Reversing the Texas rig

Why would anyone want to reverse such a good thing?

A Texas rig has been accepted as one of the most effective and easiest ways to present a soft plastic bait for decades. Bassmasters can simply slide worm weights on their lines, tie on a hook, thread on a soft plastic and they are ready to catch bass. Since the setup is so simple and productive, why would anyone want to reverse the process?

"Being different is a big theme nowadays," says Mike Iaconelli, the 2006 Bassmaster Angler of the Year. "Fish have seen a regular Texas rigged plastic worm 10 times a day for the last five years."

So, Iaconelli and other BASS pros have been experimenting with a unique process of reversing the Texas rig — tying the hook on the line first, then threading on the soft plastic and inserting or attaching the weight to the rear of the lure. "This type of rig presents the bait in a different way," says Iaconelli.

The now defunct Flying Lure inspired Iaconelli and two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Terry Baksay to invent reverse Texas rigs to mimic the backward gliding action of the infomercial bait. "I had some Flying Lures and I caught some fish on them," Baksay admits. "The concept was not bad."

The following reverse Texas rigs have been devised by Iaconelli, Baksay and other BASS pros.

SCHWENKBECK'S UPSIDE-DOWN IKA

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Darrin Schwenkbeck normally rigs a Yamamoto Ika weightless with the hook eye coming through the nose of the bait. However, he also rigs the lure upside down so its tentacles face upward with the hook eye and occasionally inserts a Lunker City Insert Weight in the nose of the lure to make it fall faster.

"When you skip that rig it will glide under the docks better," he says. Most of the strikes Schwenkbeck gets on this rig are during the initial descent.

The Maryland pro prefers using this rig at depths of 10 feet or less whenever he is skipping the lure under boat docks or overhanging willow trees. He opts for Ikas in green pumpkin or watermelon and threads the bait on a 4/0 Gamakatsu hook.

The rig helped Schwenkbeck salvage the second day of the 2006 Bassmaster Elite Series Empire Chase event when he had a paltry limit of smallmouth with about an hour of fishing time left. Deciding to run to some docks, Schwenkbeck skipped his upside-down Ika and culled all of his smallmouth with a 14-pound limit of largemouth.

Schwenkbeck gets better hook sets with the bulky Ika by adding a Spro swivel to his reverse rig.

The Bassmaster Northern Tour titleholder runs his line through one eye of the swivel, sticks the hook point through the lure's tail, slides the swivel up the line and then slips the other eye of the swivel over the hook barb. He completes the rig by sliding the swivel up the bend of the hook to the lure and inserting the hook point into the lure's body to make it weedless. Schwenkbeck discloses that the swivel keeps the lure from sliding down and balling up on the hook during the hook set.

IACONELLI'S NOODLE RIG

By Texas rigging a Berkley Power Noodle in reverse, Iaconelli's finesse lure has the same fall and action as the old Flying Lure. "To me this is legitimate, not a made-for-TV bait," says Iaconelli of his rig. "It lets the bait glide backwards and there are not very many baits on the market that do that."

The New Jersey pro selects a 2/0 Tru-Tungsten offset hook and favors the Power Noodle because the worm has a flat side, which causes the lure to glide. "You want to rig it flat side down so the bend of the hook is coming up through the flat side and out the rounded side of the back," describes Iaconelli.

Inserting a nail weight or screw into the tail of the Power Noodle is the key to making the lure fall backwards into cover. "It is one of those techniques that you can customize to the conditions," he says. "It is an amazing bait in clear water and when you can see cruising fish."

Whether he's presenting his rig to visible bass, around docks or near overhanging limbs, Iaconelli lets his lure fall on a semi-slack line and keeps a close watch on his line because most strikes occur on the initial drop. "Once it makes that glide backwards and hits the bottom I try to make it fall again," says Iaconelli, who lifts the lure by raising his rod and lowering it again to let the bait fall back into the same spot.

"With that bait I'm really just trying to make it fall as many times as I can on one cast."

