Guide to Modern Rigging
By Russ Bassdozer

How goes it? It's Bassdozer here. You know what I am thinking? Maybe this is a good time to review basic rigging options used nowadays with soft baits. Nothing fancy, just bass rigs you make with a bait, a sinker, and a hook. This news article covers eleven modern ways to rig soft plastics: the weightless rig, unpegged Texas rig, Shakin' rig, pegged Texas rig, Screw-in rig, Mojo rig, Carolina rig, Rockhopper rig, Splitshot or Slipshot rig, Dropshot rig, and the Wacky rig. So here goes!

Weightless Rig

Weightless Rig The purest form of rigging, and most deadly with the Senko. No sinker is used and the hook can be tied directly to the main line. Optionally, tie the hook to a 12" to 24" inch leader tied to a swivel to reduce any line twist that may occur with weightless rigs.

6"9L Senko Weightless Rig

The 6" 9L Senko (color 187) rigged weightless produced an amazing 10.27 lbs. world record spotted bass for California angler Bryan Shishido.

Upegged Texas Rig

Unpegged Texas Rig A bullet sinker is allowed to slide freely on the main line, with the hook tied directly to the main line. One issue is the sinker can slide far up the line away from the bait. This makes for inaccurate casts and imprecise presentations. For more control over an unpegged sinker, you can contain it on a short 12 to 18" leader tied to a swivel. This gives you the freedom of unpegged lure movement and you gain better control over the cast and presentation.

Shakin' Rig

Shakin' Rig Use a bead on an unpegged Texas rig. The sinker will hit against the bead and make a clicking noise that can attract fish at times.

Pegged Texas Rig

Pegged Texas Rig Jam a wooden toothpick in the end of a bullet sinker and break it off. Don't jam it in so tightly that you risk weakening the line. Slide it down the line, and the toothpick will hold the sinker securely against the nose of a soft bait used in heavy cover. The sinker and bait will act like one unit that slips through weeds and resists snagging in cover.

Screw-in Rig

Screw-In Rig An advancement over the toothpick-pegging method, screw-in sinkers are molded around a thin Teflon tube and a corkscrew wire that screws in to the nose of a soft bait. Slip the sinker on the main line, tie the hook directly to the main line, and screw the sinker into the nose of the bait. This provides the ultimate in weedless and snagless presentation for big bass in heavy cover.

Note With a pegged bullet or screw-in sinker, it can be important to thread the hook eye up to an inch or more into the bait. This leaves room so the hook eye is not jammed immovably against the sinker. Otherwise, if the eye is pressed against the sinker, gripped inside the fish's tightly-clamped mouth, then you only move the entire bass/weight/hook forward without penetrating on the hookset. Leaving up to an inch or more of slack ensures enough room to move the hook and have it start to set before it jams up behind the sinker.

Mojo Rig

Mojo Rig Mojo sinkers are long and thin. The sinker shape allows a Mojo rig to slide easily through rocks, weeds, and brush better than most other sinker types. Mojo rigs also work for vertical fishing in deep water where baits are suspended for bass lurking in or under the tops of flooded trees or brush. They are part of a complete system that includes rubber strands that thread through the sinker to peg it from 12" to 24" inches up the main line above the bait. The rubber strands cushion the line from any potential damage that can occur with wooden toothpicks or crimping splitshots on the line.

Carolina Rig

Carolina Rig Most often used on open, relatively unobstructed bottom. Thread a 1/2 to 1 oz sinker onto your main line, followed by a bead that clicks when the sinker hammers against it. Then tie on a swivel, an 18"-24" inch leader line (but can be longer), and your hook. As with all the rigs we describe here, use lighter weights of Carolina rigs with light tackle, and heavier weights of Carolina rigs with heavier rods, reels and lines, a simple principle.

Rockhopper Rig

Rockhopper Rig An advancement over the Carolina rig for rock-strewn bottoms. The Rockhopper sinker can come through snags that stop most other sinker types.

Splitshot or Slipshot Rig

Splitshot or Slipshot Rig Knot a hook to the end of your line and pinch one or more split shot 18" to 24" inches above the hook. Keep in mind, don't pinch the splitshot shut so tightly that you risk damaging the line. The Mojo Slipshot is an advancement that uses rubber threads to cushion the line. If not used in snaggy areas, simply nose-hook the bait with Yamamoto's series 53 Crooked Hook.

A splitshot rig is most often used with light line. Since splitshot sinkers are typically smaller and lighter than any other sinker types, you can slowly drift a splitshot rig down past bass suspended in mid-depths above deep water. A splitshot can be used for a delicate lightweight presentation in shallow water, or to sweep a bait down with the current flow in a stream or shallow river. The bait will swirl and sway as it is buffeted around by the water flow while the splitshots keep it hunkered down near bottom!

Dropshot Rig

Dropshot Rig Tie a Yamamoto series 53 Crooked Hook onto the main line with a Palomar knot. The loose tag end of the knot is left anywhere from 12" to 24" inches long. After the knot is tied, the tag end is threaded through the hook eye in the direction that keeps the hook point positioned up. A swiveling style of sinker is then clipped onto the dangling tag end of the line anywhere from 6" to 24" below the hook. The bait is then nose-hooked. Optionally, the bait can be wacky-rigged in the middle to reduce any line twist that may occur with dropshot rigs.

Wacky Rig

Wacky Rig Tie a Yamamoto series 53 Crooked Hook to your main line. Use a long thin bait such as a Senko. Bend the bait in the middle so both tips touch. Then poke the hook straight through the bend in the middle.

* These sinkers are products of Mojo Lure Company, Inc.

That just about covers all the most popular rigs in modern use for soft baits. All you need to do now is get out on the water and learn to use them well. Practically any rig shown will work (within reason) with practically any model of soft plastic bait.


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