Spring Time Wacky Riggin’

Spring Wacky Rig

You either love it, or you hate it because the fish can be cooperating and easy to catch one day, and then the next you swear that there is no fish in the lake because the sun is setting and you have yet to feel your first bite. However, one thing is for sure; during the spring time of the year, there is one bait that is very hard to beat for fish cruising the shallows or positioned around docks and overhanging cover, and that is a stick bait or “senko”, or some variation of it such as a finesse worm or flick shake worm.

There are a few different options when it comes to rigging these baits, and two of the more common options are the Texas Rig and the Wacky Rig. While both are extremely effective, I find myself reaching for a wacky rig more often in the spring time, and there are a few reasons for it. The first has to do with the behavioural patterns of the fish around the spawn period. As the fish move through the various stages of the spawn from the pre-spawn to post-spawn and before they settle into their summer patterns, they become easily spooked and sometimes more difficult to entice to bite. During this time, it is critical to keep your bait in the strike-zone–the area in the water column where the fish are triggered to feed; for as long as you can. The slow, subtle fall of a wacky rig accompanied by the slight wobble of the worm is very effective for triggering fish to bite. During this time of year the bass are looking for an easy meal, which they can attain without exerting too much energy. The wacky rig does a great job imitating a wounded or dying bait fish species or shad (for those of us fishing south of the border), with its slow fall and shimmy.

When the strike zone changes to a very specific area or spot, such as during the spawn, it is very easy to create enough movement in the bait to trigger fish, without moving it very far. This can be done by simply making slight twitches of the rod, or flicking the line.

Moreover, a lot of times around the stages of the spawn, bass like to sneak into tight places, out of the elements such as under a set of docks, with an overhanging tree at the front of the dock and a “No Fishing” sign hanging from a branch just an inch above the water. Typically this is a very difficult to reach spot with a typical cast. Now, while this example is very exaggerated, the point is that the fish can sometimes be tough to reach, which is where a stick bait shines! Because of its weight, and the slender profile of the bait, it is  much easier to execute a perfect skip cast into places where you didn’t think your bait could go.

Just like with about any technique that us bass fishermen utilize, it is very important to have the right rod, reel, and line setup. When fishing a wacky rig for cruising fish in open water, I prefer a longer rod. I like something with a medium action and over seven feet in length. I have really become a fan of the Zodias series of rods by Shimano. Apart from the sensitivity and crisp, lightweight feel of the rod, something that really impressed me was the versatility of the various models in the Zodias lineup. For this particular scenario, my rod of choice is the 7’M Shimano Zodias, however, this is also the rod that I use for fishing tubes on the Great Lakes. With this, I have paired a Shimano Stradic 2500 FK reel, spooled with 10lb Power Pro braided main line with a 10 pound Bass Pro Shops 100% Fluorocarbon leader. The thin diameter braid allows me to cast my bait farther away from the boat than traditional monofilament or fluorocarbon lines, which is the key for triggering sluggish and weary fish. If they see you first, chances are they are not going to bite.

Moreover, when targeting fish pushed up in and under cover, I prefer a medium action rod when the cover is sparse, and a medium-heavy action for thicker cover. However, because when these fish get situated around cover such as lay down’s or docks your casting room can be limited, I prefer a shorter 6’6 Shimano Crucial rod. Similarly to the Zodias line, I am very impressed with the feel of the re-designed Crucial rods, featuring a new blank construction these rods are tough! The Shimano Crucial rods are offered in a few more models than the Zodias, making it very easy to find a rod for any specific situation. Due to the heavier cover, I like to step my line up to a 15 or 20 pound Power Pro Braided main line, with a 12 pound Bass Pro Shops XPS 100% Fluorocarbon leader.

When it comes to bait selection, I like to keep it simple. I use two variations of baits, those being a traditional stick worm such as the Bass Pro Shops Stik-O, and Jackall Flick Shake. Because these baits are so soft, it is common for them to tear easily, making it easy for the fish to throw them. To prevent losing as many baits, I like to use KJ Tackle’s Wacky RIG’R Fishing Tool. The o-ring helps the bait ride up the line and away from the fish, once hooked. I use a regular sized o-ring for senko style baits, and the new finesse o-ring for the Jackall Flickshake.

Try this technique out the next time you’re on the water, and let me know how you do!

-Patrick

About Patrick Zajdel

A 20 year old Collegiate Tournament Angler and Promoter from Burlington Ontario, Canada, currently attending the Goodman School of Business at Brock University. Patrick competes as a Pro in various events affiliated with BASS and FLW across Canada and the US.

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