In my earlier blog I talked about the ned rig being in my top 5 lures – it nearly never made it into my ever-used lures I’m embarrassed to say.
Like you, I’m sure, I’d watched countless videos of anglers all over the world catching some awesome fish. So, I ordered a pack or Zman Ticklerz from The Lure Box to see what all the fuss was about. I played with these initial lures in the margin of a gin clear gravel pit. Watching them and trying to work out how and why they work. Little stick sized lumps of rubber, just sitting there – or so I thought. I wasn’t convinced. I put them away and forgot about them.
Many months later, I started to fish a new section of river to me, on my boat. There was a good flow, and the middle of the channel was quite weedy. All my usual weapons had failed to fire satisfactorily. Out of desperation I reached for one of the Ticklerz put it on a small Zman Shroomz ned head and cast it under some overhanging branches near the margin. A swarm of small perch dashed out from under the cover and were fighting for the lure. Totally taken a back I recast to achieve the same result repeatedly. My love affair with the ned rig had begun.
This same stretch of river had lots of variations to it – some were beautifully rural, other parts relatively urban. Some huge houses backed on to the river – the riverbank consisted of corrugated steel sheeting – casting the ned into those recesses brought fish after fish.
As is always the way with me, having seen something work or gaining success on a particular method – I researched the method some more. This resulted in more purchases and more experiments.
If you’re new to Zman products a word of warning – the material they are made from (called ElaZtech) – does not like other rubbers. It will melt into a whole heap of rubbery mess if you leave them touching other lures in your box. Keep them in their original packaging and they will last a long time! They are also incredibly durable – you can stretch, twist and bend them. In fact, it’s one of the tips I picked up from watching some US YouTube videos – it releases salt and actually makes them even more deadly. Make sure you mount them perfectly straight on your jig heads though – I’ve found that they sit far better when mounted nicely. Some people struggle to get the ElaZtech mounted correctly – that’s because they are trying to push the lure up the shank like you’d do with a regular rubber lure. The trick it to grab it and pull it up the shank – almost overstretch it and you’ll find it will seat itself better.
I can’t walk very far due to a health condition that I have – but I really wanted to try the ned out on a canal. I spent hours on Google earth looking at various sections that looked promising.
The section I chose was close to the road for me to park, but from above it looked great – a turning point for the narrow boats, a smallish marina nearby and a bridge all within a few hundred metres of each other. Plenty of features to work with. I attached a Zman Ticklerz in bubblegut along with a Zman Finesse Shroomz. I cast out, let the ned sink and then started twitching it back across the canal bottom. Within a few turns of the handle, I felt a snatch on the lure. I paused the bait and then continued the retrieve. Recast into the same spot and two twitches later a fish was on. A nice perch of about 2lb and I was over the moon. New venue, research paid off and a fish in the net. Third cast, boom. A lovely zander. Admittedly they were the only fish I caught and the only bits of action I had, but my confidence was high. I thought I’d catch on them wherever I went.
There’s a reservoir I fish that has a maximum depth of around 30 feet. There are some interesting features in there such as gravel bars as well sunken roads and bridges. It is rammed with zander and perch. The water is quite murky though. I had fished with Barry there a few times and with it being a new venue to me was not sure how to approach it. I happened across this method a bit by accident, I’d put a nice slow drift in and was motoring back up the drift using my electric trolling motor. I was bouncing the ned as I was going along. BANG. Fish. Lovely zander graced the boat. Dropped the ned back down and again it worked. This whole method consisted of me just going slowly along and ensuring I could feel the ned head hitting bottom. Little twitches of the rod tip, or small lifts of the tip and dropping it back down – seemed to work endlessly.
This is where I gained loads of faith in the Zman TRD in Yoga Pants – this is a great pattern. It’s just straight black. I wish they did a Ticklerz in it – I’m sure it would be deadly. (Zman if you’re reading this – please make one!!)
As I said earlier, the water is quite murky – the black silhouette allows it to stand out a bit more in my mind. Again, same method – bump, bump, bump – BANG!
In fact, on a canal session with a mate of mine one winter all we could catch on was Yoga Pants TRDs – I am convinced it is because of the silhouette of the black lure against the murky water.
Jig head choice became a bit of a mine field for me. I wanted to fish these baits as lightly as possible, but I was regularly fishing them now in quite deep water. The 2 to 3g weights I would use on a canal just couldn’t cut it on this reservoir. I purchased the Zman Pro Shroomz Weedless ned heads which go up to just under 10g. These worked a treat. I cut off the wire weedless guard as I just wanted the weight. I had tried standard jig heads, especially on even deeper venues, and although I caught the odd fish, they just didn’t seem as subtle and as effective.