BAKSAY'S BACKWARD SLUG-GO

The Connecticut pro relies on a reverse Texas rigged Slug-Go to make his soft plastic scoot backward into a bass' lair. The back-sliding Slug-Go works best from postspawn through fall wherever Baksay finds bass hiding in cover 5 to 7 feet deep.

Baksay's rig consists of a 6-inch alewife or bubblegum Lunker City Slug-Go tied to a 4/0 hook. He inserts a 1/16-ounce Lunker City Wacky Weight into the tail of his soft plastic, which makes the lure fall backward into the cover.

After casting to a target, Baksay positions the lure's tail so it points to the cover. "The hardest part is to get the lure positioned so the tail is facing where it needs to go." Once the lure settles into the cover, Baksay twitches it out into open water and then lets it glide back into the bass' hideout.

Tackle For Reverse Texas Rigs

Upside-Down Ika: Darrin Schwenkbeck uses a 6-foot medium-heavy action RPM spinning rod and Team Daiwa SS Tournament Series spinning reel filled with 8- to 10-pound-test P-Line CX Premium line for his rig.

Power Noodle Rig: Mike Iaconelli works his rig on a 6 1/2-foot medium action Team Daiwa spinning rod and Team Daiwa Advantage 2500 Series spinning reel with 6- to 10-pound Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon.

Backward Slug-Go: Terry Baksay relies on a 6-foot, 9-inch All Star Wacky Worm rod, Pflueger Supreme baitcast reel and 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon line for his back-gliding lure.

Okeechobee Rig: Both Randy Yarnall and Mark Duerr use heavy tackle (7 1/2-foot flipping rods and 50- to 80-pound braided line) for punching their rigs through weed mats.

OKEECHOBEE RIG

Uncle Josh has devised its own reverse Texas rig that the company has dubbed the Okeechobee Rig. Originally designed for punching through the thick weed mats of Florida lakes, the Okeechobee Rig combines a Sizmic Jungle Toad with an Uncle Josh War Head Weight.

The Jungle Toad is a creature-style soft plastic with a solid head design and a hollow body. The bullet-shaped War Head Weight has a heavy wire loop designed to hold the hook and Jungle Toad in place. When rigged properly (see below), the Okeechobee Rig consists of the Jungle Toad impaled on a 4/0 to 6/0 wide gap hook with the weight attached below the lure.

BASS pro Randy Yarnall opts for the Okeechobee Rig when weed fishing because it penetrates easily through the mat. "Because of the way the weight is positioned when I am pitching I don't have to get it way up in the air so that it crashes through the mat like you do a Texas rig," he says.

The Pennsylvania pro has used the rig in the sparse weeds of Northern lakes and caught several keepers with it for a money finish in the 2006 Champion's Choice at Lake Champlain. Yarnall would pitch his rig into the weeds and let it fall to the bottom. After bouncing the lure along the bottom a couple of times, he would retrieve the bait and pitch to another target.

Yarnall notices the Okeechobee Rig also prevents his lures from balling up during the hook set and he gets a better hookup because the hook remains in front of the weight, unlike a standard Texas rig in which the weight sometimes blocks the path of the hook.

BASS pro Mark Duerr relied on the Okeechobee Rig to take sixth place in the 2006 Bassmaster Weekend Series at the Madison Chain. The Wisconsin angler prefers penetrating the milfoil on his home waters with this rig. "They will bite it as it falls through the mat or you will have to entice them a little bit on the bottom by shaking it," says Duerr.

Matt Bichanich, Uncle Josh product development specialist, notes the Okeechobee Rig is also effective for bedding bass and pitching around docks and thick wood cover. The War Head Weights (ranging in size from 3/8- to 1 1/2-ounce models) are also being used with tubes, craws and other creature-type baits to create other versions of reverse Texas rigs.

Setting Up The Okeechobee Rig

The rigging process for the Okeechobee Rig begins with inserting a 4/0 to 6/0 wide gap hook into the nose of the Jungle Toad and through the lure's bottom. A hole in the bottom of the lure allows you to insert the weight's wire loop over the hook point before pushing the hook all the way through the body. The process is completed by inserting the hook point into a specially designed ridge on the back of the lure, which makes the rig weedless.

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