HARVEY COUNTY — Wed caught about 30 bass in the first hour. But since wed thoroughly worked the shoreline, 20 minutes had passed without a strike.
Kyle Redger was making a second pass, casting a favorite spinnerbait, when I switched from a fly-rod and streamer to spinning gear.
A solid bass came with the new rigs first cast and I landed eight largemouths over the next 10 minutes, most of them quality fish. All came from where Kyle had fished seconds before and wed both angled earlier.
Im sure the flurry of success had more to do with what was on the end of my line than who was casting it.
The lure looks about as exciting as a handful of sinkers. Its equally simple, since its just a pinky-sized piece of soft plastic on a plain-Jane jighead.
But Im starting to believe whats called a Neds Rig may be the most productive spinning lure Ive cast.
Clyde Holscher, of Topekas Guide Lines Guide Service, thinks its the best hes tried.
Its my job to get clients around 100 bites a day and its certainly the best way, Holscher said. Weve caught everything that can be caught in Kansas, no exceptions.
He then rattled off about 20 species of Kansas fish, ranging from bluegill and rainbow trout to wipers and flatheads.
The rig thats usually a 1/16-ounce jighead with a larger-than-average hook and an angler-cut half of a five- or six-inch senko-style plastic bait was brought to light by Ned Kehde, an In-Fisherman blogger and author from Lawrence.
I first fished them on one scalding day last summer when I did a story on his constant goal to boat 100 bass a half-day from public water.
We were shy of the lofty century-mark of largemouths but caught around 80.
Fishing them again with Holscher in February, we had six species of fish ranging from six-inch sunfish to six-pound trout.
Ive kept one rigged on a light spinning rig spooled with six-pound-test line ever since. Several of my avid angling friends do the same.
None say the little lures are as foolproof.
A true lightweight, theyre not easily fished deep and may not be the best bet if youre after mega largemouths of eight-plus pounds or 28-inch wipers.
And they cant catch fish unless the anglers savvy enough to cast where there are fish.
Since the strikes are often soft, it often takes an experienced feel to know when theyre being hit.
Sometimes they take a bit of experimentation. Holscher swears color can makes a difference and I have some hues I simply cant get to catch a fish.
Retrieval techniques vary from a slow wind across the bottom to Kehdes rapid-fire twitches.
Some days about any style seems to work well, but its rare when decent fishermen cant figure out some combination produces, especially when landing large or smallmouth bass.
Nobody is 100-percent sure why the Neds Rig works so well.
Some, like Holscher, think it imitates insect larvae and other invertebrates that make-up a sizable percent of a fishs diet in Kansas.
Others think theres just something irresistible about the action and feel of super-soft, gummy plastic.
I guess Im probably of that camp, though Im not a good enough angler to warrant a strong opinion.
All I know is when I toss the things, I generally catch fish. My numbers arent near the daily scores of guys like Kehde or Holscher, but certainly more than if I wasnt casting the simple lures.
Thats really all I need to know.