I Fish the Neko Rig

I Fish the Neko Rig thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli
Last week at the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods I fished the Neko rig. I didn’t finish all that high but I did catch several bass that I wouldn’t have caught any other way. So, I thought it was worth sharing.
Neko rig
Neko rig

The Neko rig is a super successful technique because it mimics the real thing. When it’s fished right it kind of pecks along the bottom. That’s exactly what real baitfish do when they’re feeding. They put their tails up and then they just peck, peck, peck as they move across the bottom eating whatever they can find. Every now and then you’ll see a puff of mud or sediment kicked up by their actions.

The Neko rig is a simple thing to put together and doesn’t cost much, either. I start with my hook selection. I always use a VMC Ike Approved Neko hook, either with a weedguard or without one depending upon the conditions. They come in a half-dozen sizes. Use the one you want. I go with a #1 or a #2 about 90 percent of the time.

VMC Ike Approved Neko Hook
VMC Ike Approved Neko Hook

As far as baits are concerned you can use any straight tail worm or any soft stickbait. I’m partial to soft stickbaits.

They perform better when they’re pecking, or at least it looks that way to me. At Lake Hartwell I used a Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm. It’s a great pick when you want something to look natural and that has lots and lots of scent. I think scent is really important with a Neko rig.

VMC Ike Approved Weedless Neko Hook
VMC Ike Approved Weedless Neko Hook

I rig my hook to the plastic with a Wacky Ring from VMC. I like the clear ones because I don’t think the black ones look right with certain colors. I haven’t really tested my thinking on that a lot but it just doesn’t look right sometimes, and when something doesn’t look right I don’t fish with it. It’s a mental thing, but it matters.

I put the hook about three-quarters of the way down the worm near the weight. I always make sure that the point of the hook is up. I want an easy and efficient hookset when a fish takes my bait.

VMC Half Moon Wacky Weight
VMC Half Moon Wacky Weight

And speaking of weight, I use VMC Half Moon Wacky Weights. They fit right into the fat end of my plastic — that’ll make the rig look and act more natural — and they’re ribbed so that they don’t fall out on every other cast. In shallow water I like the 1/32 ounce model. When the water’s a little deeper I go with a 1/16 ounce weight.

Once you’re rigged up, it’s time to pick a rod and reel. I fish my Neko rigs with a 7 foot, 2 inch, medium action “Ike” Finesse Series Spinning Rod from Abu Garcia. My reel is a 20 or 30 size model from Abu Garcia. I like the REVO Rocket because of its fast retrieve speed. Truthfully, though, any model they make will get the job done. They’ve been making quality reels forever.

Abu Garcia Ike Finesse Series Spinning Rods
Abu Garcia Ike Finesse Series Spinning Rods

You can spool up with either straight fluorocarbon or with braid as your main line and fluorocarbon as your leader. I think the braid to fluorocarbon gives you better performance. I start that combination with 10 or 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene Professional Grade Braid. My. leader is usually 6 or 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line.

Once you’ve got everything together all you have to do is cast it out, let it fall to the bottom and shake your rod tip for a minute or two. Then, reel it in a ways and do the same thing over again.
Always keep your rig on a semi-tight line and watch carefully as it falls. Aggressive bass will grab it before it hits the bottom.

The Neko rig is easy to build, inexpensive to fish and it catches them. What’s not to like about that?________________________________________

Learn more here:

Hottest finesse technique with the VMC® Neko Hook & Neko Half Moon Weight
Hottest finesse technique with the VMC® Neko Hook & Neko Half Moon Weight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jiggin’ Spoons

Jiggin’ Spoons thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

I’ve been out in San Diego, California, doing some saltwater fishing for my new TV show. We’ve been using jigging spoons, but in two ways besides just letting them fall to the bottom and then jerking them up or snapping them at a predetermined depth. So, for this blog the term jigging spoon is a little misleading.

