The Real Ned Rig, Please Step Forward

Days on the water with Ned Kehde aren’t measured by pounds of bass in the livewell or by “five good bites.” Rather, outings with the Hall of Fame fishing writer mostly distill down to clicks on a little handheld counting device; following many of Kehde’s daily, 4-hour forays, the clicker rolls to some number of bass and other fish greater than 100.

Dig a little deeper and you discover it’s not unheard of for a single, durable ElaZtech softbait—Kehde’s favorite— to have topped the century mark. According to Kehde, the all-time record was set by one particular 4-inch Z-Man Finesse WormZ, with which he caught 232 fish.

More recently, while testing a TRD HogZ—a relatively new 3-inch finesse bait—Kehde caught 55 bass in 69 minutes—all in frigid 41-degree water. “I mailed the HogZ back to Daniel Nussbaum of Z-Man,” noted Kehde, “after this one bait produced 112 fish. It was still in really good shape.”

The larger truth is Kehde remains chiefly responsible for developing an amazing fishing system his friend and fellow Hall of Fame writer Steve Quinn originally termed the Ned Rig. Though the ultra-finesse presentation runs counter to much of bass fishing’s mainstream, which often prefers beefy rods, stout line and jumbo jig-hooks, the unassuming Ned Rig has almost certainly captured more interest and acclaim by North American bassers than any other presentation in recent memory.

Even so, if you ask the humble Kehde—who isn’t interested in fame or being paid to promote any particular lure or brand— to talk about the origins of the phenomenal lure, he’s likely to defer to names like Chuck Woods and the legendary Guido Hibdon. “Probably less than one in ten anglers knows that Woods designed the Puddle Jumper, as well as the Beetle and Beetle Spin—three classic finesse lures— nor that he also created the first Texas-rigged jigworm.”