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Wacky Rigging

Blog by: Scott Brands 10/6/2021
One of the best techniques for a beginning angler to learn is wacky rigging. In fact, the wacky rig was what got me hooked on fishing. When I was younger, I bought up a bag of stick baits from my local tackle shop, went to the lake, and caught a pile of Smallmouth Bass. I didnít really know what I was doing that day, but I still did well enough to catch a bunch of fish that would send me on the hunt for fishing knowledge that continues to this day. Over the years I have learned a few tips and tricks when it comes to fishing a wacky rig, and Iíd like to share some of those things with you today.

To start off, we should answer the question: what is a wacky rig? It is a basic technique where you simply hook a plastic bait right through the middle with the hook exposed. This can be applied to different types of plastics, but most anglers stick with the tried-and-true soft plastic stick bait. Just about every soft plastic manufacturer makes their own version of the stick bait, and they will all work, so pick up a pack of your favorite brand and go from there. 

Soft plastic stick baits come in many different colors and sizes. I keep my color selection simple and go with a green pumpkin or watermelon 90% of the time. I will also use black-and-blue for dirty water, and sometimes tie on a white one for lakes harboring a shad population. As far as sizes go, let me break down when I reach for a particular size over another.

ē 3-inch: I rarely wacky rig a 3-inch stick bait, but when I do, itís typically because I am fishing a small pond without a large population of bigger bass
ē 4-inch: The 4-inch stick bait is great for catching numbers of bass when the 5-inch is just a little too big for your fish. I rig up the 4-inch bait when the fish are biting the wacky rig but arenít getting the hook in their mouth consistently. 
ē 5-inch: This is my go-to size. The 5-inch stick bait catches fish both big and small. Itís not too big to keep smaller fish from taking a bite at it, and itís not too small that a bigger fish will pass it up when it lands nearby.
ē 6-inch: This seems to be the cut-off size for quantity versus quality. Sure you will still catch some smaller fish on this size, but your average fish size will go up while your numbers of bites starts to go down.
ē 7-inch: This is the largest size stick bait I use. I donít tie on the 7-inch very often, but when I do, itís because Iím looking for nothing under a four-pound bass. Donít expect many bites on this size, but when you do get one, hold onto your rod because chances are youíve got a giant on the end of your line. 

Okay letís talk set-ups. When it comes to wacky rig hooks I prefer the Trokar TK137W (Weedless Pro-V Finesse Hook). You can get different sizes based on the size of stick bait you are fishing. I like the 3/0 size for the 4-inch and 5-inch stick baits, and I will go up to the 4/0 size when fishing the 6 or 7-inch ones. For the rod you can use spinning gear or casting gear. I typically use a medium power spinning outfit when using the 5-inch baits and under, but switch to a medium heavy casting rod when using the 6 and 7-inch baits. For line I prefer yellow braid as a main line (more on this later) while tying on a fluorocarbon leader. 

Before I go into how to fish a wacky rig, I want to give you a few bonus tips as well. Many of the stick baits on the market are fragile and might tear apart after a fish or two, but there are a few ways that you can make your baits last longer. First, you can purchase a wacky rig O-ring tool. This tool allows you to put a rubber ring in the middle of your stick bait. You then take your hook and put it through the ring without actually penetrating the plastic. Many people donít like this method because it rotates your hook to be parallel to your bait, and this can potentially decrease your hook-up ratio. One solution to this is to put a second O-ring on the bait criss-crossing the first O-ring. Then sliding your hook under the cross will keep for hook in prime position. Another issue people have with the O-rings is that some of them are black and take away from the natural presentation of the bait. To combat this, there are clear bands  that will keep your presentation looking natural. If neither of these options sound good to you, you might be able to find some DIY solutions in your own home. Some anglers will cut up clear plastic straws or use shrink tubing as a replacement for the O-rings. In the end, the goal of the O-ring is to help save you money in the long run by preserving your baits as long as possible. 

Finally, how do you fish a wacky rig? Itís a really simple technique that is perfect for beginners. First, look around your lake or pond for anything that looks different. This could be a log in the water, bushes, tree branches, rocks, etc. Since these are prime holding areas for bass, these are the locations where you want to get your wacky rig. The Trokar TK137W hook will help prevent snags with itís weed-guard so donít worry too much about getting snagged. Cast your bait as close to these objects as possible and let your bait sink to the bottom. Most of the time your bites will come on that first sink. I mentioned using yellow braid earlier, and that is because I like to look at my line while my bait is sinking to try and detect little twitches signaling that a fish bit the rig. If you didnít see your line twitch, let your bait sit on the bottom for up to ten seconds. I have discovered that many of my bigger bites have come while the bait was just sitting motionless on the lake bottom after a few seconds. If you donít get any bites in this time-frame, lift up your rod and feel for weight. During this entire process, if you see your line jump, move to the side, or if it just feels heavy then set the hook! If you donít get any bites then you can shake your rod tip to try and entice some strikes, or simply reel-up and cast again.

Thatís pretty much it! I hope this information helps you get into a lot more fish! If you have any questions, feel free to put them in the comments section, and let the Fishexplorer community help you out!

Blog content © Scott Brands
Blog Comments
fishthumpre, CO   10/7/2021 7:11:04 PM
Great discussion of a technique that really works well in our waters. I prefer the 4-inch myself most of the time, and a green pumpkin or california orange craw color that matches prettty closely with our crawdad population. I think one reason we like it so much is, it seems silly that it should attract a fish at all. It just does. A kick.
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