Top Secret! The Eel Rig

Top Secret! The Eel Rig thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

OK, this is a great rig for when the bite is a little slow and they’re short striking your lure. Basically it’s a cross or a hybrid between a Neko rig and a chicken rig. That sounds crazy, I know. But as you read on and figure out what I’m doing it’ll all make sense to you. 

Here’s what you’re going to need to build one:

  • A snap swivel or a snap and a swivel.  I use VMC Crankbait Snaps for this. They’re a little wider so they work a little better. And I like black. It’s less intrusive.
    VMC Crankbait Snaps
    VMC Crankbait Snaps
  • A drop shot sinker, any style or shape. The main thing here is that it must have a round, closed eye on top. Do not use one with a pinch style connector on top.
  • A short — 2 feet — piece of 15 to 30-pound-test braid. I like 20-pound-test for my eel rigs. Color doesn’t matter because it’ll be inside the plastic.
  • A Neko hook with a bait keeper on the shank. The VMC Finesse Neko Hook is perfect. I carry sizes between a No. 2 and a 1/0. I switch them around depending on the size of the bait I’m using. The main thing about this hook is that it has a bait keeper on the shank. That really helps hold the plastic in place.
    VMC Finesse Neko Hook
    VMC Finesse Neko Hook
  • A straight tail worm or a plastic stickbait. The perfect bait for this is the Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm, and I like both sizes. The thing here is that it has o-rings on it that help you measure where you want the hook to come out. 

Here’s how we’re going to build one:

We’re going to do this in a step-by-step process, but before we do I’m going to tell you what you’re building so you have an idea what’s happening.

When you’re done, the eel rig will have a sinker attached to the snap on the swivel. A piece of braid will come off the snap and run through the worm to a Texas rigged hook about two-thirds of the way back into the plastic.

  1. Start by tying a barrel swivel or snap swivel to your main line with a Palomar knot. Attach the snap to the swivel if that’s necessary.
  2. Then clip your drop shot weight to the snap — not to the swivel.
  3. Once you’ve done that attach a short piece of braid to the snap. Tie it right in the crotch of the snap. Keep your line away from the swivel. I like a Palomar knot for this. You can measure how much length you need by using the plastic as a guide and then adding enough line to make your final knot.
  4. Almost last, tie your hook to the far end of your line. I snell this connection. A Palomar is doable but a snell will give you better hooksets.
  5. The real last, run the hook through the bait but instead of pulling it out right away like you usually do go two-thirds of the way back through the worm. Basically you’re going to thread the braid through the worm. Pull it out and Texas rig it like you would any other bait. It’ll take you a time or two to get the length of the braid right and to pull the hook back that far but it will happen.

Here’s how you’re going to catch fish with it:

When you’re done you have an eel-like lure with a weight hanging off the bottom at the head. The worm stays flexible and the hook is in the back part of the worm. Beyond that it’ll drop down like a Neko rig before you snake it along the bottom.

And, you can change the weight and the rate of fall as the conditions change — in a matter of seconds. All you have to do is take the old weight off and clip the new one on.

I’m telling you fellow bass-heads, the eel rig is the real deal. Practice building it this winter so you’re ready to go this spring. You won’t be sorry.

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Listen to Mike walk you thought the process:

The Eel Rig
The Eel Rig

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The Best 6 Baits Every Serious Bass Angler Should Own

The Best 6 Baits Every Serious Bass Angler Should Own thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

There must be a thousand fishing lures on the market. Choosing only six of them for this blog was no easy task. But sometimes we need to downsize so I did just that. I’ve listed the baits below in no particular order. The first three are power fishing lures. The last three are more in the finesse category.

A crankbait

This is a great bait because you can cover a lot of water with one and because they search out the bass. It’s almost like they’re calling the fish in to them.

Rapala DT Series Crankbaits
Rapala DT Series Crankbaits

Although there are hundreds of them available, picking one isn’t all that tough. Find one that runs at the depth, or just a little below that, of the water you’re fishing. That way it’ll deflect off of stuff in the water. That’ll trigger strikes.

