Attaching a plastic stick bait to a hook in the most cartoonishly-simple way possible may seem like a goofy idea but, wacky or not, it’s proven tremendously effective in coaxing finicky bass to bite.
Called the “wacky rig,” this method of presentation imparts continuous, subtle motion to the worm and has proven time and again to be just the charm in a wide variety of situations. To borrow from fly fishing terms, it’s a way to fish a general bait through a vast array of specific scenarios.
Among worm-fishing techniques, the wacky rig is popular and effective for a number of reasons. First among these is the ease with which it is fished. Because of where the hook sits in the bait, there’s no action necessary on the part of the fisherman beyond making an accurate cast. There’s virtually no further input needed from the person holding the rod. In fact, adding too many twitches and other motions is one of the more common ways to overdo things and spook bass away. Because of the sensitivity of the rig, it’s impossible to hold the rod still enough to keep the bait from moving at all.
Next, because the bait provokes strikes from finicky bass right away or not at all, it’s a rig that can be used to quietly but efficiently cover water quickly. To fish a wacky rig, after the worm settles following the initial cast, give your rod tip a smooth lift until you feel the weight of the rig, then let it fall. You’re not imparting motion so much as you’re allowing the rig to fall with slack line. This is when the majority of wacky rig strikes occur. A couple or three repetitions of this in any one spot is enough. A long soak isn’t necessary. If nothing’s happened by then, move on to the next cast.
Weight a minute
Adding a weight to a wacky rig helps with both the distance of the cast the speed of the fall, of course, but it’s important to place the weight into the rig so as not to negatively affect the motion of the bait. Two good ways to do this are by using a football-headed or other weighted jig, or by tying on a drop shot.
As area waters begin to warm and bass begin moving into their summer patterns, deep water brush piles and rock shelves are great spots to target with football head jigs. These jigs offer a good combination of finesse and depth without resorting to the Carolina rig or other long range, deep water solution. Football head jigs, in particular, create an opportunity to present tempting plastics in deep water without a long wait for a post-cast fall. Adding a wacky-rigged stick bait to the jig can be just the difference between your deep water jig and all the others just like it the big bass holding on the shelf you’re targeting have already seen.
In shell beds at any depth, adding a drop shot to a standard worm hook and wacky-rigged stick bait can help you cover water while still fishing with maximum finesse. A drop shot is a weight tied to a piece of leader line and suspended a foot or more past the hook. The weight helps with the cast, then quickly pulls bait, hook and all down to the bottom. Once the weight hits bottom, though, the worm or stick bait has only the hook in it to affect its motion, so it’s all but completely free to float and fall slowly. This kind of rig can be lifted and placed all over a shell bed or brush pile, keeping a tempting soft plastic bait firmly in the heart of the strike zone as long as you’d like it to stay.
Rings on things
Wacky rigging has built such a following, a number of wacky rigging aids are available, primarily in the form of weighted rings or small rubber bands. These rings or bands are placed around the middle or other near-midpoint location on the stick bait to be fished. The rig’s hook is then placed through or otherwise attached to the ring. These devices give the whole operation a great deal more durability. Offered by a wide variety of companies, aids for wacky rigging include weighted and un-weighted options.
Other wacky rigging aids include weighted and unweighted weedless hooks. As with any expanding innovations, new ideas continue to hit the market regularly.