Bass Fishing Rigs

There are several fishing rig setups that are effective for fishing bass. If you’re serious about become an expert angler, you should learn as many of the bass rigs as you can. While all bass rigs are designed to catch bass, each rig has a different purpose. Some rigs are weedless, so they can be fished near cover without getting snagged. Other rigs are designed for presentation. They present the lure in such a way to attract even the most finicky feeders. Even if you have a preferred bass rig, knowing all the most popular bass rigs will ensure you’re prepared for every contingency.

Your three most popular bass fishing rigs are the Texas rig, Carolina rig and drop shot rig. The Texas rig is without question the go-to rig for serious bass anglers. It’s versatile and can be used in combination with a lot of fishing techniques and styles, and is ideal for fishing heavy cover. The Carolina rig, a type of sliding sinker rig, is designed to fish soft plastics during the spring and fall when you need to cover a lot of water. For fishing clear deep water, a drop shot is your go-to bass fishing rig.

The following are the most popular fishing rigs for catching largemouth, smallmouth and striper bass. Learning how to make and fish each rig will ensure a successful catch even on the most pressured fishing days.

Texas Rig

Texas Rig

A weedless bass rig ideal for fishing in cover such as vegeration, rocks and weeds

Carolina Rig

Carolina Rig

Used for casting and dragging across a target area where fish may be located

Pulley Fishing Rig

Pulley Rig

Designed to minimize snaps and lose of fishing when fishing over rough ground

Drop Shot Rig

Drop Shot Rig

A bass fishing rig that can be fished deep, shallow, and anywhere in between

Ned Rig

Ned Rig

Ideal for fishing tough conditions. Small profile and mimics natural food source

Wacky Rig

Wacky Rig

A finesse fishing rig that mimics a bobbing and wiggling bait worm

Neko Rig

Neko Rig

A version of the wacky rig with a weight inserted into one end of of the soft plastic

Shaky Head Rig

Shaky Head Rig

A popular rig made of a straight-tailed worm rigged with a round jighead-style hook

Texas Rig

Hands down the go-to rig for most seasoned bass anglers. It’s easy, it’s versatile and it’s deadly effective. If you’re going to go bass fishing with just one setup, the Texas rig should be at the top of your list. The Texas rig can be fished anytime, anywhere, under just about any conditions. It can be fished just as effectively from the bank in just a few inches of water as it can from a boat at depths of 50 feet or more.

A Texas rig has three basic components. A lead or tungsten bullet weight, a soft plastic bait, and a worm hook (e.g. offset round band, straight shank flippin, or EWG). The key to creating this rig is to run the tip of the hook through the center of the worm head and out the side about a 1/4 of an inch down. When you get to the round bend of the hook, pull and turn the hook at the same time until the hook point is toward the body. Then lay the hook along side the worm to see where to insert. Now push the hook back through the worm until the tip almost penetrates the other side.

Texas rig finesse worm for bass fishing

Bass fishing often occurs in dense vegetation and this where the Texas rig shines. The Texas rig is a weedless presentation that doesn’t easily snag as it’s retrieved through cover. To ensure a fully weedless presentation, you want to make sure the tip of the hook does not fully penetrate the body of your plastic worm. You want the tip of the hook sitting just under the surface the body. This way it won’t snag as it’s retrieved through the weeds, but will dislodge, and generate a strong hookset, when taken by a bass.

For fishing larger bass, including largemouths and stripers, we recommend using a 3/0 Extra Wide Gap (EWG) worm hook for Texas rigging. A EWG is similar to an offset shank hook but has a larger more pronounced bend in the shank near the hook eye. This allows the EWG to hold much larger baits than and a standard straight shank. The hook point for most EWGs is slightly offset from the shank and eye of the hook allowing for better hook set. 3/0 is an ideal hook size for most bass, but you can get away with a 2/0 when rigging for smaller specimens.

From creature baits to beaver style flipping baits justs about any soft plastic can be presented using a Texas rig, but no other presentation catches as many bass as the finesse worm. Your standard finesse worm for Texas rigging is between 4-10 inches, but 6-7 inches is going to be the prime range for mimicing most bass forage. The most common (and proven) worm color for bass fishing is Green Pumpkin. This is where most anglers start. When fishing dark or murky waters stick with darker colored worms. When water clarity is high, lighter colors tend to generate the highest bite rates.