Early in the morning when the baitfish are up on top we’ve been casting them out and holding the rod tip real high as we cranked them back with an occasional twitch of the rod tip. They work really well for that kind of fishing.

Later in the day, when the sun was up higher, the baitfish would drop down and so would the fish that were holding under them. When that happened we’d let our spoons drop down to where the baitfish were — one foot per second — and then bring them back the same way except that we’d hold our rod tips lower to help keep our spoons down.

Molix Mike Iaconelli Lover Spoon
Molix Mike Iaconelli Lover Spoon

Finally, in the middle of the afternoon when the sun was high and it was getting hot, we fished them in a more traditional manner, snapping them up off the bottom.

A lot of anglers think only of jigging spoons as jigging lures. But they are much more than that. They’ll do the exact same thing in freshwater for you that they did for us in saltwater. All you have to do is pull them shallow and horizontal early, pull them deeper and horizontal in the late morning and pop them off the bottom in the afternoon.

I’ve done everything I’m describing to you here in Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments. It will work for you just like it has worked for me.

My choice for a jigging spoon is the Molix Mike Iaconelli Lover Spoon. My usual preference is the 3/4-ounce size. It’ll cast a mile. It’s as tough as a 10 penny nail, and it looks like the real thing. But, good as it is right out of the package, I make two modifications to it that make it even better.

The double hook is tucked tight to the body
Molix Mike Iaconelli Lover Spoon

First, I replace the back treble with a feathered one. (I don’t mess with the two prong front hook.) I don’t really know why but this makes it more effective. And, I never tie directly to the lure. I always add a split ring or a snap to the line tie. That gives it just a little more action, especially when it’s moving horizontally.

VMC X-Rap Tail Treble Hook
VMC X-Rap Tail Treble Hook

My Lover spoon comes in 5 colors. The best color is the one that most closely resembles the local forge where you’re fishing. This is a reaction lure but it needs to look natural. Color is a big part of looking natural.

Hobie Mirage Pedal Kayak
Hobie Mirage Pedal Kayak

PS: If you want to have as much fun with a spoon as I had out in California, fish one out of a  Hobie Mirage Pedal Kayak. You’ll be right down at the fish’s level. There’s nothing better than that.

 

 

Watch Mike fish the jigging spoon in San Diego:

Iaconelli in San Diego

Going Ike Episode 1: Kayak Fishing For Yellowtail In San Diego

And here Mike talk about the jigging spoon:

Going Ike - Season three, Episode 1, Recap
Going Ike – Season three, Episode 1, Recap

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Subscribe to Mike’s YouTube channel, Going Ike,  to ensure you see every adventure video.

Return to Mike Iaconelli’s website

The Umbrella Rig

The Umbrella Rig thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

If you’re even half-serious about bass fishing you should learn to fish the umbrella rig. It’s somewhat controversial but in the end it’s a real fish catcher, controversy or not.

However, let me give you a warning before we go any further. Some tournaments allow it, some don’t. And, the number of hooks that you’re allowed to have on one rig or rod varies widely from one state to the next. Make sure you know the rules before you start throwing it.

Another thing: Right now, on Going Ike! I’m fishing one with Britt Myers. Check it out if you want to see some real action.

Shane's Rig
Shane’s Rig

With that out of the way let’s get started.

The umbrella rig is at its best in the early spring and in the late fall. That’s when bass are seriously relating to baitfish, and no lure or rig on the planet mimics a ball of baitfish better than an umbrella rig. It’s a crazy looking thing with its mass of wire and turning blades but it absolutely mesmerizes bass when it’s rigged properly.

Proper rigging means starting with the right harness. My choice is a Shane’s Rig.   (I’m not sponsored by them. Nevertheless, it’s the best one I’ve ever used.) I like the ones that can be rigged with anywhere between five and 10 lures.

