After every season I always reflect on what went right and what went wrong the previous year. Sure, 2019 isn’t over yet, I know that. Nevertheless, I’ve started making my list of what I need to improve on for next year. It’s like a grocery list. Make it at home, and you save time and money when you go to the store.
I am making my notes now so I don’t forget after the tournaments are over. Here goes…
So far this year I’ve caught a bunch of fish on the Neko Rig. The more I’ve fished it, the more I’m finding out that it has even more potential than conventional wisdom would have you believe.
I caught my 11 pound, 2 ounce largemouth in the St. Johns River this spring with this rig, and I caught some key fish in Alabama on it. I also used it successfully on Cayuga. Based on all of that I believe it’ll pretty much catch bass anywhere.
That thought was proven correct when I caught a few in practice at Winyah Bay rigging a Missile Baits Ned Bomb Neko style. You normally wouldn’t think about Neko Rigging such a small bait, but it worked. I told my roommate, Ed Loughran, about that deal. He used that same setup to land a 4-pounder the second day of the tournament. That’s a serious bass at Winyah Bay.
Over the winter I need to work on rigging options and bait selection. Little things make a big difference in this sport, or maybe I should say that little things are big things in this sport.
I said I needed to learn more about the Ned rig last year. I did fish it more this year, but I didn’t have all that much success with it in the tournaments. Other techniques proved more effective. That’s likely because I have more confidence in them.
To be fair, I have caught a bunch of bass on it when I’ve been out fun fishing and a number of others in practice before the competition started in our tournaments. It seems like it’s a technique that’s all about feel. I’m still learning the details of this technique, which sounds funny when you look at how simple everything goes together with it.
There’s no doubt that there are more Ned rig options that haven’t been explored and that can make it more effective in more places. I’ve been working on them and, at the appropriate time, I’ll share what I’ve learned.
Big boot-tail swimbaits
Big boot-tails have been around for quite a while. The hollow belly swim baits like those made by Basstrix blew up a little over 10 years ago, but they’ve settled into more of a niche bait recently.
Solid body models have proven to be more versatile. They’ll work in more situations and under more conditions.
The Keitech Swing Impact FAT Swimbait comes in sizes up to 7.8 inches long and is an example of what I’m talking about. There are others in this category that are good as well. However, they can all be made more versatile with an improved and more durable body design. Nevertheless, anglers all around the country have become very confident in the action of these bigger boot-tails.
The great thing about these newer boot-tails is that you can fish them on a belly weighted swimbait hook and you can fish them through wood, rock and grass. Heck, you can even skip them under docks. And, you can put one of these honkers on a big swimbait head and it turns into a great ledge bait.
My problem is that I just haven’t stuck with one long enough to gain the confidence I need to make it a go-to technique for me when everything’s on the line in a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. Like with the Ned rig, though, the problem really might be with me. Maybe I see some of the designs as flawed and that messes with my thinking.
All that said, one fact holds true: They catch bigger than average fish. I like that!
Somebody once observed that you either go forward or you fall backwards. You can never stand still. Nowhere is that truer than in bass fishing. Identify your weaknesses, and then work on them. Go forward.