How to IMPROVE Your Ned Rig!

Ned Rig Hula Stick Minimalist Fishing

The Ned Rig is one of my all time favorite baits. It’s something that you need in your tackle box, and I can tell you that I don’t plan to say that about a ton of different presentations as we continue to minimize our fishing tackle.

This is a bait to take seriously… but at times, there are way to make it even more effective… here’s one of my favorites.

Using a Ned Rig + Hula Stick Combo
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Personally, I find myself using a combination of a Ned Rig jighead (either a standard, weedless, skirted or “power”… AKA, one with a bigger, heavier hook) with the slightly longer Hula Stick. Hula StickZ (which I try to never refer to in plural, because it requires the use of that stupid “Z” at the end of the name) are longer than the traditional TRD – a smaller trailer with no appendages. This smaller option is great if we’re talking super finesse, however, I rarely use it. I like what the Hula Stick brings to the table, because in my opinion it looks like a minnow rooting around for food. The little appendages look like a tail and the body is a bit longer and somewhat narrow.

Green Pumpkin Hula Stick Ned Rig
Green Pumpkin Hula Stick for Improving Your Ned Rig

It’s just an easy (little) meal for a hungry bass… or a lot of other things that swim and eat minnows.

Ned Rig Hula Stick Green Pumpkin
Green Pumpkin Hula Stick for Improving Your Ned Rig

The material used to create Hula StickZ (called ElaZtech) is super buoyant, super durable – and seriously, the fish hold on to these things. There is some salt baked into them as well – which means that it stays in their mouth a bit longer. (I always “juice my baits” as well, and ElaZtech soaks Dr. Juice right up to mask human scent.) Handling these baits is not a messy ordeal. They won’t cover the bottom of your boat in salt like other plastics. However…

A word of warning!

ElaZtech is awesome, but it can have a very strange reaction to other baits, Plano storage containers, or pretty much anything made of plastic (and some other synthetic materials). I left one next to some Dardevles after a trip along with the other baits I was using. The ElaZtech “melted” the paint and several of the other plastic baits, making everything completely unusable.

Ned Rig Reaction Damage to Dardevle Spoon Paint
Ned Rig Reaction Damage to Dardevle Spoon Paint
When I came home I was surprised to find this… mess

Be careful how you store this stuff. (Personally I keep them in plastic storage bags or the bag they originally came in.) It’s takes a bit more work, but it’s worth the effort…

My wife caught this GIANT smallmouth bass on a Hula Stick in about 7 feet of water while on a recent trip to Minocqua as I was experimenting with The Snakebite Rig… not too shabby!

minimalist fishing pb monster smallmouth bass jen wisconsin lake minimalist fishing
MONSTER Wisconsin smallmouth bass

However you slice it, while this is a great presentation for beginners or veterans alike in many situations, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s not something that you can tie on and leave on all year… but it’s close… and a very valuable tool in the Minimalist Fishing toolbox.

Quick bit of Ned Rig History

The Ned Rig was pioneered by several famous anglers, but brought to prominence by (and therefore named after) Ned Kehde. In fact, the Z-Man website currently states:

A modification of techniques pioneered by angling icons like Chuck Woods, Guido Hibdon, and Charlie Brewer, the Ned Rig was conceived and brought to mainstream attention by Ned Kehde, an avid angler and veteran fishing industry writer from Lawrence, Kansas.

EDIT: I received a really interesting comment about this from Don @ Show-Me Fish Tales after I posted the video. I’ll link to his YouTube channel so you can check it out – but this was what he sent me:

YouTube Hula StickZ Comment from Don @ Show-Me Fish Tales
YouTube Hula StickZ Comment from Don @ Show-Me Fish Tales

It really is super simple

Like we mentioned, the Ned Rig literally consists of a jighead, and a trailer. We’re improving it and targeting larger fish by adding the Hula Stick – this is a great way to upsize the presentations the kids are using, too.

This is a finesse presentation – that means it is best suited for tough conditions. You typically fish it slow by raising the rod tip and letting the bait fall back down on semi-slack line (watch the line for ticks, bumps, etc!).

The ElaZtech trailers float which means the presentation sinks slowly (unless you have a very heavy jighead) and stands at attention when it hits the bottom. Since the hook is usually exposed, I have had great luck fishing this around sand, rocks, underwater humps (if the wind has cooperated and been minimal) and areas with transitions into pockets of weeds. I have not always had good luck fishing this in Illinois, as we typically enjoy mucky sucky death bottoms in our ponds and lakes. With the exposed hook… it can be very frustrating – but if you find the right lake at the right time, everyone can land some fish!

Ned Rig Hula Stick Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass on a Ned Rig w/ Hula Stick (1 of 3)

We caught 3 fish in 30 minutes on this trip fishing Ned Rigs + Hula StickZ (in green pumpkin) early in the season in Illinois, in a rocky lake without much muck. Fun times 🙂

Ned Rig Hula Stick Largemouth
Another Largemouth Bass on a Ned Rig w/ Hula Stick (2 of 3)

Actually… this second largemouth bass enjoyed a pretty sweet release courtesy of my son… you can see it in this video on the main channel:

Flying Fish Release Ned Rig
Flying fish release caught on a Ned Rig

If you throw a Ned Rig on monofilament fishing line (which floats) the bait will sink even slower, but remember that mono has stretch and is more visible than fluorocarbon lines. Fluoro on the other hand sinks and has less stretch, so your bait will sink faster and you will have more sensitivity (you will feel the fish better, they will feel you better) and if you set the hook aggressively you may well pull the bait right out of their mouth (I’ve had good luck setting the hook by swiftly lifting my rod tip straight up high, and keeping pressure on the fish).

Neither fishing line is “wrong“, but consider where you are fishing and the attributes you want in your rig.

Beware the cash grab

Unfortunately, with the massive rise in popularity, we have seen a TON of baits and jigheads introduced that are “specifically for Ned Rig fishing”, or “The secret weapon to enhance your Ned Rig”, or whatever. Z-Man has literally recreated every type of plastic in a Ned-specific version which is kind of silly. Other companies like Strike King are making baits to use on Ned jigheads, even using the same terminology in their marketing & packaging.

They’re not magic.

That said, they do serve a purpose, which is why they are a staple in my Minimalist Fishing repertoire.

AJ Hauser Smallmouth Bass Minimalist
Ned Rig doing work on a Super Hot Day in Wisconsin

When the weather is rough – very cold or very hot – and it’s time to slow down, this is definitely something to reach for. If you have a friend that needs to try this setup – go ahead and send this article to ’em!

Try some out for yourself – and if you land some fish, make sure to let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.

Thank you Readers!

Thanks for visiting! I’m going to keep doing everything possible to keep the helpful content coming, and FREE FOR EVERYONE… but I need your help. Please chip in by making a small monthly contribution to keep this site alive & growing. $4.96 will buy a sweet Pack ‘o Dingers, and with it, I promise to catch many bass in your honor. Thanks. You are a gentleman & a scholar! -AJ

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