Written by Andrew Schadegg
We’ve recently been highlighting a number of simple finesse rigs that are essential tools for cold water fishing. Of course, they’re also effective year round, particularly when fishing gets tough and you need to slow down to get those bites.
One unassuming plastic that has become a standard in almost every angler’s tackle box is the stick bait or Senko (the name given to it by Gary Yamamoto, who invented the bait). The stick bait just looks like a straight piece of plastic. Very basic. If you got the LTB Bass box this month, you received the Bass Attacker Stix 5’ stick bait. This little 5-inch bait is incredibly versatile.
Here are 5 ways to rig a stick bait for different situations:
1. Weightless Texas Rig – Probably the most popular way to setup a stick bait is Texas Rigged. For a 5 inch bait, typically a 3/0 offset worm hook is a perfect choice. Thread it a quarter inch into the head, come out the side, run the bait up the hook, turn the hook point around and stick it back into the plastic. Make sure it stays in the plastic, so it remains weedless. There is no need for a weight, the bait will fall slowly through the water column and shimmy on the way down. It’s perfect for shallow weeds or structure where you don’t want to get hung up.
2. Weighted Texas Rig – This is exactly the same as the first rig, but you slide a small bullet weight up the line before you tie on your hook. A lot of anglers like to use a very light weight, something like 1/8 ounce or less. Just enough to increase casting distance and fall rate. If you’re trying to make precision casts around docks or weedlines, this can give you some better accuracy. This is also a great option for fishing slightly deeper water, as well.
3. Wacky Rig – The wacky rig is a slightly less weedless option, but definitely just as popular. This style of rigging can be deadly effective. Most commonly rigged with a circle hook and some sort of O-ring or saddle that can be slid up the bait, to allow the hook to sit in the center of the bait. It can be rigged across the bait horizontally or straight up the bait vertically. Various theories abound as to which is better. Either way, rigging the bait in the center gives this bait wings that flap as it falls. Killer action and perfect for dirtier water.
4. Neko Rig
– Quickly becoming one of the more popular ways of rigging the stick bait, the Neko Rig has the benefit of being able to get down deep. A lot of anglers on the west coast have been using it in deep reservoirs, for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in depths up to 50 feet. To put it simply, it’s a wacky rig with a nail weight in the head. This allows the bait to get down deep faster, but also has tremendous action with the tail floating up off the bottom, while the head is down in the rocks or whatever structure is on the bottom. (See the full article on fishing this technique “Neko Rig 101.”
What makes stick baits so good? They are easy to fish, they’re versatile and they just, flat-out, catch fish. Veteran anglers always have them rigged up in their boats and beginners use them because they are simple to fish. Try mixing up how you rig these baits and you’ll be consistently landing bass in no time!