The wacky rig and Neko rig appear very similar at first glance. But these two baits have key differences that give them abilities to target fish in different situations. Today, we’re going to dive into those differences and layout the info you’ll need to consider when deciding whether to rig a worm wacky style or Neko.
The basic differences in rigging -
A wacky rig is a weightless worm rigged with a small hook through the midsection of the bait, intended to fall horizontally and slowly. A Neko rig is a worm with a nail weight in one end rigged with a small hook through the middle, intended to sink quickly and be fished along the bottom in a vertical orientation.
For the wacky rig to shimmy and fall horizontally, you’ll want to run your hook point perpendicularly through the midsection of a soft plastic stick bait or finesse worm. This will allow the bait to fall with the hook pointed up, making it more weedless and positioning it to hook a bass in the roof of the mouth.
When rigging a Neko rig, put a small nail weight into the nose of a finesse worm and then run the hook point through the midsection of the worm, but inline with the body of the worm as opposed to perpendicular to it. Make sure your hook point is towards the tail of the worm, opposite the nose weight. This will have the hook pointed up when the bait is drug along the bottom, making it more weedless and ready to hook into the roof of a bass’s mouth.
Different applications -
Though a wacky rig and Neko rig can be used in many of the same places, they are meant to target fish in different ways. For instance, you can skip both these baits under a dock, but the slower falling wacky rig would be more effective at targeting bass suspended high under the dock. And the weighted Neko rig would be better at targeting bass relating to the poles of the dock, down near the bottom.
Wacky rigs are better when skipping bushes and fishing around other cover where the bass are hanging closer to the surface. Neko rigs are better in deeper situations, like around brushpiles in more than 10 feet of water. Though the bass in the brushpile would likely eat a wacky rig too, it would be inefficient to fish a wacky rig in this setting, since it would take a long time for the bait to reach the bottom.
The bait selection is a little different as well. You’d rarely use a soft plastic stick bait like a Senko with a Neko rig; a finesse worm sinks faster and works better. But both a finesse worm and a stick bait work well on the wacky rig.
Rigging and final thoughts -
You can also use a weedless or exposed hook with either of these baits. There are several options when it comes to hooks. A size 1 or 1/0 Neko hook works well for both wacky and Neko rigs in most settings. A circle hook works well for wacky rigs too. Use the weedless version with a weedguard to target bass around brush, grass and other cover. Use the exposed hook when fishing in open water like under bushes and docks.
Adding an O-ring to either a wacky or Neko rig is a great way to create a more durable connection between the hook and the bait and conserve the soft plastic baits that easily come off during a cast or while fighting a fish. There are O-ring tools that are cheap and easy to use which allow you to slide the ring up onto the bait.
In short, both Neko rigs and and wacky rigs are great finesse presentations to use when targeting finicky fish. The weightless wacky rig works better near the surface and the nose-weighted Neko rig is better for targeting bass deeper. Both can be used in open water or around cover and both work best on spinning gear.
Hopefully this simple breakdown will help you decide between a wacky and Neko rig the next time the conditions call for one, and make it easy for you to rig and fish each bait with confidence.
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