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100 Bass With the Ned Rig and Zman Baits

This is reprinted from an article I did for

A finesse technique that many northeastern Kansas anglers utilize is beginning to spread throughout the country.  The roots stretch back to the methods used by the late Chuck Woods of Kansas City, who created the Beetle, Beetle Spin and Puddle Jumper.

It is not the typical drag your bait on the bottom type of finesse but a fast paced, high numbers technique.  In essence, it’s a fun, inexpensive and easy way to fish that could have you catching over a 100 bass in one outing.

Many anglers who have found success with this new finesse technique have affectionately labeled it the Ned Rig.  Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas has been its developer, supporter and advocate.  Kehde is a field editor for In-Fisherman Magazine.  (You can read his blog here: In-Fisherman Ned Kehde Blog

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Kehde recalls the development of his style of finesse fishing:

“While guiding on Lake of the Ozarks in the 60’s, the Hibdons and I were using a lot of finesse-type baits with clients, such as small black marabou jigs, Beetles and small jigworms.

In the early 1970’s, I joined a bass club in Kansas City and wielded a lot of power techniques, such as big worms and big jig, and I virtually stopped finesse fishing.

Throughout the 1980’ and ‘90s, power tactics, such as wielding lipless crankbaits, encompassed 75% of my fishing.  But I gradually began to work once again with finesse tactics, such as four-inch worms on split-shot rigs and 1/16- and 1/8-ounce marabou jigs.

After the turn of the century, Gary Yamomoto’s Senko and similar stick baits became fashionable.  We started rigging them on a jig.  In our eyes, the Senko and jig were similar in many ways to the Beetle.  As we worked with the Senko, we discovered that a three-inch or slightly shorter allured more bass than the four, five and six inch ones.  Thus, if we didn’t have access to the three-inch Senko, we cut the five and six inch Senko in half.

In 2006, I was doing a story on Kevin VanDam’s experiences with a shaky head jig.  At times, he occasionally rigged a Strike King Lure Company’s five-inch Zero on a shaky head jig.  He gave me a package to experiment with.  Since I felt they were too big for my kind of finesse fishing, I cut them in half. I put one on a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.  Straightaway, I was amazed at the amount of bass it caught.  It seemed much more effective than the traditional Senko.

The Zero is made by Z-Man’s Fishing Products.  It’s made from a product called ElaZtech.  In 2010, I began experimenting with several baits made by Z-man, such as their ZinkerZ, which is identical to the Zero.”

These days Kehde fishes three to four days a week and uses only finesse baits.  After many years of fishing and thousands of fish caught, which he has recorded diligently, he has help make this type of finesse fishing an art form.

This is not about catching big fish, even though Kehde will occasionally entice a lunker.  It’s about catching a lot of fish.  His modus operandi is more about efficiency and looking to catch as many fish as possible.  In fact, Kehde and a partner can occasionally catch 100 bass in one outing on Kansas public lakes.

Kehde prefers Z-man baits due to their durability, buoyancy and price.  The ZinkerZ, ShadZ, Rain MinnowZ and the four-inch finesse WormZ are all baits he utilizes.  But you can use any Senko style bait or finesse plastic.

When using a soft plastic stick worm cut about 1/3 of it off.  Using the larger portion, attach it to a jig head.  A 1/16th ounce head works best but you can go as small as 1/32 ounce.  In windy conditions or for a deeper presentation you can use a 3/32-ounce head.  Press the bait firmly to the jig heads barbs to help prevent it from sliding down.  If it does slide down just reverse the way it goes on the hook, putting the tail end to the jig head. Some anglers use super-style glue to keep their bait in place.

The Ned Rig is best used on spinning tackle with 10-pound test braid and a 8-pound test fluorocarbon leader.  Use a Slim Beauty knot, Double Uni knot or an Albright knot to connect the braid to the fluorocarbon.  You can find instruction on how to tie those knots here: fishing knots.

The braid will help slow the rate of fall.  The fluorocarbon leader keeps the line invisible in the water but maintains sensitivity.  Often times the bite is very soft, so braid and fluorocarbon help with determining the bite.  Also braid seems to help eliminate line twist.

A medium-size spinning reel works best, such as the Abu Garcia Orra Sx.  There are many companies who supply specially designed reels for braided line.  The reel should be attached to a rod that is sensitive.  A drop shot spinning rod works well.

There are many types of retrieves when employing the Ned Rig.  The two that produce the most fish are the shake and reel and the dead stick.

The shake and reel is best when the fish are active.  It is accomplished by shaking the rod tip slightly four or five times once the bait hits the water.  Then slowly reel the handle three or four times, pause and then shake again three or four times.

If you pause between shakes, it will allow the bait to sink deeper.  When fish are relating to the bottom in 6 to 8 foot of water this pause will help get the bait in front of them.

An angler can also do little incessant shakes while turning the reel handle.  This makes the tail quiver rapidly and is effective when the fish are extremely active.

The dead-stick retrieve is done by having the bait sit dead-still on or near the bottom.  After the bait sits motionless for five or more seconds slowly start to reel in the handle.  Make sure there is very little movement in the bait and keep it close to the bottom.  After several turns pause and allow the bait to lay still for a few seconds.  Repeat this till the bait is to the boat or you catch a fish.  This is good when the fishing is difficult.

The Ned Rig is so versatile that it can be thrown in all kinds of areas.  Rocky points, American water willows and around lay downs to name a few.  A minor issue is that it’s rigged with an open hook and will get hung up.  A few snaps of the braid and it will often pop free.  When you do lose one to a snag, the jig heads and baits are so inexpensive it is not a big deal.  Just a quick retie and you’re good to go.

The best time to use the Ned Rig is when you want to catch a lot of fish.  It is also great technique to use when you take a son or daughter fishing or some one who does not fish a lot.  It is easy to cast on spinning outfits with no worries of backlashes.

This method excels when the focus is about the joy of catching fish. It is a good way to get newcomers to enjoy fishing.  The fun of catching a lot of fish will encourage them to become life-long fisherman.

The Z-Man soft plastics are perfect for this technique because they are made from ElaZtech.  ElaZtech baits are 10x stronger than any other plastic baits on the market and yet they are soft and pliable.  They are made to last and are virtually indestructible.  The Finesse WormZ from Z-Man once helped Kehde land 182 bass before it was un-fishable.

Kansas’ fishermen have learned that the Ned Rig can put numbers of bass in the boat.  Word is spreading around the country that it is simple, inexpensive and a fun way to catch fish.  There is even a chance you could catch 100 bass in one day with it on your home waters.

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