A Pro’s Guide: How to Fish a Wacky Rig for Bass

by | Published on: Jul 18, 2023 | Rig Fishing

The infamous Wacky Rig, there really isn’t anything like it. The most logical explanation for how this rig came to be, is that it was invented by a couple of bass anglers who, after one too many beers, found themselves struggling for bites. At their wits’ end, and willing to try anything, they came up with the Wacky Rig. This is the only explanation that I can willingly accept.

Despite how strange the Wacky Rig looks, it makes up for it tenfold through its effectiveness in catching serious numbers of bass, both large and small.

The Wacky Rig is excellent for beginners due to its basic components and ease of use. To help you get started on how to fish a Wacky Rig for bass, we’ll go over how to rig it, what equipment you’ll need, and when and where to fish it. Even if you’re an experienced bass angler, stick around because we’ll cover some unique techniques and variations of this awesome rig!

What Is a Wacky Rig?

In its truest form, the Wacky Rig is merely a hook that has been rigged in the center of a stick style lure; the most notable soft plastic lure for this rig is the Senko Worm. Having the hook positioned in the middle of the worm generates a tantalizing wiggle that irresistibly provokes bass to bite.

There are a few other important variations that can help in certain situations. These include the Weighted Wacky Rig, Weedless Wacky Rig, or the Neko Rig – where a weight is added to one side of the lure.

In its most basic form, the Wacky Rig requires nothing more than a hook and a plastic worm

Wacky Rig Benefits

The fact that the worm is hooked in the middle essentially leads to either side of the stickbait acting as two free-moving appendages, that generate a dramatic and unusual action. This action is inherent due to the rig’s shape and can be exaggerated by twitching the rod as the lure falls through the water.

The Wacky Rig creates a lot of movement and doesn’t look like anything else in the water. This triggers the bass’s natural curiosity and predatory instincts, making it nearly impossible for them to resist the temptation to strike.

With such a unique look, one of the main ways bass anglers use a Wacky Rig is to change up their presentation when needed. When bites are tricky, fishing pressure is high, and I’ve tried everything else, the Wacky Rig is what I always turn to, and it rarely lets me down.

If you’re a fan of super simple rigs like the Wacky Rig, you’ll appreciate the minimalistic design of the Free Rig, comprising just three components. Check it out here!

I caught this sizable Florida strain largemouth bass with nothing more than a weightless wacky rigged YUM Dinger

How to Rig a Wacky Rig

Simple to tie and consisting of only a few inexpensive components, the Wacky Rig is one of the most straightforward bass fishing rigs you’ll ever put together.

Step 1

Tie your line to the hook using a strong fishing knot, such as a Palomar or improved clinch knot.

Step 2

Push the hook through the side of the plastic worm’s mid-point, ensuring it’s centered for optimal balance.

Step 3

That’s it – you’re now ready to fish!

The weightless presentation (above) is the most popular version of the Wacky Rig. It’s simply a finesse style hook, tied directly to your mainline, and hooked horizontally through the center of the soft plastic bait.

Several noteworthy variations of the Wacky Rig can prove beneficial in certain fishing situations. Let’s take a look at a few of these alternate setups:

O-Ring Wacky Rig

A useful modification many anglers adopt is to include an O-ring by placing it around the midpoint of the worm. Then, instead of inserting the hook directly through the soft plastic, you thread it through the O-ring. This not only secures the worm effectively but also significantly prolongs the life of the worm, as it reduces tears and damage from aggressive strikes.

Weighted Wacky Rig

The Weightless Wacky Rig is highly effective and easy to rig, but you may need extra weight to help it sink, especially if a strong current is present. That’s where a Weighted Wacky Rig comes into play.

There are various ways to achieve this, the simplest being placing a small split shot weight a few inches above the hook. Alternatively, you can use a weighted jig head, or a different style of weighted hook, to give the rig some weight.

Weedless Wacky Rig

You may be fishing in an area with weeds and other snags; if so, a Weedless Wacky Rig is a great option. Push a finesse style hook through the side of the soft plastic lure (as you usually would), and then rotate it so the hook’s shank is parallel with the worm. Finally, push the hook back into your lure.

You should be left with a setup that lacks an exposed hook. This prevents the rig from getting hung up on vegetation, enabling you to fish in thicker cover where bass may be hiding.

Alternatively, you can use a specialized weedless hook. These hooks have a wire weed guard that helps them slide through weeds without getting hung up as easily. This is a foolproof way to make a Weedless Wacky Rig, so make sure to have a few of these hooks in your tackle box.

Neko Rig

Lastly, another variant of the Wacky Rig that’s become particularly popular recently is the Neko Rig. When it first came about, anglers would set up the Wacky Rig in the typical fashion, but insert a nail into the thicker end of the plastic worm. This adds additional weight to the rig, helping it sink faster and stand up vertically on the bottom.

