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A Guide to Modern Rigging
Story by Russ Bassdozer

How goes it? It's Bassdozer here. You know what I am thinking? Maybe this is a good time to review basic rigging options used nowadays with soft baits. Nothing fancy, just bass rigs you make with a bait, a sinker, and a hook. This news article covers eleven modern ways to rig soft plastics: the weightless rig, unpegged Texas rig, Shakin' rig, pegged Texas rig, Screw-in rig, Mojo rig, Carolina rig, Rockhopper rig, Splitshot or Slipshot rig, Dropshot rig, and the Wacky rig. So here goes!

Weightless Rig The purest form of rigging, and most deadly with the Senko. No sinker is used and the hook can be tied directly to the main line. Optionally, tie the hook to a 12" to 24" inch leader tied to a swivel to reduce any line twist that may occur with weightless rigs.

The 6" 9L Senko (color 187) rigged weightless produced an amazing 10.27 lbs. world record spotted bass for California angler Bryan Shishido.

Unpegged Texas Rig A bullet sinker is allowed to slide freely on the main line, with the hook tied directly to the main line. One issue is the sinker can slide far up the line away from the bait. This makes for inaccurate casts and imprecise presentations. For more control over an unpegged sinker, you can contain it on a short 12 to 18" leader tied to a swivel. This gives you the freedom of unpegged lure movement and you gain better control over the cast and presentation.

Shakin' Rig Use a bead on an unpegged Texas rig. The sinker will hit against the bead and make a clicking noise that can attract fish at times.

Pegged Texas Rig Jam a wooden toothpick in the end of a bullet sinker and break it off. Don't jam it in so tightly that you risk weakening the line. Slide it down the line, and the toothpick will hold the sinker securely against the nose of a soft bait used in heavy cover. The sinker and bait will act like one unit that slips through weeds and resists snagging in cover.

Screw-In Rig An advancement over the toothpick-pegging method, screw-in sinkers are molded around a thin Teflon tube and a corkscrew wire that screws in to the nose of a soft bait. Slip the sinker on the main line, tie the hook directly to the main line, and screw the sinker into the nose of the bait. This provides the ultimate in weedless and snagless presentation for big bass in heavy cover.

Note With a pegged bullet or screw-in sinker, it can be important to thread the hook eye up to an inch or more into the bait. This leaves room so the hook eye is not jammed immovably against the sinker. Otherwise, if the eye is pressed against the sinker, gripped inside the fish's tightly-clamped mouth, then you only move the entire bass/weight/hook forward without penetrating on the hookset. Leaving up to an inch or more of slack ensures enough room to move the hook and have it start to set before it jams up behind the sinker.


* These sinkers are products of Mojo Lure Company, Inc.

Mojo Rig Mojo sinkers are long and thin. The sinker shape allows a Mojo rig to slide easily through rocks, weeds, and brush better than most other sinker types. Mojo rigs also work for vertical fishing in deep water where baits are suspended for bass lurking in or under the tops of flooded trees or brush. They are part of a complete system that includes rubber strands that thread through the sinker to peg it from 12" to 24" inches up the main line above the bait. The rubber strands cushion the line from any potential damage that can occur with wooden toothpicks or crimping splitshots on the line.


* These sinkers are products of Mojo Lure Company, Inc.

Carolina Rig Most often used on open, relatively unobstructed bottom. Thread a 1/2 to 1 oz sinker onto your main line, followed by a bead that clicks when the sinker hammers against it. Then tie on a swivel, an 18"-24" inch leader line (but can be longer), and your hook. As with all the rigs we describe here, use lighter weights of Carolina rigs with light tackle, and heavier weights of Carolina rigs with heavier rods, reels and lines, a simple principle.


* These sinkers are products of Mojo Lure Company, Inc.

Rockhopper Rig An advancement over the Carolina rig for rock-strewn bottoms. The Rockhopper sinker can come through snags that stop most other sinker types.


* These sinkers are products of Mojo Lure Company, Inc.

Splitshot or Slipshot Rig Knot a hook to the end of your line and pinch one or more split shot 18" to 24" inches above the hook. Keep in mind, don't pinch the splitshot shut so tightly that you risk damaging the line. The Mojo Slipshot is an advancement that uses rubber threads to cushion the line. If not used in snaggy areas, simply nose-hook the bait with a hook like Yamamoto's series 53 Crooked Hook.

A splitshot rig is most often used with light line. Since splitshot sinkers are typically smaller and lighter than any other sinker types, you can slowly drift a splitshot rig down past bass suspended in mid-depths above deep water. A splitshot can be used for a delicate lightweight presentation in shallow water, or to sweep a bait down with the current flow in a stream or shallow river. The bait will swirl and sway as it is buffeted around by the water flow while the splitshots keep it hunkered down near bottom!


