Jigworms (aka Ned Rigs) for Summertime Bass

Many summertime bass move to deep weedlines, and the best way to catch them is with a jigworm (aka Ned Rig).

Jigworms (aka Ned Rigs) for Summertime Bass

Call it a jigworm or a Ned Rig, it flat out catches bass, especially during summer when many of the fish move to weedlines. Shown here is the Z-Man Finesse Shroomz jig head and a Z-Man Hula Stickz.

I was introduced to jigworms in 1987 when I traveled to northcentral Minnesota to join the guiding staff at Camp Fish, which was owned by Al and Ron Lindner, founders of In-Fisherman magazine and TV. I was 22 years old at the time and had been bass fishing for 15 years, so I wasn’t exactly a rookie on the water. Prior to that day in the boat, I’d caught largemouth bass on Texas-rigged worms and a wide variety of other artificial lures. I quickly learned the power of a jigworm, and ever since it has been a mainstay in my bass catching plans.

 

What’s a Jigworm?

The name “jigworm” isn’t used often among today’s bass fishermen. It’s an old-school term used to describe a soft-plastic worm rigged on a jighead with an exposed hook. The name “Ned Rig” is far more prevalent today. A Ned Rig is simply a jigworm with a shorter worm, typically without an action-style tail. Check out the video below from my friend Matt Johnson for a quick rundown on jigworm styles, including the Ned Rig.

Fished primarily on spinning tackle, a jigworm is a finesse tactic to target bass when they move from shallow spawning cover to the deep weedline. Jig head size/weight can vary, but in general most anglers use heads weighing 1/4 ounce or less; my favorites weigh 3/32 or 1/8 ounce. In shallow water, or on days with very little wind, a 1/16-ounce works well, too. A plain roundhead jig works fine, but jig heads marketing specifically to bass anglers are usually a mushroom (half head) shape.

Hook size depends on your selection of worm, as well as the average size of bass you plan to catch, plus your choice in rod, reel and line. Because there are numerous variables, I’ll cut to the chase and simply explain my typical setup.

In the lakes I fish in Minnesota, northern pike swim among the bass, so losing tackle to toothy critters is a fact of life. I mention this to explain why I choose a jig head that is both effective and affordable. For example, you can buy a 10-pack of plain 1/8-ounce round lead head jigs, painted black, with a size #2 hook, for $2.80. (That’s what I recently found on the Cabela’s website.) I’ll do the math for you: that’s 28 cents per jig head.

I use one worm style for 99 percent of my jigworm bass fishing, a 7-inch Berkley PowerBait Power Worm, color pumpkinseed. I buy them in 100 packs. Sometimes you can find them on sale, but the regular street price is $31 for 100 worms (per Tackle Warehouse website). That’s 31 cents per worm. So if a pike bites me off, I lose 59 cents in total. No worries — retie and keep casting and jigging.

The author’s go-to jigworm combo isn’t expensive, but it’s crazy good on weedline summertime largemouths. Shown here is a plain 1/8-ounce round jig head paired with a 7-inch Berkley PowerBait Powerworm in pumpkinseed color.
The author’s go-to jigworm combo isn’t expensive, but it’s crazy good on weedline summertime largemouths. Shown here is a plain 1/8-ounce round jig head paired with a 7-inch Berkley PowerBait Powerworm in pumpkinseed color.

Of course, just because this combo of jig head and soft plastic is my go-to, value-first choice doesn’t mean it should be yours. Maybe you don’t have a lot of line-cutting pike in your waters, or you earn more than an outdoor writer/editor (this is very likely BTW). If so, check out the many outstanding jighead choices available under the modern term Ned Rig jig heads. For example, you could buy a five pack of Z-Man Finesse Shroomz jig heads for $5. The welded wire baitkeeper on this top-notch jig head is designed for Z-Man’s Elaztech soft plastics. My pick would be a 4-inch Z-Man Hula Stickz (six pack for $4; top photo), or a 7-inch Z-Man Finesse Wormz (eight pack for $4). I’ve used Elaztech quite a bit in the past, and it’s virtually indestructible.

When summertime conditions are tough for bass, like midday under clear skies with little to no wind, it’s hard to beat a jigworm fished deep and slow along the weedline.
When summertime conditions are tough for bass, like midday under clear skies with little to no wind, it’s hard to beat a jigworm fished deep and slow along the weedline.

Fishing a Jigworm

As stated previously, a jigworm shines when bass move from the shallows and set up shop on the deep weedline. How deep is deep varies from lake to lake. In northcentral Minnesota, where I was taught the technique, most the lakes feature cabbage weeds growing into the depths, typically ending in 15-18 feet.

I position my boat parallel to the weedline and hold it in 20-25 feet. I cast jigworms into 8-10 feet, letting the worm fall into the sparse cabbage. With rod tip held between 10 o’clock and noon, I slowly jig the lure through the cabbage, letting it fall into the depths as I raise and lower my rod tip. The goal is to keep the lure near bottom. 

Detecting a strike isn’t easy; you’re looking for a line twitch or line tightening. Managing slack line is key. You can’t stay in contact with your jigworm if you have too much slack. At times your jigworm will hang up on a cabbage leaf; when this happens, give the rod a quick snap and your jig will pop free from the weed. After it’s free, let it fall again.

Of course, if weed cover is especially thick, you can opt for a weedless jig head. The beauty, however, with an exposed hook is bass basically hook themselves.

 

Rods, Reels and Line

Chances are good that you already own a rod and reel combo that will work well for jigworm fishing. I prefer a fast-action, medium-power graphite spinning rod measuring 6 to 7.5 feet long.

You can get fancy and spool up with braid and use a mono or fluorocarbon leader, but it’s not mandatory. I learned the technique using 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene XL monofilament, and it’s still my No. 1 choice. Important note: As I said before, detecting strikes is a game of line watching, so don’t purchase hard-to-see green mono. I prefer clear mono, which is easier to see than green. High-vis mono is easiest to see, but I don’t like using it in clear water because the fish can see it, too, resulting in fewer strikes.

Spinning reel choice also isn’t critical. Yes, it should have a decent drag, but other than that, the reel is basically holding line. While jigging a jigworm, you’re slowly winding in slack line. As for reel size, go with a series 2000, 2500 or 3000 and it will balance well with your rod of choice.

If you are in the market for a new rod and reel, and want a recommendation for jigworm fishing, check out a 7-foot 1-inch St. Croix Victory (VTS71MF), which is medium power and has a fast action. Match it with a Shimano Sedona FI spinning reel (SE2500HGFI) and hit the water.

Don’t believe the myth that jigworms (aka Ned Rigs) catch only small bass. The lures catch everything that swims — of all sizes — from wary bass to hungry pike.
Don’t believe the myth that jigworms (aka Ned Rigs) catch only small bass. The lures catch everything that swims — of all sizes — from wary bass to hungry pike.

Jigworming is an outstanding way to catch neutral to negative bass. Start your search on the inside turns of underwater points, as well as the points themselves. Use your electronics to identify the deep weedline (where the weeds stop growing) and then go to work slowly and methodically with a jigworm. Allow the lure to penetrate the depths, watch your line for subtle strikes — especially on the fall — and pop it free from weeds when it hangs. Good luck!

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