Neko Rig Setup: An Effective Worm Rig For Bass Fishing

Whether you are new to bass fishing or have been enjoying it for years, chances are good you’ve heard about the Neko rig from many anglers. This highly effective rig …

Whether you are new to bass fishing or have been enjoying it for years, chances are good you’ve heard about the Neko rig from many anglers. This highly effective rig is extremely simple to set up but can help you catch more bass. Let’s take a closer look at Neko rig fishing and how you can set it up quickly and easily whether you are bass fishing from the boat or bass fishing from the shore.

The Neko Rig Basics

For both beginners and experienced anglers alike, learning to fish a Neko rig is a very easy process to learn.

Best Neko Rig Setup – Step By Step

There are a few steps to take when setting up your Neko rig. Luckily, the Neko rig is extremely easy to set up for bass fishing and can be done directly on the boat as needed.

  1. Decide on your bait. The Neko rig is most commonly fished with a straight tail plastic worm, but other soft plastic bait can be used. For the sake of simplicity, we will discuss setting up your Neko rig with a standard soft plastic bait worm.
  2. Weight your worm. This is done by pushing a nail weight into one end of the straight worms. You can also use clamp weights to secure the sinker to the worm on your Neko rig.
  3. Tip: Tungsten is the best option due to the smaller size compared to lead.
  4. Add the O-Ring. This goes around the middle of your worm like a belt. You can scoot the O-ring closer to the head for more action in the water, and closer to the tail for less action.
  5. Attach the Hook. You will slide the hook of your choice through the O-ring on your Neko rig so it holds your worm securely without damaging the soft plastic.
  6. Tip: Place the exposed hook at an angle instead of straight up and down to get better hookups.
  7. Catch Fish. Toss the Neko rig in the water and let the weight pull it slowly down. Depending on where you placed the O-ring, the Neko rig worm will dance up from the bottom of the lake.
Our Score

This 30-pack of senkos is a good choice to have in your tackle bag when the fishing is on. The pack comes with senkos in five different colors: Lemon Yellow, Cinnamon, Watermelon, Pearl White and Chartreuse/Pumpkin.

As a cheaper bait, it always pays to coat these in your favourite scent for bass before using them to increase your catch rate.

How Do I Fish The Neko Rig?

For both beginners and experienced anglers alike, learning to fish a Neko rig is a very easy process to learn. The Neko rigging does best when there is little to no slack in the line, so you will retain a bit more control over the hook and bait. A Neko rig fishing line that is too slack will prevent the bait from dancing vertically at the bottom and may cost you a few fish strikes.

When you fish a Neko rig, cast it out into the water as you would normally. Try to keep it near ledges or cover but not deep in the vegetation or weed beds. Let it sink slowly to the bottom at its own speed. This sinking speed will be determined by the size of weight you added to the worm when setting up the rig.

As you fish a Neko rig, start a slow and steady retrieve your straight tail worm once it hits the bottom. Keep your line tight and occasionally give gentle tugs to get short hops from your Neko rigging worm across the rocks and mud bottom. Try to keep your line pulled as much as possible. This helps prevent the hook from snagging on rocks or vegetation at the bottom.

Since the Neko rigging is specifically for targeting bottom dwelling fish, you want it to keep as much contact with the bottom as possible. But not so much contact that your hook lays on the ground or gets hung up in everything. 

Neko Rig Essentials

This highly effective rig is extremely simple to set up but can help you catch more bass.

Neko Rig Hooks

While you are not forced to use any one hook with a Neko rig, many anglers will use a mix of straight shank hooks or specific Wacky hooks. Since the Neko rig is very similar to the Wacky rig, using the same specialized straight shank hooks for both is perfectly viable.

A wide range of more experienced anglers will use 1/0 size weedless Neko hook on their Neko rig. Additionally, you can opt to use a light wire standard hook which is effective if you decide not to use an O-ring, however your soft plastic worms will take a lot more damage from big bass strikes.

When adding a hook to your Neko rig, you want to ensure it has a decent sized hook gap and length ratio. For example, Wacky hooks such as the ReBarb or the VMC brand Neko rig hook are a great option. These Neko rig hooks normally have a 1:3 ratio of gap to length.

When securing your O-ring worm to your Neko rig hook, always ensure the hook will hang at a slight angle or straight upwards. A downward pointing hook will get snagged on vegetation and may prevent solid hookups with your Neko rig.

Why Fish with A Weedless Neko Hook?

A weedless Neko hook is an excellent option when you are bass fishing at the edge of weed beds with your Neko rig, or in areas where there are small branches and long grasses at the bottom of the lake. Since you will be casting the Neko rig far from the boat and slowly dancing it back, using a weedless Neko hook or some of the weedless Wacky hooks can prevent a number of snags and hang ups from happening when Neko rig fishing.