There are several methods for fishing a Texas rig. Our favorite methods for bass fishing with a Texas rig are dragging, lift and drop, and twitching weightless. All three of these methods will catch bass most of the year, but each is designed to produce the best results for particular conditions.

Following a cold front, or when water temps are generally cooler and bass are letharic, dragging a Texas rig with a 6″-7″ green pumpkin finesse worm often produces bites when nothing else is working. Cast you rig out and let it fall to the bottom. Now sweep the tip of your rod in 2-3 foot increments dragging your rig along the bottom back toward your location. After each tug, reel in the slack until our line is again taut. Bass often commit to the bait during the short interval between drags.

Lifting and dropping a Texas rig is one of the more effective techniques for enticing strikes during warmer weather when bass are actively feeding. A 4″-5″ Texas rigged tube bait or 5″-6″ finesse worm fished using the lift and drop technique near vegetation is a sure fire way to get bass biting. Cast your rig along the edge of vegetation or cover where bass are holding. Let the rig fall to the bottom. Lift your bait about a foot of the bottom and then let it fall back down. Repeat this process mixing in a little action from your rod tip and you’ll turn nibblers into biters.

Twitching a weightless Texas rig with a stick worm or jerk bait is a great technique for producing some unique action that drives bass crazy. Texas rig your bait as previously described, but omit the weight. Cast your rig right into shallow weed flats or next to heavy cover. As before, let your bait sink to the bottom. With small flips of your wrist and rod tip, twitch the rig in place just few inches off the bottom. After twitching the rig for a few moments pause and weight. Bass will often strike during the pause as the bait slowly settles.

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Carolina Rig

The Carolina rig is baited in the same fashion as the Texas rig. The only difference between the two rigs is the position of the weight and the addition of a swivel between the weight and bait on the Carolina rig. As with the Texas rig, an ideal hook to use with the Carolina rig when bass fishing is a 3/0 straight shank worm hook, or an offset EWG for larger baits. Soft plastic lizards and finesse worms are popular bait choices but you can target bass using craws and a variety of creature baits.

Where the Texas rig excels at getting your lure in and out of cover without snagging, the Carolina rig is designed more for fishing wide open spaces with little to no cover. Fishing a Texas rig typically involves a lot of up down motion with the bait. The Carolina rig is fished in more of a horizontal fashion across the bottom. Flats, humps, long flat points and roadbeds are ideal terrain for targeting bass using the Carolina rig.

There are two variations of the Carolina rig we recommend depending on whether you’re going to be fishing an area where there’s a decent amount of vegetation or open water where there’s little to no structure.

Carolina rig setups for bass fishing

When fishing in or near vegetation where snagging is likely, we recommend using a setup that uses a brass bullet weight instead of a barrel weight. The bullet weight will allow the Carolina to cut through mild vegetation and avoid snagging. If you’re going to be doing a lot of fishing along the bottom where snagging is unlikely, using a barrel weight is ideal for stirring up sediment and getting the attention of any bass in the area.

The Carolina rig is ideal for covering a lot of ground quickly and either catching a bass or making the decision to move on to a more productive spot.

The most common technique for fishing the Carolina rig is casting out then dragging the rig along the bottom in your target area using a nice smooth sweeping motion. You don’t want to jerk they rig. Position your pole parallet to the water and move the lure over the structure you’re fishing. Repeat the sweeps back and forth, taking up the slack as you retrieve.

Again, you can use a Carolina rig anywhere you think there are bass to catch. Just remember, if you’re going to be fishing cover, add a bullet weight to your setup, or switch to the Texas rig if cover is really heavy.

Drop Shot Rig

Ninety percent of rig fishing for bass is done with a Texas or Carolina rig, but you’re going to find a handful of angers, such as three-time Bassmaster Angler of the year Aaron Martens, who swear a drop shot is the most effective rig in bass fishing—especially for largemouths. Don’t know if I’d go as far as saying a drop shot competes neck to neck with either the Texas or Carolina rigs, but it’s truly a bass catching machine when fished by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Let’s discuss what the drop shot is and what it isn’t. The drop shot is a rig where the weight is attached below the hook, which allows the bait to suspend just off the bottom where bass feed the majority of the time. What it isn’t is a situational or finesse rig that you only use to catch finicky bass. Don’t get me wrong, the drop shot can be fished using finesse techniques, but it’s so versatile it can catch fish anywhere in just about any situation.