VMC Darter Head Jig
VMC Darter Head Jig

My favorite head is a VMC Darter Head, and I don’t worry much about the color. I’m partial to the 1/8-ounce weight but at times I will go up to 1/4 ounce. I rig everything except the one in the center with a small Berkley HAVOC Beat Shad. I always pick one that looks like the local shad — white, gray, smoke, ghost or whatever.

Berkley HAVOC Beat Shad
Berkley HAVOC Beat Shad

On the center head I use a Berkley PowerBait Hollow Body usually in a Hitch color. I use this bigger bait, and in a different color, because I want to create a target for the bass. If they’re moving in on the center lure, they’re more likely to grab an outside lure during an attack, a feeding frenzy or just out of desperation

Berkley Powerbait Hollow Belly
Berkley Powerbait Hollow Belly

Note: My tackle does not include a heavy saltwater rod and reel and I’m not using rope for my fishing line. That is totally unnecessary. Don’t overdo your tackle. Use medium-heavy bass tackle and you’ll do just fine with an umbrella rig.

Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rods
Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rods

The only thing you do when you fish an umbrella rig is throw it out and wind it back. Vary your depth in the water column until you find them. I suggest you hang on after that.

Nothing else need be said.
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Mike Iaconnelli
Mike Iaconnelli

 

 

 

 

Umbrella Rig Fishing with Britt Myers Recap Bass Fishing Video

 

 

Mike Iaconelli, Gerald Swindle, Adrian Avena
Mike Iaconelli, Gerald Swindle, Adrian Avena

 

Ike, Swindle, Avena Talk about A-rig or Umbrella Rig Bass Fishing Video

 

 

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Like Ike on Facebook,  and follow him on Instagram and Twitter to see weekly Vlog for Going Ike episode, along with fishing and fun content.

Subscribe to Mike’s YouTube channel, Going Ike,  to ensure you see every video.

Return to Mike Iaconelli’s website

 

Fly Tying for Beginners: Why You Should Tie and How to Start

Fly Tying for Beginners: Why You Should Tie and How to Start
By Morgan Nowells

Catching your first fish on the fly will embed new levels of appreciation for all things fly fishing.

Most fly anglers hit a point in their fishing career when they think about tying their own flies. My personal journey in tying began two years after I picked up a fly rod. There’s an entirely new level of satisfaction from catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself.

The path to tying amazing flies isn’t the easiest. And the reward is 10-fold compared to that of storebought flies. If you find that appealing, keep reading.

Fly Fishing: Why Tie?

Flies fresh off the vise

Fly tying is an angling tool that can empower you to catch more fish. Tying flies enables an angler to not only replicate their favorite bug at the fly shop but also create their own custom patterns no one else has. The only limits you face at a tying vise are imagination and creativity.

Anglers construct flies to replicate the exact bugs found in streams. Stock-outs at the local fly shop also become a nonissue, as you can simply go home and tie up your own version of the sold-out bug.

The author enjoying free time with self-tied flies

Tying also offers the avenue to get in touch with the most artistic side of fly fishing. Fully dressed Atlantic salmon flies and modern articulated streamers can be just as artistic as painting, with the hook acting as your canvas.

Beginner Fly-Tying Equipment
Getting into fly tying can seem daunting. There are hundreds of different tools and millions of materials out there. Fortunately, there are a few awesome kits out there with the basic tools you need to tie most flies.

As you gain experience and begin to tie more flies, you may want to add more tools to your tying bench. However, most beginner tying kits include the following essential tools.

Vise

The vise is the most essential tool on a tying desk. The tying vise performs the important task of firmly holding the hook while you wind thread and other materials around it.

Scissors

Scissors are the most utilized hand tool on a fly tier’s bench. Use scissors to cut threads, hairs, and many other materials used in the process of tying a fly.

Whip Finisher

Every fly must be finished by tying off the thread. The whip finisher provides an easy, durable method to tying the knot that finishes the fly.

Bobbin

Flies are tied with a thread that winds and locks materials around the hook. The bobbin is the tool that holds thread and is used to wind thread around the hook shank.

