Not Just for Neds

by Chris Gorsuch

For well over a decade, the Ned Rig has been taking the bass fishing world by storm. You cannot walk into a tackle shop without seeing a wide variety of Ned specific soft baits and jigs. So unless you are brand new to fishing, you are likely very familiar with the Ned Rig and how well this method of finesse fishing entices bass. If you are not using a Ned Rig, you need to. They simply work. 

Oddly finesse fishing small soft plastics on “Mushroom-Head” jig has been around for more than 40 years.  Imagine my confusion when a fellow angler showed me this NEW Ned Rig he started fishing. There is really nothing new about a mushroom head and who is this Ned fellow? As the story goes, the jig came back into popularity and dubbed the “Ned Rig” after Ned Kehde won a major bass tournament. The story goes on to share that Kehde has always been clear that it is a Midwest Mushroom-Head jig that Gopher Tackle introduced to him many years earlier during his fishing trips to Minnesota. The true breakthrough for hitting the world stage was in the late 2000’s when Kevin VanDam gave Kehde a package of Strike King ElaZtech Zeros (manufactured by Z-Man). These durable lures made from ElaZtech, combined with Kehde’s angling skills and the rest is history. Ned’s name stuck, and it will forever be known as the Ned Rig.  

Riding the Ned Rig craze, a host of tackle companies began offering Ned profiles. Now nearly every soft plastic manufacturer offers some form of a Ned bait. The big difference, however, is that these are made from Plastisol not ElaZtech. The wire keepers on Ned/Midwest style jigs designed for Z-Man’s ElaZtech work well enough on these plastisol baits, but generally not for long. The wire-keeper will tear through most of these plastisol baits after only a few fish. Gluing baits work, but there is an alternative. Fitt Premium Lures has designed a Ned Jig that works on a number of levels. 

Their Tri-Hold Ned jig is a true mushroom head with 3 holding ridges to grip baits on all sides rather than just a single prong or wire keeper.  The additional holding strength is obvious. On our trial runs with the new jigs, I noticed that clients were catching 3-4x the number of fish on the same jig.  The second benefit of the Tri-Hold keeper is how easy it centers on the bait. As good as the wire keepers are, once the bait is misaligned, the holding power is reduced. The third and most clever part of this new keeper is that the keeper is short. At right around a ¼” long, once baits start to slip, the lure can be removed and trimmed ¼” and re-rigged. I have done this with Ned Worms, Ned Creatures, Ned Paddle Tails and Ned Swims and used the same plastisol-based lure for well over a dozen fish. Especially great for those days when bass are snubbing every color except the one you have the fewest of! Fitt’s new Tri-Hold Ned Jig is a winner for anglers who finesse fish for bass. 

Taking it one step further, I tried the new Tri-Hold Ned jig on ElaZtech baits. Centering and aligning baits is super easy, and the plastic does not bunch up like it can with wire keepers. But while the Tri-Hold jig holds well, the wire keeper is still the way to go with ElaZtech baits. While I am generally not a fan of gluing baits to the jig head, I did play around with it.  Honestly, I can see the appeal. Once you glue an ElaZtech lure to the Tri-Hold jig, it isn’t coming loose.

Taking the test a bit further, the jig was used on smaller profile worms. Previously when attempting to use a Ned jig with a wire-keeper on these narrow micro lures, the wire-keeper sticks out the side of the bait, often tearing the side out. The design of the Tri-Hold keeper helps keep the lure intact. Even on smaller Fitt products such as the G&W Crinkle Worm and Micro Predator Craw, the jig holds without destroying the lure. 

For here on our rivers where stone cats are a favorite forage for smallmouth bass, these Tri-Hold Ned jigs are a perfect match for the Fitt Stone Cattee. The combination of how soft these lures are along with their near perfect profile makes them a must have on the boat. But being so soft, keeping them on a jig head without glue is tough. On my initial tests, it took nearly a dozen bass to tear the Stone Cattee off the Tri-Hold Ned jig. I was sold after that.

In discussions with Fitt Lures, the plan is to offer the Tri-Hold keeper on all their jig styles by the end of 2022. This would include Ball Jigs, Stand-Up Football Jigs, Spin Jigs and of course the Ned Jigs. All of which I have tested the last few weeks and plan to make use of as soon as they are available. As a result, we are simply using less lures with the new jig. Any time you can catch more and fiddle around less is a win for me.

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