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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Michael Pearce: What’s on the line?

By Michael Pearce

We’d caught about 30 bass in the first hour. But since we’d 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 rig’s 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 we’d both angled earlier.

I’m 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. It’s equally simple, since it’s just a pinky-sized piece of soft plastic on a plain-Jane jighead.

But I’m starting to believe what’s called a Ned’s Rig may be the most productive spinning lure I’ve cast.

Clyde Holscher, of Topeka’s Guide Lines Guide Service, thinks it’s the best he’s tried.

“It’s my job to get clients around 100 bites a day and it’s certainly the best way,” Holscher said. “We’ve 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 that’s 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.

I’ve 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, they’re not easily fished deep and may not be the best bet if you’re after mega largemouths of eight-plus pounds or 28-inch wipers.

And they can’t catch fish unless the angler’s savvy enough to cast where there are fish.

Since the strikes are often soft, it often takes an experienced feel to know when they’re being hit.

Sometimes they take a bit of experimentation. Holscher swears color can makes a difference and I have some hues I simply can’t get to catch a fish.

Retrieval techniques vary from a slow wind across the bottom to Kehde’s rapid-fire twitches.

Some days about any style seems to work well, but it’s rare when decent fishermen can’t figure out some combination produces, especially when landing large or smallmouth bass.

Nobody is 100-percent sure why the Ned’s Rig works so well.

Some, like Holscher, think it imitates insect larvae and other invertebrates that make-up a sizable percent of a fish’s diet in Kansas.

Others think there’s just something irresistible about the action and feel of super-soft, gummy plastic.

I guess I’m probably of that camp, though I’m 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 aren’t near the daily scores of guys like Kehde or Holscher, but certainly more than if I wasn’t casting the simple lures.

That’s really all I need to know.

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