Color is just as easy. Pick one that matches the local forage where you’re fishing. That is really important. Get as close as possible. Bass don’t have very long to look at a crankbait so first impressions are important.

If I had to pick a favorite I’d go with a Rapala DT 4 or a Rapala DT 6.

A spinnerbait

This one was a really tough choice between a spinnerbait and a vibrating jig. I went with the spinnerbait because it’s more versatile and won’t snag nearly as much. You can fish one of these things in places you couldn’t throw a vibrating jig and definitely not a crankbait with its treble hooks.

Molix Water Slash Double Colorado Spinnerbait
Molix Water Slash Double Colorado Spinnerbait

And, a spinnerbait looks about as realistic as anything made by man can look. They’re really effective under all kinds of conditions.

Every bass-head should have a 1/2-ounce shad colored one with them at all times. My favorite is a Molix Water Slash with either Colorado or willow blades. Go with Colorado when you want more thump. Otherwise fish with willow leaf blades.

A Jig

I’m talking about a traditional skirted jig. With the exception of a huge swimbait, skirted jigs have accounted for more giant bass than any other lure. That’s a fact!

Missile Jig Mini Flip
Missile Jig Mini Flip

The great thing about them is that they’re so versatile. You can fish them 12 months a year, at any depth and in any type of structure or cover. Along with that ways you can fish one are endless. You can drag or hop them along the bottom, swim them or use a combination of the two. A skirted jig is truly a must-have lure for any bass angler.

I have all sorts of sizes and styles. But if I had to pick just one it would be a Missile Baits Ike’s Mini Flip Flipping Jig in the 1/2-ounce size. My color choice would be black-and-blue.

A boot-tail plastic swimbait

This one wouldn’t have been on my list five years ago but recently I’ve been fishing swimbaits more and more. I like them because they’re super versatile but the number one reason I fish with them is because they look like the real thing in water that’s clear to stained.

Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait
Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait

Most of the ones I throw are small. I want them to look like an easy meal, something that’s swimming along that doesn’t have a clue its about to be eaten by a giant bass.

Once again, it’s important here to pick a color that matches the hatch. A small swimbait is primarily a sight-type of bait so you want it to look like what the bass usually see where they live.

My favorite is a Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer. I usually go with the 3.3 or 3.8-inch size and I throw it with a 1/4-ounce VMC Dominator head. Pick the style you like the best. They’re all good.

A soft stickbait

This is the go-to bait for when the bite is tough, or beyond tough. I like it for when nothing else will get you a bite. There’s something about a soft stickbait that bass love, and it doesn’t seem to matter where they live or what they eat.

Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm
Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm

Another thing about a soft stickbait is that you can rig it almost anyway you want. You can Neko rig one, wacky rig one, Carolina rig one or Texas rig one. And those are just the rigs I can think of real quick. The truth is that your rigging options are endless. There’s no way you can rig one wrong.

I prefer something in the 4 to 5-inch size and I always go with a Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm. My color choices are pretty much like all the others — match the hatch. If you’re uncertain, go with green pumpkin. You can’t go wrong with it.

A shaky head

This last slot was a tossup between a Texas rigged creature bait and a shaky head. But, I agreed to do only six and so the last slot goes to a shaky head. The reason for that is that a shaky head is a great lure for when the bite is tough. You know, when a cold front just blew through or when there’s about a thousand guys in front of you fishing the same stuff.

VMC Ike Approved Rugby Jig
VMC Ike Approved Rugby Jig

A VMC Ike Approved Rugby Jig in the 3/16-ounce size works best for me, although I do go up or down sometimes depending upon the depth of the water and wind conditions.

I mostly prefer a straight tail worm. What kind doesn’t matter much as long as it has a flat side on the bottom. That’s important because that flat side will make the worm glide as it falls. That glide will get you a lot of bites when things are tough.

My worms are usually in the 4 to 6-inch size and, like with all these baits, I try to match the hatch. I fish my shaky heads on spinning tackle.

There you have it — six lures every bass angler should own and carry with them. They’re all versatile and, if you remember to match the hatch, you’ll catch a lot of bass with them.

___________________________________________Take a peek inside Mike's Flambeau box.

Take a peek inside Mike’s Flambeau box.

 

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