig.

Ned Rig vs. Other Finesse Applications

Some may question: 'Why throw a ned rig when you can throw a drop shot?' The fact is, there are clear advantages of a ned rig when it comes to certain scenarios. 

As mentioned earlier, you can cover a lot more water with a ned rig compared to that of a drop shot rig or a shaky head. This is ideal when fish in more competitive environments. 

Another key thing to consider with the ned rig, is its basic appearance. It doesn’t get more simple than a 3 inch TRD on a 1 size ned rig hook. This basic profile is often the most attractive to bass, and may get bites when other types of presentations aren’t.

Drawbacks of the Ned Rig

There are certain limitations of the ned rig, which need to be known before learning this technique. 

  • Not a power technique: Although you can cover more water than other finesse applications, you’ll still be limited compared to other power fishing techniques. There are also certain areas that simply aren’t accessible with a ned rig
  • Snag city: Unless you’re using a weedless ned rig hook, the chances are you’re going to get a fair amount of frustration when fishing this technique. It gets stuck. Easily. 
  • Smaller fish may hit first: This rig gets plenty of bites, but often these are from small bass. The small profile makes this technique attractive to any bass. So if you’re targeting lunkers, the ned rig may not be your best option
  • Not effective in stained water: This quiet, small presentation will require a bass to spot it. For this reason, fishing a ned rig in stained water may be a difficult task
  • Hard to get into the technique: I myself struggled to get motivated to fish this technique. The rig itself looks strange, and it can be hard to get a feel for it. Patience is required to fish this rig effectively. Give it time
The ned rig generally doesn't work well around weeds and other vegetation, unless applied with a weedless hook. The way a ned rig soft plastic is rigged results in an exposed hook point, which simply isn't suited for heavier vegetation.

Wrapping Up

Simply put, the ned rig is arguably one of the most successful finesse rigs when it comes to catching bass. Although not always the biggest, this rig will get the attention of bass if scene, and it definitely has the potential to catch lunkers. 

If you’re serious about finesse fishing, the ned rig is simply one of the techniques that you’ll want in your arsenal. It’s just one of those baits that may do the job when nothing else is working. 

Reviews of products mentioned in this article:
Z-Man Finesse TRD
95
Superb
2 reviews
Berkley Trilene XL Pro Grade
83
Superb
1 reviews
Z-Man Football NedZ
95
Superb
1 reviews