There are a huge range of weedless hooks made for Neko rig fishing use as well as for Wacky rig usage which will work perfectly fine on a Neko rig. If you have had a lot of problems with getting your Neko or Wacky rig hooks caught in weeds, consider going for a short straight shank hook. The shorter straight shank hook on Neko rigging will offer more weed protection than hooks with a longer shank will.

Neko Rig Weights

There are a wide range of weights you can use successfully with a Neko rig. Pro anglers will opt for either nail weights, or a Wacky rig-style split shot weight that can be crimped onto their worm. In almost every case, most anglers will recommend using a tungsten nail weight over any other material to catch bass.

Tungsten is a very dense material and can offer the same weight in a much smaller package when compared to lead or stainless steel. This makes nail weights an easily concealed option when securing it to the worm bait on your Neko rig.

Since the action of your Neko rig worm is determined by the size and placement of the nail weight, using small but very dense weights gives you a larger range of placement options. Additionally, a heavier weight won’t be large and obtrusive when it comes to tungsten, so you can go with a heavier size on your Neko rig while still keeping it difficult for fish to notice.


One of the biggest differences in a Neko rig fishing and Wacky rig fishing is the addition of an O-ring when securing your bait to the hook. While you can definitely just run your hook through the soft plastic and forgo the use of an O-ring entirely as you might with a Wacky rig, you will go through a lot more bait than usual.

Adding an O-ring on your Neko rig helps keep your worms intact through multiple bass strikes. In most cases, if you simply run the hook through the worm, a single bass strike will render that worm unusable for another attempt.

Rubber O-rings are very affordable and easy to find at most tackle shops. The ¼” size rings will work for most worms you would be using on a Neko rig, however larger ring sizes can be used for girthier worms and other styles of soft plastics such as those you might use on a Wacky rig.

Neko Baits

If you are looking to get the classic Neko rig bait style, going for a straight tail rubber worm or Wacky worm is your best option. While a range of other bait types can be used on a Neko rig, they won’t give you the same presentation as your standard Wacky worm.

When properly rigged and weighted, a Wacky worm on a Neko rig will give you a very unique and eye-catching movement all the way to the bottom of the lake. If your soft plastic bait happens to fall through a school of fish, chances are good they will be enticed to strike as it sinks.

Once it hits the bottom, the weighted nose of the straight tail worm digs down into the mud while the tail wiggles and dances just above it. Hungry fish will take notice and strike with aggression thinking this is an easy meal.

Neko Rig Setup and Fishing FAQs

Choosing the Correct Rod For Neko Rig

A Neko rig is great for finesse type rods and spinning gear. If you have done any fishing with a Shaky Head rig, the same rod and reel combo you used for that would work great for a Neko rig.

Pro anglers will go with an 8-pound line on their Neko rig leaders and keep 20 pounds spooled. You can use a combination of line types that you are most comfortable with on your spinning gear, but a fluorocarbon leader is usually recommended with a Neko rig.

For your spinning gear spool, many Neko rig anglers will go with a braided line for durability and because it offers a bit of stretch when you are fishing a fish on the line.

Where Is The Best Location To Fish The Neko Rig?

The entire purpose of using a Neko rig is to get your bait right down to the bottom floor of the lake so you can start catching bass that are hiding out down there. Fishing with Neko rigs is great around:
– Submerged vertical tree stumps
– Drop offs and bluff walls
– Edge of vegetation points
– Isolated rock piles and sunken brush

Deep Water Neko Rig Fishing

Most anglers will keep their Neko rig in the 10 foot depth range, but if you want to take it deeper you only need to change up your nose weight. Simply add a bit more weight and your bait will sink quickly and smoothly down to the bottom of 20 or 30 foot depths.

Neko Rig Vs Ned Rig?

Both the Neko rig and Ned rig do very well in shallow water, but many anglers will use a Neko rig if they want to go into deeper water where the most bites occur. The Ned rig is excellent for fishing around sand transitions in clear water or when you want to target suspended fish with finesse techniques.

Neko Rig Vs Shaky Head Rig?

A growing number of bass anglers are switching from their Shaky Head over to the Neko rigs. While both rigs are very similar in how and where they can be fished, the unique presentation of the Neko rig is becoming more popular with novice and professional bass anglers alike.

Neko Rig Vs Wacky Rig?

Almost identical in their presentations, most anglers can get positive results from both the Neko rig and the Wacky rig regardless of where and how they are using it. However, in general the Wacky is preferred over the Neko rig when fished in extremely shallow water less than 6 feet. 

Neko Rig Vs Drop Shot Rig?

Both the Neko rig and Drop Shot rig in this case excel in deep water, but the Drop Shot shines simply due to the versatility it brings to the table. A quick adjustment of the drop shot weight length can entirely change how your bait is presented to fish, where as the only adjustments with a Neko rig is the placement of the O-ring on the straight worms.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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