Learn the Neko rig

It’s properly called “neck-oh rig” as per the Japanese anglers who have brought it over to our country. I know that, but I still sometimes call it the “neek-oh rig.” It just flows out of my mouth easier. No matter what you call it, though, you need to learn it. 

What is the Neko rig?

It’s really pretty straightforward: Take a straight worm, harpoon a hook in the middle like you would a wacky worm and then add a weight to the nose of the worm to help keep it down at the desired depth. 

Notice I did not say help keep it down on the bottom. The Neko rig is as effective suspended in the middle of the water column as it is on the bottom.

When does it work?

Anytime, any season.

This rig is at its best in clearer water but don’t be afraid to throw it in slightly stained water, too. I have experience catching big spots in 40 something degree water on the Neko rig, and I have caught big largemouth all summer long on it. It’s a rig you can use on different types of cover as well. Nothing is off limits.  

One thing you should know, however, is that it’s not a rig for covering water quickly. It is, however, good at coaxing bites from fish if you get around them.

The setup

Over the past few years I found myself fishing any straight worm I could get my hands on trying to find just the right one for my Neko rigs. That was a long and difficult process. Frustrated, I finally went to work and designed my own. It’s called the Missile Baits Quiver Worm. It comes in two sizes — a 4.5-inch finesse version and a 6.5-inch version that I mostly use for largemouth. 

They both have a thin, flat tail that quivers with the slightest twitch. Along with that we designed them so that they have a flat nose which makes inserting the weight quick and easy. I’m not saying that other straight worms won’t work, but I am saying that this one has what I want.

I use the same tackle almost all of the time. My rod is a 7-foot, 4-inch Cashion model that’s made for drop shotting. I like a Daiwa Tatula LT 3000 spinning reel spooled with 12-pound-test Sunline Xplasma Asegai Braided Line in light green along with an 8- or 10-pound-test Sunline Sniper leader. My usual hook is a 1/0 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Drop Shot Hook. I like the plain ones without a weedguard or swivel.  

How to fish it

I recommend picking a lighter weight to start with when fishing the Neko rig. I start with a 1/32-ounce or 1/16-ounce weight and only go heavier than that if it’s absolutely necessary. We have a weight specifically designed for Neko rigs at Missile Baits. It’s called the Neko Weight. Frankly, however, other weights will work, too.  

When I make my cast, and the rig is falling, I give it a few slight twitches as it falls. Keep your line somewhat slack. Don’t let it get tight and watch it carefully. A lot of your bites will come on the fall. You can reel it in as it falls if you want to keep it off the bottom. Otherwise let it fall until your line goes totally slack. After that, bounce it a few times. 

The Neko rig is much like the Ned rig: It’s simple, and it’s all about feel. Practice with it a while and you’ll get good with it. 

I keep a Neko rig in my boat at all times. I can’t say that about shaky heads or Ned rigs. There’s a reason for my doing that — it works when I need a bite. It’ll work for you, too.