Midway through a fishing trip on Bone Creek Reservoir, Zac Udock had a wacky idea.
The bass weren’t biting other baits, so it was time for Udock to go to his secret weapon— the wacky rig.
“This is my go-to bait,” Udock said as he displayed a six-inch-long plastic stick worm that was hooked in the middle instead of the end. “This lake has a lot of bass in it, but it also gets a ton of pressure.
“You have to think outside of the box. You have to figure out different methods that they haven’t seen a lot before.”
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Udock knows that his secret weapon really isn’t so secret. The wacky rig has been around for years.
Fishermen started by hooking Senko-type plastic worms through the middle so that they would have extra action as they slowly sank. Both sides of the worm flutter as they are pulled through cover with a slow retrieve, often persuading the bass to hit even when they aren’t in the mood to eat.
Udock has modified that method to use a 1/16th-ounce jig head and a Big Bite Trick Stick plastic worm that he slowly works across the top of Bone Creek’s thick weed growth. The bass, often hiding in the shade and comfort of the vegetation on a sunny day, can’t resist a natural-looking worm fluttering above them.
Udock proved as much on July trip.
After finding limited success on a large swimbait, he went to a wacky-rigged worm and immediately started catching fish.
He held his rod tip high and worked the dark-green plastic worm over the top of the thick weeds. When he got to a slight opening in the vegetation, he let the bait slowly flutter down. Before the large worm reached the bottom, he raised it slightly, then let it drop again. That’s all it took. A bass darted out of the cover and went into attack mode.
Udock set the hook hard and his fishing rod bowed sharply. The fish fought to get back into the vegetation, but Udock also pulled hard and got the arching fish away from the weeds.
It wasn’t long before Udock had the fish in the boat and was measuring his catch before releasing it.
“This one is right at 18 inches,” he said, referring to Bone Creek’s mark of success. An 18-inch minimum length limit for bass is in effect at the lake. “That’s a nice bass. But there are a lot of them that size in here.
“They’re not always easy to catch. With all the pressure this lake gets, you have to give them something that looks natural. And I think this wacky rig does.
“I can’t tell you how many bass I’ve caught on this rig on this lake. I’ve won a lot of money (in tournaments) on this rig here and on other lakes.”
Bone Creek Reservoir, a 540-acre lake located in southeast Kansas, is perfectly suited for that style of fishing. It has an abundance of cover, both the timber that was left in the basin when it was constructed and the vegetation that has sprouted up. It also has clear water, which makes it easier for bass to spot the bait.
The wacky rig is at its best in 4 to 10 feet of water, when fishermen can allow the plastic bait to slowly sink to the bottom. That means it is most effective in the spring and early summer, before many of the bass have moved to deeper water.
But Udock, 37, who lives in Farlington, Kan., uses the wacky rig from spring until fall to catch big largemouths. He put on a clinic on a recent outing, catching fish regularly as he worked his bass boat through the thick timber.
“You have to keep that wacky rig fluttering along right above the weeds or they aren’t going to hit it,” Udock said.