One of the most surprising aspects of current-day tackle manufacturers is the explosion of small lures as means to catch more and even larger fish. From Senkos to miniature tube jigs, swimbaits to grubs, at the latest industry-wide wholesale show (ICAST) held last July in Orlando, Florida, small lures, including scores of Ned Rig lookalikes yet again took the show by storm. Scores of new products hit the shelves improving on the original Ned Rig produced by Z-Man Fishing Products.
By far, the most impactive lure in the last decade has been the Ned Rig. As previously described in this column, it is a small, soft plastic stick bait (two inches long) that looks like a shortened Senko and in its original form would float if it weren’t threaded on a tiny grub hook with a weighted mushroom head. So, when fished, the tiny bait slowly falls to the bottom, stands on its head and looks like a feeding minnow or crawdad.
Small lures and plastics are here to stay.
I had an experience recently during a bass tournament at Lake Powell that truly solidified my feelings about the need for small lures to catch big fish. Allow me to explain.
In the spring at Lake Powell, I like to throw large lures, crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs that appear to be even larger than they actually are. A good friend and mentor, Justin Hicks from Colorado, taught me to bulk up my presentations in the spring to get more bites.
The thought process is that as the water temperatures struggles to get above 50 degrees, specifically bass (but it could include many other species) might not want to expend the energy to chase down a fleeing minnow or crawdad in cold water. But, if a large forage species (or a good imitation) were to come very close to their position, they grab it without expending much effort.
However, unsettled weather and a veritable downpour most of the night before our event began, literally destroyed my opportunity to catch fish. The clear creeks and backwaters in which I had located fish during practice, had turned to chocolate water and the fish just didn’t bite. My large lures didn’t even get a good look from the fish and for the first time in 15 or more years, I brought no fish to the scales.
I was able to see firsthand how so many other anglers feel when some participants locate and catch great bass while others simply do not. Several anglers, including Justin Hicks, brought in 15-pounds of bass in their five-fish limit.
So, realizing I had to make a change in both the areas I fished and the clarity of the water, I switched up and began throwing a Ned Rig in green pumpkin color in basically the same kinds of areas I had fished the previous day.
Here’s the thing about fishing Ned Rigs. You simply throw the lures out and quite literally do nothing else. The fish locate and eat the lure with little effort on your part. To my utter amazement and delight, I caught a 12.91-pound limit of large and smallmouth bass on day two. Only one fish came on a large jig and two fish came on a large crankbait. But, two of the largest bass for the day came on the Ned Rig.
Though I was not in contention to win the event due to my poor performance in day one, on the third day I repeated and even expanded on using the Ned Rig and brought 14.11 pounds of bass back to the scales, moving me from 17th place after day two to 12th overall for the tournament. Two four-pound largemouth bass chose the Ned Rig over the rest of my tackle.
If you don’t tie on some version of the Ned Rig for whatever fish species you chase this year, you will miss out on one of the finest small lures ever conceived to catch fish — large or small. Good Luck and please stay safe.