The Ultimate Guide to Weightless Rig for Bass Fishing
Weightless rigs are a more natural, relaxing, and efficient option for bass fishing. Find out all you need to know about this technique in this guide.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing in America is a hobby that keeps over 11 million fishers busy throughout the year. From humble beginnings, this industry has developed to become a multi-million dollar sector. So, it does not come as a surprise that fishing enthusiasts are always looking for new ways to secure their catches.
While it is not as renowned or widespread as other fishing techniques, using a weightless rig for bass fishing is a strategy that is not only efficient but also more natural and relaxing. In the guide below, you can learn how to set up your tackle to fish a weightless rig – but don’t forget that the key element to success with this technique is patience!
What is a Weightless Rig?
If you love your fishing trips, you know that weights or sinkers are an essential element of your tackle. Available in a range of shapes, weights, and materials, sinkers allow you to cast your line further and deeper.
While not so common, you can use a rig setup without a weight, and learning to do so can broaden your fishing opportunities, particularly in shallow water. And, weightless rigs become extremely interesting setups when looking at the feeding habits of bass.
In fact, bass will avoid lowering themselves down the water column to feed, and they will prefer to feed upwards. By not using a weight on your rig, you can change the appearance and presentation of your tackle and bait to become more appealing to bass.
Here is what happens when fishing a weightless rig:
- The rig won’t sink as quickly as weighted rigs, which increases the chances to catch bass during the bait’s descend.
- The bait will slowly glide or flutter towards the bottom, which gives it a natural appearance.
- When casting, the bait won’t cause as much noise or movement as it enters the water. In turn, this can prevent bass from being startled.
- In cold or shallow waters, bass can see a weightless bait from afar, which means that they are less likely to become spooked by the movement.
A weightless rig and bait will drop to the bottom in a much slower fashion. While this can increase your chances to catch a keeper, it also means that you will need to be ready to be more patient.
Best Weightless Rig Setup
If you are into bass fishing, learning how to weightless rig is a must-have in your arsenal. Nonetheless, it can take practice to understand the best techniques and tackle needed for best results. The rod, line, and reel your shoes – as well as the bait or lure – will make a difference in the quality of your catch. Start setting up your rig with the tips below.
Rods for Weightless Rig Setup
Your rod is the first fishing gear to look into. If you have been bass fishing before, you will likely have a 7-7½ feet rod in your arsenal. When switching to a weightless rig, all you’ll have to do is ensure that you have a lighter rod between six and seven feet in length.
Ideally, you should stay clear of baitcasting rods, which are often too cumbersome to allow for the more refined weightless rig.
Oppositely, spinning rods are more suitable for lighter lures and longer cast. Given the fact that you are likely to be weightless fishing in shallow waters, you should find a compromise between the accuracy of baitcasting rods and more versatile spinning rods.
Best Reels To Use
While it is essential to pick the right rod and the right reel, it is even more important to select the two, so they balance with each other. Given that you have opted for a stiffer and lighter spinning rod, your choice should guide you towards an open face spinning reel that guarantees a smooth action.
Generally, most reels that match a sensitive, medium-action rod will work well. Just make sure that your reel has a reliable drag system because a light tackle might succumb to bass when they put up a fight!
The Best Fishing Line to Use for Weightless Rigs
While your fishing line choice is essential for a weightless rig, it will all depend on your fishing location. If a location produced 10lbs bass, you would need a heavier line than small bass dwell areas. 8lbs Mono lines that tend to sink are a great compromise, especially when a lightweight bait might need some extra help to get to your targeted depth. A transparent fluorocarbon line is also a great choice as these lines are invisible – meaning that they won’t startle the fish – and strong – to withstand the weight of a heavier bass.
How to Fish a Weightless Rig
Learning to fish a weightless rig is simple, but refining your technique can take practice. Without weight on your rig and by setting up light lures, it can be challenging to cast the line far enough.
However, to get started, it is important to look at how bass behave. Firstly, as we know, they feed upwards, and they will rarely lower down to eat. Additionally – especially in shallower water – they can be startled easily by splashes and jig skips. Lastly, when caught, bass can put up a fight and take a toll on a light fishing tackle, which means that the reeling in technique counts.
When casting your weightless bait, start by checking the spool tension knob. This should be loose enough to let the line slide down with a smooth movement and descend in water at a medium speed. While holding the rod with the hand, you use for flipping, allow the bait to hang at ⅔ the length of the rod, and loosely hold it with your other hand.
When casting, you won’t need to throw the bait. Instead, focus on the wrist movement of the hand that is holding the rod. As you flip your rig, the bait will slide off your hand and increase the chances of a more accurate cast.
Once the bait hits the water, it will slowly start to flow down towards the bottom of the water. Since you are likely to be fishing in shallow waters, this process won’t take long. As the bait reaches the bottom, lift it up slightly with an upward movement of the rod tip, and allow it to flow or flutter back down slowly.
This technique ensures that the bait is midwater for most of the time instead of on the bottom. Additionally, the rapid upward movement brings life to the bait, mimicking the natural movements of lizards, warms, and small fishes.
When to Fish a Weightless Rig
As we have seen, a weightless rig can be an excellent option for fishing bass. However, not all locations or seasons are suitable for this fishing technique.
Weightless rigs are particularly suitable for shallow, cold waters because the bait will descend slowly. Some ideal locations to use a weightless rig include:
- Calm waters
- Fishing holes in the vegetation
- Shallow banks with water no deeper than 4-5ft.
If the sun comes out during your outing, you should aim for the areas that remain in the shade of a dock or vegetation.
In terms of cover and vegetation, thick cover, weed lines, and docks are all locations where you should use a weightless rig. In fact, when casting an unweighted bait, you won’t have to worry that the splash or noise will startle the bass hiding or ambushing in a calm weed bed.
If you are planning a bass fishing trip, the best season is late winter to late spring. Especially during this time of the year, you can practice your weightless rig technique at any point during the day without having to limit yourself to early morning or late evening outings.
Best Lure for Weightless Rig
When thinking about weightless rigs for bass fishing, the first that comes to mind is Senko worms. And, in most cases, this is the best option for fishing enthusiasts who are trying out the weightless rig technique because they offer a realistic, natural feel. They can also be scented to attract bass and, since they are weedless, they won’t get stuck among weeds.
Aside from Senko, some of the best lures and live baits for your weightless rig include:
- Wacky worms – a weightless Wacky rig is the most accessible and suitable option for a weightless rig.
- Curly tail worms – large-size curly tail worms allow you to cast further and get better action.
- Finesse worms – since they are particularly light, they might not do well with the heavy tackle you need to reel in a bass. However, if you fish in clear waters with smaller fish, these are the best lures.
- Creature baits – these lures are bigger than worms, typically mimic crawfish or large bugs, and are suitable to give your rig a natural presentation.
- Live baits – live baits include nightcrawlers, leeches, and minnows.
Generally, the best option for weightless rigs is using live baits or soft plastics, which are light enough not to add any weight to your weightless rig.
Additionally, they are usually weedless, and they might come with an incorporated hook. These are great features when you wish to streamline your lures and prevent them from getting stuck in weeds and rock – the locations where you are more likely to find a bass!