The Shaky Head Rig: How to Fool Big Bass With Finesse Worms

The shaky head is a very simple worm rig that is nothing more than a small plastic worm rigged on a light lead jig head. This finesse rig gets its …

The shaky head is a very simple worm rig that is nothing more than a small plastic worm rigged on a light lead jig head. This finesse rig gets its name from the technique used to fish it—shaking it with the rod tip as you raw it up off the bottom to entice a strike from lethargic bass during those difficult times, such as after a storm.

The Shaky Head Rig is kind of the lightweight finesse cousin of the Ned Rig, which usually uses a heavier jig head and a Senko-style stickbait.

The Shaky Head Rig Set Up

The Shaky Head Jig Underwater

The beauty of the shaky head rig as a presentation is that the head rests on the bottom with the worm sticking up and waving in the current or when the jighead is moved.

With the right rod action, the worm will undulate and swirl as the jig is moved, creating a seductive action that few bass can resist.

The shaky head and the natural movement of the worm that it allows have been key to unlocking many a shutdown bite on bass lakes across the country.

Best Shaky Head Jig

The key to a good shaky head jighead is that it can sit on the bottom with the hook protruding pretty much straight up. You don’t want it to fall over or lean too much.

The other thing to look for is the mechanism to keep the worm on the hook. The last thing you want with this kind of jig head is for the bass to suck in the worm and remove it clean off the hook.

There are two types of keeper—the screw-in model with the little wire spiral and the ones with a plastic barb that prevents the worm from being pulled off the hook. Both have their fans, and both are very effective kinds of jig heads.

Most shakey heads come with a weedless option—a thin wire screw designed to allow the hook to slide through weed without the point catching.

In terms of size, given this is a finesse rig that’s best fished in less than 15 feet of water, shaky head fishing is best done with a light jighead in the 1/16 to 1/8 of an ounce range. You want the jighead to be light enough to give you a good feel but heavy enough to keep the bait on the bottom.

Our top shaky heads:

Best Shaky Head Worms

There is a wide range of specially designed shaky-head worms. We’ve listed our favorite baits for this style of fishing below. The shaky head rig tends to favor the finesse worm style, but pretty much any small plastic bait or worm can be rigged in the shaky head style.

Shaky Head Fishing: How to Fish This Rig

Shaky head rigs are usually fished with lightweight spinning outfits spooled with an 8lb line or similar. This technique really is a form of ultralight bass fishing. You want a light line and the lightest rod and reel you can get away with really (here are our top picks for ultralight rods and combos) and still land the kind of fish you expect to catch.

When fishing a shaky head worm, you want the jig to stay in contact with the bottom. Drag the bait along the bottom of the lake or pond by slowly raising the rod tip. At the same as you’re raising the rod, shake or wobble the rod tip to transfer that action to the worm.

Then reel in the slack as you lower the rod tip. Make sure you keep a degree of tension on the line at all times to detect any bites in this finesse ultralight form of bass fishing.

And because you are in such intimate contact with the structure on the bottom with the shaky head, you’ll soon discover the composition of the lake floor from the feel – rock, sand, or weed. Then when you get a bass, you’ll know what kind of underwater terrain they are holding up in on the day.

The other thing to remember when shaky head fishing is to fish this rig nice and slowly. You need patience with the shaky head rig to get that slow, lazy action that is natural enough to induce a strike from a bass.

Shop where we do: Bass Pro

Grab a Bass Pro special
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Photo of author
Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x