What Is A Neko Rig?

What Is A Neko Rig?

What Is A Neko Rig?

Originally used by Japanese anglers, the Neko rig has gained a lot of popularity over the past decade in the US thanks to its fish-catching nature.

However, despite its rise in popularity, the Neko rig is still new to many anglers.

Whether you are a pro or you just bought your first rod and reel combo, the Neko rig is easy to learn and tends to perform well in fisheries that receive a lot of fishing pressure.

Also, thanks to its versatility, the Neko rig is great for every season of the year.

Let's get started!

Neko fishing rig

Neko Rig Basics

At it's core a Neko rig consists of a hook, a soft plastic (usually in the form of a worm), and a weight.

The key component of a Neko rig is the weight.

A Neko rig uses a weight, usually in the form of a nail weight, that is inserted into one end of the soft plastic.

In simple terms, rig a worm wacky style and then put a weight in one end of it.

Just like that, you have a Neko rig.

The end goal is to have a vertically presented lure that has a similar presentation to a shaky head yet has the action of a wacky rig.

The Neko rig is typically fished using either a stick worm or a finesse worm but can also be used with creature baits.

TIP: If you choose a sinking worm as your bait, your hook position may affect how vertical your bait is presented. Rigging the hook in the middle of the bait will give a slightly leaning presentation whereas a higher hook position (5/8-3/4 of the way up the bait) will warrant a taller, more vertically presented bait.

The large majority of anglers opt for a Neko rig in finesse, bottom fishing situations but it can also be power fished through the water column in a similar manner to a weighted wacky rig.

Gear Selection

As stated above, the Neko rig is mostly used as a finesse technique and pairs well with spinning tackel.

When thinking about your set up consider something similar to what you would use when fishing a wacky rig.

A medium action spinning rod and some light 8-10lb fluorocarbon line will do the trick.

TIP: If you want to avoid the memory issue that an entire spool of fluoro can cause consider a 20 or 30lb braided line backing coupled with a 5 to 8 ft. fluorocarbon leader. Iworks great when connecting braid to fluorocarbon thanks to how well the braid protects the fluorocarbon portion of the knot.

Terminal Tackle Options

Time for hook and weight...

They make hooks and weights dedicated to Neko rigs but there's nothing wrong with breaking away from the norm to save some money.

A typical hook used for Neko rigs is anything that closely resembles that of a dropshot or wacky rig hook.

If you got a bunch of bait holder hooks laying around from the night crawler days those will work too!

Some anglers prefer the longer shank hook similar to a bait holder or dropshot hook, as opposed to a shorter shank wacky rig hook, to allow for better hooksets but it's ultimately up to you.

It's not uncommon to pair your hook with a small piece of clear heat shrink or an O-ring if you have a wacky rig tool.

By doing so, you vertically present your hook for better hooksets and also cut down on the chances of tearing your soft plastic while working the lure.

As for the weight, most anglers choose a dedicated Neko rig nail weight or a half moon wacky weight with a stem or screw-in spring that can be inserted into the soft plastic.


TIP: If you want to save money on Neko rig weights consider using either 1" deck screws or nails. Most Neko rig weights are on the lighter side and standard home improvement store hardware can get the job done for a fraction of the price!

Where to Fish a Neko Rig

Neko rigs really excel around fish holding structure such as ledges, points, and riprap.

Unless using a hook with a weed guard you may run into some trouble fishing heavier cover areas such as brush piles and submerged vegetation (hydrilla, coontail, milfoil, etc.).

If fishing a Neko rig in areas with cover consider places that allow for easy maneuverability of your soft plastic such as docks and chunk rock. This will limit the time spent freeing a hung up lure.

Also, don't hesitate to tie on a Neko rigged worm during the spawn.

The tall, vertical profile of a Neko rigged worm presents itself as a threat to any bass guarding a bed.

How to Fish a Neko Rig

Most anglers like to fish a Neko rig in a similar fashion to a wacky rig.


In most cases, a Neko rig is fished on the bottom and presented in a slower, more subtle manner so there's no need to rush the retrieve.

There's nothing wrong with dragging it through questionable areas that pose a risk of getting hung up but just remember that the main action of the rig comes from short, snappy wrist movements as if working a wacky rigged worm.

Time to go catch em'!