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I began hearing about the Ned Rig, (or, Midwest Rig) in 2015.  It’s named for Ned Kehde, Lawrence, Kansas, who is credited with developing it and using it with success since the 1960’s.  Now, an active 77-year-old fishing guide, outdoor writer and retired University of Kansas archivist, he continues using the presentation catching and releasing a few thousand bass each year.   

I began using the Ned Rig early last August. I do much of my smallmouth bass fishing in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. By mid-summer, most of the bigger smallmouth bass have moved deeper. I’m not a drop shot expert, and with a coating of scum on the rocks even up to 10 to 15 feet of water, tubes can be a mess. The answer for me is the Ned Rig. It’s fished like a tube. When using the Z-Man plastics, which are buoyant, it stays on top the scum using light jigs. The bonus is the presentation also works great in shallow water. The first time I used this great presentation, I caught 60 smallies in a few hours.

Last spring, Frank Briggs, avid kayak angler and bass enthusiast from Richmond, Illinois, introduced me to the Ned Rig and Z-Man products.  He notes, “I fish many small rivers and casting the Ned Rig into deeper holes and letting the current bounce it along the rocky bottom with a few twitches is tough for the smallies to pass up.”

Josh Evans, Jackson Kayak Fishing Team member from Brunswick, Maryland, tells me, “I have my best luck with the Ned Rig twitching it, or, hopping it with long pauses in between, and the ElaZtech plastic gives the baits such a realistic action.”  

Many soft plastic lures are going to work with the Ned Rig, but, having done some experimenting with normal plastics and buoyant plastic, there is a big difference.  A buoyant plastic gives that unique standup off the bottom look.  It also keeps the Ned Rig out of trouble once on the lakebed or rocky riverbed.  I’ve always felt both big and small bass will hit finesse lures, so, using shorter plastics like Z-Man’s 2.75” Finesse TRD or TRD TubeZ has worked great for me.  Green Pumpkin Goby, PB&J, Junebug and Green Pumpkin have been my best TRD colors.  With the TubeZ, it’s been Black/Blue, Green Pumpkin, Molting Craw and Canada Craw. 

Keeping the lure out of and on top of weeds, scum and rocks is why, along with the buoyant plastic, I use very light jigs.  1/16 oz. with a #1 or #2 hook is what I use.  In wind and waves on a lake, I might jump to a 3/32 oz. jig.  My rods of choice are a 6’10” or 7’ St. Croix medium-light Legend Elite Series with a fast or extra-fast action.  These easily cast the light presentation, have the feel for light bites and still have the backbone for the bass up to six pounds I catch in Sturgeon Bay.  I prefer spinning reels for this finesse presentation and use Shimano 2500 and Daiwa 2000 series reels.  For the long casts, I need and to feel every little tap from those bass in the clear water I fish, I use small diameter eight to ten-pound braid or superline and add a 30 to 40 inch eight or ten-pound fluorocarbon leader.  

When fishing big lakes in 5 to 20 feet of water, I make long casts, let the Ned Rig sink to the bottom and then use very slight twitches and small hops while slowly working the lure back to the kayak. On smaller rivers with moderate current, I make shorter casts perpendicular to the shore and slightly up river.  Then I use the twitch and hop to work the lure.  The great thing about the Ned Rig is the current does most of the work with the soft buoyant plastic.


Another Jackson Fishing Team member, Garrett Van Wie from Bismark, Arkansas, adds, “In rivers I drag the Ned Rig along the bottom trying to make noise by bouncing it off rocks.  If that’s not working, I like to swim it in current or pitch it and twitch it around structure.”  Along with the twitch/hop and straight swim techniques, try swimming or dragging it with an occasional pause.  

The Ned Rig is so versatile.  It can be used on any body of water and gives the angler the option of using a variety of soft plastics. Along with its versatility it’s also very easy to learn and use.  I won’t be hitting the water without the Ned Rig.