Hackle Pliers

“Hackle” means “feather” in fancy fly-tying lingo. Many flies commonly use hackles or feathers in fly tying, which proves difficult to manage. Hackle pliers are a great solution.

Hackle pliers provide a tight grip on the feather’s stem — a difficult feat for fingers alone.

Bodkin Needle

The bodkin needle is the Swiss army knife of tying tools. From picking out dubbing to applying types of cement and glues, it’s useful anywhere you need a fine point.

Fly-Tying Beginner Kits
Cabela’s Standard Fly Tying Tool Kit: $35

This kit offers a budget-friendly way to get into fly tying. Cabela’s provides all of the tools needed to tie most trout patterns. This kit contains only tools — no materials. If you’re a beginner fly-tier, you’ll have to purchase tying materials separately.

Also recognize that a cheaper price results in cheaper quality tools. I’ve found that these kits sometimes have dull scissors and scored bobbins (which results in accidentally cutting thread at random). The vises that come in these kits may struggle with holding both very large hooks and very small hooks but will do the job just fine for average trout-sized hooks.

With all that being said, I started on a kit like this just to see if fly tying was something I wanted to pursue and upgraded later. This kit’s strength is its price: It’s great to be able to tie your own flies for less than 40 bucks!

Orvis Fly Tying Kit: $189

This beginning fly-tying kit from Orvis is fantastic. While a little more expensive than other kits on the market, Orvis has provided some bonus features that won’t be found in its competitors’ kits.

This kit includes all of the basic tools for tying flies. These are not super-cheap tools that are found in most kits — they’re of decent quality and won’t hinder learning. You may eventually want to upgrade the tools, but you won’t find the dull scissors or scored bobbins that seem to plague other beginner kits.

The included materials also make this kit is a great deal. Orvis has provided all of the materials needed to tie 16 different patterns! Orvis also includes an exclusive DVD by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, which teaches beginners how to tie each and every fly in high-quality video.

The kit provides a great way to start tying. But the price point of $113 could be considered too steep for someone dipping their toes in the water for the first time.

Loon Fly Tying Tool Kit: $90

Loon released this kit somewhat recently, and it’s a much-needed addition to the fly fishing industry. The Loon tying toolkit is unique because it’s the first kit I’ve found that includes only very high-quality tools. If you purchase this as your first kit, you won’t need to replace any of the tools, as they’re all top-shelf products.

Loon’s kit is also unique in that it doesn’t include a vise, so a new tier going with this option will have to purchase a vise of their choice. While that will cost more money, this can be an advantage, as you can purchase the exact vise you want at any price point.

If money’s not a factor, this is the best option for a new tier. The high quality of the tools makes this kit a great value, as it provides a new tier with tools that will last a lifetime.

Flies to Start With
Once you’re all set up with tools, you have to choose which flies to tie. The Orvis kit gives a beginner 16 patterns to learn, and that’s a great place to start. However, neither the Cabela’s kit nor the Loon kit provides flies to begin with.

I recommend that new tiers find some patterns that work well on their local waters, as having success on the first few flies is critical. If a beginning tier goes out and catches fish on their first hand-tied flies, they’ll have more confidence at the vise and will tie more often. Below are three widely popular patterns that are easy to tie and work well in a variety of trout streams across the U.S.

San Juan Worm

Hook: Daiichi 1130 #12-16

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 Red

Body: Red Ultra Chenille

Woolly Bugger

Hook: Daiichi 2220 #4-12

Body: Black Medium Chenille

Thread: Black 140 Denier Ultra Thread

Ribbing: Brassie Size Gold Ultra Wire

Hackle: Black Schlappen Feathers or Whiting Bugger Pack feathers

Tail: Black Marabou

Zebra Midge

Hook: Daiichi 1130 #18-22

Bead: 1/16” Silver bead

Thread/Body: Black 70 Denier Ultra Thread

Rib: Small Size Silver Ultra Wire