Mastering the Texas Rig: Bass Fishing Guide
The Texas Rig is a foundational piece of modern bass fishing. The idea of being able to rig a soft plastic lure in a weed-less or snag-less manner is a game-changer when fishing in many locations across North America. In this article, we’ll run through what the Texas Rig is, how to rig one up, and everything else you need to know on how to fish a Texas Rig for bass.
Largemouth bass love to hide in and around objects where they can conceal themselves from above. Anglers refer to these objects as “cover”. The description of cover is fluid but generally includes trees, brush piles, stumps, overhanging tree limbs, grassy-lined shorelines, or even deeper grass beds in some lakes. The Texas Rig was created out of necessity. Anglers needed a way to present a worm into cover, to tempt the bass. Folklore tells us that the bass anglers of East Texas in the 50s and 60s started rigging their worms in this manner because of the prevalent bushes and trees found in their lakes.
Texas Rig Basics
At a glance, bass fishing with a Texas Rig appears deceptively simple. A sliding, bullet-shaped weight, an off-set worm hook or EWG (extra wide gap) off-set hook, and your choice of soft plastic bait make up the rig.
Modern-day anglers have switched to tungsten for their bullet weights, which is now standard amongst tournament anglers. Tungsten has several advantages over lead, the most apparent being that tungsten is non-toxic. Weight for weight, tungsten is denser than lead, meaning a tungsten bullet will transmit more information to the angler via the rod. This makes it easier to distinguish between timber, rocks, sand, or mud on the bottom.
Texas Rig Components
Simplicity is one of the Texas Rig’s strongest aspects; just three easy-to-access elements comprise it.
- Bullet-shaped weight – New anglers should start with ¼-ounce weights, preferably tungsten.
- Hook – An Extra Wide Gap (EWG) or straight shank hook. A 3/0 size will fit most lures properly.
- Soft plastic bait – Worms, Creatures, and Craws are all excellent choices to complete your rig.
Everything needed to get started with Texas Rigs
Tying the Texas Rig – A Simple Process
You can tie up a Texas Rig in three simple steps:
Step 1: Slip the tungsten bullet weight onto the mainline with the point going first onto the line.
Step 2: Use a knot to secure the hook. Great choices include; palomar, trilene, or improved clinch knots.
Step 3: Once the hook is secure, rig the worm on the hook.
The raw simplicity and effectiveness of the Texas Rig is outstanding. Adjusting the components and the soft plastic bait is the best way to find a successful combination for you and your fishing scenario. This really is the first bass technique that aspiring anglers should learn to master.
To begin, slide your line through the bullet sinker
Rigging the Bait
At first, the soft plastic bait is tricky to rig on the hook correctly, and it takes practice to get the hang of it. The most important part is finishing with the bait straight and true on the hook shank.
Begin by inserting the hook point directly into the center of the head of the soft plastic bait.
After about half an inch of penetration, turn the hook and direct the point straight out of the bottom side of the lure.
Continue to push or thread the lure up the shank of the hook and over the keeper or onto the offset bend.
Now the soft plastic bait is threaded up the hook, rotate the hook to point back towards the lure. Before piercing the lure again with the hook point, lay the worm next to the hook. Doing so will clearly show you where the hook should re-enter the lure to keep it straight on the hook.
Now, push the lure onto the hook point again. Nearly all the way through, leaving the point hiding just underneath the surface skin of the lure. Check your bait is positioned straight on the hook shank. Failing to keep it straight will cause the lure to appear unnatural on the retrieve.
When using an EWG style hook, bring the point all the way through the lure, then pinch a little bit of the plastic onto the hook point. This is called “Tex-posing”.
This term describes how a soft plastic bait is rigged on an EWG hook. The hook point lays on the spine of the bait. The angler then pinches a small bit of plastic to cover the point barely. This way, a solid hookset is ensured when setting the hook while keeping the bait snagless.
Texas Rig Variations: The Free Rig
The Free Rig is a variation of the Texas Rig that has its beginnings in Japan. The Free Rig uses a tungsten sinker with a closed or loop eye on top of the weight, similar to a drop-shot weight. This sinker can move freely, unlike the traditional drop-shot clip weight when slipped onto the mainline and above the hook.
The Free Rig leads to a more vertical fall of the lure through the water, because the weight can travel freely without being impeded by the mainline. It is also important to note that the Free Rig excels with lighter line and finesse application.
Texas Rig Tackle
Rods and Line
Anglers setting out to go bass fishing with a Texas Rig should select a casting rod that is 6’ to 7’ feet long, with medium-heavy power, and rated for lines testing 10-17# (or lures that weigh ¼ to ¾ of an ounce). Remember, even though you are using a ¼ oz tungsten bullet weight, your entire lure package will be slightly heavier because of the hook and worm.Anglers fishing a heavier line, such as 17 or 20# fluorocarbon, or using heavier tungsten with more of a flipping/pitching type presentation may opt for a longer rod. In this situation, I would upsize my rod length to the 7’3 to 7’6 range and step up to a heavy power rating. There are plenty of options on the marketplace for rods in the 7’ to 7′ 3 range for Texas rigging. Whereas finding a 6’ 6 MH rod is more challenging.
