There are dozens of ways to rig a soft plastic now, with hundreds of baits to choose from. And all of that can be a little overwhelming. Today, we’re going to look at a super simple way to rig a worm that’s as effective as it is easy to fish. We’re talking about the free rig.
Where it gets its name
All you’ll need to put together the free rig is a weight, hook and soft plastic. But this isn’t a bullet weight, like you’d use with a Texas rig. Instead, you’ll want to pick a weight with a loop attached to it. Most of these are bell, ball or cylindrical in shape.
Simply run your line through the loop of the weight and tie on your hook. Then rig up whatever soft plastic you like, but be sure to rig it weedless. Now you have a free rig, where the weight it able to slide freely up and down your line. This is where the rig gets its name.
What the free rig does
Because the weight can move freely up and down the line (even more so than a traditional Texas rig), the weight slips up the line and falls to the bottom first and then the bait slowly falls to the bottom after it. This creates an entirely different look for the fish, one that’s more natural and stealthier.
You want to gently drag this rig along the bottom with pauses between drags. As you pull the rig along, the bait is able to float and wash around a little on the pause. This creates a natural presentation that is very effective when the fish are feeding, but also effective in high pressure situations when the bite is a little more finicky.
Amp up the free rig with ElaZtech
Z-Man offers an entire lineup of soft plastics that are much more buoyant than most of the other soft plastics on the market. These baits are made with ElaZtech, and since they float, they make a free rig come alive even more.
If you lower your rod tip between drags, the bait will use that slack to float up a little off the bottom, as your line slips through the loop in your weight. Then when you pull again, the bait goes back down to the bottom. As you repeat this, the bait works its way along the bottom, floating up a few inches periodically throughout the cast, creating a very realistic approach.
The free rig is simple to rig, easy to fish and very effective. That’s a recipe for success in the hands of an angler at any skill level. Because the soft plastic is rigged weedless, this is a great technique to use around a wide range of cover. It slips through laydowns, picks its way through brush and pops free from submerged vegetation.
Because the weight can slide freely up and down the line, the soft plastic has a very realistic and subtle fall and movement. The free moving weight also takes the leverage away from a fighting bass, that would have a better chance of getting off if the weight were pinned tight to the bait. All in all, the free rig is one of the simplest and most effective ways to rig a soft plastic, and a presentation you should definitely give a try.