As my season went on and I fished other venues it continued to work – I paired the TRD with a skirted jig head and continued to find success. I remember one session where my mate was casting away with shads and as we were motoring along the channel, I was just bopping this skirted TRD along the bottom. A lovely pike smashed it – and I was heartily relieved when I landed it as 10lb fluoro was my go-to leader at the time.I happened upon another method of fishing the ned (pearl Ticklerz especially) again quite by accident. On venues that allow it, I often troll a lure whilst looking for big shoals of bait fish – bream especially. I found a decent shoal of fish and anchored upstream of them and was throwing lures in and around them without much success it must be said. I reapproached them and dropped the pearl Ticklerz straight down into the shoal – to find perch, pike and zander snaffling it up aplenty.
In fact, this method still works nicely now – I fish all my favourite spots but it is amazing just how far these large shoals travel. So, to me, it makes sense to troll a lure whilst searching for them – at least I have a lure in the water whilst I’m travelling.
I’ve even caught Brown Trout on Ticklerz, out of a small river near to me when targeting perch.
The biggest perch I’ve ever personally seen fell to a Zman Ticklerz and was 4lb on the nose – caught by buddy Dave Jacobs when we were out on Mavis. I’d found us that shoal of bream and we couldn’t quite get over the top of them as there were a few bank anglers about – and I don’t like to antagonise anyone. Dave cast out his Ticklerz towards the shoal and within a few twitches he was hooked into this beauty of a fish.In terms of how I retrieve the lure – I have two main styles. If I’m casting the lure out whether from the boat or bank – then all I do is just twitch it back across the bottom. Lots of twitches and lots of pauses.
If I’m in the boat it’s straight down – I’ll either bob it along if moving on the trolling motor or drifting or, if stationary slight little twitches and pauses to impart the smallest of movements into the lure.
I must say pike have never been my target when using the ned – I’m generally after perch or zander with this method. The pike do seem to love it though. It catches some lovely fish. Thankfully though the bite offs are quite rare, but they do happen. I have experimented with wire traces when using the ned. AFW do a micro wire that goes down to 6lb – so if I know I’m likely to find pike then I do try and use a trace made of that wire. I like the flexibility of AFW wire – you can quickly and easily just tie a knot in it and you’re ready to go.
As I used the method more and more – and again, mainly from my boat, I tried different rods and reel combinations. I initially used the Westin W3 StreetStick. This is a lovely rod but the one I was using was rated 2-7g and I felt it just didn’t have enough umph when I was fishing in these depths with the heavier jig heads. It was perfect on the canal though – and even made a lovely little dropshot rod on occasion. I eventually changed over to the Westin W3 Finesse T&C rod rated 2-10g. I love this rod. I spoiled myself and paired it with a 1000 sized Shimano Twin Power reel and 8lb Sunline Siglon braid. This is current ned rig set up and I love it. It’s fantastically light. I can hold that rod all day. It’s also very sensitive and for the price, amazingly good value. It had decent enough back bone to set those hooks when I’m fishing 30’ below me or delicately when throwing it about on a canal.
I’ve experimented with different jig heads too – I love the Zman Shroomz. The Eagle Claw Trokar jig heads are great too. I love the chartreuse ones especially. In fact, here is a link to a short video I made using them – fishing them vertically under the boat. They are super sharp.
The Molix Stick Flex is another lovely bait too. During the lockdowns when travel was restricted, but we could fish, I used them on my local stretch of canal. I paired them with the OMTD T Genius jig head. Again, a little clip of them in use here if you want to see them in action. What I like about the T genius is how the lure sits on the hook. It’s not like a conventional jig head – it sits almost on the bend of the hook with the shank lying flat. This gives the lure, especially a ned, much more articulation and natural looking movement. They also have a weed guard to help deflect any rubbish that you might otherwise hook into.
It’s not just the stick baits that work though. As my confidence in them grew so did the variety of lures that I use on the ned.
I love the Zman TRD Bugz. In fact it was fellow team member Kieran that got me into these lures. I took him out for a day on Mavis (my boat).
The usual spots and methods had produced a few fish but nothing sensational. We found a small channel leading off the main river where some boats were moored up. Kieran put on a Bugz mounted on a weedless skirted Shroomz. He started throwing it between the boats. I sat and watched in amazement as he proceeded to catch good perch after good perch. Literally one a chuck. It wasn’t long until I had a stack of the Bugz in the lure box. They have delicate looking little appendages – these move and let out tiny little vibrations that the fish pick up easily. Add in the mix that skirt and you have vibration, movement and subtlety that’s simply hard to match.
What I’ve hoped to convey in this article, especially if like I was, you are sceptical about the ned rig – is to get on it and give it a go. On it’s day it will out fish everything.
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