How To Fish The Ned Rig | Kayak Angler Magazine | Rapid Media
A bass with a ned rig in its mouth. Photo by Shane Clevenger

Ned Kehde's wiggly, light tackle tactic to fool big bass.

I first heard about the Ned rig in 2015. It’s named for Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, who is credited with developing it the 1960’s. The concept is beautifully simple. A short, straight softplastic tail threaded on a small, rounded jighead. When the jig is resting on the bottom, the floating plastic tail stands up and wiggles seductively. The lure is weedless, muckless, snagless and it drives fish crazy. Recently, new technology in tackle and techniques have given Ned’s rig new life.

Last spring, Frank Briggs, avid kayak angler and bass enthusiast from Richmond, Illinois, introduced me to the Ned rig. He told me, “I fish many small rivers and casting the Ned rig into deeper holes and letting the current bounce it along the rocky bottom with a few twitches is tough for the smallies to pass up.”

I began using the Ned rig early last August in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where I do most of my smallmouth fishing. By mid-summer, many of the bigger bass have moved deeper. Scum on the rocks makes dragging a tube a mess. The answer is the Ned rig. The little round jig head and buoyant soft-plastics keep the jig tail sticking up out of the slime. The presentation also works great in shallow water. The first time I used the ultralight tactic, I caught 60 smallmouth bass in a few hours.

Josh Evans, Jackson Kayak Fishing Team member from Brunswick, Maryland, has been targeting largemouth with the lure, too. “I have my best luck twitching it, or, hopping it with long pauses in between.” He chooses a super-supple plastic that moves in the current to bring the lure alive. 

Another Jackson Fishing Team member, Garrett Van Wie from Bismark, Arkansas, adds, “In rivers I drag the Ned rig along the bottom trying to make noise by bouncing it off rocks.” If that’s not working, he likes to swim it in current or pitch and twitch it around structure. 

The key to the attraction is a buoyant, soft-plastic that makes the jig tail stand up off the bottom. This also keeps the Ned rig out of snags. I’ve always felt big bass will hit small finesse lures, so I use a 2 3-4-inch tail.

To keep the lure out of the scum and on top of weeds and rocks, a 1/16-ounce lead head with a #1 or #2 hook. On a windy, wavy day, I might jump to a 3/32 ounce jig. 

It takes a limber rod to work a light bait. I use a seven-foot, medium-light rod with a fast or extra-fast action. The rod must easily cast a light lure, feel for light bites and still have the backbone to fight a six-pounder. I prefer a spinning reels for making long casts with a light lure. To feel every little tap, I use eight-pound braid and add a foot of eight-pound fluorocarbon leader.

When fishing big lakes in five to 20 feet of water, I make long casts, let the Ned rig sink to the bottom and then use very slight twitches and small hops while slowly working the lure back to the kayak. On smaller rivers with moderate current, I make shorter casts perpendicular to the shore and slightly up river. Then I use the twitch and hop to work the lure. The great thing about the Ned rig is the current does most of the work.

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