By T.J. Maglio
Larry Nixon has seen a lot in his 40+ years in the cast for cash game. He was winning tournaments when the average bass boat had a 40 horse outboard and depth finders still used paper - and he’s still a threat to win with a 250 horse motor and $10k worth of electronics on his rig.
In that time, he’s seen a lot of “hot techniques” come and go – mostly ending up in the “go” category. However, the Ned Rig (which is the current flavor of the day for much of the bass media-verse) has quickly become a huge part of his finesse fishing arsenal.
“I actually got introduced in the Ned rig about six or seven years ago by Stacey King,” Nixon said. “He was catching them like crazy up in the Ozarks on it, so I started messing around with it a little bit.”
Although Nixon immediately started catching fish on it, it wasn’t until the last couple of seasons that it became a regular part of his tournament arsenal.
“At first, I thought it was just a day-saver; a thing to throw when you needed a couple fish at the end of the day, or when the bite was super tough,” Nixon said. “However, in the last couple years I’ve realized the Ned rig is way more than that. It’s a fish catching machine – and it catches them everywhere we go on the FLW Tour.”
Why Go Ned?
To Nixon, one of the keys to the Ned rig’s success is its versatility. Unlike other finesse techniques like the drop shot or shakey head, he’s caught them on old Ned just about anywhere - shallow water, deep water, clean water, and dirty.
“The Ned rig is effective because it catches bass in pretty much any water type,” Nixon said. “I like it up shallow around docks, and also around deep structure. If they see it falling, they’re going to eat it. It’s like a Senko in that it has a subtle, irresistible fall, but you can fish it in a lot deeper water. It also catches bass extremely well in places that have lots of pressure.”
Case in point was Nixon’s recent 5th place finish at the FLW Tour event on the Upper Mississippi river in La Crosse, WI.
“In that tournament, I was in an area that I knew had fish,” Nixon said. “But on the fourth day, between angler pressure and the water conditions they just weren’t biting the way they had. I pulled the Ned rig out of the rod locker, and all of a sudden I had almost 15 pounds in the live well, which ended up being the heaviest stringer brought in that day.”
Where and How to Fish It
Nixon’s favorite place to fish the Ned rig is on lakes that hold all three species of bass, but he’s not afraid to throw it anywhere a bass swims.
“It definitely catches largemouth, but Kentuckys and smallies just destroy it,” Nixon said. “There really isn’t just one ideal place to throw it because it’s so versatile. As long as you’re not around a ton of grass, odds are you can catch them on the Ned.”
For the how part of the equation, Nixon said that most of the bass he catches on it are on the fall. He simply makes a cast, and lets it fall to the bottom. If he doesn’t have a fish at that point, he’ll hop it a couple times, let it fall and then reel up and cast again.
“If you’re looking to feel the strike, the Ned rig is not for you. Most of the time, you throw it out, and when you lift up there will be a fish swimming away. It’s definitely a line-watching deal.”
Because of this, Nixon stays away from a traditional hook set when fishing the Ned rig. Instead, he recommended just sweeping the rod and reeling into the bass.
“The Ned rig is definitely a sissy rig,” Nixon said. “It’s a light rod, light line deal, so you need to gear up accordingly.”
His rod of choice is a 7 foot, medium-light (2 power) Dobyns spinning rod, paired to a quality reel spooled with light 10- to 15-pound braid and a 7 foot long, 6- to 8-pound test fluorocarbon leader.
For jig heads, Nixon’s bread and butter is a 1/16 ounce Hayabusa Brush Easy jig head. He likes that it has a light weed guard, which decreases snags without sacrificing hooking power.
On the jig head, Nixon almost always threads on a 3-inch Fat Senko (9C), which he trims down to about 2 ½ inches long.
“It’s a little thing, but for whatever reason they just can’t resist it,” he said.
Although he’s a fan of several colors, he’s most often throwing some shade of green pumpkin. Any time the water’s got some color though, like at the Mississippi River Tour event, he uses General’s Melon (990), which is watermelon red/black flake but with a bright green belly.
It Catches Them All
Nixon wanted to leave anglers with one more piece of advice for using the Ned rig - that it’s a dynamite bait for getting action from all species of fish, and as such is a great tool to put in the hands of a kid or someone new to fishing.
“It’s absolutely wild how many other fish species eat the Ned rig,” Nixon said. “I’ve caught walleye, catfish, crappie, drum, and many others on it. It’s probably one of the best baits you could possibly tie on for a kid, because you can just about guarantee that they’re gonna get bit.”