Brett McComas

Ned Rig: The best WALLEYE bait no one’s throwing

by Brett McComas

Some of my biggest walleyes EVER have been caught on a jigworm…which I believe you kids call Ned Rigs nowadays (lol). Lots were caught on accident while bassin’ in the weeds, but more and more on purpose…. This one here’s a Gull Lake, MN walleye, not Mille Lacs where they eat anything. 😉

True story: In our local walleye league last week, I didn’t have a fish in the boat until 8:45 pm (weigh-in’s at 9 pm). Finally picked up a Ned Rig — which I’d rigged up on purpose — and stuck one on my first cast to a 7-9′ weed flat. Really wish I would’ve busted it out earlier so I coulda maybe got some gas money back that night!

The Ned Rig has become one of the hottest finesse-’em-up bass presentations but really it’s nothing new in the Midwest. I’ve been throwing one for about 15 years now, and the guy that showed me had been using it since the ’70s. The biggest difference IMO is that a Ned Rig should technically have a more-buoyant plastic on the back, so it floats up off bottom.

Basically it’s a compact little treat (usually a stickbait) slapped on the back of a mushroom-shaped jighead — believe Gopher Tackle made it first, but lots of options are out there now for jigheads.

Couple of my favorites are the VMC Half Moon Jig and the Finesse Half Moon Jig. A lot of days lighter is better, so I typically start with a 1/8-oz first…will occasionally bump-up to a 3/16-oz if the wind is rippin’ or the walleyes want it drug across bottom…. This one’s paired with a 3″ YUM Ned Dinger:

 

Light braid gives you that extra casting distance and feel. Either 8-lb Sufix 832 or NanoBraid, with an 8-lb fluoro leader…will bump up to 10-lb if fishing around a lot of rocks, zebra mussels, or right in the cabbage. My leader length varies depending on water clarity…no shorter than 4-5′, but up to 10-12′ long for spooky clear-water fish.

I’m almost always throwing natural, green pumpkin-ish colors to mimic craws or perch pecking at the bottom. Will occasionally chuck lighter shiner patterns up shallow in the spring when water temps are say 55-60 degrees or if you start seeing shiners dancing up in the shallows at the boat ramp.

How to fish it depends on the day…usually for me it’s more of a slow drag with little hops, just creepin’ and crawlin’ that thing along. Seems they usually hit it in the first 10-15 seconds of the bait hitting bottom, so after that I crank up and repeat.

Know the exposed hook seems goofy for throwing in the weeds, but it comes through ’em way better than you’d think. Doesn’t matter if it’s 7-13′ cabbage weeds, or 14-22′ coontail later in the season, a quick snap of the rod can usually rip the bait out of the weeds (thx braid!) and sometimes help trigger a strike.

Of course it’s not just for pitching around weed-edges…it crushes around gravel, big boulders, you name it. I shouldn’t even mention this…but one of my favorite times to throw it is when you have spring walleye cruising shallow 5-10′ sand…. 🤐

Careful though: Some days it can be tough to keep those brown and green carp off it lol. But I’m an equal-opportunity hook-setter, so bring ’em on.

Spring 2021 Update:

How about a little video proof for you visual learners:

 

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