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The "Weedless" Wacky Rig

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The "Weedless" Wacky Rig

My purpose in writing this article is to illustrate the rigging of the “Wacky” worm as a weedless bait.

But first, to give credit where it is due – this rigging was first shown to me by my Rally friend (and really good fisherman) Wayne Purdum (Va.) prior to the ’03 Rally@Texas. I had attempted to use the conventional “wacky” rig on occasions before, but with limited success. I suspect part of the problem was my aversion to using an open-hooked bait around the many weed beds and much brush in our Texas lakes. I had also tried hooks with the wire weed guards and didn't like them as they were literally "weed magnets".

After showing me how to rig the bait weedless style, he proceeded to demonstrate it’s effectiveness by catching fish after fish on what had previously been a rather slow morning.

I have used it on many occasions since and have become a big fan. Several times this rig has saved the day for me when the fish just wouldn’t hit anything else I had tried.

Now to the purpose of the article – details on rigging and fishing it.

Here’s what you’ll need:


* The hook – I use Owner’s Mosquito Hook or Gamakatsu's Octopus Hook. I use the 2/0 size for rigging the Finesse Worm and the 3/0 size for the Trick Worm. Note the short shank and the slight amount the eye is bent back away from the point.

* The weight – A "nail" weight. Around here they come in two sizes. I have only found a need for the smallest one.

* The worm – Probably not critical; my preference is the 6” Trick Worm by Zoom Baits, shown in the picture. I’ve also used their smaller version called the “Finesse worm”. If the smaller worm is used, it may be advisable to also downsize the weight by cutting it into a shorter length. The fish don't seem particularly concerned with bait color; I've used several with success. My favorites are Watermelon and Junebug. The Trick Worm also comes in a version of watermelon with a chartreuse tail that I've had good success with.

* Tackle – For the Finesse Worm, I prefer an open faced spinning reel and medium action spinning rod. I usually splice a 4' to 6' piece of fluorocarbon line to the main line to use as a leader, especially since I use braided line on my spinning reel. I use the Uni-Uni knot to join the fluorocarbon leader to the main line. The fluorocarbon leader addresses line visibility problems and aids the bait sink rate. For the Trick Worm, I prefer bait casting gear using a good quality reel and 6' medium action rod. I've used line up to 20# test with good results, however a lighter line might perform better. I use the 20# test because of the abundance of brush and stumps in the lakes I fish. If your lakes don't have such obstructions, I would suggest a line in the 14 - 17# range.

Inserting the weight:

Grasp the worm by the head and insert the pointed end of the nail weight into the plastic head as illustrated in the photo. On occasion, I have trimmed the tip end of the head slightly in order to remove the small tab that may remain from the mold and provide a flat spot for insertion of the point. Use your fingers to keep the head of the worm straight as the nail weight is inserted directly in the center.


Continue to insert the weight until it is completely enclosed by the plastic as indicated by the photo. I’ve found that a blunt object such as the handle of my line clippers or the flat side of my long-nose pliers assists the final stages of insertion.

Inserting the hook:


Insert the point of the hook into the worm at the end of the “egg sack” nearest the head of the worm. Bring the point of the hook through the plastic, emerging at the end of the “egg sack” nearest the tail. The hook point should emerge from the entry side as illustrated in the picture.

Now pull the hook through until the eye is about to enter the plastic. Rotate the hook 180 degrees and pull the eye of the hook into the plastic just to the point that the plastic covers the eye.

Now imbed the point of the hook into the plastic. The final rig should look as shown in the following photograph.


TIP:  Rigged as shown, repeated casting will tear the plastic worm fairly quickly.  To help alleviate that problem, place a short piece of 1/4" heat shrink tubing over the egg sack portion of the worm before inserting the hook.  Insert the hook point through the tubing and into the worm as described above.  After insertion, pull the eye of the hook through the tubing to conceal it.  Bury the hook point in the plastic as described.


One Example:


While certainly not "typical", this photo shows that that the "big girls" will definitely hit this rig. This one weighed in at just over 9#, 24-1/8" in length. Beside this one, I've caught many bass in the 4# to 8# range while fishing this rig and I've found that it will often produce when other baits will not.

Some fishing tips:

Cast or pitch the bait out and allow it to fall on a slack line. It will fall in a “head down” position because of the nail weight, either in a spiral motion or sliding off to one side. Target weed edges, holes in weed beds, brush/trees, dock pilings, rocks and similar cover. Watch your line! The line will tell you when the bait has descended to the bottom. Often it will also be the only clue that a fish has hit the bait. You may not feel the fish pick up the bait – the only clue may be a ‘tick” or sideways movement of the line.

Slow is the key with this bait; don’t work it too rapidly. If it settles to the bottom with no hit, twitch your rod tip slightly to “hop” it off the bottom and allow it to fall again, etc.

In really shallow water, Wayne likes to use the rig without the nail weight. In the short time I’ve used it, I have developed a preference for the nail weight in all applications – I’ve come to think that the “head-down” fall provided by the presence of the weight is a plus! If you’re fishing shallow, try it both ways; or try reducing the nail weight length.

Another note: After using this rig extensively this year, I’ve discovered that bass frequent the really shallow water probably more than we have ever believed. I’ve caught bass on this rig in water so clear you can see every pebble and stick on the bottom and could easily wade without getting your knees wet -- and I've done so in the hot weather months! It doesn’t take much of a shadow to conceal the presence of a bass in very shallow, clear water. A rock, small stump, tiny weed clump, etc. all can provide concealment when you would believe there could not possibly be anything there!

A final note: When you hook a fish on this rig, the worm tends to tear loose from the plastic, but repositioning the hook can allow a partially torn worm to continue to be used. I've had success by simply inseerting the hook in the opposite side (e.g., the flat side) of the worm. I've also had success by moving the hook toward the tail slightly; just enough to get back into un-torn plastic.

Good fishing!

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