Let’s face it, most bass by now are familiar enough with wacky rigs that they’re often unfazed by them. Freshen up your finesse game with a new VMC® Neko Rig.
“The Neko Rig is one of the hottest new finesse trends going around right now,” says Michael Iaconelli, the only angler to have won a Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. “If you use traditional finesse techniques, like soft stick baits and wacky rigs, give this Neko Rig a try. You’re going to catch fish you never thought you’d catch before.”
“When you let the Neko Rig fall on a semi-slack line, this thing’s going to fall almost backwards at an angle,” Iaconelli explains. “And it’s this natural, erratic glide that — especially in slightly stained and clear water — drives the fish nuts.”
VMC’s Ike Approved Neko lineup includes several sizes of Neko Hooks, Neko Weights and Half Moon Wacky Weights. The weights are designed to embed in — and stay put in — one end of a soft-plastic stick worm.
The Neko Hook features a black-nickel finish, wide gap, 3-degree offset point, resin-closed eye and a forged, long shank. It’s available in four sizes: 2, 1, 1/0 and 2/0.
“Nowhere in fishing is the hook more critical,” Iaconelli says. “The Neko Hook is the premiere hook for this technique. You hardly lose any fish with this at all. This is a high-percentage-style hook.”
VMC’s Neko Weight features conical ribs, which firmly anchor it in place without damaging your worm. Its thin profile allows you to modify your rig’s action. It comes 10 per pack in four sizes: 1/32-ounce, 1/16-ounce, 3/32-ounce and 1/8-ounce.
VMC’s Half Moon Wacky Weight provides a slightly different action than the Neko Weight, plus the ability to make some noise when it collides with a hard bottom. It also features conical ribs to firmly anchor it in place. It comes 10 per pack in three sizes: 1/16-ounce, 1/8-ounce and 3/16-ounce.
“The beauty of the Neko Rig is how simple it is to rig and how effective it is when you fish it in the water,” Iaconelli says. “The action of the rig is just amazing.”
Here are Iaconelli’s pointers for setting up a Neko Rig:
• Embed a Neko Weight or Half Moon Wacky Weight into one end of your favorite worm (if one end is thicker, use that end). The weighted end of the worm should be shorter than the other end.
• Run your Neko Hook through the worm parallel with the plastic, the point facing away from the weight. That’s opposite of a wacky rig, in which the hook point goes through the plastic perpendicular to the worm.
• Be sure the point of the hook is facing towards the weight when you first stick it through the bait. “That way, when the hook comes out of the plastic it’ll be facing away from the weight,” Iaconelli explains.
• Be sure that your hook point is exposed. “It’s not a Texas rig,” Iaconelli says.
Although Iaconelli fishes Neko Rigs year-round, he favors them most during spawn, post-spawn and summer. “When the fish get around isolated pieces of cover – grass, docks, rocks – that thing’s hard to beat for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass,” he says.
Neko Rig bites usually come on the initial fall, Iaconelli says. A semi-slack line is “key.” If his rig hits the bottom without getting bit, he says, “all I’m going to do is tip my rod and let it fall again.”
“When I tip my rod, that little tail is going to shake and vibrate as you tip it up,” Iaconelli explains. “And then it’s going to fall again, erratically.”
Iaconelli throws Neko Rigs on a 7-foot, medium-action spinning combo spooled up with 6-to-10-pound test fluorocarbon line — as light as he can get away with. “That’s how you’re going to get maximum action,” he says.