The Neko rig and the Wacky rig are both lure presentations that are relatively new in the world of bass fishing. For beginner or novice anglers, or for those who have never experimented with these baits, it can be tough to understand the differences between them and how they should be used.
Both lures utilize a unique O-ring that’s designed to hold fast to the soft plastic worm’s center. These rings typically have another smaller hole for the hook, which is usually a smaller sized hook that is quite different from your usual offset hook that is used for 5or Carolina rigs.
The hook’s position allows both the Neko rig and the Wacky rig to have a very different presentation to fish. These baits are perfect for times when bass are locked close to cover and might be unwilling to come out and chase after other types of lures. The Neko and the Wacky rig both have a distinct action that most bass will find to be irresistible when used in the right manner.
What is a Wacky Rig?
A Wacky rig is a totally unique type of soft plastic lure presentation that has proven to be highly effective in recent years. The bait is now famous after several professional anglers have found significant success on the tournament trail when others have come up empty handed. This lure is ideal for being used during the middle of the day when bass might want to stay closer to structure instead of being suspended in open water or around points.
The Wacky rig utilizes an O-ring and a hook set that is very similar, if not identical, to that of a Neko rig. Many times, these O-rings are thin rubber band style components that an anger can simply run their hook underneath to attach the Wacky rig to their line. If you opt for the premium, high-quality O-rings, you might find that they have a small opening where you can slide the hook through.
A Wacky rig is often used without a weight as the strength of the lure, and what makes it so attractive to bass, is the fluttering motion of each end of the worm as the lure falls in the water. Some anglers do tend to use a small weight on days when the wind is an issue, but the lure is recommended to be used without a weight in most cases.
What is a Neko Rig?
A Neko rig is very similar to the Wacky rig. In fact, these two lures are virtually identical in every aspect except one. A Neko rig involves the angler placing a small weight in the end of the worm to give it a totally different underwater presentation than the Wacky rig. These weights are specially made for the Neko rig in most cases and anglers simply lodge them up into the nose of one end of their Neko rig worm.
This weight changes everything about a lure that otherwise would simply be a Wacky rig style presentation. The Neko rig will descend to the bottom faster and the end of the worm where the weight is located will be ‘nose-down’ to the bottom in a way that very closely resembles a foraging bait fish underwater.
This difference between the Wacky rig vs the Neko rig makes all the difference in how both of these lures should be used and why they can be so effective at different times.
Best Plastic Worms for Neko rig vs Wacky rig
The type of worm used for the Neko rig vs the Wacky rig is another point of difference that can either make or break your entire lure presentation when it comes to using these lures at the right place and time. Anglers have been experimenting for years with a variety of different soft plastic worms to pair with their Neko or Wacky rig.
In most cases, some of the most popular and most effective worms are going to be ones like the trick worms made by companies like Zoom and others. These are ideal choices as they have ends that taper down slightly, which allows both ends to have a much greater amount of the trademarked ‘fluttering’ motion that makes the Wacky rig so successful. Neko rigs also benefit from the trick worm as it closely resembles a bait fish working its way along the bottom of a body of water.
For most anglers, the thicker the worm, the better their chances of hooking a fish will be. Many lure companies have started to manufacture soft plastic baits that are specially made to be used with both the Wacky rig and the Neko rig. It’s recommended that you start out with a plastic worm that’s designed to be fished with a Wacky or Neko rig in order to maximize your chances of catching fish.
Neko rigs also work very well with large fluke minnows as they are intended to look like a minnow along the bottom. There are companies who are now producing soft plastics that are specially-made for Neko rigs and are said to work very effectively at certain times of the day—especially during times when the fish are a bit sluggish.
How to Use a Wacky Rig
The Wacky rig is designed to entice bass to come out and strike at a bait when they might otherwise be locked down close to cover. This is certainly true when fishing in very hot weather as bass tend to take refuge from the sun’s rays underneath logs, docks, or other types of cover. The Wacky rig is an excellent way to bring them out and get a bite.
When fishing around these types of cover, be sure that you’re a decent distance from the target as you don’t want to be too close. Throw the Wacky rig in around your target and let it sink all the way to the bottom after it enters the water. Be sure to keep a very close eye on your line as this is typically when you’re going to get some strikes.
Once it’s on the bottom, wind up the slack on your reel and lift up on the rod tip a couple feet before once again letting the lure fall back down to the bottom. Remember that you’re letting the bait do most of the work when it comes to attracting any nearby fish as it is the fluttering motion on both ends that will draw out a bass and get them to strike.
Once you’ve lifted your Wacky rig about two to four times, you can typically wind it back in and throw the lure back, closer to your intended target. The Wacky rig is an outstanding choice for fishing around docks and fallen trees during the heat of the midday sun in the summer.
How to Use a Neko Rig
While the Neko rig very closely resembles a Wacky rig, the manner in which it should be presented to bass underwater couldn’t be more different. The Neko rig’s weight will make it sink faster than a Wacky rig, which makes it a better option when you’re going after fish on a windy day. Nevertheless, working the Neko rig is an art form that, once perfected, can be one of the most productive lures in your entire fishing arsenal.
Unlike the Wacky rig, you’re free to throw the Neko rig wherever you want in most cases since you will be working it along the bottom back to your position instead of just going for a few short drops near a target location like the Wacky rig.
Throw your Neko rig in at any location and let it sink all the way down to the bottom. Once it hits bottom, don’t waste any time before you reel the slack line up on your rod and begin to bounce the lure along the bottom back towards your position.
The key to using the Neko rig is to understand that it should look like a small bait fish working its way along the bottom of a body of water. Bass will see this and think it to be a smaller fish with its nose down to the bottom, unaware that it is in danger of being eaten. The bass will usually see this lure presentation as an easy meal and will strike at the Neko rig, even when they aren’t overly hungry or willing to bite anything else.
Understanding just how often to bounce the Neko rig as you wind it along the bottom is going to be a learning curve for most anglers. However, there are dozens of excellent videos available on Youtube and other platforms that demonstrate the exact type of retrieve you want to use.
There are also some variations as to how quickly or slowly you might want to work the lure along the bottom, depending on the mood the fish are in. Sometimes, when the fish are very active, they prefer a faster-moving lure and will quickly chase it down. Other times, the bass will slowly approach the lure or strike in an ambush style if the lure happens to pass within a close enough range.
The main difference in the Wacky rig vs the Neko rig is one of vertical vs horizontal lure presentation. The Wacky rig is designed to be used in a vertical presentation that anglers should use to target specific spots around areas of cover. Working the wacky rig all the way back to your boat will usually end up being a large waste of time since most of the bass should be holding close to cover when you use this lure.
The Neko rig is a horizontal lure presentation that anglers can use to cover vast areas of water. These lures are an excellent choice for fishing across points or other areas where you’re not quite sure where the bass will be. The best method of throwing the Neko rig is to ‘fan’ it out in a 45 degree area and thoroughly fish each section before moving on.
Both of these lures are highly effective and should be used by any angler who wants to maximize their chances of catching fish at times when the bite is a little slow. With the information we’ve covered in this article, you should be off to a good start in understanding the differences of the Neko rig vs Wacky rig and when and where to use both.