The Neko Rig is the hottest way to fish a soft plastic. Jordan Lee used it recently to win the Bassmaster Classic in South Carolina, and over the past few years on tour it has become a standard for pro anglers. I have been using it for a few years and have learned that it can be a very effective tool in both shallow and deep water.
What Makes it So Good?
The Neko rig is sort of a cross between a shaky head and a wacky-rig, which are two of the best finesse techniques. It's exceptionally effective for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. The Neko has the fall of a wacky-rig, but you can fish it much deeper, cover more water and really just fish it more efficiently.
The Neko is like a shaky head in that it can be fished along the bottom. I fish it almost exactly like a shaky head, just a little slower. Sometimes they will hit it on the fall, but the majority of my bites seem to come right when I start to move it once it hits the bottom. I think the bass follow it down and then strike right when you start working it.
Another thing that I like about the Neko Rig is that is can be fished almost year round. It really excels right before the bass make a final push shallow to spawn, but I have had success with it in the dead of summer and all the way to the start of winter. Basically, I have a Neko Rig ready at all times, except when it is brutally cold.
I have also found it to be great for sight-fishing for cruising or bedding bass and have been really surprised how good it is for skittish fish. I have been able to catch a bunch of fish that ignored other presentations by using a Neko Rig.
The first time I heard of the Neko Rig was when Brett Hite had a top finish on Kentucky Lake fishing deep ledges with a Yamamoto Kut-Tail Worm. It really opened my eyes to this technique and how I could use it for pressured fish.
Once I saw this, I started using it around my home on Douglas and Cherokee Lake and I caught quite a few fish with it, but once I learned how effective it can be in shallow water it became one of my go-to techniques.
It took me some time to give it a shot shallow and since then it has been one of my favorite ways to fish docks, shallow brush, and laydowns. With a weedless version hook, it is very good around cover. It is also one of the easiest baits to skip under docks and this is a place where it really shines.
If you wacky-rig Senkos and Kut Tails, you probably already have most of the gear needed to Neko. I like to use an O-Ring to secure my hook and the VMC Neko hook is the best I have found. I’ll most often use a size 1 or size 2 and use both the weedless and regular version depending on where I am fishing.
When it comes to soft plastics, it is hard to beat a 5” Yamamoto Senko. I keep it simple with colors and most often use one of the Green Pumpkin colors or Baby Bass. I will also use a 7” Kut Tail when I am fishing offshore.
The biggest key to the technique is to have a weight inserted into just one end of your Senko or Kut Tail. This is what gives it the great action. I will use a tungsten nail sinker but have found that a 1/2” black drywall screw works great. The drywall screw is a much cheaper alternative and you can screw it into your bait and it stays very secure. Since it has a flat head, it also stands up great on the bottom.
If I am using a tungsten nail weight, I use as light as 1/32 oz. when I want a slower fall and will go up to 3/32 oz. when the wind picks up. My favorite all-around size is a 1/16oz. and this is very close to what you get with the drywall screw.
When it comes to my rod, reel and line I like to use a 7’ medium Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier spinning rod with a Revo SX reel in the 30 size. I’ll spool it up with 10lb Duel Hardcore braid in white and use a 10lb Yo-Zuri Top Knot fluorocarbon leader. If I am out in deeper water, I’ll use a longer 7’6” medium heavy Veracity rod to get a better hookset.
The Neko Rig has become one of my favorite techniques and it continues to impress me with how effective and versatile it can be.