Let’s just say this “dog” will hunt. It’s called the Inu rig and, from all accounts, this semi S-shaped configuration with a central connection and killer motion appears destined to be the next big thing. (Stand by for canine clarification.)
Clichéd hype? Maybe, but terms like wacky, drop shot, Ned and Neko instantly remind us how one spark of creativity, one toe dipped into the pool of possibility, a moment of “what if?” inspiration can revolutionize an industry.
Considering the world first heard about the Inu rig in early fall, its impact has yet to be measured. Nevertheless, intrigue has sparked a wildfire of interest with tinkerers and tackle junkies nationwide sharing their take on social media platforms.
Even as you read this, Inu rig experimentation has reached mad scientist level. We’re chasing a loose puppy at this point, so let’s simply look at the what, who and how, and then you can determine the Inu iteration that fits your purposes.
In simplest description, the Inu rig premise relies on a three-point rigging system that allows motion-imparting contraction/expansion through the entire bait. Foundational is a trio of “channels” created by inserting pieces of a hollow plastic tube into the bait’s body. (See Rigging tips for options.)
Editor’s note: See photo gallery showing how to build an Inu.
For efficiency, start with a solid tube (cut the tip at a sharp angle for clean entry) and skewer the bait in the top end, middle and lower end. With the bait held roughly in an S-shape, trim the tubing nearly flush with the worm.
Take time to center the tube with each insertion, lest you tear the bait on the initial rigging or subsequent use. Also, carefully aligning the channels avoids any offset that can twist the worm and mar the presentation.
With rigging channels in place, hold your hook upright and insert the line top-down through the eye, but do not tie. A free-swinging hook is essential to the standard Inu rig’s action.
Holding the worm straight, run the line from the hook eye through the first channel, then through the second channel in the opposite direction and finally, through the third channel, same direction as the first — basically, an in-out-in pattern. With line fed through these channels, tying the tag end to a split ring anchors the rig and prevents back feeding.
Next, lay the hook against the worm so the eye aligns with the first rigging channel, measure where the backside of the bend touches, then run the hook through this spot for a Neko-like placement. When the rig’s contracted, a properly spaced hook eye should align with the anchor piece for an in-line pull.
Tugging the line activates multiple contact points to create a unique action resembling a submerged earthworm’s erratic undulation. Another illusion: a swimming snake. Motion from head to tail — that’s what the Inu rig offers.
Could you thread your line through the worm by using the hook like a needle? Yes, but you risk tearing the worm during the process. Also, with the bait’s body clinched on the line, that rigorous flexing motion would likely rip the line out — or at least limit the motion.
Japanese angler and host of the HIROSANS TV YouTube channel Hironao “Hirosan” Yanohara actually created the Inu rig circa 2016. The initial concept required significant R&D, but once he debuted his rig via YouTube video in late September, the fishing world saw an explosion of analysis, innovation and rigging options.
With translation help from Gamakatsu’s Kazutomo Nakamura, Hirosan explained the Inu rig backstory. Since the industry already was familiar with the term Neko, which is Japanese for “cat,” he figured using the Japanese word for “dog” made sense.
“I got inspired from a soft bait I saw on a TV program 20 years ago, which moved in the water — it looked like a chemical reaction or water absorption and expansion gave action to the soft bait,” Hirosan said of his initial vision. “I thought if I set up a fishing line in the center of a soft bait, it will keep moving forever! I got the line idea from [childhood] toys that had a line [element].”
Hirosan designed his prototype Inu rig with a Zoom Magnum Swamp Crawler, but bait choice is wide open — you just need sufficient mass to accommodate the rigging tubes. Whisper-thin finesse worms and supersupple hand pours may not hold up to the basic Inu rigging process, but it won’t be surprising to see someone find a work-around.
Former Bassmaster Elite Series pro and Western finesse wizard Greg Gutierrez also notes that worm density affects Inu action. Heavily salted baits rebound more slowly than a lighter bait designed for maximum motion, so choose a bait that fits your plan.