These days, nail weights designed explicitly for the Neko Rig are readily available.

Wacky Rig Tackle

The equipment to effectively use a Wacky Rig is straightforward and lightweight – in fact, you likely already possess all the necessary gear. Due to the light weight of the Wacky Rig, using a baitcasting setup will be difficult and most likely lead to a lot of frustration due to backlashes, especially if you’re a beginner. This is why I highly recommend using a spinning combo.

Rod & Reel

Start with a 6’6″–7′ medium spinning rod paired with a 2000-2500 size spinning reel.

Line

For your line, 8–10 lb fluorocarbon is an excellent choice for a standalone line.

If you want enhanced sensitivity to ensure you don’t miss a bite, spool your reel with 15 lb braided line and tie a 6 ft leader of 8–10 lb fluorocarbon to the braid with a line-to-line knot, such as a blood knot. A low-profile leader knot will effortlessly pass through the reel and guides, and thanks to the lack of stretch in the braided line, you’ll be able to detect bites easily.

Hooks

As we touched on earlier, a few different hooks can be used for the Wacky Rig. For weightless and general purposes, use finesse style hooks. It’s also a good idea to have a few 1/16th and 1/8th ounce jig heads on hand for adding weight, as well as some weedless finesse hooks for quick and easy weedless rigging.

In search of another finesse rig that excels with this type of setup? Discover the potential of the Drop Shot Rig with our detailed guide!

Braided line connected to a fluorocarbon leader will help you feel bites easier

Wacky Rig Lures

The classic Yamamoto Senko Plastic Worm is an obvious choice when choosing a lure for the Wacky Rig. The YUM Dinger, which is nearly identical to the Senko Worm, works great too.

Stick style plastic worms may be all you’ll need, but the Zoom Trick Worm is also a good choice if you want to change it up a little. Frankly, you can wacky rig any soft plastic lure if you’re willing to try, but these baits are generally the most effective in my experience.

The Wacky Rig earns its spot in our top 5 rigs for plastic worms. Explore what else made the list in our complete guide!

The original wacky rig lure

How to Fish a Wacky Rig

Learning how to fish a Wacky Rig for bass is simple, making it the perfect rig for beginner bass anglers and kids.

The first approach to try involves casting out the rig, as far or near as you like, and allowing it to descend on a semi-slack line. When the Wacky Rig sinks, the plastic worm will wiggle its way down to the bottom, displaying its unique action as it falls.

For this technique, you only need to wait and let the bait do its thing; fish are most likely to bite as the lure sinks. If you feel a bite, reel in the slack and simultaneously lift your rod tip up to set the hook.

Another popular Wacky Rig approach is to drag it along the bottom. After making your cast and letting the bait reach the bottom, drag the rig by keeping your rod tip low to the water and slowly moving your rod from front to back.

You can impart some additional action to the lure by periodically making short and quick twitching motions with your rod tip. Make sure to pause for a few moments every so often because bass will often follow the rig and strike reactively when the bait stops moving.

Best Seasons

Although the Wacky Rig is a great tool at any time of the year, it excels during the warmer months of spring and summer. This is because bass tend to hang out in shallow areas during this period, where the Wacky Rig is a top performer.

Best Locations

The good news is that the Wacky Rig can be effective in many areas where bass tend to hang out. While prime locations like docks and riprap (rocky) banks are clear choices for this rig, there are other, less obvious spots that prove fruitful when using a Wacky Rig.

One of my favorite areas to use a Wacky Rig is around submerged weed beds and weed edges, specifically when using the weedless variant of the rig. Bass love to hide in these areas, and when they see a Wacky Rig wiggling down into their territory, they just can’t help themselves.

Getting a bite

Another great area to use a Wacky Rig is around offshore brush piles. Brush piles attract smaller fish that hide in the brush’s nooks and crannies, while bass cruise the perimeter waiting for an opportunity to ambush their prey. If you know the location of a brush pile or are savvy with your boat’s electronics, tossing a Wacky Rig near these structures will give you a good chance of getting a bite.

In and around weed beds are great places to utilize a Wacky Rig

Conclusion

The Wacky Rig is unquestionably one of the best rigs out there. If you’re just starting out and wondering how to fish a Wacky Rig for bass, it’s a simple, fundamental approach that I consistently recommend. The simplicity makes it an ideal starting point if you’re new to bass fishing, requiring no more than a straightforward spinning combo to set up and use.

Even for the veteran angler, the Wacky Rig can be a refreshing return to the basics, reminding you of why you fell in love with the sport. Despite its simplicity, it’s highly effective at catching fish and often outperforms more complex rigs.