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