You know what I am thinking? Maybe this is a good
time to review a number of basic rigging options, starting from
the lightest to the heaviest. Do you think so? I think an article
here is a good way to put various rigging options into context.
A Quick Review of Fundamental Rigging Options
Let's start with the smallest, lightest bait
rigs and incrementally step up from there, okay? Nothing
fancy, just bass rigs you basically make with a bait, a weight
and a hook. So here goes.
Flatlining finesse baits. Let's just say
that a weightless bait is the purest form of rigging. I call this
"flatlining". You use only the weight of the bait/hook
to propel it on the cast and to sink it to bottom. First let's
focus on weightless finesse. Things you might rig weightless
include a 3" Fin-S-Fish, 3" Reaper or thin 4"
weenie worm for instance. There are also bigger 4" to
6" weightless soft jerkbaits too, and we will talk about
them later in this article. But for right now, we're talking
finesse baits, which usually means size #1 or #2 hooks for
rigging finesse, possibly a slightly heavier #1/0 for weightless
finesse baits. You never really want to bulk up too much on the
hook as a means to add weight to these diminutive baits. You will
kill their floating/gliding action if you do that.
Always remember that a modern thin wire hook is the key to all
forms of finesse fishing. Today's modern hooks - Gamakatsu,
Owner, VMC - are composed of high strength steel which allows the
wire to be strong but thin. The thinness allows many finesse fish
to practically hook themselves on 8-10 lb. test or lighter
spinning gear. So, do not go to a thick hook as a means to add
weight to a bait. A thick hook will only make it hard if not
impossible to set the hook. Instead, you can insert little snips
of "nail weights" or lead solder wire into the bait for
more weight, but just like hooks that are too heavy, insert
weights can also deaden the action of small finesse baits.
Split shot rigs. Rather than stick snips
of solder or nail weights into a bait, you can better preserve
the unweighted action of the bait with a split shot. Simply tie a
hook on the end of your line, bait up and pinch a split shot
18" to 24" above the hook. I always start with several
of the smallest size of shots, adding and removing them to zero
in on the "ideal" weight - which depends on depth,
drift and FALL RATE, which is the speed at which bass want the
bait to fall down to them. Even in running water, your bait
should ideally fall down to them as it drifts. More than half of
the bass you catch will pick up your bait on the fall, and it is
so important that you zero in on the fall rate which bass want at
any given moment. If you do not get bit on the fall, then most of
the other half of the bites you get will be within the first 20
to 30 seconds that you just let the bait lie motionless wherever
it falls - but remember, it was the FALL RATE which attracted
these delayed biters over to your bait in the first place! So, I
use small shots to precisely tune into the fall rate, after which
I prefer to use one single larger split shot after I have
discovered the proper weight that falls best.
There are two models of shots. EARED shots are easiest to
add/remove when you are trying to calibrate the weight. Some
anglers claim that eared shot snag on bottom more easily than
ROUND shot, and that eared shot spin and twist the line worse
than round shot when you get impatient and reel line in too
quickly in order to make a new cast.
There are two kinds of "lead" too - soft and hard.
Hard shots include some tin or other additive metal. Some anglers
claim a hard shot will stay where you pinched it on the line
whereas soft shot are prone to slip down or fall off the line
when you drag them through snags. This is true, but I would
rather have a soft shot fall off the line rather than have a hard
shot bite into it too sharply.
Personally, I prefer Water Gremlin soft lead shots. Water
Gremlin's are manufactured with a molded-in hinge area, flattened
"jaws", smoother edges and better overall quality than
most other split shots. If I get frustrated with the shot sliding
down the line, then I simply superglue the shot in place.
Mojo rigs. The Mojo weights are a
heavier step up from split shots. In it's pure form, the Mojo Rig
is yet another California-born finesse tactic for 8-10 lb. test
spinning gear and small "finesse" plastics. The Mojos
come in a variety of sizes from 1/16 through 1/4 oz. The weight
is shaped as a thin pencil lead. It is used on bottoms where
there are weeds and other occasional snags. Some anglers say the
thin Mojo sinker will slink through weeds and slip through snags
better than a split shot or bullet weight. Also, some anglers are
concerned that splitshots pinch and nick their lines, and leave
them vulnerable to losing big bass that break their weakened
lines. Therefore, they like Mojos, because a Mojo weight is part
of a complete system which includes rubber strands to cushion the
line from potential damage.
How you rig a Mojo is that first you slide your weight on the
line. Then use a threader tool to pull rubber strands in one end
and out the other end of the weight. Tie an offset shank hook to
the line and slide the weight about 18" up the line. The
rubber strands hold the Mojo securely in place so it will not
easily slip down the line when it comes through snags.
Needle Nose weights. The next "step
up" the rigging ladder is a Water Gremlin Needle Nose
weight. Picture a golf tee with a hole running through it.
That's what a Water Gremlin Needle Nose weight looks like! The
nose is thinner than a Mojo's nose, but the butt flares out. It
is a quality made weight with smooth hole edges. It comes in
comparable light weights like a Mojo (1/16, 3/16, 1/8, 1/4, etc.)
plus the Needle Nose comes heavier too. Also just like a Mojo,
the Needle Nose snakes through grass and snags. I simply thread
the line through it. Break a toothpick off in its butt. Make sure
you break it off by bending it AWAY from your line. If you want
to slide it around as you fish, the wood will swell with water in
a few minutes...and you can usually slide it down closer towards
the bait without causing the toothpick to loosen up too badly. If
you want to lock it in place, use a drop of Zap-A-Gap. Unlike
other superglues, you do not have to wait a few seconds with
Zap-a-Gap which still continues to harden even under water and
with wet parts!
Our next step up practically takes us
beyond the range of finesse fishing with 8-10-12 lb. test
gear....except if we are plummeting down deeper beyond 30' in
clear water. In deep clear water, we may keep the tiny finesse
baits and 8-10 lb. test gear. Otherwise, this next level deals
with 12 lb. test tackle, using light Carolina and Texas rigs to
prospect for bass where we may encounter light to medium weed and
wood cover. In these areas, we are probably going to use
"average" size as opposed to "finesse" baits.
Examples of average size baits are 4" Gitzits, 4"
grubs, worms like Yamamoto 7 Series cut tail or 6 Series ribbon
Mini Carolina rigs on 12 lb. test use
1/4 to 1/2 oz. weights are the practical delivery method. At this
weight and in the slightly snaggy places we intend to use them, a
swivel and leader trace almost becomes required equipment. Simply
thread a bullet or egg weight onto your main line, often followed
by a glass bead which makes a click. Then tie on a swivel which
serves as a "stop" to prevent the constant friction
from cover contact that would otherwise slowly but surely slide
any other kind of "pegged" or "pinched"
weight down the line towards the bait. The leader length is
18" to 24" most of the time.
Rubber core sinkers. If there is a
smoother bottom without constant friction, an easier alternative
is a Water Gremlin Rubbercore weight. You do not have to tie it
on because it has rubber ears to simply twist it onto the line.
As mentioned above about eared split shot, a rubber core can also
make a great tool to allow you to initially calibrate the weight
as well as the leader length. Once you get the weight/length
figured out, then you can use the traditional swivels, beads,
leader traces and egg weights to make a proper Carolina rig. As
you may have noticed by now, I am making a distinction between
Water Gremlin and other weights. Due to the production quality
and smoother edges, Water Gremlin products damage your line less
than some others.
Unpegged mini Texas rigs typically range
under 1/4 oz. Wherever possible with a mini Texas rig, leave the
bullet weight unpegged to slide up and down the line, thereby
providing more unpredictable action to the bait. For
"shaking" or "doodling" a bait, an unpegged
brass weight and glass bead may be used to create an attractive
Pegged mini Texas rigs. When faced with
thick weeds or snags, the Texas rig must be made more
weedless/snagless with a toothpick broken off in its butt to peg
the bullet weight right against the head of the bait.
Flatlining soft jerk baits. Around this
12 to 15 lb. test line range, we can also talk about rigging
"standard" sizes of weightless soft plastic jerkbaits.
We are talking about 4" Venom Skip Shads, 4" Zoom
Flukes, 5" Super Flukes, 5" Bass Assassins, 6"
Slug-gos, several sizes of 4" to 6" Yamamoto Senkos. In
fact, practically every manufacturer makes one or more big jerks
- and most of them work! It is often recommended that you use a
leader trace about 18" and a free-turning swivel to help
eliminate some of the inevitable line twist as your weightless
baits rolls when it is twitched too sharply or retrieved too
quickly. Like we talked about earlier, you can insert little
snips of "nail weights" or lead solder wire into the
bait for more weight.
If we step up and over this line, we
will find ourselves in heavy cover where we need more power than
finesse. We've stepped across to 15 to 20 lb. test line, heavier
gear and medium to large baits and hooks. Weights can range from
3/8 up to 1 oz. We will either Texas rig with pegged bullet
weights, Florida rig with screw-in weights, or Carolina rig with
This concludes our quick tour of basic rigging options. We've
covered them all, and you should learn and use them well. Please
use your back arrow button to exit.