I personally use a 6’ 6 rod because I am of average height, and fishing from my kayak or the shore is more comfortable with a 6′ 6 length rod. I also custom-build all of my bass rods and often include a shorter handle set-up than the current marketplace trend; however that is a story for another time.
The St. Croix Mojo Casting Rod is a solid option for Texas rig fishing
In the early days of bass fishing, anglers rigged their worms on a straight shank worm hook. Some of these hooks had small barbs near the hook eye to help hold a soft plastic bait in place. These barbs were far too small to effectively hold the nose of soft plastic worms, which would cause the worms to slide down the hook shank.Mister Twister developed the “keeper hook” to answer this sliding nose problem – a hook with a “keeper” barb attached to the hook eye. Anglers would slide the nose of their worm onto the barb, and then use the hook to complete the Texas Rig. This hook started my obsession with the Texas Rig in the early 90s and is still produced and sold today.
The VMC company produces a straight shank hook called the “Finesse Neko”. This hook has a specially designed keeper on the hook shank that effectively anchors the nose of soft plastic lures on the hook.
Another straight shank hook is called the “Re-Barb”. This hook was co-developed by Roboworm and Gamakatsu. It is a straight shank Gamakatsu hook with a plastic barb designed to hold a soft plastic lure in place. Roboworm recommends this hook specifically for anglers to rig their extra soft worms.
Texas Rig Lures
Ribbon Tail Worms
Those early Texas bass anglers who conceived of what we now call “Texas rigging” used the standard worm for the time – a 6” inch curly tail worm. Today’s anglers have hundreds of choices for worms and thousands of color options. Texas Rigs work best when paired with a worm that has some tail movement.
The downside is that a fluttering tail will occasionally hang up on tree limbs and brush. This is why the creature bait is now a very popular option for anglers fishing in these snag-filled waters.
For beginners, Berkley Powerbait produces a highly effective worm in the 6-7” range with a fluttering tail – the Power Worm. Start with green pumpkin color, and try out other colors to discover successful combinations for you and your situation.
It would be unwise not to mention this versatile and hugely popular bait in a Texas rigging article. More and more anglers today turn towards creature baits for their Texas Rigs instead of worms.Creature baits have thick bodies with a tail. Some anglers believe bass snatch them up because they resemble crawfish or other types of live prey. Other anglers have no guesses as to why bass love to gobble creature baits; only that time has proven this bait very effective in many conditions.
A highly popular style of creature bait is known as a “Beaver“. These baits have a flat, subtle tail that produces a gliding action. Reaction Innovations was the soft plastic company that first created this shape of bait and named it the Sweet Beaver in 2002, paving the way for an entire genre of baits today.
A selection of creature baits ready to go
How to Fish a Texas Rig for Bass
Texas rig retrieves can be divided into two categories: those that use the reel or those that use the rod to impart action on the lure.
Using the Reel
Point the rod tip at the lure and use the reel to begin the retrieve. This action is very similar to a crankbait or spinnerbait type of retrieve.
Speed-worming is an example of a steady reel retrieve that requires a specialized worm to produce a unique action. The Zoom bait company produces the Ultra-Vibe, or UV Tail Worm made exactly for Speed-worming. A UV Worm, Texas rigged on an offset hook (often EWG style) with a light, ⅛ ounce tungsten sinker comprises the setup. Anglers make a long cast, engaging the reel as soon as the rig touches down. Then, begin reeling with a steady and quick pace.
Another type of Texas Rig that uses a steady reel retrieve is the Swing Jig. This is an EWG hook attached to a free-swinging, football-shaped weight. Anglers steadily use the reel to retrieve the Swing Jig across the bottom in the search for bass. A favorite bait for Swing Jig fishing is the X-Zone Adrenaline Craw or a Zoom Z-Craw. These flat, wide lures have flapping claws which vibrate on the retrieve.
The Speed Worm paying off
Using the Rod
The second category of Texas Rig retrieve is based around using the rod to impart action to the lure. Anglers should start with the rod tip pointed parallel to the water and straight out. Then, lift the rod up about 45 to 50 degrees with a steady motion. Next, follow the lure back down with the rod tip.
The key is to give just enough slack in your line so the Texas Rig falls naturally. Be careful not to raise the rod too high, as this will lead to being out of position for a good hookset – you will have to drop the rod tip, then raise it again to set the hook. If you keep the tip down, you are in a more efficient position for a solid hook set.
Anglers can vary the distance the Texas Rig will travel along the bottom by adjusting the direction of pull with the rod. By shifting from straight out in front of the angler to an up and back pull that is more shoulder level. This rod pull leads to a more natural lure motion that will stay closer to the bottom.
X-Zone MB Fat Finesse Worm rigged and ready for action
Truly, one of the most effective and simplest fishing approaches is the Texas Rig. Bass fishing has changed forever since its inception. By learning to master this rig, you can open the door to other popular techniques such as flipping and pitching with soft plastics, weightless stick baits, soft jerk baits, and Carolina rigging. The technique of being able to Texas a bait really is a foundational pillar for so many methods of bass fishing.