Using finesse-angling methods like the wacky rig to catch fish takes skill and patience. If fish aren’t hitting the finesse rigs, the desire and temptation to throw big baits often outweigh the discipline required to stick with finesse rigs. However, the more you spend time working on learning the ins and outs of fishing the wacky rig, the better angler you’ll be and the more fish you’ll land.
Using a wacky rig is a really effective and versatile fishing method, particularly for caching bass throughout the year.
What Is A Wacky Rig?
The wacky rig isn’t an overly complicated setup! Essentially, you’re taking a soft plastic worm and hooking it right through the middle. An even amount of the worm will be on both sides of the worm. Once it hits the water, the worm is going to move about in a natural-looking way. Bass WILL struggle to resist this setup!
Anglers will debate the best times to use a wacky rig, but some of the most agreed-upon times of the year are during and after the spawn. As fish move up shallow, they become extremely aware and protective of their area. Whether they’re sitting on a bed or hanging out in the shallows, you’ll find that they’re aggressive and protective of wherever they are.
Wacky rigs are easy to keep in one position and area. You can maneuver them so they stick right in front of the fish or wherever you want them to be. If you’re fishing the post-spawn, it’s nice to keep the bait in a place that’s easy for the fish to get. Fish aren’t eager to chase bait during the post-spawn, so you can succeed by doing very little.
How To Rig A Wacky Rig
Depending on where you’re fishing and how you want to fish, you can rig the wacky rig in various ways. That’s another plus of it! It’s somewhat versatile based on what you want to do.
Drop Shot Wacky Rig
The drop shot wacky rig is one of the more complicated ways to rig your wacky rig. Bass anglers who spend a ton of time on the water consider the drop shot wacky one of their favorite methods. The worm looks more realistic within the drop shot wacky rig than most other methods.
To rig the drop shot wacky rig, you first need to start by rigging a drop shot rig. This is done with a swivel, a hook, and a weight at the end. You want the weight to be the bottom of your rig with your hook and swivel about 6 inches above the weight. This allows the weight to sit on the bottom and let your hook dangle in the water.
Once you’ve finished the drop shot rig, attach the worm. You want to hook the worm in the fattest portion of its body. This will ensure that it stays on your line and has the most effective movement.
In my article on Drop Shot Rig Fishing, you can find more detailed information on using this wacky rig style!
Weightless Wacky Rig
The weightless wacky rig is the easiest possible way to rig your wacky rig. However, anglers often find themselves in trouble when they’re using it on a windy day. If it’s a bit windier, you’ll want to use a worm with a bit more weight. The weight will make it easier to cast, and you’ll find it gets a lot of movement!
To create your weightless wacky rig, you will need your worm, a gap hook, and an O-ring. You’ll put the o-ring over the center of your worm, loop the hook through it, and you’re good to go. This rig doesn’t require any special leader. Whatever you want to use for the line is up to you.
Weedless Wacky Rig
Many anglers will also use a weedless wacky rig. This type of rig keeps the hook fully covered so you don’t get hung up in weeds and fish don’t see the tip of your hook. A weedless set-up also looks like the weightless wacky rig; instead, you use a jig head. The jig head goes through the body and keeps the tip of the hook covered.
Many anglers find themselves using this method most often! However, you’ll find that the most hits you get are when it is on the way down. When on the way down, the worm is moving the most. As a result, always be ready to set the hook as soon as your worm hits the water.
You can use an o-ring on your worm if you would like! It keeps that weightless look to it. The weight of the jig head should be enough to cast and get it where it needs to go in the water column.
Ned Wacky Rig
Ned rigs are another common favorite for anglers. However, this process is a little more complicated and requires a nail and a large worm (around 8 inches)!
To ned rig your worm, you’re going to want to drive the nail through the head of the worm. Take your hook and complete the same wacky rig method where you put the hook through the center and fattest part of the worm. The nail adds a nice amount of weight to the top of the worm and creates even more bobble than normal.
How To Fish With A Wacky Rig
Fishing with a wacky rig doesn’t have to be overly complicated. The first thing to understand is where you will want to spend time fishing with this rig. You can’t just throw it in the middle of the lake and expect the fish to find it!
Fish Near Weed Lines
The first spot you’re going to want to fish is outside of the grass lines. Usually, this water is fairly clear, and that’s an important feature of your rig! You want clear water, so you can sight fish and give the fish a clear view of your worm.
Cast this outside of a weed line and let it naturally fall. Wacky rigs are often the most successful when falling in the water column. Too often, anglers are eager to get to jigging and moving the bait. Stay patient! A natural fall near the weeds is often too tempting for these fish. They see it hit the water and are ready to eat.
Fish Near Docks
Another place you can look to fish the wacky rig is near the docks. Often, docks are in shallow water and common places for fish to sit during and after spawning. They’re not overly eager to move, and the water near the dock gives them time to see food around them. Cast near the dock and let it fall in the water column. If you don’t get any hits on the fall, retrieve the bait a few feet and let it fall again. That repetitive process of retrieving and falling creates a great amount of action.
Gear Needed For Fishing With A Wacky Rig
Always remember that the wacky rig is going to require finesse gear. You don’t want to lose out on great fish by using gear too heavy for the wacky rig.
Rod And Reel
You’ll want to use a spinning rod and reel for the wacky rig. Generally, a seven or eight-foot rod should be plenty for you. A medium-light action should be plenty. Some anglers choose to use a medium action depending on the size of the fish they find. Make sure you have a matching reel!
Most anglers choose to use gap hooks when fishing with a wacky rig. These gap hooks are nice because they allow anglers to set the hook on bass easier. That wider gap gives you a bit more room for error. Some anglers will use a size one hook and count that as okay. Depending on what you want to spend, you can choose what works best for you, but I highly recommend the extra wide gap (EWG) hooks from Gamakatsu!
The most important feature of the wacky rig is the worm. Senko worms are often the most common choice for anglers. Your best bet is something between 5 and 7 inches and fairly thick. Since you’re hooking the middle of these worms, you want to ensure they can handle it.
No, you don’t need a weight! Some anglers choose to go weightless, which falls very much slower. However, if the fish are lower in the water column, you’ll want to use a weight to get the bait to sink.
Are Wacky Rigs Hard To Fish With?
No, wacky rigs are pretty easy to fish with. Generally, you’re casting to a spot holding fish and letting the worm do the rest.
What Fish Do Wacky Rigs Catch?
Wacky rigs will catch all types of fish. The most common fish caught with a wacky rig is the largemouth bass, but bass of all type love worms, so the set-up is perfect also for walleye, pike, and trout. If you are going for crappies or perch, you will get some good catches of fish quite easily.
What Time Of The Year Is Best For Wacky Rigs?
Wacky rigs are very versatile and can be used all through the year. They can also be a great rig for ice fishing during the cold winter.
Wacky rigs are becoming more and more popular! This is warranted, given the success they achieve. Wacky rigs continually catch nice fish and aren’t overly difficult to use. It’s in your best interest to become familiar with how wacky-rigs work and the different ways to rig them! Once you learn, you’ll land a ton of fish.
Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It's a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels.