When it comes to different techniques in bass fishing that are catching on with new and old anglers around the country, finesse fishing has really come into its own over the past few years. Big bass won’t always strike immediately and instead need a lighter touch and more finesse, which is where this technique comes into play.
The two most common finesse fishing setups that any bass fisherman will tell you about are the Shaky Head (see here for our full guide on how to rig it) and the Ned rig (rigging instructions here).
Not only are they both well known in the bass fishing and crappie fishing community, but they can both be highly effective as well depending on how they are used. Whether you are a new bass angler (some beginner tips here) or highly experienced, either of these rigs can help you catch so many fish.
Both the Ned rig and the Shaky Head rig share a number of similarities, but there are also many notable differences that help each of them shine in a different light. When bass fishing with the Ned rig, you’ll notice it is normally the smaller of the two and is great for fishing in midwater or at the bottom.
When it comes to catching bass on the Shaky Head, it is more for a bottom fishing setup, but does amazingly well in open water without a lot of grass or vegetation to get the soft plastic baits snagged on. The Shaky Head usually makes use of a larger overall profile and soft plastic worm to really make the bass take notice.
See also: Tokyo Rig vs Texas Rig for bass fishing
This article will take a closer look at these two finesse rigs for bass fishing and compare their pros and cons when it comes to helping you catch bass. It will also give you a better understanding of where each rig should be used, and how it can help you improve your fishing success.
Ned Rig vs Shaky Head Advantages of Each
- Perfect rig choice for use year-round and during the spawning season
- Works great when used in medium current and can hold its own in rivers
- Very beginner-friendly and hard to use incorrectly; great for children to learn on
- Can catch fish even without you doing much wiggling or dancing of the bait
- Not really a suitable choice for top water fishing
- Hook can be very delicate light wire and may snag easily on weeds
Harmony Fishing Company Ned Rig Kit – Z-Man Finesse T.R.D. 8pk + Finesse Shroomz Jig Heads 5pk (Green Pumpkin) + How to Fish The Ned Rig Guide
- Everything you need to learn to fish the Ned Rig
- Includes 8 pack of Z-Man Finesse T.R.D. Soft Plastic Baits, 5 pack of Z-Man Finesse Shroomz Jig Heads (1/10oz), and the comprehensive “How To Fish The Ned Rig for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass” Guide by Harmony Fishing Company
- The Ned Rig has proven to catch both high quality and high quantities of fish, even when other lures aren’t triggering bites
- “How To Fish The Ned Rig” includes information on how to work the bait, as well as where to most effectively fish it during different times of year
When to Use
If your fishing trip has you targeting fish in somewhat shallow water of around 15 to 20 feet max, the Ned rig is a great option to consider here. It has a smaller profile than the Shaky Head and uses a lightweight jig head in the mushroom shape to give your soft plastics a unique finesse to them that other rigs can’t offer.
Since this rig is specifically made for ultra-finesse fishing, you want to ensure your lightweight rod is extremely sensitive to movement and vibrations. Additionally, be sure to use a light line for the best results; the lightest you can get your hands on will do well on this setup.
You want your spinning reel and other equipment to be sensitive enough to let you know when bites or nibbles are detected, no matter how deep you dropped your lure. Many spinning rods can do well here, especially if you have the right rod that transfers vibrations through the water column and onto your line.
The Ned is extremely versatile as a finesse technique and is a great choice for fishing in a wide range of areas. You’ll do well to toss this rig into the clear water of rivers and creeks or any area that has current when targeting certain fish. Additionally, it does well to catch fish in both light cover and rocky areas, as well as some grass beds that aren’t too weedy or thick.
See also: Texas Rig vs Shaky Head Rig for bass fishing
Since it uses a light wire hook, you’ll want to keep it in open water as much as possible. Rocks and minimal cover areas are fine, but heavy cover or thick vegetation can become a problem with snags and entanglement on the exposed hook, or bending of your light wire hook.
Once you find a clearing for an open hook, however, it’s a great and highly effective bottom water rig that can also excel in midwater fishing. You can use a variety of jig heads as well as stick bait or creature bait to be successful. When you fish a Ned, it’s important that you use as much light tackle as you can to get the best results.
