How to Catch Bass with the NED Rig

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The finesse bait taking the fishing world by storm

By Rich Tombleson

A closeup of ned rig TRD brand bait.
A purple TRD bait used with a ned rig.

Do you know what the NED rig is? It’s a finesse system that just downright catches fish. The NED rig has been around for a few years and has recently been taking off as the go-to bait whenever the bass seem finicky. I would like to share with you some observations from my use of the NED rig over the last couple years.

The original version of the NED rig is made by Z-Man. It’s a jig composed of a light wire black nickel hook and a mushroom head with a welded wire keeper. When coupled with Z-Man TRD bait, you’ve got a dynamite system that fish love. The TRD is made out of ElaZtech, which makes this bait nearly indestructible. It’s as simple as that, and very easy to use.

These NED Shroomz Jig Heads come in several different sizes, from a very light 1/20th of an ounce up to 1/5 ounce. Where I fish in Oregon, my favorites have been the 1/10th and 1/6th ounce. OK, so now that you know what the NED rig is, let’s talk about how to fish it.

How to fish with a NED rig

This system is so ingenuous, it allows for a super natural-looking presentation. Basically, all you do is throw it out, let it sink to the bottom and drag it back.

This bait fishes so easily you do not have to impart a lot of action to it. It is essentially a do-nothing bait. It imitates baitfish so well that bass hit it readily.

It is best fished with a 7-foot spinning rod, medium light action with a soft tip. A medium light action rod telegraphs bait movement along the bottom extremely well. You can also detect soft bites better with a light action rod than with a heavier rod.

I like to use light line too, like 6- or 8-pound test monofilament. The slow fall of the bait is designed to work best with mono. Fluorocarbon sinks and braid floats. Both seem to take away from the natural action that attracts fish.

The NED rig is designed to land on the bottom standing up. To visualize what I mean, fill a cup or bowl with a few inches of water and drop the NED rig in it. You’ll see how it stands up.

Add TRD baits to the jig and the result is an appearance of an imitation of a small baitfish, sculpin or goby in a natural feeding posture with its nose down on the bottom.

The technology of the ElaZtech material in the TRD allows the bait to float when unweighted. The inherent buoyancy properties of the bait enhance the natural appearance described above. Furthermore, the elasticity of the TRD transfers to the bait an irresistible quivering, shaking and undulating movement bass can’t resist.

The mushroom head of the jig deflects easily, allowing you to feel rocks, sticks and other obstructions on the bottom; consequently you get fewer hang-ups.

As Z-Man claims, the TRD bait will last 10 times longer than other heavily salted soft plastics. I agree with them and catch many more fish without having to replace the bait than with traditional soft plastics.

The softness of the bait however has one drawback. It has a tendency to pull down on the hook often. Although the jig has a wire keeper attached to it, the bait still pulls down. I will use a drop of Super Glue on the head where it meets the bait thus avoiding this tendency.

When to use the NED rig

It really excels in the following situations, at least here in Oregon: cold water conditions, post-frontal periods, when fish are line-shy, clear water, or in general, whenever fishing is tough.

But it’s such a good lure that fishing it at any time under most conditions catches bass. I use the NED rig most often down soft-sloping rocky points, along the break of a ledge, around gravely underwater humps or over flats with sparse vegetation. That is when it really excels!

There you have it. I will add a couple of tips, though. The nature of the TRD bait is such that it is not friendly towards other soft plastic baits. Keep your TRD baits in the bag they come in and separate them from other plastic baits. If you don’t, the TRD will melt and meld with your other baits and you will have a very gooey mess.

Z-Man makes other baits to go with the NED jig head that I did not discuss here. I have had the most success with the worm-imitating baits, especially the 3-inch finesse TRD. However, craws, tubes and other larger baits are available. I don’t use them because this system works so well as a finesse lure.

If the bass are actively feeding, I don’t need a finesse technique and use other baits. As mentioned above Z-Man is the first to come out with this system. Other companies have come out with their versions of the same system and you may well have just as much success with them as with the Z-Man products.

I have many angler friends who are now catching big bass with the NED rig. They are elated at what the NED rig has done for them. You should see what it can do for you too!

The Rich Tombleson was a longtime member of the Oregon Bass & Panfish Club. The club is involved in a variety of angler education and fisheries enhancement activities. See their club page on this website.

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