By Mark Fong
As one of the most respected tournament anglers of all time, Larry Nixon or “The General” as he is affectionately known, is recognized as one of the foremost worm and jig fisherman in the world of professional bass fishing. Over the course of his amazing 40 plus year career, there is not much the GYCB Pro hasn't seen or experienced in the world of bass fishing. So it should not come as a surprise that Nixon is well qualified to weigh in on one of the hottest lures on the market today, the Ned Rig.
Jig head worms like the Ned Rig are nothing new to the two-time BASS Angler of the Year. The jig head worm has been an important tool in his arsenal since 1970. In fact, Nixon won a US Bass Tournament on Lake Sam Rayburn in the early 1980's by utilizing a classic finesse setup that included: spinning gear, 6lb monofilament line and a 5” straight tail worm paired with a 1/8 oz ball head jig to trick finicky post spawn bass.
“So many of our baits today including the Ned Rig are a variation of the ones we had before. The Ned Rig is basically the same technique as an old school jig worm,” explained Nixon. “It's different because we are now throwing an even smaller bait and it's a little bit fatter and we are doing it with even lighter heads. Before, a 1/8oz head was about as light as we had.”
Bolstering The General's Arsenal
Nixon has been a Ned Rig guy for the better part of a decade, way before it was mainstream. “It's (Ned Rig) just an incredible lure to catch a lot of fish when the bite gets hard,” said the 1983 Bassmaster Classic Champion. “Nowadays with all the publicity and all the chatter, everybody has a Ned Rig tied on. When I first saw the Yamamoto XL Tiny Ika (92TXL), I thought to myself 'Oh my goodness', now I’ve got a new Ned Rig.”
The XL Tiny Ika is the latest addition to the GYCB Ika family, joining the 4” Fat Ika (92F) and the 3.5” Saltwater Ika (S92TL). Measuring 4.5”, the XL Tiny Ika features a short Senko style body transitioning to skirted tentacles reminiscent of the Hula Grub. The bait has a slim profile and a subtle enticing action, making it an ideal finesse offering. The XL Tiny Ika is very versatile. It is effective on all species of bass, largemouths, smallies and spotted bass and can be fished shallow or deep. Made with Yamamoto's signature plastic formulation, when fish bite, they don't let go.
“I have been doing very well with the XL Tiny Ika,” said Nixon. “When the fish are real shallow, like 5 foot or less, I'll throw it on a little teeny head, a 1/16 oz or less. There is something about the bait when fish are shallow. That slow fall is what triggers them into biting. Anytime the fish are around their spawning grounds, if you sink it where they live they're not gonna let it sit there.”
The Tiny Ika is also an excellent deep clear water bait as well. Since it falls slower than a traditional Ned Rig style bait, Nixon upsizes his jig head weight to either a 1/8oz or a 3/16oz.
Whether the fish are shallow or deep, the action of the XL Tiny Ika triggers reluctant bass to bite. Highly pressured fish can't resist its subtle movement. Most of Nixon's bites come as the bait is falling in the water column and the bite is often very subtle.
Nixon's color choices are simple and effective. “One of my favorite colors for the XL Tiny Ika is Goby (967),” tipped Nixon. “Goby is an excellent Bream imitation. When the fish are spawning it is great around the beds. General's Watermelon (990) is a color I had them (GYCB) make for me. The reason it is so effective is because smallmouth and spotted bass are gullible for chartreuse. Finally, no matter where you go, you gotta have the old standbys: Watermelon Blk/Red Flk (208) and Green Pumpkin (297).”
Nixon has experimented with many different jig heads and the Hayabusa Brush Easy Head is one of his favorites. The Brush Easy is constructed with a #1 hook and Nixon is a big fan of the small hook. “I like using a little #1 hook,” said Nixon, “When they get the bait in their mouth, it gets right under their skin and they're caught. It really sticks them good, and all you have to do is lean back and reel them in.”
More recently he has also been using a custom mushroom head poured with a needle sharp #1 hook. He'll switch between a regular head and one with a wire weed guard when fishing lakes with cover.
As is standard practice with most finesse techniques, Nixon opts for spinning gear for his Ned Rig duties. He is a big fan of the new Dobyns Xtasy DRX 723SF to which he pairs a Bass Pro Shops Platinum spinning reel. Nixon spools up with 12lb yellow Sunline SX Braid tied to an 8lb Sunline Fluorocarbon Shooter leader. Through trial and error, Nixon has settled on the FG Knot as the connection between his mainline and his leader and he likes his connection knot to rest on the spool of his reel when he makes a cast. Finally, Nixon uses a four wrap Trilene Knot to connect his leader to his jig head.
While a standard Ned Rig is a potent fish catching tool, over time bass can become conditioned to it. As the Ned Rig has become more mainstream, this has become more problematic. The new XL Tiny Ika is the perfect solution to the status quo.