The wacky rig is is a fishing technique that aims to more accurately emulate the presentation of a live worm to entice fish, generally bass fish, to bite.
While wacky worm fishing differs from some of the more common and traditional tackle rigs in some important ways, it stands out as one of the more reliable rigs for bass fishing.
Wacky rig fishing is a finesse style of fishing whose wacky presentation doesn’t require nearly as robust of a technical knowledge base but relies on controlled technique.
However, the noticeable silhouette produced works exceptionally well in dirty water, giving the fish something to see, and more importantly target, in otherwise murky waters.
Depending on how you set it up, the wacky rig is more than capable of handling some light cover including stones in shallow water, underneath piers, and at weed lines.
However, wacky rig fishing shouldn’t be confused with a power fishing technique and can’t handle the same heavy cover conditions that something like a Texas rig can.
Either way, this means that you should expect to use light tackle for your wacky rig setup, though there’s still plenty of variation for you to experiment with and find what works best for you.
No matter what you choose, a wacky rig starts with a soft plastic worm, though there are certainly specialized wacky worms as well as specialized wacky hooks.
It’s also worth mentioning that this popular technique works equally well in low-fishing pressure as it does fishing heavy-pressured waters.
That said, this style of fishing generally works best, without using specific techniques, for shallow water fishing in waters not more than ten feet deep with a spinning fishing reel and a standard setup with wacky rings.
Types of Wacky Rigs
The Weightless Wacky Rig
This is your basic setup or “traditional” wacky rig and is easily the most popular wacky style that involves using wacky O-rings to fasten the naked hook to the bait rigs.
This approach is important because it reduces the need to attach the naked hook to your plastic bait directly, freeing the bait-style worms up to move in the most natural way possible.
On top of that, wacky rings allow you to position the fishing hooks o-rings in the middle of the bait further increasing the bait’s range of motion and making for a more natural presentation.
That said, this type of wacky worm fishing can’t handle a large brush pile the way that some of the other styles can without also using a weed guard– something many bass anglers avoid.
You can also take two wacky rings and arrange them in a crossing pattern.
This method allows you to fasten the fishing hooks o-rings to your bait perpendicular to the bait’s body and increase your rig’s hook setting ability.
This arrangement also lets you use a weed guard for heavy cover without worrying about losing your hook set as much.
The Nail Weight Wacky Rig
Wacky rig fishing already ensures exceptional movement with your, but this style puts additional weight at the nose of the bait to generate a more asymmetric presentation.
This method often uses something like a 3/16-ounce tungsten nail weight and can be used for deep fishing to land dozens of fish catches in a lower water column.
Also helpful: How Do You Rig a Catfish Rod for Drifting?
The Weedless Wacky Rig
Perfect for some of the trickiest bass fishing situations, the weedless wacky rig doesn’t necessarily require a particular weedless hook.
Instead, you can make a somewhat impromptu weedless hook by copying some steps of the Texas rig– specifically leaving the hook buried in the bait with the tip just under the outer layer of the worm.
This approach allows you to cast bait towards cover where bass like to wait for prey and can lead to some of the most amazing catches from heavily occluded waters.
The Drop Shot Wacky Rig
A drop shot wacky rig is mostly a drop shot rig that employs a bullet weight or something similar.
This style uses the extra weight for deep fishing but requires a wacky tool to include a swivel.
This approach lets the bait spiral in the water on the way down, presenting a more appetizing presentation.
You also may need a wacky rigging tool in your tackle box like snips and fishing pliers, something likely already part of your bass fishing kit, to attach the swivel.
When to Use a Wacky Rig
Wacky rigging isn’t necessarily ideal for all situations and relies on particular tackle to be effective– though there is some variation available depending on the waters you fish and the fish’s habits.
It’s also worth noting that a wacky rig skews your fishing experience towards getting bites without much discrimination.
This means that you can expect a wacky rig to get more bites than many of the other tackle rigging styles, but you’re less likely to get the biggest fish to bite.
This is not because the wacky rig drives larger bass away as much as it comes down to opportunity cost.
Because the wacky rig is so effective at luring fish, even smaller fish are likely to bite.
As such, a smaller fish may very well get to your setup quicker than the larger fish, ultimately reducing your chance to catch a large monster.
In this regard, you can kind of look at your tackle like a salesperson: if you only advertise to wealthier people (i.e. larger fish), then you don’t have to worry about landing a sale with a poorer individual (i.e. a smaller fish).
The wacky rig, on the other hand, advertises to everyone, to all the fish, which means your odds that it’s a big fish that bites will be lower than if you use a tackle rig that is otherwise too big for smaller fish to bite.
In ideal circumstances, this can feel a bit underwhelming– especially with excellent water clarity where you can see the larger fish yourself.
However, when fishing waters that have smaller fish in general (likely due to the body of water’s size and the health of its ecosystem), this is an excellent choice.
The wacky rig is also a great tackle arrangement to use if the fish are a bit more skittish– regardless of their size– because of its more life-like presentation.
You’re also liable to find conflicting reports about which seasons work best with the general consensus agreeing that Spring and Autumn are often ideal times when the fish move into a higher water column and hand out in shallow cover.
Winter and Summer see fish move into deeper water which is not an ideal fishing condition for most types of
What You Need for a Wacky Rig
Wacky worm fishing with finesse worms can likely employ your favorite hook style, but the vast majority seem to prefer circle hooks.
Of course, there’s more than one type of wacky rig hook which can include a 1/0 or 2/0 circle-style hook, wide gap hook, and alternate hook sizes depending on your specific bait applications.
wacky rig worm can be any kind of soft plastic bait from “Senko-style” plastic “stick” baits to creature baits– anything to mimic a bait fish’s movements.
However, due to stick worms erratic action, most of the time the bait of choice for this finesse style will lean towards Senko worms and soft plastic stick baits for their stick bait subtle finesse presentation.
More on hooks: What Size Hooks for Bottom Fishing?
Because [wacky] is a finesse style, you’re going to want to use a low-vis, light line like an 8-pound fluorocarbon line with an 8-10lb fluorocarbon leader.
If [wacky fishing] in heavier amounts of brush, you can consider moving up to a 12-17-pound test fluorocarbon line, though you should generally avoid going over a 12-pound fluorocarbon line when you can.
Keeping with the finesse style, you’ll want to go with a spinning rod and spinning reel with a 2500-size spinning reel providing more than enough capability for your next bass fishing trip.
It’s also worth noting that for this fishing, the fishing reel tends to be more important than the spinning rod.
That said, many people prefer something in the range of a 7-foot spinning rod.
How to Fish a Bait Wacky-Style
Although this style is often used for shallower waters, the beginning of this technique starts with a good, long cast.
However, this makes sense since you would otherwise be pretty much directly on top of the fish which will be counter-productive if they’re already skittish and you need the wacky rig to entice them to strike in the first place.
The good news is that wacky fishing doesn’t require some kind of triple-reverse, sidearm nonsense to pull off and hinges more on your patience and control than anything else.
A big part of this has to do with the fact that the rig allows the bait to do all of the work for you, making it one of the easiest artificial worm fishing techniques.
You can let the rig sink a bit and give one of two light pulls before beginning the retrieval, but try to leave at least a little bit of slack to allow the bait to move freely.
That said, it may never get that far as the wacky rig’s presentation will often entice bass to strike the bait before it ever gets low enough to pop or retrieve– so always keep a finger on the line.