“I think the type of plastic you use will have a lot to do with [Inu rig appeal],” Gutierrez said. “I think that diversity will give each bait a life of its own.”
Creative development is flourishing, both in terms of Inu rigging and how the basic form is integrated into existing bass staples. Think: Neko rig, Carolina rig, split shot, Petey rig and — it was inevitable — the drop shot.
For the latter, Gutierrez adds a separate leader with a VMC split ring opposite the weight. Slipping the ring (or a swivel) onto the main line before rigging the Inu keeps the leader free sliding — like a double fluke rig — and prevents direct pressure that would dampen the intended action.
“This way I have a direct connection between the main line and the hook,” Gutierrez said. “If you use [a traditional drop-shot design] where your main line pulls double duty as your dropper, a lot of knots aren’t designed to be split that way, so if you get a little too much pressure on your drop-shot weight, instead of it popping off, your chances of losing the whole rig increase.
“Also, in order for that Inu rig to work, you have to pull that line through [the channels] — you can’t do that with a traditional drop-shot setup. That’s why you need a separate dropper.”
Other options include double-hook rigs (replace the split ring with a second hook), adding a spinner blade or weight to the split ring or adding a free-sliding weight (similar to a Jika or “free” rig) to the line above the Inu rig.
This action-heavy presentation favors clear water. Altering the rig with a flashy spinner or rattle weight would help in lower visibility, but there are definitely better choices there.
Bassmaster Elite pro and rigging technician Taku Ito said he’s had minimal Inu experience but found it particularly effective for sight fishing. Makes sense, as monitoring a fish’s response tells you how often and how aggressively to work the rig.
“I like the fact that I can fish this rig slower in deeper water and get more action out of it without moving it out of its space,” Gutierrez said. “It’s the same with a bed bait — I can put more action into an Inu-rigged bait without moving it, just by putting pressure on the bait and relaxing it, versus having to snap the bait.
“This rig should really excel when a fish won’t turn and chase a bait, or whenever they’re being very territorial. For instance, when you have a high-pressure system, the fish aren’t going to move out of their comfort zone — their strike zone. This gives you tighter action without moving the bait away from them.”
Other possibilities: dock fishing where a spastic, free-falling bait may tempt a shade-hugger; targeting fish suspending off bluffs; or postspawn when an active bait that doesn’t require chasing appeals to recovering females as much as it irritates fry-guarding males.
Definitely a motion-heavy presentation, there is something to be said for the Inu rig’s deadstick potential. It sounds counterintuitive, but stay with us. You drop a Texas- or wacky-rigged worm into whatever scenario calls for a motionless presentation and it lies still for as long as you can stand it.
Often the bite comes during this catatonic ruse, but if not, a fish might be motivated to suck in the prospective meal when it finally wiggles or appears to flee. With the Inu rig, that sudden movement means a strike-prompting spasm.
Make no mistake, the Inu rig craze has already ignited, and the wildfire of angling innovation has and will continue to kick out a diverse tapestry of tweaking. That said, the basic rig makes sense and will be a player for years to come.
Inu rig innovator Hironao “Hirosan” Yanohara offers this advice for assembling his creation: “I recommend to use a hard-plastic straw [for the rigging channels]. A soft drinking straw would get smashed on the hook set.
“If the tube gets smashed, the soft bait will break as well. A WD-40 long nozzle or a pen ink chamber are good substitutes.” (A coffee stir straw also works.)
A few more pointers:
Insert the tubing into the bait at a 30-degree angle so your line moves smoothly. With a flat, 90-degree angle, the line drags on the tubing edge and creates resistance.
Once all three channel holes are made, add super glue to the tubing, slide the bait onto the adhesive section, then cut all three tubing sections nearly flush with the bait.
When cutting, leave a slight overhang; otherwise, the tubing edges wear on the worm’s interior.