One of the most notable benefits of using the Ned rig is that you don’t actively have to monitor every move the rod tip makes. You can just as easily cast to your desired location and wait until the fish strike. This makes it a very beginner friendly rig for anyone to practice with, and it’s extremely hard for most bass fishermen to mess up when using it.
Shaky Head Rig
- Can get bites from even extremely timid or inactive fish under cover
- Great for use with a lightweight setup all the way around
- Perfect for use in clear water, but can hold its own in murky water too
- One of the best rigs when targeting bottom dwelling bass or catfish
- Can be used with a variety of jig heads or other baits
- Prone to bogging down in mud at the bottom of the lake due to heavier weight
- Not really a suitable choice as a fish finder due to the slower coverage speed
- Five pack of high quality jig heads
- Tungsten weights for fast sinking and extra feel
- Super strong professional grade hooks
When to Use
If you’re looking to run a much lighter setup and want to use a finesse worm or other baits, most anglers will agree the Shaky Head is a great choice of rig to go with. It’s a bit bigger in size than the Ned which helps get it noticed by larger fish, even in areas where they might be reluctant to strike.
You’ll do best and catch more fish with this heavier line rig when you go to using a floating soft plastic worm with a heavy duty jig head. A screw type bait holder is one of the most popular choices for this rig setup as well, though other jig head styles are effective when fishing with a Shaky Head setup too.
While it does amazingly well with a lightweight rod and line setup, other anglers that spend time fishing with a Shaky Head won’t hesitate to inform you that you can definitely upsize to a heavier casting rod and a more durable or higher test fishing line when you want to catch those big fish.
This not only helps you have more success by enticing those shy fish to strike with the Shaky Head itself, but also ensures you can haul those monster bass in and get them on the boat easily, even if fishing with a Shaky Head in tough conditions such as rain or high wind.
There is no perfect spot to start bass fishing with a Shaky Head; in fact, you can use the Shaky Head rig in a variety of places including docks, piers, marinas, and other areas where structures are present. Underwater brush and vegetation piles are also a great spot to fish around with a Shaky Head, as are rock piles and deep water points where there may be pressured fish holed up.
See also: Tokyo Rig vs Texas Rig for bass fishing
One of the biggest downsides to using a Shaky Head is that it is not a suitable fish finder. The Shaky Head is not made to cover a large amount of water, so it’s best to know fish are around before dropping a Shaky Head in. However, even if the fish are present but won’t strike on another rig such as the Ned or a Texas rig or even a Drop Shot, chances are good that they will take the bait from your Shaky Head jigs.
The Shaky Head is a common rig in bass fishing tournaments and competitions, and a majority of bass fishermen swear by the success using a Shaky Head jig head can bring, even over the old standby of a Texas rig or Drop Shot rig. If you’re fishing in a spot where you can give the Shaky Head jig head rig full bottom contact, you’re sure to land a large number of big and beautiful trophy bass on that larger hook of the Shaky Head.
Final Thoughts on Ned Rigs vs Shaky Head Rigs For Bass Fishing
In short, it’s easy to understand how new anglers can be confused by these two rigs. They look quite similar and are both very commonly found in the finesse fishing world. However, they both have very different and distinct strengths as well as some weaknesses that should be taken into consideration before you decide to focus on using one or the other.
For beginners, it’s hard to go wrong when you fish a Ned rig. When you fish the Ned rig at your favorite lake, you’ll soon notice it’s a great way to introduce children and adults alike to the world of finesse fishing and learning how to notice gentle vibrations on their rod. Additionally, you can make many mistakes when you fish a Ned rig and still have plenty of success to catch fish all day long.
See also: Wacky Rig vs Texas Rig for Trophy Bass
If you’re targeting fish that like to stay close to structures, hide under docks and piers, or remain in cover, the Shaky Head is a great way to bring them out and entice them to strike. If you haven’t been having luck with a Ned rig in the area, drop a Shaky Head rig into the same spot and see if anything changes.
Regardless of which rig you decide to use, both the Ned rig and Shaky Head are two excellent finesse setups that will have you catching more fish in less time no matter when or where you may be targeting fish. Drop them in shallow water, toss them out into deeper water, it won’t make any big difference for many anglers and with the right bait you’ll be hauling more bass into your boat than ever before.
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