What hook do you want to use for a drop shot rig? We recommend specialized “drop shot” hooks that you can find online or at just about any tackle shop. Circle hooks and finesse wide gap hooks are also ideal for drop shoting. You want to go a bit smaller in size when rigging the drop shot as opposed to either the Texas or Carolina rigs. We recommend a hook size between #2 all the way up to 2/0 depending on your bait size and target bass species.

If you really want to increase your hookset ratio, open up your hook just a tad. Take a pair of needle nose pliers and slightly bend the hook point out.

Weight type and size isn’t terribly important. Just consider the composition of the bottom surface where you’ll be fishing, as well as water conditions. A 1/8 oz – 1/4 oz weight is pretty standard, but if there are heavy wind conditions, or a slight current, you’ll want to use a heavier weight to keep your presentation on the bottom. You’ll also want to use a heavier weight when fishing deep, but for bass fishing you really want to try to stay under 1/4 oz. Tungesten or finesse drop weights are a few good options.

The drop shot mimics a suspended bait fish so something like a straight tail worm or shad style bait (e.g. fluke) are a few good bait choices for targeting bass. But really anything will work. Swimbaits, creatures baits and roboworms will all get you solid hookups.

The most common way to rig your bait to your hook is to nose hook it. A modified version of the nose hook, that works even better, is to run the hook through the belly of the worm about a quarter inch down and then bring the point of the hook back up through the nose with the point of the hook barely protruding from the surface. This creates an extremely natural presentation where the bait moves up and down with the hook as opposed to swinging freely. Bait can also be Texas rigged or wacky rigged.

drop shot rig bait setups for bass fishing

One very important aspect of drop shot setup is to ensure correct hook position. You want your hook to sit point up perpenducular to your line. Using your favorite knot—for me that would be the uni knot—attach your hook to the line. Once you cinch the knot run the tag end of the line back through the eye of the hook from the hook point side. This will force the hook to stand up on the line.

Make sure to leave a long tag end for the leader to attach your weight. The longer your leader, the higher your bait will suspend off the bottom. Leader length will vary.

A lot of anglers believe a drop shot rig needs to be worked vertically in the water. It can certainly be worked in a jig type fashion, but most of the time you’re going to get best results when you fish the drop shot as you would a Texas rig or Carolina rig. Deadsticking, hopping it off the bottom, shaking it, or even swimming it back with the weight off the bottom are effective techniques for bass fishing the drop shot.

Ned Rig

The Ned rig is a simple, non-pretentious presentation that has grown to be one of the most popular finesse techniques for targeting largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. The Ned rig is a simple small soft plastic rigged on a 1/16- to 1/4 ounce mushroom jig head fished on the tag end of a light 8- to 10-pound line or leader. It’s the rigs simplicity that makes it so effective. It mimics so much of what is found in a bass’s enviroment that bass usually bite when it comes along.

The Ned rig is traditionally rigged with the 2.75″ to 3″ Ned rig stickworm. But with its increased usage, varying your bait selection is recommended to keep your presentation fresh for foraging bass that may have become accustomed to seeing it. Stickbaits, jerk minnows, big bait salt tubes, and even craw baits can all be Ned rigged. Anglers report crayfish-imitating baits especially effective when presented on a Ned rig.

Ned rig with craw bait

One of the allures of targeting bass using crayfish-imitating baits is their ability to float and mimic the natural defensive posture of a bottom dwelling crayfish—a largemouth delicacy. However, truth be told, most craw baits only float for a few moments before loosing their buoyancy and lifelike appearance. When fishing a craw on a Ned rig, use a bait, such as a CrawZ, with buoyant claws to maintain the natural defensive posture and trigger vicious strikes from passing bass.

The Ned rig is a versatile presentation that can be fished in a number of ways. It can be crawled, drug, hopped, snapped, pitched and more, but most anglers will fish it using a simple cast and retrieve technique. My preferred technique a life and drop with a slow retrieve. Truth is, just about any way you decide fish a Ned rig bass are going to bite. It’s just that good.