Neko Rig Finesse Presentation – Tips, Tactics and Thoughts
The Neko Rig is a fantastic finesse presentation that can often catch fish when nothing else will. I fell in love with the Wacky Rig years ago. It was not long after when I was introduced to the Neko Rig. I actually consider the Neko Rig a progression of the Wack Rig.
Unlike 90% of all other soft plastic riggings, the Neko’s (like the Wacky) hook is placed mid body and not in through the nose of the bait. With the Wacky, the preferred hook location is more towards the middle of the bait’s body. Whereas, the Neko Rig having the hook closer to the tail end of the bait is preferred and actually required in order to give the rig the proper straight down, nose first, sink. This action mimics a bait fish feeding on the bottom.
Making sure the bait is rigged properly is also important for the proper action of the bait. With the head weighted and the hook near the tail, the bait will stand on the bottom seductively. With slack line, you can shake your rod tip very gently and make the tail of the Neko Rig dance, enticing fish to bite. As you move it across the bottom, the nose stays down and the tail up.
This action is actually how the Neko Rig got it’s name. In Japanese, the word Neko means “cat”. The way that the bait moved across the bottom and stirred up the sediment was reminiscent of how a cat pawed it’s liter box so Japanese anglers called it the Neko Rig.
Because of the way the Neko is rigged, it is a faster method of fishing than the Wacky Rig. It is also an excellent bait to pitch around cover such a stumps, docks and sea walls.
It is generally fished on light fluorocarbon line so it is not optimal for heavy cover but I have found if you up the size of your line and use a weedless hook, you can pitch it into heavier cover. The way that the rig presents itself on the bottom makes it excellent for working a single spot really well.
One of the key elements of this rig is the weight. Decades ago anglers would use finishing nails to weight the heads of their Wacky Rigs. This can still be done today but there are now also weights made specifically for this technique by several companies. I have been using the Damiki Neko Sinker. For years, before that I used the Lunker City Nail Weight. Today, I still keep these lead nail weights handy. When I want a very light weight, I can easily clip one of these nail weights in half creating a weight as light as 1/64th ounce. This is very helpful when fish that want a slower falling bait. This light weight has an advantage over an unweighted bait as even the lightest weight will ensure your bait still sits in a nose down attitude, which is key for this rig.
The other key element of this rig is a small light wired hook. You don’t want the hook too meaty as it will impede the tail action. VMC now has hooks made specifically for this technique. They are the VMC Ike Approved Neko Hook. I have been using these lately, and I really do like them. Before these hooks were introduced I primarily used Gamakatsu‘s light wire worm hooks. Whichever hook you settle on, be sure that is made from light wire. I can’t stress it enough, how important this is.
A place that I really love fishing the Neko Rig is around lily pads. I can always imagine big bass sitting at the edge of the holes the pads make. My Neko Rig zipping by them then standing there, tail dancing, I imagine to be too much for the bass to resist.
I pitch to the holes, edges and points, leaving my bail open, finger on the line and let my rig sink to the bottom. If the fish doesn’t nail my bait as it falls, I shake the worm’s tail ever so gently a couple times then pause. If nothing picks it up then, it’s time to move to a new hole.
In heavier cover with heavier weight, you could get away with fishing it on baitcasting tackle, but a spinning setup is definitely the preferred gear for this presentation. An open bail will allow your bait to fall more vertically than a free spooling baitcaster. You could peel line off the baitcaster but it would not be as effective as the way line falls off a spinning reel during an open bail.
If you have yet to use the Neko Rig, it really is a presentation you should familiarize yourself with. It’s caught many pros, such as Iaconelli, Palaniuk and Ehrler, tons of fish. Don’t let them have all the fun. Rig a Neko on one of your rods today and I guarantee you will fall in love with this technique. I know I did.