Ned Rig + Hula Stick

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 tacklebox, and I can tell you that I don’t plan to say that about a ton of different presentations as we continue to minimize.

This is a bait to take seriously.

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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 on a Z-Man Power Finesse ShroomZ Jighead

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
Hula Stick appendages in green pumpkin

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

Early Morning Ned Rig Smallmouth Bass
Early Morning Ned Rig Smallmouth Bass

However you slice it, while this is a great presentation for beginners or veterans alike in some situations, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Just like I mentioned in the first video we did for this minimalist initiative, it’s not something that I plan to tie on and leave on all year. That is not what being a minimalist fisherman is (if you want to see what a minimalist fisherman is you can read about that).

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 rig literally consists of a jighead, and a trailer.

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 on rock bottoms, underwater humps (if the wind has cooperated and been minimal) and sandy bottoms with transitions to 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 when we took our a few Ned Rigs + Hula StickZ (in green pumpkin) to the right lake here in Illinois. 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 – don’t get caught up in the hype.

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 Fish on a Super Hot Day

When the weather is rough – very cold or very hot – and it’s time to slow down, this is definitely one of the presentations to throw to bag a few fish.

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

@aj.hauser

Let’s get better.

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