* These sinkers are products of Mojo Lure Company, Inc.

Dropshot Rig Tie a hook like a Yamamoto series 53 Crooked Hook onto the main line with a Palomar knot. The loose tag end of the knot is left anywhere from 12" to 24" inches long. After the knot is tied, the tag end is threaded through the hook eye in the direction that keeps the hook point positioned up. A swiveling style of sinker is then clipped onto the dangling tag end of the line anywhere from 6" to 24" below the hook. The bait is then nose-hooked. Optionally, the bait can be wacky-rigged in the middle to reduce any line twist that may occur with dropshot rigs.

Wacky Rig Tie a hook like Yamamoto's series 53 Crooked Hook to your main line. Use a long thin bait such as a Senko. Bend the bait in the middle so both tips touch. Then poke the hook straight through the bend in the middle.

That just about covers all the most popular rigs in modern use for soft baits. All you need to do now is get out on the water and learn to use them well. Practically any rig shown will work (within reason) with practically any model of soft plastic bait.


Talkin' Texas - How to lasso & Hogtie a Bait
Story by Russ Bassdozer





Texas rig, Carolina rig, Mojo rig, with a screw-in sinker, a splitshot or dropshot, weightless or wacky rig? A Senko or Kut-Tail can be effective all these ways, as can most of our soft baits. Except for wacky rig or using a hook like Yamamoto's Crooked Hook, you often start out the same by putting the offset eye portion of a hook through the nose of a bait and out the chin. Then with the point end of the hook, do one of the following, depending on how heavy the bass-holding cover is at any given moment.

Texas-Rigged For the heaviest cover, the only option may be to put the point in through the bottom of the bait, and  not have it come out the top surface. Works best with thinner-bodied baits where you do not have to drive the hook through a big wad of plastic on a hookset. Many anglers underestimate the gear required for this. Texas rigging is not a light or medium line/rod technique. A heavy rod, reel and line are required to drive the hook through the plastic.

Note For flipping and pitching short distances, some pros prefer the solid hooksets they feel are provided by Texas rigging with a straight shank hook. However, for casting weightless baits or distances, they opt for an offset shank to help keep the bait in place during a long cast.

Tex-Exposed For open water or thin cover, put the point into the bottom of the bait and all the way out the top of the bait. The barb on some hooks like the Yamamoto Sugoi angle downward, so the point will hug flat on top of the bait. This is called "Tex-Exposed," meaning it is an exposed point Texas rig. Applications are where the water is mostly open, with few snags and sparse weed patches. Tex-Exposed works a bit better on big fat-bodied grubs or on wide-bodied lizards where there is some girth that tends to bump the Tex-Exposed point away from snaggage.

Tex-Skin on Top For moderate cover, follow the directions for Tex-Exposing the hook. Then, insert the hook point and barb just under the skin on the plastic bait's back. You have to pull the plastic forward in front of where the hook comes out the top of the bait, and stretch it forward a bit. While it is still stretched, insert the point just under the skin, and then push the stretched plastic back to cover the barb area. The only way to describe it is that the hook point should appear just under the bait's skin exactly as if you got a splinter in your thumb or your big toe, just under your skin.

Tex-Skin on Side For moderate cover. In this variation, you do not insert the hook through the bottom of the bait. Instead, let the hook dangle down, with the hook bend underneath the bait's body, and the hook point alongside the bait. Now scrunch the bait forward a bit with your fingers, insert the hook point into the side of the bait, then slide the bait back so that the point and barb are under the skin on the bait's side. This is often used with light tackle, since the hookset is easier to break out of the plastic this way.

Above all, you need to leave some slack in the body of the lure when you rig it. You cannot have the bait stretched too tightly onto the hook. Tautness in the lure body is what makes for poor hooksetting. You have to leave the slightest amount of slack in the body between the hook eye and the embedded point. The slackness makes for a good hookset. This is a feel that only comes with doing it right. Leaving slack does not mean that the lure should look like it has a bend or curve caused by the way you rigged it - it should look perfectly straight - but when you press down on it with your index finger right where you want the fish to bite it, there should be some looseness, some slack give in the lure body. You want the fish's mouth to depress the bait's body down easily in the section ahead of where the hook point is waiting. Once the hook point starts to grab hold in the fish's mouth, you really want the entire bait to easily pull down off the front portion of the hook, and out of the way where it won't interfere with a good hook set. This is kind of hard to describe in writing, but very recognizable once you get the hang of doing it.

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