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Keeping it consistent with the Ned Rig

Fishing at the highest level of competition as a professional is a rewarding experience, it is also a humbling experience. Decision making and preparation is key to putting yourself in position to be competitive. My season thus far has been poor to say the least, and my decision making ability has been lackluster at best. However, one key factor has played a part in putting fish in my boat this year. The Finesse TRD or the NED Rig known by most. If this bait wasn't in my arsenal for 2017, I would hate to think of what the outcome of two of the four tournaments would have been. You see, I leaned on this bait and technique and narrowly missing making a $10,000 check on Lake Travis in Texas (missing the money by just 10ozs). I also utilized the technique at Cumberland Lake in Kentucky to salvage some points after a dismal day 1 and a front blew through on day two – it saved my day.

(Photo taken at the FLW Tour event on Travis Lake, TX Courtesy of FLW Outdoors)

To be competitive at this level, you have to be consistent at putting keepers in the live well. Furthermore, they have to be the right size keepers. After 4 events this year, with three of them being triple digit finishes, not doing as well as I should be is an understatement. However, without the assistance of the Finesse TRD and the fish it has enticed, I would hate to think how bad my season would actually be. It is nice to know you have a bait and technique you feel comfortable enough with, knowing it will get you a few fish here and there – no matter how tough things are.

So what is a Finesse TRD or NED Rig? A NED Rig consist of a small weighted jig head (ShroomZ Head) and a Z Man ElaZtec Finesse TRD or Big TRD bait. The jig heads come in two styles (weedless and non weedless) and a few different weights (1/20, 1/15, 1/10, 1/6, 1/5). The depth you are fishing and the wind will determine the weight of the jig head you use. Under normal circumstances and average depth 0-10 feet I opt for the weedless jig head in the 1/10oz size. Out of the pack the 2 piece weed guard is together and centered on the head of the jig. What I like to do, is separate them and position them at a 45 degree angle to the hook. This makes the bait virtually weedless. My preferred color for the Finesse or Big TRD is Peanut Butter Jelly, but Green Pumpkin runs a close 2nd.

Center the bait and feed the hook through the bait ensuring the bait actually touches the head of the jig. Another cool feature of the jig head, it comes with a bait keeper on the shank of the hook. It does a really good job at keeping the bait where it is supposed to be.

A few key elements outside of the actual application are key. The best way to present the finesse TRD or NED Rig is with a spinning outfit. I prefer a Douglas Outdoors X-Matrix Spinning Rod in medium heavy with a fast tip. The length should be between 7 foot to 7 foot 6 inches long depending on the cover and line size. The line is actually the most important element to the whole set up. I use 15 pound braid paired with an 8-10 pound Sunline fluorocarbon leader. The leader is virtually invisible to the fish, allowing you to be able to fish and benefit from the sensitivity of the braid. This set up makes it easier to detect strikes, which can be extremely subtle at times. Another point worth noting, the leader should be long enough to give separation between the Bait and the braided line, but no longer then 6 to 8 feet. You do not want the leader winding onto the spool, it will not cast correctly.

So now that you have the proper set up and your bait ready to go, how do I fish the NED Rig? Folks, this is a no brainer. If I can use it and be successful with it, anyone can. Cast it out, let it sink and slowly and methodically work the bait back toward you. This is a finesse application, less is more here. If you move the bait to much it defeats the purpose. Remember, most of the time you will be fishing this bait, it will be in tough conditions. When you feel like you are fishing slow, slow down even more. I sometimes let the bait settle and wait up to 30 seconds before moving it.

Pay close attention to your line. Most of the bites you will get are when the bait is sitting still. Lift up on the rod paying attention to the line tension and direction of the line. If it feels heavy or the line is moving off – set the hook.

The hook set is important too. Because of the braid and fluorocarbon, you don't want a snap hook set. Just bring the line tight and lean back into it. Remember no stretch in the line, with that leaning type of hook set and the sharp hook, it will be plenty to send the hook home.

Well, there you have it... Everything you ever wanted to know about the TRD and Ned Rig. If you utilize this technique and become confident in it, I promise you more fish will end up in your livewell this season. Until next time, Good fishing and tight lines!

Mike McCoy,

Z-Man pro and Rookie on the FLW Tour.

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